The OP company is relaunching its Tasty Mix after a year away from store shelves.
Guy’s Snacks, one of the city’s longest-running food brands, is reintroducing its popular Tasty Mix to store shelves.
Tasty Mix—a seasoned blend of pretzels, cheese puffs, toasted O’s, crackers and other ingredients—has been a top-selling product for the company, behind only Guy’s Barbeque Potato Chips, CEO Janine Joslin said.
For most of 2015, though, Tasty Mix was out of production. An out-of-state company had been making the snack on Guy’s behalf, but missed deadlines. Joslin decided to find a local company to take over.
That was an unexpectedly tough challenge because many food manufacturers have stopped handling any products that include peanuts, a key ingredient in Tasty Mix. Joslin eventually chose to swap them out for cashews so that production could start back up.
“It’s been a huge learning experience for me to get this product back on the shelves,” she said.
One of KC’s Longest-Running Food Brands
Guy’s Snacks hired Advanced Food Services, a Lenexa company that specializes in blending and packaging.
“You have to take all of our components, which is pretzels, cheese balls, cheese crackers, cashews, and put them in a big old tumbler, and you mix in oil and seasoning and tumble it,” Joslin said.
Her company sells 10 flavors of potato chips and four snack products in seven states. A business in eastern Missouri makes the chips, and the other snacks are produced out of state.
Guy’s Snacks has been around in one form or another since 1938, when Guy and Frances Caldwell started selling roasted peanuts around Kansas City. Guy’s bills itself as the first producer of barbecue-flavored potato chips in the United States, and it employed about 1,000 people at its peak.
Over the years, the company changed ownership, and at one point, it belonged to the now-defunct Borden family of food businesses. Joslin and her team purchased the Guy’s brand a few years ago after a previous owner declared bankruptcy.
‘We’re Not a Manufacturer, We’re a Distributor’
Today, Guy’s Snacks is in much stronger shape. Joslin’s previous experience was in the nonprofit world, and it was good training for Guy’s. She had gone into several nonprofit organizations that were struggling and helped get them back on track.
One of the keys to Guy’s turnaround, Joslin said, is the company handed production off to others and focused on what it does best.
“We’re not a manufacturer, we’re a distributor,” Joslin said. “So we distribute our brand.”
Under her leadership, Guy’s Snacks has boosted its online sales—it ships cases of Guy’s to individuals across the country—and even opened up a retail location in Overland Park in 2013. So many people popped into their corporate offices, asking to buy chips, that it just made sense.
Now that Tasty Mix is back up and running, it could be a growth opportunity for Guy’s. Most potato chip companies tend to be regional businesses because different parts of the country prefer different tastes when it comes to chips. But Joslin believes the Tasty Mix could find success beyond the Midwest.
“We’re finally positioned to take it bigger.”