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