Crunchsters is a Boulder-based natural food company that makes savory sprouted mung bean snacks. The company currently has three flavors: Sea Salt, Smokey Balsamic and its vegan Beyond Bacon. (Photo courtesy Crunchsters)

Crunchsters brings salty, savory and superfood to snack aisle

BOULDER — One snack company is looking to replace the potato chip with a protein-packed but equally salty and crunchy alternative: the mung bean.

Boulder-based Crunchsters Inc., formerly known as Highlight Foods Inc., is raising $2.8 million in an equity offering, according to a Form D filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on June 19.

Those funds will be used to expand the company’s product line — three flavors of sprouted mung beans flash-fried to make them crispy — to the Eastern U.S., as well as expanding into mainstream grocery and convenience stores and hiring marketing and logistics specialists, CEO Frank Lambert told BizWest.

“We’ve been focused on natural and specialty channels,” Lambert said. “But we feel Crunchsters is a strong crossover product for conventional grocery, convenience and alternative channels.”

Crunchsters started when Lambert, a self-identified inventor, was looking for a snack alternative for his child, who needed a restricted diet. Around that time, he learned about the mung bean: a superfood used often in hospitals in India because it’s easily digested and lacks any allergens. When sprouted, the bean has a high concentration of protein, and then quickly fried in high-quality oil (the key is using monounsaturated oils that don’t break down into less-quality oil, Lambert said) it stays healthy while getting crunchy.

Lambert is now looking to compete with the potato chip, providing a snack that satisfies the craving for crunch but also fills up the consumer.

“This snack tastes like comfort food but is highly nutritious and satisfying,” Lambert said. “One of the best things about Crunchsters is you feel good after eating them. Most comfort food snacks, you feel a little gross after you eat them. With these, you feel good and happy you ate them.”

This year, at Expo West, the company won the Nexty Award for best salty/ savory snack. Crunchsters has three flavors: Sea Salt, Smokey Balsamic and Beyond Bacon, a vegan bacon-flavored option. Crunchsters was also a winner for the Colorado Companies to Watch this year.

The company plans to add a barbecue flavor and has even more flavors already created and ready for release in the possible future.

Having a sprouted plant as the basis of the snack — rather than just frying the mung bean — greatly adds to the health aspect of Crunchsters, Lambert said.

“The protein is a big selling point,” he said. “A serving size of Crunchsters has 7 grams of whole plant protein.”

While most sprouted snacks consist of spouting the plant and then grinding those sprouts into a flour mix, Lambert said Crunchsters has a proprietary method of sprouting the beans to increase the plant protein by 30 percent. In life, when a seed or bean sprouts, it converts starch into protein. By sprouting the plant and then frying it, consumers are eating that protein.  A sprouted plant is also more easily digestible.

“We’re the only snack in the Western World where you’re eating a sprout,” Lambert said. “People come to us for the taste, but they stay for the nutrition. That’s the icing on the cake.”

 

BOULDER — One snack company is looking to replace the potato chip with a protein-packed but equally salty and crunchy alternative: the mung bean.

Boulder-based Crunchsters Inc., formerly known as Highlight Foods Inc., is raising $2.8 million in an equity offering, according to a Form D filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on June 19.

Those funds will be used to expand the company’s product line — three flavors of sprouted mung beans flash-fried to make them crispy — to the Eastern U.S., as well as expanding into mainstream grocery and convenience stores and hiring marketing and logistics specialists, CEO Frank Lambert told BizWest.

“We’ve been focused on natural and specialty channels,” Lambert said. “But we feel Crunchsters is a strong crossover product for conventional grocery, convenience and alternative channels.”

Crunchsters started when Lambert, a self-identified inventor, was looking for a snack alternative for his child, who needed a restricted diet. Around that time, he learned about the mung bean: a superfood used often in hospitals in India because it’s easily digested and lacks any allergens. When sprouted, the bean has a high concentration of protein, and then quickly fried in high-quality oil (the key is using monounsaturated oils that don’t break down into less-quality oil, Lambert said) it stays healthy while getting crunchy.

Lambert is now looking to compete with the potato chip, providing a snack that satisfies the craving for crunch but also fills up the consumer.

“This snack tastes like comfort food but is highly nutritious and satisfying,”…