Snow Days may be a new product from HumanCo‘s Founder and CEO Jason Karp, but the idea behind it is one that’s deeply familiar to the serial entrepreneur. Inspired by his mission to encourage healthier lifestyles, Snow Days is reimagining the frozen food space in a HumanCo kind of way.
“It’s much more than just a pizza bite,” Karp told us. “Enjoying food, especially comfort foods associated with family, laughter, and joy, should provide you with a feeling of freedom (and not skeptical vigilance) and Snow Days does that.”
We caught up with him to learn more about the newly launched product, how modern CPG brands are being built differently today than they were even just a few years ago, and more.
ForceBrands: What inspired you to launch this product?
Jason Karp: As someone who has battled several autoimmune diseases, I understand the now common struggle of finding clean and nutritious comfort food that is also delicious. My journey to cure myself and maintain a sustainably healthy lifestyle has led me to dedicate my life to make healthier living less confusing and more accessible. Snow Days is our first incubated brand for reimagining the frozen food space in a HumanCo way. We are cleaning up comfort food and providing a better option that takes no shortcuts on ingredients, sustainability, and taste.
FB: Why now?
JK: I am a firm believer that you do not need to sacrifice comfort and taste for nutrition. As a child, frozen (junky) finger foods were a staple in my diet and Snow Days can provide even the most skeptical consumers with a delicious and super-clean version of your childhood favorites. Now more than ever, as we seek comfort in food, these nostalgic pizza bites are the perfect throwback meal. In light of the COVID pandemic, we’ve seen a massive increase in demand for frozen offerings, and pizza has become a trending item thanks to its convenience and flavor profile. Snow Days is the perfect marriage between these two trends and is facilitating this growing consumer demand by offering a healthy alternative without any compromises.
FB: The frozen food category is incredibly crowded; what sets this product apart?
JK: As a conscientious consumer, I’ve been disappointed with most frozen food options. They’re highly processed and contain unwanted added sugars, cheap industrial oils, and low-quality often fake ingredients. Snow Days’ products are made without any of those crappy ingredients. Our organic, grain-free pizza bites are filled with seven nutrient-rich vegetables and sustainably farmed grass-fed mozzarella. And the crispy, golden dough is so delicious you won’t even know it is also grain and gluten-free. We also believe that our mission will open a world of possibility for conscious consumers. It’s much more than just a pizza bite. Enjoying food, especially comfort foods associated with family, laughter, and joy, should provide you with a feeling of freedom (and not skeptical vigilance) and Snow Days does that.
FB: What’s in a name? Why Snow Days?
JK: Today, consumers are making much more informed and responsible choices with foods. However, as we get more educated with the dangers of modern living, the free, happy child inside all of us has been silenced. As adults, we face the hard truth: the foods from our youth, which once represented happiness, freedom, and a sense of possibility, were actually junk food. They’re typically filled with lazy, crappy ingredients that we shouldn’t eat.
We at HumanCo and countless others miss the delicious, indulgent, comfort foods that we didn’t realize lacked nutritional value. We miss the guilt-free feeling of eating whatever we want. We long for the taste of our childhood, before life got complicated, and before we learned what was “good” and “bad” for our bodies.
Remember that blissful, carefree euphoria of your youth? Remember that feeling and excitement of a childhood surprise “snow day” when school was canceled due to the weather? Snow Days is all about bringing fun-filled memories straight to your kitchen table. We captured that feeling in a product and that is the genesis of our name.
FB: You already built Hu from the ground up and it was acquired by Mondelēz. Do you foresee a similar journey with Snow Days?
JK: First and foremost, with Snow Days we plan to bring a world of clean, organic, and sustainable frozen meals into the lives of those looking for trustworthy products that don’t sacrifice taste or fun. Our larger mission at HumanCo is to advance healthy living through cleaner, and more responsible products. It’s hard to say at this point what path Snow Days will take, but we believe there is an incredible amount of opportunity.
FB: What does the future of frozen look like? How has it been affected by the pandemic?
JK: The pandemic created significant growth in frozen food as consumers continue to lean toward comfort foods that are convenient and easy to make. At Snow Days, we don’t see this trend slowing down anytime soon and believe that consumer demand for high-quality frozen options will continue to drive meaningful innovation.
FB: What were some of the biggest lessons building the Hu brand that you’ve been able to apply to Snow Days?
JK: At Hu, we always believed it was possible to combine simple, clean ingredients with uncompromising taste. We first did that with our award-winning chocolate and continued to innovate with other shelf-stable snacks that met our strict standards. Our growth and brand-loyalty were a result of our consumers trusting that we would only create and release a product if it was epic — in ingredients, experience, and taste. Today, there are too many healthy products that don’t taste great or live up to demanding consumer expectations.
We spent outrageous amounts of time on product R&D and iteration. It slows down the innovation process, but we believed it was worth it at Hu. While HumanCo is focused on different categories outside shelf-stable snacking, we apply the same exacting standards for ingredient quality and taste so that consumers can trust that we, as HumanCo, are probably the most demanding of any consumer.
Consumer experience, above all else, is the highest priority.
FB: Even though it wasn’t that long ago that you launched Hu as Hu Kitchen in 2012, the consumer brand universe has evolved at a fast clip. How are modern CPG brands built today? How has Snow Days’ journey differed from Hu?
JK: The CPG industry has evolved rapidly since 2012 with countless challenger brands providing better-for-you options. Most notably, Hu began as a retail-first brand while most new brands we see today are heavily DTC-focused. There are now a shocking number of brands doing 8 figures of revenue, all online, that very few people have even heard of. I view these as online businesses more than I view them as brands. I actually don’t see many durable brands, in the classic sense of the word, being built today in the CPG space.
When Jordan (Brown), Jessica (Karp), and I started Hu, our brand promise was everything to us. Our brand identity, what we stood for, what we were willing and not willing to do always came before profits and business.
A good brand, in my view, is like a reputation — it takes years to build and it can be ruined in seconds. And most importantly, a great brand is priceless and cannot be bought with any amount of money.
Snow Days, and our other brands at HumanCo, mark my next chapter after the Hu journey. Given that it is in a very different category and addresses a different need for consumers than Hu, the approach has to be different in many ways. However, the philosophy, ethos, and demanding standards that are part of me will always be the same no matter what area of health and wellness we focus on.
FB: What excites you most about the future of Snow Days?
JK: We believe we have a big runway in front of us to help the conscious consumer. While we are starting with a focus on the nostalgic pizza bite, we see a large number of frozen comfort foods that could benefit from an upgrade. We cannot wait to continue taking the crappy ingredients out of meals we all know and love to create better clean and sustainable options.