The Toasted Oat Has Soft Spot for Nostalgia
This gluten-free bakehouse uses old school recipes to hit sweet note for restricted diets
Think of your go-to snack: maybe it’s a little salty, or a little sweet. More likely than not, it’s something you can take with you on the go and hits the spot when you’re in between meals. But what about if you’re gluten-free, or trying to follow a healthier lifestyle? What if you’d like to stay away from GMO products? Suddenly, your simple snack has a lot of boxes to check before it can find its way into your diet. For Columbus-based The Toasted Oat, restrictions like these are part of their soft granola solution, which rolled out nationwide in 2018. With a modern twist on an old favorite, the bakehouse team hopes to revolutionize the gluten-free snack market.
“The Toasted Oat is a soft-baked granola that uses my grandmother’s recipe, but with a unique spin,” said Erika Boll, founder and CEO. “I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 11 years ago, so during the time period when I was re-discovering what I could eat, I went back through a lot of recipes and tried to reinvent or re-ignite some family favorites with new ingredients that I could eat.”
With a focus on preserving that old-school family nostalgia, The Toasted Oat’s soft-baked granola resembles what Boll calls a “deconstructed cookie.” It’s distinct texture and commitment to indulgence means the snack can be added as a topping to yogurt, balled up and eaten on the go, or even serve as a replacement for cheesecake crust and the breading of a pork tenderloin. The tech behind the granola’s versatility? A proprietary list of ingredients like organic honey and molasses that preserve taste and quality.
“For us, it starts with the taste and the food experience, which is lacking in a lot of gluten-free and natural products,” said Boll. “We don’t try to boast and say we’re a Paleo product or latch onto different diet trends. We’re trying to give consumers, specifically those who cannot have gluten or have sensitivity to gluten, the same experience they remember having before that diagnosis. It’s really about a whole food indulgent experience — taking handcrafted, small-batch recipes and bringing them to a modern application.”
Not only have other gluten-free and non-gluten-free consumers noticed, they’ve demanded more. Boll, who started out using ingredients from Whole Foods, can now see her product rolled out nationally in their stores. With the help of Rev1 Ventures, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier, The Toasted Oat team plans to continue to grab spots on stores shelves while also considering a recipe book that compiles their weekly recommendations into one delicious guide.
“We started talking to Rev1 very early on and initially they were a local partnership for us, helping us network and navigate in the venture capital space,” said Boll. “Now, they’re investors in The Toasted Oat and their partnership has been great for our company. I think it’s really good to have local support and we’re excited they saw the potential in us.”
With nostalgia at the forefront of The Toasted Oat’s baking, it’s no surprise that Boll, an Ohio native has cherished the connections she’s made within the startup community.
“I’m a family person, I grew up here and my extended family is here,” said Boll. “Having that local support when you’re running a startup in something like consumer-packaged goods is important because you need help to get it off the ground. As I expand across the country, I ask, ‘what works in Ohio, and how can I replicate that same nostalgia, sense of family and authenticity,’ because that mentality made us successful in the beginning.”
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