Six years ago, Aileen Sheron, now president of Good Natured Products, Inc., Orange, CA, recognized the need for a nutrition bar made specifically for children. Her 20 years in the fitness industry as an instructor, educator, athlete and video personality had exposed her to the energy/nutrition bar industry from its infancy. In the mid-1990s, after she choreographed and starred in the Weight Watchers Workout series of videos, Ms. Sheron was approached by one of the large bar manufacturers to be its marketing liaison to the fitness industry. Her son, Andrew, was six years old and began eating some of her bars and taking them to school in his lunch.
Ms. Sheron began to question whether it was appropriate for a child to eat an adult nutrition bar. She knew she wouldn't give her son an adult vitamin pill or the adult dose of an over-the-counter medication, so why would she assume that an adult nutrition bar was any different? She and her husband Michael, a sales professional with an MBA, began researching the recommended nutrient levels for children and found that the National Academy of Sciences had established tiered Recommended Dietary Allowances for different age groups. The required "Nutrition Facts" information on food packaging was designed as a catch-all for persons over four years of age. However, the Sherons found that there was often a great disparity between the adult levels and those recommended for a 4-6 year-old child.
Ms. Sheron commented on the bar revolution and her research, "Kids are influenced by the market positioning of many of these products as performance-enhancers, even though they have been formulated for the nutritional requirements of adults.As bars have become an integral part of the lives of many adults, it is not surprising that they have also entered the diets of many children as well." She continued, "Many parents look at nutrition bars as a healthier alternative to the empty calories in many of today's popular snack foods. What they may not realize is that some of these adult bars contain certain nutrients at levels that exceed a child's recommended daily intake by as much as ten times!" (See Table 1.)
By 1997, the Sherons were seriously looking at making their own children's bars. In 1998, they incorporated as Good Natured Products, Inc., consulted with a registered dietitian and went to a top contract manufacturer of nutrition bars. The prime directive was to develop the best tasting bar on the market, using the RDAs for children 7-10 as the nutritional benchmark. It was clear that they would only get one chance to impress the finicky tastes of their target market, children between the ages of 4-14.
In May 1999, they ran the first version of what would become the KidSport® Nutrition Bar. Three flavors were developed: Double Chocolate, Creamy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie. Thousands of samples were tested on children and their parents. "The kids absolutely loved the taste of the bars and their parents were thrilled to find a nutritious product that their kids actually wanted to eat," according to Ms. Sheron. "And with 9-10 grams of protein per bar, plus 25 vitamins and minerals at kids' levels, we knew we had a winner on their hands."
Michael quit his sales position in October 2000 to work full time with Aileen. Finally, in March 2001, the Sherons launched the KidSport bars at Natural Products Expo West. The response was overwhelming and the bars are now making their way into Southern California stores.NW