A couple of years after picking up cross-country skiing, food science major Tori Law noticed there wasn’t an energy bar designed for this particular sport. So she decided to make one.
The result is the Sun Bar, an energy-packed workout fuel made from natural ingredients. Law developed the bar along with her skiing friend, Tracey Snyder (BS’78, MS’84, nursing), a nurse practitioner. The two are selling them at a ski park and a natural foods store in Minocqua, and are looking to expand sales to other locations.
“It’s definitely an energy-packed bar. A lot of bars out there are just little snack bars. Ours is for eating before a workout to sustain you throughout,” says Law, a junior who is also pursuing a business certificate.
Sun Bars contain a mere seven ingredients: oatmeal, brown rice crispies, natural peanut butter, honey, raisins, chocolate chips and vanilla. “Our top priority was to keep it simple, to use healthy food ingredients that people are familiar with and that taste good and that are good for them,” she explains.
But the bar’s simplicity is deceptive; developing it was no easy task. Law and Snyder had to test a large number of recipes before they found the right one. They then applied for a commercial cooking license, rented a kitchen space in Minocqua and set out to make a big batch to sell. But their first scaled-up version was a flop.
“The first time we tried it in a bigger batch, it just crumbled. It was kind of like granola and we couldn’t do anything with it. Then the next time it was almost the complete opposite. It was super rubbery and chewy. I think it had a lot to do with cooking the honey. The temperature and how sugar molecules work—there’s a lot of science involved. So, we finally figured out what to do with the honey, and now it is working fine,” says Law.
Law and Snyder started selling Sun Bars on Dec. 27, 2011—one year after coming up with the idea—at Winter Park, their hometown ski park in Minocqua. To date, they have sold over 500 bars, each one made and packaged by hand.
Law has poured a lot of time and energy into the project, but she is thankful for the experience and excited about what the future may hold. She’d love the Sun Bar to take off, and her goal for next year is to have the bars included in the product expo at the American Birkebiener, the nation’s largest cross-country ski marathon, which takes place each February in Hayward, Wisconsin.
“It’s awesome to hear all the positive feedback from people,” she says. “I think that was a big surprise for us, as we didn’t know how well they’d sell. They have definitely exceeded any expectations we had for them.”
And whether or not this turns into a thriving, full-time business, Law figures the whole experience will help prepare her for a job in the natural foods industry, where she can picture herself working as a product developer.
“It’s been such a good learning process for me, just going through all the individual steps—from developing the recipe all the way to figuring out the price,” she says. “There are so many little details that you don’t think about until you actually have to do them.”