When I sat down with Jamie Kim ’19, the co-founder of bumble & butter, an organic, locally sourced granola company based in Ithaca, I wanted to find out what differentiates her product in the crowded granola snack market. Her response not only gave me insight into this question but also set the tone for how this company is revolutionizing the way one thinks, eats, and snacks on granola. She replied, “people should think of granola as a crunchy topping or snack that doesn’t only have to go with milk and yogurt.” Indeed, this young entrepreneur has challenged what we think about granola by incorporating it into a variety of dishes and introducing flavors never developed in the granola market to date.
bumble & butter has gone from concept to full-blown company in the course of merely a year. Initially hatched from Jamie’s marketing class, bumble & butter has grown to sell in many locations around campus and the Ithaca community, even reaching the broader audience of New York City this summer at Smorgasbord, the nation’s largest and most competitive open-air food market. Jamie even mentions that they recently signed a deal with Urthbox, a healthy snack subscription service. Gaining more exposure has allowed Jamie to grow her presence as a savory granola leader with a physical presence in Ithaca and a growing online presence.
Everything about bumble & butter is meticulously curated — from the small drawings of the flavors stamped on each bag to the name of the company. The name comes from the butter that is locally sourced from Hamilton and locally sourced honey from Ithaca Honey Works. These two ingredients are central to the granola, as Jamie found that using butter brought more flavor and nutrition to the granola.
Currently, they have three main flavors; vanilla bean with dried cherries, rosemary with Zante currants, and sharp cheddar with cracked black pepper. Each flavor was crafted by Jamie with its own distinct story. For example, Jamie had the idea of having the granola so saturated in vanilla that the flecks are visible on the pieces. Each flavor is more than just a typical granola flavor, it’s a carefully constructed story and distinctively unique. Jamie mentions that their initial goal of the three main flavors was to create three core flavors for the brand. She plans to incorporate new flavors into the future and even expand to holiday flavors as well.
Upon first bite, I was delightfully surprised at the intensity of the vanilla bean that was perfectly complemented by the dried cherries. The sharp cheddar with cracked black pepper was inspired by cheddar popcorn as well as what Jamie describes as the ideal combination of honey and cheese. I found myself reaching for another bite before I finished the first. It was unlike any snack I had ever had, with more crunch than popcorn and fuller flavor of cheddar. I later sprinkled it on tomato soup and found myself devising new plans of what dinner dishes I could garnish with my bags of bumble & butter granola.
bumble & butter’s key differentiator is their exploration of savory granola. Their website boasts a variety of recipes including using granola as a salad topper or on carrots. Jamie highlights using her rosemary granola on top of Greek yogurt drizzled with olive oil as her favorite way to eat granola. The ways to incorporate granola into savory dishes are endless and bumble & butter is not only changing the way people think about and use granola but it is tapping into a new enclave of an established market.
Jamie admits that the road has not been easy. Juggling school work and a business has proved to be a challenge at times, but with the help of a few of her friends, Jamie has been able to successfully expand and grow. The people she’s met have given her the support to grow and develop bumble & butter. In addition, she credits the hotel school for helping push her and build her confidence to building the company.
When asked about future plans for bumble & butter, Jamie mentions that she would like to continue to grow and expand both online and physically in Ithaca. She says she likes the idea of granola as a gift — in fact, this summer she hand-packed 500 bags for a wedding. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Just go out there and do it. It’s so easy to be scared but it’s important to just try it and go from there.” bumble & butter is a testament to this and their impact on the granola market is sure to make waves and change the way we use and think about granola.
bumble & butter granola is available at GreenStar, CTB, Manndibles and online at bumbleandbutter.com
Alex is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is passionate about food entrepreneurship at Cornell. Each month, she highlights notable developments in the food entrepreneurship community including outstanding startups and revolutionary research, seeking to give a voice to the increasingly prominent food community in Ithaca. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.