Contributor: Josh Person
Josh has a background in social media marketing, copywriting and content development. With a deep-rooted passion for the entrepreneurial spirit of the natural food industry, Josh has worked for a number of startups. Connect with him on his website, blog, LinkedIn and Instagram to learn more about his experience, interests and passion for natural foods.
Minneapolis may be known as the City of Lakes, but turns out it is also the City of Food Startups!
Minneapolis has long been a player in the food and agriculture industry, home of notable names like General Mills, Cargill, Land O’Lakes, and Target. From this history, a diverse ecosystem of local food entrepreneurs has grown. With newbies and seasoned vets alike, and varying backgrounds and cultures represented, Minneapolis is a robust city for makers to thrive.
Between the number of shared kitchen spaces, food halls, farmers markets, incubators and accelerator programs, it’s clear that the Twin Cities are ripe with budding food brands.
These Minneapolis-based food and beverage innovators – from founders mixing up fresh takes on pantry staples, to experienced entrepreneurs developing innovative new snacks – are changing the food industry. Get to know ’em, and let us know if we missed your favorite.
Did we miss any Minneapolis food startups? Give them a shout in the comments or on Instagram!
Freak Flag Foods: Sauces
Raise your freak flag and wave it proud! Fueled with the belief that what we eat is a reflection of who we are, Minneapolis creative Fred Haberman (founder of local ad agency The Haberman Group) and chef Mary Jane Miller joined forces to start Freak Flag Foods. The duo created their line of culturally-inspired sauces (hello, Kick’n Curry Mole!) to make self expression in the kitchen convenient, fun and delicious for all.
Atlas Provisions: Popped Lotus Snacks
Pass on the popcorn, and pick up a bag of Atlas Provisions popped lotus snacks instead. Former General Mills associate marketing manager Sarah Pritzker founded Atlas Provisions with the belief that food is something that brings different cultures together. Her company is committed to sourcing natural, sustainable ingredients from across the globe to facilitate cultural exchange. Find these light and crunchy snacks popping up in select retailers across Minneapolis and the Midwest, as well as in their online shop.
Lake State Kombucha
Drake Ellingboe started crafting his kombucha in his mom’s kitchen while looking for a healthier alternative to energy drinks. This booch is fermented locally in small batches with no added sugars, carbonation or pasteurization. Lake State Kombucha is available on tap and by the bottle at select retailers across the Midwest.
Darling Pickle Dips
Some friends come and go, but a shared passion for food keeps these two co-founders together. Britt Jungerberg and Sara Doherty (friends since 9th grade!) started selling their pickled vegetable, white bean and cream cheese-based dips at farmers markets across Minneapolis in 2017. In 2018, Darling Pickle Dips was selected to take part in Land O’Lakes’ dairy accelerator program.
Five high school friends, a community kitchen and a goal of creating a healthier granola bar form the story behind Nomi, a fresh fruit and oat-based snack bar. Though the brand’s name has evolved since the 2012 start (originally sold under the GüdBar name, and later FreshBar before the 2018 rebrand to nomi), the team’s commitment to creating healthy snacking continues. Get these gluten-free bars online and in the produce section in a number of retailers across the Midwest (like Target and Hy-Vee!).
Superior Switchel founder Melina Lamer fell in love with the drink — an elixir of water, ginger, apple cider vinegar and unrefined sweetener (think kombucha meets ginger ale) — after using it to rehydrate after hockey practice while in college. She started making her own and selling it at local farmers markets. With new flavors and fresh packaging, the brand launched national distribution in 2017.
Mary Kosir developed the original recipe for WholeMe after her husband was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, and she started selling it at a local Crossfit gym. It took off! In 2014, she joined forces with Minneapolis pastry chef Krista Steinbach, and together they launched a successful Kickstarter campaign. A pioneer in the grain-free snack category, WholeMe has since grown to national distribution. Snag a bag of their paleo clusters online, and in retailers such as Whole Foods and Natural Grocers.
Toom: Dips and Spreads
Straight from the classroom and into the kitchen! After he graduated from college, Toom founder and “Chief Sauce Man” Matt Joyce perfected his family’s garlic dip recipe and started selling it to Minneapolis locales. Ever the go-getter, Matt’s dips were a finalist in the 2015 General Mills-backed MN Cup contest. Available in four distinct flavors like Buffalo and Pesto, Toom can be found in a number of retailers across the Midwest.
Double Take Salsa
Chunk-full and flavor-forward, each Double Take product has a unique personality, from the sweet, spicy and smoky Machismo to the garlicky kick of El Jefe. Founder Bernie Dahlin started packing and selling his salsas at local farmers markets, and has since introduced a line of inventive hot sauces and launched an online shop. His products can also be found in retailers across Minnesota and Wisconsin. The heat is on!
Two camp counselors, a campfire, and a love for s’mores were the kindling that sparked this better-for-you line of marshmallows. North Mallow’s products are made using simple ingredients, like cane sugar and organic vanilla, and come in 3 flavors: Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Chip and Caramel Swirl. Recently, the brand launched in Target stores across Minneapolis. Sweet!
Maddy & Maize: Gourmet Popcorn
Maddy & Maize got its claim to fame after being chosen as an afterparty snack at both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards in 2016. This small-batch popcorn brand is the brainchild of Brett Striker, whose love for (but boredom with) plain popcorn led him to experimenting in the kitchen. With innovative and indulgent flavors like Raspberry Lemonade and Cookies & Cream, Brett is changing the popcorn game. Get a bag for yourself on Amazon.
Seven Sundays: Meusli
If you’re like most, you may have never tried muesli before. Seven Sundays wants to change that. After discovering it on their New Zealand honeymoon, the founders wanted to bring this nourishing breakfast staple — a mix of oats, fruit and seeds — back to the States. They perfected the recipe, started selling at the Minneapolis Farmers Market in 2011, and have since grown the company to national distribution.
Jonny Pops: Frozen Fruit Bars
Frozen pops with purpose! Erik Brust, the mind behind JonnyPops, developed his fruit-based frozen bars as a healthy, allergen-free alternative to sugar-laden treats of his childhood. Today the company produces eleven flavors and counting, and employs 50+ people at its St. Louis Park headquarters. JonnyPops is available in retailers nationwide.
Humble Nut Butter
What started as a craving for something savory, sweet, smokey and salty, led to John and Jess Waller starting Humble Nut Butter. Honesty, integrity and love go into each handmade jar of their savory nut butters, which the couple first started selling at farmers markets across the Twin Cities. Today, Humble can be found at Lakewinds and Linden Hills Co-Ops in Minneapolis, as well as online on the company site, on Amazon, and on Bubble. Read more about this husband-wife story in Foodboro’s Meet a Maker feature!
So Good Brand: Juices and Bottled Beverages
Dissatisfied with the state of the industrial food system, Rita Katona and her husband Eric founded So Good Brands with a goal of creating products that are nourishing for the mind, body and soul. Committed to sustainability, So Good has even invested in a zero-waste production facility. Their products include probiotic shots, nut-based milks and coffees, and cold-pressed juices. So good!
Whether you’re launching a food and beverage business of your own or just wanting to connect with other foodpreneurs in the community, these resources in and around the Twin Cities can help you in your pursuit.
- Make it MSP
- The Lynhall
- Kitchen Space MN
- City Food Studio
- Midwest Pantry
- Food Building
- MN Brands for Good
- Minneapolis Impact Hub
- Kindred Kitchen
- University of Minnesota Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship