Unite Food introduces bubble tea, baklava flavors at Expo West
Available online and through distributor KeHE, the baklava flavor includes organic honey, walnuts, and pistachios, while the bubble tea is the brand's take on the milk tea beverage and includes soluble tapioca fiber and apple bits, Unite founder Clara Paye told FoodNavigator-USA. Additionally, all Unite bars are gluten-free, contain almond butter, and are under 200 calories each.
When it comes to picking new flavors, Paye explained that she aims to find globally appreciated flavors. Many people often associate bubble tea with Asian cuisine, but as Paye pointed out milk-tea beverages have a widespread cultural appreciation, spanning from the UK to Japan. Similarly, baklava is often associated with Turkish food but is also a pastry found in Yugoslavia, Asia, and other parts of the world, she added.
Creating nostalgic flavors to honor heritages
Paye created Unite in 2020 during the COVID pandemic, formulating flavors in her kitchen with a Cuisinart. After demoing about 15 flavors with friends, she decided on three flavors that were both “approachable” and globally inspired: Churro, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and Peanut Butter and Jelly.
The first two flavors are inspired by flavors appreciated around the world, Paye said. The “churro is kind of ubiquitous” with it being found in Mexico, Spain, Portugal, and throughout the US, even being a hallmark of Disneyland, she added. While “chocolate is an important flavor in the bar category,” Paye wanted to do something different with the flavor, which led her to the Mexican Hot Chocolate flavor, which adds a “warming sensation” to the sweet flavor.
When it came to the Peanut Butter and Jelly flavor, Paye admitted that “people scratch their heads” on that one. The Peanut Butter and Jelly bar honors her American heritage and the classic “lunch-box flavor," she said. It also has a very "bready flavor," she added.
Inviting everyone to the wellness table
Looking to the future, Unite hopes to offer more culturally inclusive flavors of its bar, and Paye encourages consumers to share the flavors they would like to see by reaching out to the brand. Ultimately, Unite’s goal is to focus on those "childhood nostalgic feelings, being approachable, and not being diverse for the sake of being diverse,” Paye said, adding that “you're never going to see a chicken tikka masala bar."
Not only does she hope to create more flavors that resonate with a wider consumer base, bringing more people to the wellness table, but she also is planning to have some fun in the process.
"We lead with flavor; we lead with fun. It's food that you don't have to eat; it's food that you want to eat," Paye said. "By creating flavors that invite people in, but [in a way] they feel recognized or seen, it might be that jumping off point to delve deeper into wellness."