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Say Yes to Nots!

Monday, August 28, 2017
filed under: Utilization/Trade: Confection-Non-oil

       Snacks in the Fuglie home have always looked a little different than snacks in many American’s homes. That’s because Rob Fuglie’s son has food allergies, making many foods off-limits.  It led Rob to create a snack called Nots!, safe for his son to eat.
       That was in 2011. Now, six years later, Rob has made some big changes to his products. He recently visited with Jody Kerzman about the exciting new products.
Explain the idea behind Nots!
       We started Nots! because our son has a peanut allergy and we needed something that we as a family could enjoy without worrying about cross contamination. He has a nut allergy; I can still eat nuts, but it’s a huge risk. He’s at risk that I might touch him and cause a reaction. One person in our house—25% of the people in our house—has an allergy to nuts, but our house is 100% nut-free for his sake. And then there’s the fact that while not every house has someone with a food allergy, our kids probably all have someone in their class who does. So while one mom is going to the grocery store and buying food for her family who has allergies, there are many other moms who are buying food and while they’re not allergic to anything, their kid might be in a class with my kid who does have food allergies. Nots! are safe for everyone. They are non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, free of the top eight allergens. They’re also a good source or protein, high in vitamin E, low carb and low sodium. And they taste good too!
Nots! have been around for a while, and we’ve actually featured your products in The Sunflower before, but you’ve got new products to talk about. Tell us about what’s new.
       Our Grah’ms are brand new to the market. They are a mini graham-style sunflower crisps with half the sugar and two times the protein of the leading graham treats.                                             
       Did you know a graham cracker has the same amount of sugar as a chocolate chip cookie? Grah’ms have half the sugar. Our grah’ms were an attempt to leverage some trends in the market that sunflower allows us to push through. They are a naturally good source of protein, natural sugar, good source of vitamin E, and they are safe for most people with food allergies.
       We have also changed our original snack into a stick and added a couple of new flavors, including Cajun, Hot, and Peppa. It’s more of a strategic change to get us into different positions within grocery stores. We had some grocery stores that wanted us to put our products in the nut section, but no one who is shopping for a nut replacement snack is going to go to the nut section.
What has been your customers’ reaction to your products?
       I personally have a good feeling about these new products. People who are familiar with Nots are going to love our new sticks and our news flavors. After just a few weeks online, our grah’ms were a big seller. In stores, the new products were placed beside the original products and they were outselling other products. So I think we’re in the right place. People can find our products and that’s half the battle. Our goal is to have our grah’ms beside the familiar things like Teddy Grahams.
Why did you decide to use sunflower in your products?
       Sunflower is safe for my son.  Also, it’s been fairly easy to work with and readily accessible. Sunflower is non-GMO and fits well into a clean label manufacturing perspective. Compared to some other alternative seeds, most people have a relationship with sunflower—they’re aware of what sunflower is, they understand sunflower. Seeds such as flax and chia are a little more outside the mainstream. Sunflower is a more mainstream product and an ingredient that really resonates with consumers.
Where do you get the sunflower you use?
       We source all the sunflower we use from Breckenridge, Minn. We have one operation in Fergus Falls, Minn., and are currently working on an expansion in Ada, Minn. We start with the kernel and process everything all the way through packaging at our facilities.
Where are NOTS! available?
       That is always changing. Right now our products are available at HyVee stores and some Cashwise grocery stores. Some local stores may have our products, as well as some co-ops. There’s a list of retailers on our website: You can also order directly from our website and have them delivered to you.
       We’d love to get our products into more grocery stores. We encourage people to ask their grocers to carry Nots! and then contact us with the location of the store. We’ll follow up and do our best to get our products on their shelves.
Are you doing advertising, PR, social media or grassroots efforts to promote your product? If yes what?
       We’re on Facebook  but we’re not real active. We rely mostly on word of mouth. We’ve been lucky enough to be featured in several publications, including the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal and 
What does the future hold for your company?  New products? New promotions or marketing strategies? 
       We are a super small company—we have three part-time employees, one business partner and me. We are trying to be less small, and we have gotten some interest from some larger food companies. We do all our own manufacturing, which means no one can make our food the way we do. But the interest from bigger companies is exciting.  It shows we’re doing something right and that the future looks good for Nots!                              
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