The OG Rickarooner

Photo by Jessie Helitack

Photo by Jessie Helitack

Rick himself is still sourcing the best organic ingredients, personally sampling his ‘roons in San Diego Costcos, and sharing his “glovebox ‘roons” with anyone he sees with an adorable dog. And we’re lucky to have him :) We recently asked Rick to tell the Rickaroon story from his perspective and below is his story. If you have any questions or additional comments feel free to send him an email at rick@rickaroons.com.

For my first blog post, I thought I would expand a little on how Rickaroons came to be. While I grew up with a love of cooking, I was never much of a baker. Despite volunteering in a local whole-grain bakery in the early 1980s, I carried no knowledge of the contrast among different grains, nor the role of gluten in the baking process.

As a member of a local food co-op, I was always drawn to their bakery counter, where I took advantage of the whole grain cookies and other baked goods on a frequent basis. These items were often the extra fuels I would use to get through my workouts and activities.

Eventually, in the early 2000s, I met a woman while swimming at a local pool one Saturday morning. Despite being beautiful and healthy looking on the outside, her body was being ravaged by Multiple Sclerosis. In fact she had just been diagnosed with the disease the previous day, and was in a state of shock as she absorbed that fateful news. It certainly helped explain why her body seemed so uncooperative on the inside, despite her healthy appearance and the lifestyle/diet she followed.

A few months later, Cindy flat out told me to create her a cookie suitable for her to enjoy that wouldn’t antagonize her food allergies, which included wheat and dairy products. Specifically, she informed me that “if you really love me, you’ll make me a cookie I can eat”. Well, I did love her, so I took her at her word, and began working on a recipe that would be better than any baked goods we could find in any store or bakery.

A year later, I had finally learned enough about the different types of flour and especially the role of gluten. I had evolved a recipe made from spelt flour, which did contain gluten, but was different enough from wheat that many people could eat it in spite of wheat sensitivities. Learning to bake without eggs or butter was initially a similar challenge, but that one was relatively easy to overcome compared to figuring out the gluten/wheat puzzle.

As it turned out, the recipe was so good that I decided to put it into use in a commercial operation.

After a couple years, it became apparent that the bakers making the recipe weren’t up to the challenge of quality control- very often they would simply make far too many cookies that were too big for the packaging machine. I’d come in to the bakery on a Tuesday to ship out Monday’s production, only to find giant trash bags full of cookies that had been crushed and broken in the packaging process. Deciding that this was simply not sustainable, I sold the company, vowing to come up with something better.

I set my sights on creating recipes that were beyond the spelt flour products I’d created for Cindy. I was convinced that I could achieve the perfect gluten-free cookie, and after another year or so, I was on the precipice of starting another cookie company. As was my decades-long practice, I would typically eat one of my new brown rice flour cookies on the way to or from the pool, or the frisbee field, the gym, or of course after dinner. I knew this cookie was a winner, and was convinced of its commercial viability.

Then, one sunny morning in the winter of 2012, I woke up and wondered what would be the result if I just left out the flour entirely. I made some rough calculations to adjust the ratios of coconut and almond butter- ingredients I’d been using for years to keep the brown rice flour cookie recipe soft and chewy- and scooped out a few dozen cookies that were the very first prototypes of what would eventually become known as Rickaroons.

When that first batch came out of the oven, I knew we had a winner. They were incredibly good, and easily more digestible than any cookie or baked good you could make with any kind of flour. I gave a plate of these unnamed delicious goods to Grant, who lived right down the street. He in turn took them to his work as a beach lifeguard, and shared them with his colleagues. The immediate feedback was “where can get more of these?” I began making trays of these coconut and almond butter energy “cookies”, and the local San Diego lifeguards were our first taste testers and customers.

Within a very short time, we changed gears, deciding we would make these new things called Rickaroons, and put the cookies on the back burner, so to speak. In my mind, I was humored by the suggestion that of using Rickaroons as a name for our company and its products. We were originally going to find another name for them, but the name Rickaroons got traction quickly, and it grew on all of us. I mean, it was cute and quirky, and people seemed to like it.

Now, here we are roughly six years later, and Rickaroons are better than ever. They are still made with exacting standards of ingredients, using only organically certified items that create a level of trust between the consumer and the manufacturer. Each of our products contains only six or seven ingredients, and you can read all our labels without needing to earn a degree in chemistry in order to understand the role of each item.

We keep it simple, healthy and delicious.

Rick LeBeau

Rick LeBeau with his son and co-founder Grant LeBeau snacking forever and always

Rick LeBeau with his son and co-founder Grant LeBeau snacking forever and always

Rick-Or-Treat Is Coming Soon!

The Pumpkin Pie Spice and Chocolate Rickaroon is Back!

Due to (very) popular (and loud) demand we are bringing back the Rick-or-Treat this year for all of October 1-Dec 31. Last year it was our biggest seller over the weeks that we could keep it in stock so we decided to bring back our first ever seasonal flavor for a second season. Perhaps the most "punny" of our flavors, the Rick-or-Treat puts a seasonal twist on the classic Chocolate Blonde.

The Rick-or-Treat takes our original coconut chocolate chip Chocolate Blonde and adds just the right amount of pumpkin pie spice. Get them for you, friends, or if you want to be the most beloved house in your neighborhood, get them for your Trick-or-Treaters!

 

Help Us Grow - Give Us Suggestions!

Name *
Name

Starting a company is easy. Growing a company is hard. Luckily our great customers have made it easier by giving us a growing list of suggestions ever since we first started selling Rickaroons at the La Jolla Farmers Market in June of 2013. Even in the our genesis months, baking at home, putting Rickaroons in zip loc bags, and shipping in carry-out pizza boxes, our customers have had grand visions for us. Now we are on the verge of having our very first round of printed packaging that will let us grow and expand out of San Diego, able to bring Rickaroons all over the USA.

Why are we telling you this? We are asking for help again. Please give us your suggestions of places in your neighborhood, town or city where you'd like to see Rickaroons available. We already know about Starbucks and Whole Foods, so tell us something we don't know! Where do you spend your Saturday mornings getting coffee? Which gym would you like to be able to grab a Megaroon from after your workout? If you know the owner or manager, even better- but we will take all the suggestions you can give. Public, Wegmans, Sprouts...where else?

The last time we asked, someone told us to to go Vitality Bowls in the Bay Area. Thanks to that single suggestion we are now in all five Vitality Bowls locations and will soon be in a sixth.

Want to know where you can pick up a Rickaroon today? Click here

Rick-Or-Treat: The Flavor Of The People

It has been a while since we released a new flavor and with the holidays right around the corner we figured it was time. We had an idea to incorporate fall's favorite flavor - pumpkin. We weren't sure about using chocolate and we didn't have a name. Thanks to huge amounts of Rickaroons fan participation we went with chocolate and the name "Rick-or-Treat" which beat out the other favorite fan suggestion: "Ricktoberfest". We want to thank all of the Rickaroons fans who gave us suggestions for either chocolate or no, and gave us some phenomenally creative and often pun-centric names. 

The Rick-or-Treat will be around for about 6 weeks so get 'em while you can while supplies last!

Big Two Weeks

As we grow Rickaroons, one of the most rewarding parts is how others want us to succeed. Every day we get submissions from our fans of cafes, coffee shops, juice bars, and more retail outlets that we should sell Rickaroons. This past week these recommendations have turned into 3 awesome events.

Rickaroons are sold at:

1. Newbreak Coffee in downtown San Diego at 690 1st Ave. Recommended by a friend of RIckaroons.

2. Juice Wave - a mobile juiced-to-order truck. Was connected to the owner of Jucie Wave by a friend who teaches yoga. 

3. Pura VIda Yoga Center - downtown San Diego on Island Ave. Met the owner at the Little Italy farmers market.

4. Gearbox Rx - our first retailer in Michigan. Contacted us out of the blue.

5. Farsk Juice - Brooklyn?! Yes. Brooklyn. Referred by a great customer who found Rickaroons at the farmers market.

The moral of this story is that the best way to help Rickaroons is tell a friend about us. Word of mouth has been a driving force behind our amazing growth. Keep it going and tell people about us, give them our email info@rickaroons.com, or tell us where we should sell Rickaroons by entering suggestions here.

Happy Valentine's Day Week!

Rickaroons wants to wish everyone out there a happy Valentine's Day week. We would like to take this time to voice our appreciation for all of our amazing fans and customers. This past week we partnered with the Paleo Mom to give away a Variety Pack to one of her followers. The promotion was such a success that after one day of online orders we totally sold out of our Megaroons. Obviously we do not want to be selling out because we had to find some alternative solutions (replacing the Megaroon or shipping two days later than normal), but it is a good problem to have. A lot of people who fill out the survey say that they have heard about Rickaroons from a friend and will tell their friends about Rickaroons. This is the highest form of flattery for us and has been a huge key to our recent growth.

It seems that every week we are gaining new customers, both individuals AND coffee shops, yoga studios, etc. Stay posted by going to www.rickaroons.com/map. 

Happy Valentine's Day.

- Rickaroons

New Farmers Market

We've had a lot of people request that we start to expand to new farmers markets - so we did it! Last week we were at our first ever Pacific Beach and North Park Markets. As we start to expand to more markets we will need some new Rickaroon lovers to work our tables. If you are interested, please let us know via info@rickaroons.com. No experience is necessary, just an obvious passion for Rickaroons. Email us right now if you are intersted.

We Get Suggestions

This has been a very exciting week in the evolution of Rickaroons with respect to where you'll be able to find us besides our own website. Every day and 50 times on Sundays (at the Farmer's Market in La Jolla), we get suggestions as to where to sell Rickaroons. Logically, we're going to grow locally first, while continuing to sell to US customers via the postal service. By the end of 2013 (and possibly by the end of October), we will have distribution to coffee houses, smoothie bars and juice bars up and down Southern California. Of course we will keep you posted on those developments. 
Secondly, we will be working hard to place Rickaroons in Amazon.com's system, so you can order directly from the world's largest grocery store (amazon.com). These phases will kick in when our packaging is completed. Of course that process is underway right now.  

In the meantime, thanks for ALL your support and suggestions, and if you're in town on Sunday, wake up and come find us at the Farmer's Market in La Jolla.  

Rickarooners - Winning!

"Rickaroons taste good." "Rickaroons make you feel good." "Rickaroons are good sources of energy." "Rickaroons are good sources of long lasting energy." "Rickaroons don't leave a rock in your stomach." "Rickaroons are great for endurance events."

These are all claims we make on a daily basis at farmers markets, to new customers, and to ourselves. This past weekend we were able to put the claim to the test. We gave Rickaroons to four individuals aiming to complete the arduous, grind-it-out, mind-over-body, 6+ hour, 32 mile Catalina Classic. The Classic is a race from the island of Catalina to the USA mainland in San Clemente. It is a grueling 32 mile race that starts at dawn and lasts well over 6 hours, rain or shine, wind or currents.

The race is too long to do without re-energizing so competitors must have a smart race plan for nutrition. They must refuel ever 30-60 minutes to make sure they don't "bonk" during the later half of the race. Four of the paddlers this year decided to use Rickaroons as  part of their mid-race fuel source: three gentlemen and one prestigious lady. The  three men were Wes Fransway, Erin Morgan, and Doug Smith. They all had great races, this being the first Catalina Class for Erin and Wes. 

Carter Graves is one of our most accomplished Rickarooners, being a true competitor who is constantly expanding her competitive horizons. At the ripe age of 21 she already has a resume that has more wins than anything else - full of open water swims, paddles, surfing and bodysurfing titles. Yesterday she added one of the world's biggest Paddleboarding titles: Catalina Classic.

No one who knows Carter is surprised by her victory, but everyone is impressed. She trained hard, had a great race plan, and completed a phenomenal race.

What is next for Carter? Who knows, but there are only 364 days until she gets to defend her Catalina Classic title...

That's a good sized trophy, Carter.

Photo credit: Alban Cornic  

Paleo World Gets Wind Of Rickaroons

A few days ago we sent a variety pack of Rickaroons to a woman who blogs about the Paleo lifestyle. The day she received them, she liked them so much that she posted to her Instagram a picture of the Rickaroons and a short descriptions. That day we had a month's worth of orders, new Facebook likes, and surge in Instagram followers. So thank you to Paleo Cupboard for the shout out. We are happy that we didn't pay her anything other than a dozen Rickaroons to try, and the ripples of her post are still being felt. We had thousands of views of our website more than normal and a flurry of orders as people realize they don't have to sacrifice taste in order to eat healthy. We are proud to be this tasty, healthy option for all sorts of different dietary communities. 

//Affiliately tracking