Raising the Bar

With new recipes and branding, R.E.D.D. Bar perfects plant-based nutrition

As a student at the University of Maine in 2010, Alden Blease burned through his meal plan money too quickly and had to find his own affordable, nutrient-dense plant-based food. One day he stopped at the local health food store and bought some ingredients in bulk—coconut, goji berries, cacao, and oat bran—then bound them all together with agave syrup. “This mishmash gave me tons of energy and sustained me throughout an entire week,” says Blease. He returned to the store the following week to improve the blend. The recipe was a hit, and his friends quickly became his first customers. Soon, Blease began to run a circuit around Maine selling his product to local health food stores. Finally, after partnering with a buyer and developing branding, he launched R.E.D.D. Bar in June 2014. “Success was almost immediate at Whole Foods in Portland,” says Blease. “It was our only Whole Foods store, and that success led to the decision by Whole Foods to bring R.E.D.D. Bar into the entire North Atlantic region.”

In 2018 the Brunswick-based company underwent a complete transformation. Packaging and branding were updated, and recipes were reexamined. The company removed caffeine from the bars, reduced sugar from 14 grams to 3 to 5 grams, and added adaptogens (ingredients that help our bodies adapt to stress, such as certain mushrooms) to every bar. As for the future of R.E.D.D. Bar, Blease, who is head of research and development, is steadily working on new flavors and exploring other offerings. He’ll sometimes make hundreds of batches of a single formula just to ensure that it’s right. “Even then, you can continue to perfect a product,” Blease says.

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