Jeff Boggess required some serious fuel and nourishment to complete his bike and boat tour from Germany to California. He powered this 9,000-mile, ten-month long journey with nuts, nut butters, fruits and honey.
But, as the story goes, “somewhere in Arkansas” Jeff realized he could save substantial space and significant pack weight if he just combined all these delicious snacks into one vessel.
So, he ditched as much unnecessary food packaging as possible and got his hands on a blender, using it to combine nut butter with raisins, honey and “anything else I thought would go well.” He dubbed his concoction JB’s Power Butter, a name that would later morph into Trail Butter.
Once home in Oregon, believing this was a potential business in the making, he banded together with his brother Brad. The two of them started blending up some new creations, eventually churning the idea into a full-fledged nut butter brand.
Smashing the words “trail mix” and “nut butter” together led to calling their product Trail Butter, and in 2011 Jeff and Brad’s business was officially born.
Equipped with a repurposed kids’ bike trailer that housed a wooden box and an umbrella on top, Jeff and Brad started selling Trail Butter at local farmer’s markets in Portland. They offered up samples in the form of “TB+J” sandwiches, and the brand steadily grew from there.
“The very first batch actually went south,” Jeff recalled. They had been using vanilla extract in their smaller test batches. But when they added it to their first big batch the butter “turned into a dry, cookie dough-like lump.”
“Not cool,” Jeff said. Lesson learned. They now use real, ground vanilla throughout.
In time, they parted ways with using peanuts, too. It was an obvious, elemental ingredient, but in an effort to address some customer feedback related to allergies, the brand now exclusively uses roasted California almonds in all their blends.
Jeff is proud to work as closely with growers and suppliers as possible. In addition to using almonds from California’s Central Valley, Trail Butter sources sea salt harvested from the Oregon coast and buys locally roasted coffee beans too.
No matter if you call it a blended trail mix or spreadable bar, their mission remains consistent: create delicious, nutritious, and all-natural food while using whole, unprocessed ingredients.
It’s no surprise the nut butter world hosts some healthy competition. According to Jeff, Trail Butter rises above its rivals through both its simplicity and complexity.
“We process it as little as possible,” he explained of their blends. “You still get the experience of chewing into an actual cranberry.”
“It’s also much more than just nuts,” Jeff said of the complexity. “I feel like the nuts are more of a vessel for more good things. It’s whole food nutrition.”
And, at Trail Butter they take nutrition seriously. The brand consults with food scientists and performance nutrition specialists in an effort to truly align their product with their mission — provide all-natural, balanced and slow-burning energy.
“I come from a consumer perspective,” Jeff said, adding that his focus is making the product tasty, fun, and inviting. “But then we go back and forth with the food specialist to embed the nutritional side into the blends, so it has a scientific approach too.”
Jeff describes the Trail Butter crew as a handful of “scrappy and enthusiastic” team members; a tribe of adventurous ambassadors; and Jumbo, the four-legged, tail wagging Barketing Director. “It’s fun to see each person’s strengths contribute to some exciting new development,” he said.
“And props to my parents,” he added, who have been involved on the sidelines since Day One. “They’re the best sales people we have!”
Jeff also deeply appreciates the bonds he’s made with the outdoor community thanks to Trail Butter. “The adventures you get to help fuel, the people you meet through the product; I love sharing it with friends and people we meet along the trail.”
Reflecting on nearly a decade in business, Jeff admitted a little naiveté and lack of awareness can actually be useful. “Everything is so incremental, you can’t always see the growth. But, it’s pretty satisfying that all the hard work does lead to something very rewarding.”