Blue Moose of Boulder Brings Colorado a Reputation for Safety, Health, Humor and Good Taste
Creativity is an intriguing and powerful thing. And sometimes it looks like a Blue Moose.
This is the Cinderella story of a local brand that is making it big. It all started with a great dairy product.
Three years ago, Blue Moose of Boulder was a local company. They had a reputation for delivering authentic, great-tasting, hand-crafted spreads. No wonder: they were owned by Sartori Cheese Company, a business that has won a laundry list of global cheese awards and continues to thrive to this day.
But Sartori wasn’t sure what to do with Blue Moose. It seemed that the brand had hit an invisible wall, and no matter how much tastiness they were able to pack into their small containers they couldn’t grow any more.
Meanwhile in Kentucky, two good friends were hatching a half-cocked plan to go back into business together. Dan Fink (now Chief Moose) and friend JW Craft, were at the Kentucky Derby enjoying snacks and conversation. They had opened a successful laundry business during their college years and wanted to start another venture together. Among their conversation they started discussing a recent U.S. trend toward healthful snacking…
They didn’t win at the racetrack that day, but the healthy snack ideas more than made up for it.
When Dan and J.W. looked at Blue Moose of Boulder, they saw a company with vast potential to be greater. In Dan’s words: “We saw a local hero that was underappreciated, and we said, wow, what a gem.”
On October 15, 2015, they bought the company, and Dan Fink was appointed Chief Moose, a title that suits him just fine: “I’ve never had a job in my life where I’ve had this much fun.”
Immediately they set to work, starting with some innovations that would launch the company to its honored seat on the national health food chain.
The Tiniest Innovations Make Big Moose Noise
Shelf life is one of the biggest problems with snack foods, especially if you want to eat healthfully. Real food is food for us and for bacteria, which decompose the food within days or a couple short weeks. As a manufacturer, you can either stay local, like Royal Crest, or you can put a bunch of artificial ingredients and preservatives into your food to extend the shelf life. But the new Chief Moose had another idea.
It wasn’t anything incredible or new. Cold-pressure packaging technology was initially developed in the 1800s. The concept is simple. You can kill germs in a few ways. Most food companies apply heat or preservatives, but High-Pressure Processing (HPP) uses pressure instead. Quite literally, they apply the pressure that 14 elephants would create when standing on top of a single container. That is more than double the pressure at the bottom of the ocean, and it squishes bacteria without harming the food itself.
The process is trickier than the blockbuster alternatives, but it preserves the flavor of the food without additives. And because cold-pressure allows you to kill bacteria after packaging, you can be certain that the finished product has no bacteria inside. That’s why pressure packaged foods will last up to 100 days on the shelf. That’s an eternity for perishable, non-preservative items.
HPP is a trickier process to master, however. “It’s not simple to do.” explained Dan. “There are things we can and can’t do because of that [HPP], but we stand for safety, and our customers really value us for that, especially with all the recalls occurring these days. But that’s what makes us special and helps our customers just enjoy themselves.”
Complexity explains why to this day no other cheese spread company that we know of uses HPP. It’s just one of those applications that few would be zany enough to try or determined enough to pull off.
Still, no one could argue that their method works. Since 2015 Blue Moose has been the recipient of a few major awards, such as the “Clean Choice Awards Winner” by Clean Eating, the “Healthiest Packaged Food” by Prevention Magazine, and was the 2017 Winner of the Redbook Snack Awards. Now you can buy Blue Moose whether you are in Boulder, Denver, Chicago or San Francisco. More than 5 million lbs. of preservative-free, artificial-coloring-and-flavor free, keto-compliant spread has been made.
The other innovation has been in the “R&D Department.” The department consists of three things:
- Every Blue Moose consumer who submits an idea
- One experimental HPP chamber
- One incredible chef, Bill
Again, no other food company does R&D quite like Blue Moose, but it has helped them launch six new cheese wildly successful flavors within the last two years. These aren’t just run-of-the-mill flavors either. Think unique but ultimately approachable and incredibly satisfying. Dan reports that his daughter loves the lemon turmeric hummus so much she will just lick the stuff right out of the container. Have you seen any kid fall in love with lemon turmeric hummus?
Next Steps… on the Moon?
“People have asked me if we should just take Boulder off the packaging now that we’re a more national company. And my answer is always no, we couldn’t be more proud that we are from Boulder and everything that stands for.” – Dan Fink Chief Moose
For all the grand aspirations of this company, what makes Blue Moose truly remarkable is its emphasis on the community. The brand has kept its factory local and hires local employees. And it is extremely picky about who can sell its snacks. “We’d rather not put our products on a shelf just because the owner has a checklist for organic hummus. We want to be leaders, Pioneers, innovators and really delight our customers.”
Blue Moose of Boulder might always be somewhat difficult to find. But many Coloradans would agree with that ethos. Sometimes we want to be hard to find.
For Royal Crest, it is incredible to see how far Blue Moose can take our milk. Look ma’, we got legs!