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Student-run Absurd Snacks trail mix expands beyond the classroom to Richmond shelves

Absurd Snacks trail mix

The mascot of Absurd Snacks is on every bag — his name is Bean Boy. | Photo provided.

Absurd Snacks is a born-from-a-dorm-room company that sells alternative trail mixes made with roasted beans, clusters of granola + chickpeas. This year-old bagged business got its start not in a kitchen, but at the University of Richmond.

We spoke with recent UR grad and Absurd Snacks team member Grace Mittl. She credits Bench Top Innovations — a yearlong class she took — with spurring the company into existence. 16 students were able to create a snack food, then turn it into a revenue-making business.

In Grace’s group — which included the trio that now run the company full time — trail mix came to mind while a classmate was grabbing a bite in class.

“I was on a team with a guy who had a food allergy, and he would always eat the same kind of granola bar made of seeds and natural sweeteners,” Grace said. “There’s not a lot of allergy-friendly snacks out there. Our group asked, ‘what’s a snack that is very exclusive to people with allergies?’ Trail mix was a no-brainer.”

Three people sitting on a bench.

The bean team (from left to right): Eli Bank, Grace Mittl + Maeve McCormick. | Photo provided.

Grace, who grew up baking + cooking with family in PA, floated beans as a crunchy legume replacement. The sweet treats have only grown from there. They sell in Richmond and Charlottesville, but plan to expand the company within the River City before moving around VA and beyond.

“Our packaging is local. Our production is local…We’re based here, and that’s where our heart is,” Grace said.

The colorful bags of Chocolate + Maple Cinnamon Trail Mix can be found at ~20 local shops, cafes and markets, including Ellwood Thompson’s, Stella’s Grocery locations + ShoreDog Café.

Absurd Snacks products are on the sweet side for now, but more savory flavors are dropping this fall. Granola bars could be on the shelves by 2023.

This story got you feeling munchy? Catch Grace + her teammates at SHIFT Retail Lab for a “Taste the Bean” pop-up happy hour today from 4-7:30 p.m. There will be new Absurd merch, live music, drinks, and a first-of-its-kind bean tasting flight.

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