Friday, January 29, 2010

Local Product Spotlight: Custom Choice Cereal

This post is a little overdue so I apologize but I'd like to finally introduce you all to an awesome brand new local company called Custom Choice Cereal. Custom Choice Cereal debuted last summer and has since received a ton of press. See here & here & here & here & here & here & here & here... well you get the idea! I could go on, there are > 50,000 Google search results.

The company offers Gluten Free consumers a unique breakfast option, you're very own customized-exactly-to-your-preferences cereal. As of now there are over 165 million different combinations of custom cereal you can come up with - talk about custom. The company is always looking to expand the offerings of cereal bases and add-ins which would just create that many more choices. The point - a Gluten Free cereal EXACTLY the way you like it! Let's admit it, there is only so much Chex you can eat, right? There are some other custom cereal companies out there, but Custom Choice Cereal is the only one who caters directly to GF consumers by producing the product in a dedicated Gluten Free facility. And luckily for us, it's in our backyard!

I recently had the pleasure to meet the company's founder - Hajo Engelke - a German born transplant inspired by the hugely popular MyMuesli German-based company. Hajo is a recent graduate of the MBA program at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School. The business plan is quite simple: through an intuitive online platform, you can choose a base mix and add any combination of your favorite dried fruits, nuts, and seeds to your cereal.

I had the opportunity to see the cereal mixing facility and witness the hand mixing customization magic first hand. I actually sat in Hajo's office and used his laptop to create my very own custom cereal so creatively dubbed "Gluten-free Raleigh mix" using the company's Web site. The entire process took about 2 minutes.

Through 3 simple steps, you're custom cereal is created.... 1) Choose your cereal base of either cinnamon granola, corn flakes or good morning flakes 2) Add in any number of dried fruits (apples, apricots, banana chips, blueberries, cherries, goji berries, cranberries, pears, pineapple, raisins or strawberries) and 3) Add in any number of nuts or seeds (almonds, coconut, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or walnuts) and voila. A nice touch is the instantly updated ingredients listing and nutritional statement right on the Web site as you add/remove ingredients.

The Gluten-free Raleigh mix shown above included the Corn Flake base with banana chips, cherries, blueberries and pistachios added in. An absolute delight of a snack and cereal option. I pretty much ate about half of the 12oz. bag on the way home from meeting with Hajo, I had missed my normal lunch time and this really hit the spot. The remainder of the bag was munched on by my family that evening and then polished off the next morning at breakfast (actually in a bowl with milk - happy to report no soggy-ness either). Hajo told me that I wouldn't have to worry about the bag lasting very long and he was right. Although it's nice to finally have a resealable bag for cereal - this product honestly doesn't last long enough to need it!

Another nice feature is that you get to name your custom creation and the name is displayed right there on the package. You also are provided with a Mix ID which is a unique number given to your custom mix that you can use again in the future to recreate the exact same cereal with minimal effort. Another thing to note, the cereal actually has a shelf life of 3 months unopened which provides a nice addition to your Gluten Free emergency kit (how many of you have one of these?) Imagine what the Red Cross or some food shelter could provide a Gluten Free consumer in an extreme time of need? Water maybe?

I'd like to also mention that the product can be shipped anywhere in the USA and that each incremental bag purchased costs only $1 extra per bag ($4.50 for the first bag). Luckily for us, Hajo allows for customer pick up days at the facility (located at 4220 Apex Highway, Suite 160, in Durham, North Carolina 27713. Exit 278 on I-40) each Thursday from 1PM to 5PM. This way you can save a little cash and pop in on Hajo and say hello.

Custom Choice Cereal also has a product testing policy which involves the rigorous testing of cereal ingredients using EZ Gluten testing stripes. Samples of each incoming shipment of each ingredient are tested and Hajo works hard with his suppliers to gaurantee Gluten Free ingredients. I feel very comfortable eating this product safely after seeing the testing process and the facility with my own eyes. Gluten Free Raleigh did not need to perform any other testing per my new Product Testing Policy.

There is also a 20% off your entire order Coupon Code available for GFR readers! Hajo has agreed to discount all GFR reader orders by 20%. All you need to do is email me with your entry in the GFR T-Shirt Design contest and I'll respond to you via email with the 20% off coupon code. This discount runs from now until the end of the T-Shirt design contest at the end of February. Custom Choice Cereal is also partnering in that project and will also provide the winner of the design contest with a $15 gift certificate for free cereal. Thanks Hajo!

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Lauren said...

I love Custom Choice Cereal! I've gotten a combination of good morning flakes, bananas, strawberries, and almonds. And you're right...there's only so much Chex we can eat. That part made me smile. :)

Heidi said...

I just saw your post on Custom Choice Cereal, isn't it great?

We went with a GF version of Raisin Bran, yummy!

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