Hard Bar started from a need for better energy. Headaches and sore teeth from a season of eating bars full of processed sugar wasn’t a sustainable way to go on.
From a falling to pieces kitchen in Chamonix, crushing ingredients with ice axe hammers, we’re slowly learning, growing and trying to do the right thing.
Take the business of being a good business seriously. Do the right thing. Not to take ourselves too seriously. Keep getting out there and having adventures with our friends.
We started selling homemade bars, wrapped in tin foil, to our friends, because they asked us to and we figured we might be able to raise a bit of cash for a good cause along the way. That’s what we’re still doing.
So that’s the short version….here’s a longer one!
During 2015, in his first summer of working as a mountain guide, Morgan found that the energy bars and gels available then just weren’t doing the job. Not only where they not providing stable energy release for long days out, they were so processed that after several weeks they’d cause his teeth and head to be sore.
In the quiet of an arctic autumn in Lofoten, Norway, Morgan figured he might as well try out something else. He made the first batch, using fruit, nuts and seeds. The following winter this batch arrived in Chamonix, and ended up in the kitchen of the flat Morgan & Mark were sharing. Before long, they’d all gone. Production was not very high tech. Green plastic food boxes from Ikea, and ice axe to turn cloves into clove powder. Aluminium foil for wrapping, and fruit and nuts all over everything.
Mark joined the production team for the next few batches so he didn’t have to ask every time he wanted some for the hills. The experimenting began with whatever we could get our hands on.
We shared our homemade bars with our friends. They liked them, so we made some more. These all got eaten. We jokingly called them Morgan’s Hard Bars. The moniker stuck, and before too long we were taking over the kitchen on a regular basis, and even ordered some stickers to help keep the tin foil closed up.
Turns out that tin foil isn’t the easiest thing to open with cold, gloved, fingers and that keeping up with demand in a falling to bits kitchen didn’t seem like a viable long term plan. It did mean our first batches had some pretty awesome testing though. Together with our friends we tried them in the mountains of Greenland, Svalbard, Lofoten, Lyngen the Dolomites and numerous classic Chamonix lines.
The summer and autumn of 2016 was time to completely change gear. Morgan diverted his flights from New Zealand to Norway via Heathrow, and for his first trip to the UK we went on a tour of industrial parks all across the country. We hunted around a variety of places, got to wear some very fetching white coats, and learnt that larger scale food production and packaging isn’t quite as simple as we hoped it might be.
While the dream packaging of having some biodegradable that’s easy to open with one gloved hand is still a little way off, we have come a long way.
The winter of 2016/17 was a tricky one. Our plant to test factory samples over the winter was crushed by a mountain of paperwork. In the end, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Morgan was guiding full time, Mark got sick, then more sick. After three months of being completely incapacitated, rebuilding health has slowly begun, and we’re pressing on.
The summer of 2017 saw our first production scale test runs, which are available to friends and supporters in Chamonix, Sweden, the UK, and various other places we might be. They went down a storm.
Fast forward to March 2018 where 25,000 of our finely tuned Hard Bars arrived on the door-step and our waiting to be owned by the lucky few.
This is very important to us. We are learning as we go, and will probably make mistakes along the way, but for more information about what we’re doing so far, please read about our ethics.