Today’s peanut butter entrepreneurs embody the reasons we all love peanut butter—endless innovation, sourcing of the best ingredients and a heart to share their delicious food with the world.
Bliss Nut Butters--Here is the first start-up story in our three-part series.
The story of Bliss Nut Butters, based in Oregon, began with co-founder Daniell Bliss’s love of all kinds of sports at a young age. This love continued into adulthood with marathons and triathlons.
“I’ve run a ton of marathons and triathlons and I learned very quickly about the importance of properly fueling my body with peanut butter. I’m crazy about how wonderful and nutritious nuts and peanut butters are,” said Bliss.
About five years ago, Bliss decided she wasn’t satisfied with the peanut butters on the market. “I thought, ‘I can make this at home.’”
She already had a bachelor of science degree in health education and was studying to earn her master’s degree in public health. She and her partner (now husband), Rick Jennings, were both committed to health and wellness. So, it made sense for Bliss to go to the kitchen to use her nutrition knowledge and create a peanut butter that tasted great to her.
“I mixed together some lightly-salted peanuts with honey, because it’s a natural sweetener; and sea salt, because it’s really mineral-dense. I started taking my homemade peanut butter on long runs and it became wildly popular. People told me I should sell it, and I said, ‘I’m not selling my peanut butter! But Rick said, ‘Yes, we are.’”
And Bliss Nut Butters began with their cornerstone product—Peanut Butter Bliss, peanut butter with honey and sea salt.
Next, she added chia seeds because she used to dip peanut butter in a spoonful of chia seeds before long runs.
“Then, we added the Saigon cinnamon because of the nutritional qualities and great flavor,” said Bliss.
The result, Bliss feels, is a peanut butter with a unique texture and flavor. “Our nut butters are made with a fresh-ground process that preserves the integrity of all our top-quality ingredients. Rick hand-grinds and stirs the peanuts and ingredients himself in a giant food processor, which gives a wonderful, coarse, beautiful mouth texture.”
Bliss says the products have a unique flavor profile. “The sweet and salty flavor is a completely different peanut butter than most have ever tasted. As I said, we focus on natural, locally-sourced ingredients.”
The couple started selling Bliss peanut butter in two local stores, then branched out to local farmer’s markets. Today, Bliss Nut Butters are sold in about ten states and almost 500 stores.
“We went from doing it all out of our kitchen to opening up our own small production facility this past March. We do all our work from there,” said Bliss, noting that they have a tiny storefront in the same facility.
If she could start over, would she do things differently? “Yes, absolutely,” said Bliss. “The first thing I would have done is more research into the market for food products and the growth potential for nut butters, in particular. I wish I’d tapped into the resources and knowledge of our state department of agriculture, too.”
In her wildest dreams, Bliss never envisioned creating a peanut butter company. “I was going for my master’s degree in public health and wanted to start my own nonprofit, write grants and do all these noble things. But I love having the freedom and creativity to change with the needs of the market. We did some things backwards in the beginning, but it’s all worked out. It’s a learning process.”
She has not left her career dreams behind by creating a company that produces and sells nut butters. Bliss Nut Butters is under the umbrella of a parent company, Back 2 Basics Wellness, formed from a commitment to help others live a healthy, happy lifestyle.
Plus, Bliss Nut Butters donates one percent of the company’s proceeds to the Save the Bees Fund. “We’re really passionate about the quality of our ingredients and want to do anything we can to help maintain our sustainable honey sources,” said Bliss.
For the future, Bliss would like to have a greater presence at running events and marathons by packaging her product in small to-go packets. “That’s where I first got inspired to start sharing my own peanut butter with people everywhere,” she said.