6 Wholesome Facts About Kashi

Kashi GOLEAN waffles
Kashi GOLEAN waffles
Mr.TinDC, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0 (cropped)

Since 1984, Kashi has sold plant-based foods made primarily from whole grains and seeds. The company is best known for its cereal products (such as the various GOLEAN flavors), but Kashi also makes crackers, snack bars and bites, cookies, waffles, and frozen entrees.

  1. Kashi was founded by Philip and Gayle Tauber.

In the early 1980s, Philip and Gayle Tauber were living in Southern California. They had worked together in business ventures devoted to bodybuilding, and indoor foliage, but wanted to start a company to help people eat more healthfully. They thought about naming their company “Gold'n Grains” and “Graino” before settling on Kashi. Bankers didn't exactly love their natural foods business concept, though, so the couple invested their life savings of $25,000 to get the business off the ground.

  1. The name Kashi is actually a portmanteau ...

Kashi is named after a fusion of the words Kashruth and Kushi. Kashruth refers to Jewish religious dietary laws, or the state of being kosher. Kushi refers to the last name of Michio Kushi, a Japanese teacher who shared his knowledge about the macrobiotic diet with Americans starting back in the 1960s.

  1. Kashi owes a little of its success to the Olympics.

In October 1983, the company launched its first product, Kashi Pilaf, a breakfast blend of seven whole grains and sesame seeds. But the pilaf had to be cooked for more than 25 minutes before eating—longer than most consumers had the patience for—and initial sales were disappointing. However, Kashi helped turned their fortunes around when they became one of the first companies to offer product samples at sporting events during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The samples helped the company develop a small, but loyal, following among athletes and other health-conscious types.

  1. In 2000, the Kellogg company bought Kashi, surprising some food purists.

The cereal behemoth Kellogg’s purchased Kashi in 2000 for $32 million, an acquisition that some people criticized because Kellogg’s food products sometimes contain artificial ingredients and refined grains (Pop-Tarts, anyone?). With the acquisition came a move to Kellogg's headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, although Kashi later moved back to California, a spot seemingly more in keeping with its brand ethos.

  1. Kashi's use of the term natural has attracted controversy …

Because the FDA does not regulate use of the term natural, food companies can use the term without actually defining what that means. In 2012, a grocery store owner in Rhode Island decided to stop selling Kashi products after he learned that Kashi used genetically modified soybeans and non-organic ingredients. He posted a note in his store explaining his decision, and photos of the note went viral on social media. According to USAToday, some consumers believed that the word natural on Kashi packaging implied the cereal was organic and GMO-free. The company later agreed to pay several million dollars in class action lawsuits to consumers who felt their use of the term natural was misleading, and agreed to remove the phrases "all natural" and "nothing artificial" from their products. (Today, all Kashi products are Non-GMO Project Verified.)

  1. Kashi has created a new protocol to support organic farmers.

In 2016, Kashi announced a collaborative effort to support farmers who are in the (time-consuming and expensive) process of transitioning their fields from conventional to organic agriculture. Working with the organic certifier Quality Assurance International (QAI), Kashi developed a new protocol called Certified Transitional, and then purchased the first crop of Certified Transitional ingredients—a hard red winter wheat. The result was their Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits cereal [PDF]. After a successful launch, the company's portfolio now includes eight other Certified Transitional products, and farmers have received more than $1 million to support transitioning their fields as of February 2018 [PDF].

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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The Long, Fascinating History of Chocolate

Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

Walk into just about any grocery or convenience store today and you're sure to find row upon row of chocolate in every imaginable form. While we have come to associate this sweet treat with companies like Hershey, chocolate has been a delicacy for centuries.

All chocolate comes from the cacao tree, which is native to the Americas, but is now grown around the world. Inside the tree’s fruits, or pods, you’ll find the cacao beans, which—once roasted and fermented—give chocolate its signature rich and complex flavor. While we don't know who first decided to turn cacao beans into chocolate, we certainly owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

In this episode of Food History, we're digging into the history of chocolate—from its origins to the chocolate-fueled feud between J.S. Fry & Sons and Cadbury and much, much more. You can watch the full episode below.

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