Health Craze

Photo by Maddie Schroeder

Photo by Maddie Schroeder

Rachael Beardsley

Teresa Humrichouser, Ohio University graduate and president of Crazy Monkey Baking, knows that healthy snacks often lack the flavorful appeal of junk food. Shortly after having her second child, Humrichouser found herself in need of a healthy but delicious snack to serve her family.

She couldn’t find what she wanted on supermarket shelves — so she set out to create her own.

“I knew if I put chocolate in it, my kids would probably eat it,” Humrichouser says. “So I used a very high quality bittersweet chocolate.”

With an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe as a base, Humrichouser set out to make a snack devoid of “the sins of modern baking.” She started removing all the unhealthy additives in most modern baking products, including food dyes, preservatives, partially hydrogenated fats and high-fructose corn syrup. After a few months of trial and error, Crazy Monkey Baking Granola Cookie Crunch was created. The granola cookies are all natural, wheat-free and completely whole grain.

“Our products… taste like a cookie,” Humrichouser says. “It is also larger pieces, which make for a great grab and go snack.”

Eventually, Humrichouser took the granola cookies outside of her home to sell locally.

“My family really enjoyed it as well as friends I shared it with, so we started selling at our local farmer’s market,” Humrichouser says. “For two years, no matter how much we made, we sold out.”

As demand for the granola cookies continued, Crazy Monkey Baking grew in size.

“After two years of baking out of our home, I moved into my first licensed facility with about 400 square feet just to see if I could make a go of it,” Humrichouser says.

The company has moved twice since then, always increasing its space. Now it’s in a much larger facility, in Ashland, Ohio, complete with the tools it needs to produce around 1,000 bags of granola cookies a day. The cookies are then shipped to stores nationwide.

Crazy Monkey Baking products are sold in many Southeast Ohio stores, including All Pro Nutrition in Marietta. Along with its own specialty protein shakes and smoothies, All Pro Nutrition sells a variety of health-conscious foods, diet supplements and other products. Crazy Monkey granola is displayed near the register, attracting hungry customers.

“We sell a ton, probably five or ten bags a day,” says Jacobie Ward, a cashier at All Pro Nutrition. “We never get any bad comments.”

Though Crazy Monkey Baking operates out of Northeast Ohio, its products are shipped nationwide. Humrichouser also uses local products in her baking and involves local and regional businesses in the process.

“We sell across the United States, but the majority of our business is regional,” she says. “We source local organic cornmeal and grind peanuts to make our own peanut butter.”

Crazy Monkey Baking products are sold at Giant Eagle, Target and other stores across Ohio and the U.S., with the average price of $5 a bag. Customers can also order from the company’s website in bundles of five bags for $30. Flavors include dark chocolate chip, cranberry almond, peanut butter chocolate chip, white chocolate cranberry and other seasonal offerings.

The company’s growth may be, in part, due to Humrichouser’s commitment to nutrition. When compared to a common snack like Quaker chocolate chip granola bars, a serving of Crazy Monkey’s Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Cookie Crunch has 15 milligrams less of sodium and half a gram less of saturated fat. What the granola lacks in fats, it compensates for in fiber and protein. It is also free of preservatives used in Quaker granola bars such as BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), a common but controversial chemical preservative.

Although the company is now a success, Humrichouser says it was initially challenging to get Crazy Monkey Baking products into Ashland stores. She says the process of establishing a small business was expensive. Stores expect a product to have a large customer base before they consider selling it, a feat that can seem near impossible for a edgling company.

However, Humrichouser worked hard to market her product both inside and outside Ashland. The first store to pick up her product was Bailey Lakes General Store in Ashland, then the local Aldi. Stores around the country soon followed, and now colleges and universities sell the product as well, including OU. Crazy Monkey Baking products can be found on the shelves in Jefferson Marketplace.

Humrichouser, who grew up in Athens, graduated from OU with a degree focused on nutrition and food service management. She believes her education at OU helped her build a successful business.

“OU set a great foundation for me with a quality education,” she says. “My degree in dietetics has helped me create my product with attention to healthy ingredients and the health benefits. [My degree in] food service management and my minor in business administration has helped me in all aspects of running my business.”

Despite her company’s national scope, Humrichouser does not lose sight of where it began. She continues to serve local customers and boost regional business.

“We still bake in small batches and take great pride in the ingredients we use and products we produce,” she says.