We recently sat down with Kate Schade, the namesake and creator of Kate’s Real Food bars, to find out why she started her business and what keeps her motivated. Along the way we learned a few interesting facts, like:
- Back in the day, Kate’s Real Food bars were sold in Saran wrap packaging using stickers from various outdoor brands to create the seal.
- Before the company got a packaging machine in 2011, it would take an hour to package 100 bars; now it can do 60 bars per minute.
- The Aloha Café inside Patagonia’s headquarters sells Kate’s Real Food bars.
And our favorite fun fact …
Kate’s fascination with food extends well beyond energy bars. Right now she’s really into liver. “It’s a super food because it has the highest concentrations of vitamins and minerals you can get in any food,” she said. “I make a lot of bacon liver pate these days.”
Now, here’s the full scoop on Kate’s Real Food:
Back in the ’90s Kate loved to make bars out of whatever ingredients she could find in the cupboard. She’d then munch on and hand out these bars while waiting in line to ski off of Jackson Hole’s famous tram.
“The recipe changed all the time,” she said. “Then I just started getting one I liked.”
With that, the original Tram Bar was born. This bar packed a punch. It fueled long days riding pow and pedaling rocky trails. And it tasted good too!
“The taste, it’s all about the taste,” Kate said of why her bars caught on.
One thing led to another and by 2011 Kate was able to quit her two other jobs to focus “more than full-time” on building Kate’s Real Food.
“I wanted to do more for the things I believe in. Basically those things are promoting outdoor play and supporting sustainable agriculture,” she said. “I think I can do a lot more for these things if I can grow a successful company and give back.”
Kate’s Real Food tries to be conscientious in how it sources its ingredients. It uses Utah organic cherries, Washington organic oats and California raisins. Some organic ingredients do come from growers outside the United States.
Prior to focusing full-time on building her business, Kate worked as a manager at the all-organic Cosmic Apple Gardens. And she still does her best to help out there, volunteering steel honey barrel drums and nut butter buckets.
The farm uses the steel drums as heat stores for their greenhouses. Water in the barrels heats up during sunny days and continues to give off heat during cold evenings to keep the greenhouses temperate. The nut butter buckets are used for harvesting and feed buckets.Another area of particular focus for Kate is trail access and supporting trail builders, often donating bars and time toward this cause.
Personally, she’s both a mountain biker and a dirt biker, and her business actively markets to both user groups. She recalled one e-mail from a Kate’s Real Food fan praising how the bars “bridge the gap between motor folks and hippies.”
“I think everyone should be having fun,” Kate said. “People are quick to pooh-pooh others without knowing.”
And, indeed, Kate shines in her ability to relate to people from all walks of life.
“I like being able to get out and connect with new people,” she said. “It’s a lot easier with the business. I think it’s because I have something to give them.”
Kate’s Real Food is located in Victor, Idaho, at the base of the Teton Mountains. It currently offers five varieties of bars: the original Tram Bar, the Grizzly Bar, the Handle Bar, the Stash Bar and, a gluten-free option, the Tiki Bar.
Kate’s favorite is the Stash Bar because she’s a huge peanut butter fan. She also likes the Tiki Bar for a change. Here at Garage Grown Gear our vote is for the dark chocolate Grizzly Bar. While in Jackson Hole, the Tram Bar far outsells the others.