A new kind of organic trail mix was debuted in Austin a few days ago at the Epoch Coffee shop on the ground floor of Gables Park Tower. The brainchild of Peter Rushford, Shār (pronounced share) “is all about the best-in-class products” he told me in an interview.
“The concept is not hard to get on board with,” he said. “People like to snack, but it’s hard to find one that’s tasty. Many of them pretty much taste like the box they came in. Our concept is to take known snack categories and elevate them.”
To do this Rushford has spent three years “curating” the recipe. He tried a mix containing as few as 7 ingredients and as many as 11. He finally settled on 9, each of which has its own backstory.
The almonds come from Turlock, California, the coconut is from the Philippines, cranberries are from Cape Cod, and both the cherries and wild blueberries from Washington State. The cherries are the Montmorency variety, and their tartness pairs perfectly with the coconut and chocolate.
The background to the chocolate is especially interesting. It comes from the 5th generation Guittard family in San Francisco. The founder emigrated from France, and brought with him his uncle’s chocolate to buy mining equipment in the gold rush. That didn’t work out, so he returned to France, got the chocolate recipe, and returned to Frisco. Things went well until the 1908 earthquake destroyed his business, but it was rebuilt and now makes the 55% dark chocolate used in Shār Snacks. “It has a beautiful texture with just enough sweetness,” explained Rushford.
The pecans in Shār Snacks originates right here in Texas, where the pecan grew all on its own before humans started to harvest it. It is in fact the state tree and state nut of Texas! The pecans Rushford uses are from Royalty Farms in Caldwell, which only sells pecans from the current year harvest. Most pecans available in stores are typically 2 to 3 years old, Rushford told me, resulting in causing both the nutrition and taste profile to degenerate.
Another nut in the trail mix, pistachios, originate from 3rd generation farmers in Santa Barbara, California. Finally, cashews, which don’t grow in the U.S., are from Vietnam. The combination of 9 ingredients is gluten free, vegan and paleo.
The ‘share’ aspect of the name “represents one of the most fundamental ways we connect as humans. Like people, our ingredients are better together.” The result is a trail mix that is as amazing as it is healthy, and purchasers will also be helping the environment: the company is donating 20% of its profits to the Conservation Alliance, which distributes small grants to grass-roots environmental programs across the country.
The trail mix will be available in two sizes, 1.7 and 4.5 ounces. Retail is pegged at $3.99 and $8.99 respectively. The larger size will contain 3 servings with 270 calories in each. The small photo with this story shows a prototype packaging that has a grommet so that it can easily be attached to a backpack or other travel bag. Distribution will initially be targeted to stores in the outdoor industry, and a website is in development, but for now Epoch Coffee is the first location, so head on over to there to buy a bag!
Epoch is located at 111 Sandra Muraida Way in downtown Austin. Lead photo shows Mr. Rushford at the Shār Snack booth set up outside Epoch on its grand opening, July 7, 2018