JiMMYBAR! started as a weekend project between co-founder and co-CEO, Jim Simon, and his sister, a professional chef, who both wanted to create a nutritionally-packed food with clean and minimal ingredients and help consumers make convenient, healthy food choices.
“The original idea was the cleanest possible ingredients, fewest possible ingredients, and it’s got to taste good,” co-founder and co-CEO Jim Simon said.
The company settled on a proprietary blend of whey and soy protein that serves as the base of its bar portfolio.
‘We take the bar very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously’
With the help of Simon’s childhood friend and digital marketing veteran, Jason Wadler, the company rebranded with new light-blue packaging and the tag line ‘getting JiMMY with it!’ to better convey its carefree persona in September 2018.
The brand is also amping up the coolness factor with product names such as ‘Woke AF’ and ‘Eye of the Tiger’.
“We wanted it to be a little bit cooler and we also wanted it to be little friendlier,” Simon said, likening its fun-filled approach to what Ben & Jerry’s did for the ice cream category.
“I wanted the bar to skew a little more female than male because most bars still to this day are very machismo.
“This is about the experience as much as the food. What we didn’t see in the category was bringing some fun into it,” Wadler said.
But it’s not all fun and games for JiMMYBAR! as the brand is committed to optimizing each bar with as much nutrition as possible while using as few ingredients as possible.
Its bars rival many legacy brands in protein content, containing anywhere from 13 to 25 grams of protein, but are free from added sweeteners and refined sugars with 2 to 7 grams of sugar (from dates) per bar depending on the flavor.
All the key nutrition data is prominently displayed on the front of the pack to help consumers make a fast but informed decision, Simon added.
Drawing on his career working in technology, Simon approaches JiMMYBAR! like he would a tech product.
“Apple doesn’t come out with one iPhone and keep it for 20 years, they’re constantly updating, tweaking, and making it better,” he said.
JiMMYBAR recently launched a line of high protein bars in seven flavors all under 300 calories, including its Eye of the Tiger bar with guarana and turmeric, and Wake It Up bar also with guarana (which contains caffeine).
According to Simon and Wadler, the company does not shy away from experimenting with new ingredients typically not found in a protein bar such as collagen in its ‘Beauty’ bar and MCT oil in its Cookies ‘m cream ‘Woke AF’ bar.
“This is agile food,” Wadler said. “From the moment we get an idea to the moment we get to the market – it’s 30 days.”
Wadler mentioned the brand will be coming out with two more bars within the next few months and is exploring plant-based protein bars in 2019.
From tech hubs to Walmart and c-stores
The company first targeted tech offices such as Google, Facebook, and Oracle, as well as college campuses to get JiMMYBAR! out to the masses.
“We took a really different approach and that’s because I didn’t have a food background,” Simon said.
“We went directly to people who work 8 to 10 hours a day.”
Now, JiMMYBAR! has national distribution with 4,600 Walmart stores, roughly 80 Chicago-area Jewel Osco stores, Hudson News airport stores, and select Costco, Circle K, WaWa, Whole Foods, 7-Eleven locations.
“It’s in over 20,000 locations. In the next 6 months we’ll probably have about 30,000 locations,” Wadler added.