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Food Artisans: Early Bird Granola

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[Photograph: Stephanie Klose]

Early Bird Granola founder Nekisia Davis credits Betsy Devine of Salvatore Bklyn with the idea for her latest product. The companies share a commercial kitchen space and, Davis says, "spend a lot of time eating each other's products." Devine said something to her about how nice it would be to have granola that was easier to eat out of hand and the Crack of Dawn granola bars were born.

The B-Bars—"the B stands for whatever you want it to: Bird, Breakfast, Brooklyn..." Davis says—don't correspond exactly to any of the existing Early Bird granola flavors. "It's a different process," Davis explains, involving "toasting and pressing and cutting," so the ingredients have to vary slightly. The bars contain honey, for example, which renders them non-vegan, but does help them hold their shape. They do fall into the same sweet/salty family as the other products, though. "We basically cover the top with Maldon sea salt," Davis adds.

Early Bird's use of olive oil in their products contributes to their signature flavor, though its inclusion was almost by happenstance. "It was the only oil I had when I started," Davis says, "I had no idea if it would work." Luckily, it did and it ended up being one of the elements of those early batches that she liked the most. "It gives a really nice savory depth and imparts a lot of flavor," she says.

Davis says she's happy with the company's granola line-up, Farmhand's Choice (pecan, pepita, and sunflower seed), Jubilee (sour cherry and pistachio), and Choc-a-doodle-do (dark chocolate and coconut), and that it's unlikely Early Bird will add any new flavors there anytime soon. However, she'd like to have at least one more granola bar flavor, most likely involving peanut butter and most likely coming onto the scene in 2012.

While Early Bird is widely available around the region and has increasing national distribution, Davis has a marker of success in mind aside from adding products to their line and retailers to their vendor list: "I'll know that Early Bird has really made it when we're a staple in Ellen and Portia's pantry."

About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.

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