Last weekend I attended the Nourished Festival, previously known as the Gluten-Free Expo, in Del Mar. The last few big events I’ve been to have been work-related. This time I was excited to explore as a guest instead of manning a booth. I was planning on taking a bunch of photos, and doing an entire post on the event. But instead of a breezy wander around the booths my time was actually spent elbowing my way through a sea of people. It was totally packed – which is a great thing! With so many people inflicted by serious food allergies, it’s awesome that there’s a growing specialty foods industry that can meet their needs. There were chips and chocolate, bread and beer, some kind of cheesy bites and energy shots.
The highlight for me was meeting the founder of one of my favorite San-Diego based companies – Rickaroons! My computer is trying to auto-correct Rickaroon. Um, try and keep up Apple. I discovered Rickaroons, a healthy spin-off of macaroon cookies, at People’s Market in OB a few months ago. It was around October and I was snatching up anything that shouted ‘PUMPKIN’ on the shelves. Normally I’m not an energy bar fan. They tend to be bland, chalky, and unsatisfying. But I liked the name Rickaroon, the ingredients were clean, and the package read ‘PUMPKIN SPICE’ – so I gave it a try. Could something so nutrient-dense also be light and fluffy? Could something in the shape of a mini hockey puck be flavorful and satisfying? Yes it can! Rickaroons are that something!
Behind the Rickaroons booth at the festival, there was a tall guy with a name tag that read ‘Rick.’ “Are you THE Rick?” I asked. (A company can have more than one Rick, I guess.) “Sure am!” What a friendly cheerful dude. I tried a few flavors until the flood of gluten-free goers took over my spot – they probably heard me proclaiming my love for this product and wanted to see what all the fuss was about (you’re welcome guys). I bought a box of the Peanut Butter flavor (YUM) and asked Rick if I could ask him a few questions for my blog. “Really only my mom and a few people at work read it” – great way to sell yourself Alexa. “Absolutely! Here’s my card!” Rick was ecstatic to chat with me! A San-Diego company, with a delicious nutritious product, and friendly people? I was already sold but now I’m an unofficial Rickaroon hype(wo)man! Here’s a bit of my Q&A with The Rick!
Alexa Brynne: Did you have a lot of experience cooking or baking before creating Rickaroons?
Rick: The genesis of Rickaroons started in the early 2000s. (You can read our backstory on our website.) Prior to that, I had no baking experience. At the time, my assignment from my then-girlfriend was: If you really love me, you’ll make me a cookie I can eat. She had several food allergies due to MS [Multiple Sclerosis], and I had to make a recipe with no wheat or dairy. At the time, I was an excellent stovetop chef, but not a baker.
AB: What made you choose coconut as the base?
Rick: Originally my emphasis was on creating the best gluten-free cookie ever. I had achieved this goal by about 2012, and was actually going to start my second cookie company (first one was in 2003) with a fabulous brown rice flour recipe I had developed over the previous several years. I had been using shredded coconut to soften the cookie, so that it was not so brittle.
AB: How many iterations were there before landing on the perfect recipe?
Rick: I was making [the previously mentioned] amazing brown rice flour chocolate chip cookies, and one day I woke up and asked myself “why not make them without any flour at all, and see what happens?” The very first batch of the unnamed future Rickaroons was incredibly good. It really took only a very minor tweak or two before the recipe was dialed in.
AB: What was the first Rickaroon flavor?
Rick: Chocolate Chip, of course! It’s the one that is now known as the Chocolate Blonde.
AB: Were you eating a Paleo diet prior to inventing Rickaroons?
Rick: No- I am a vegan. My son is the one who pursued getting us a Paleo certification. We were told a couple years ago that we were actually the first product ever Paleo-approved.
AB: Rad! What’s next for Rickaroons? Would you ever expand the product line?
Rick: We are going to launch our own line of custom-made chocolate chips, made with no cane sugar. We will introduce those at Expo West next month.
AB: Any new flavors on the horizon? (P.S. I am loving the peanut butter version and am obsessed with the pumpkin flavor.)
Rick: we have lots of flavors in the pipeline. It’s really a matter of getting just a little more traction with the products/flavors we already have, and then introducing new flavors will follow.
Thanks for your time, Rick! I’m taking a few to work to keep at my desk right now. For more info on Rickaroons and where to buy, see below!