Ancient grains make for modern popularity. Heather and Thomas Dilworth, partners in Big Sandy Organics of Montana, found this out when they pitched their ancient-grain Kracklin’ Kamut snack in the Trailmix Pitch Competition in October and captured the $50,000 grand prize.
They also captured shelf space for their product in the Albertsons’ Broadway location in Boise. If Kracklin’ Kamut’s sales are strong at the Broadway location, there is potential for expansion into other regional stores. The competition, part of Boise Entrepreneur Week (BEW), is designed to help food and beverage startups get their products from farmers markets to supermarkets.
“We’d like to develop a new flavor with part of the money,” Heather Dilworth said. “It’s kind of hard to make it off of one product, so we have a couple different ones that we have that are doing pretty well.”
While Kracklin’ Kamut is their original product, the Dilworths added crunchy lentils and crunchy Einkorn, another ancient grain, to their snack repertoire.
About 65 Montana locations carry Kracklin’ Kamut, which comes in sea salt and churro flavors. The Food Nanny, in Utah, also “sells quite a bit” of it. Their snacks are also available on the Young Living website.
“We’re working on more distribution and national distribution,” Heather Dilworth said.
Currently, Big Sandy gets its Kamut wheat from Montana Flour and Grains, in Fort Benton. Kamut, a brand name, is an ancient variety of khorasan wheat.
Kracklin’ Kamut was named Montana’s Best Snack by Food & Wine magazine. Heather Dilworth attributes much of the snack’s popularity to its nutritious benefits.
“Ancient grains are healthier for you,” she said. “It’s grown organically so it has all its original proteins, and Kamut is an anti-inflammatory grain. There’s a lot of benefits to eating organic, and I think a lot of people nowadays are afraid of modern-day wheat, since so many people have gluten allergies.”
She also said friends and family who have gluten allergies or intolerances have tried the Kracklin’ Kamut, “and they don’t have the same effects; they don’t have the bloating of the stomach and it doesn’t make them sick, because it has all its original proteins, and it hasn’t been modified whatsoever.”
As for taste, she said, a lot of people like to compare it to a corn nut, “but it’s a healthier version of a corn nut, and it’s wheat.”
Making the Kracklin’ Kamut product itself isn’t very complicated.
“Basically, we’ve just taken wheat and made it into a crunchy snack,” she explained. That wheat, grown organically, doesn’t go through the gyrations of modification or hybridization. The ancient grain is boiled until it’s soft, then roasted and lightly seasoned.
Heather Dilworth said Big Sandy will continue to grow by exploring new ways of making healthful treats.
“Now we’re working on another project with a farmer that makes organic black lentils,” she said. “Our goal is just to make healthy snacks and kind of help people. There’s a lot of junk food out there, but the healthier foods are a little bit harder to find. But everybody wants them. We’ve had people come to us to make chickpeas, but we haven’t had a successful product with them the way that we cook them, so I think our goal is just to continue broadening our horizon and making healthy snacks and growing our business.”
Albertsons is the presenting sponsor of the competition. Sponsors also include Bank of Idaho; Scoggin Capital Investments; Hawley Troxell; Idaho Commerce; Simplot; IGEM (Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission); Trailhead; Lamb Weston and Hillfort Farm.o