When you walk into a company that makes a product called “Yumnuts”, it’s tempting to joke about the name. But on a recent visit to Yumnuts Naturals’ office in Norwalk, it was apparent that these guys are serious about their nuts. See, I had to do it, but all kidding aside, the makers of Yumnuts want to know if you’ve said “yum” today? If not, they have just the cashew for you.
In fact, they have six: Toasted Coconut, Honey, Chocolate, Spicy Cajun, Sea Salt and Hot Chili Lime. If you’re in the mood for something savory, go for the Spicy Cajun, a hit among four discerning CTBites tasters. We also loved the Chocolate Cashews, which are dusted in cocoa powder – no heavy milk chocolate coating here - and the Toasted Coconut, which are brushed with a subtle but satisfying coconut powder. If you’re drinking a Margarita, toss that slice of lime and reach for the Hot Chili Lime Cashews instead; they pack almost as much punch as the tequila. And, to give equal and deserving credit to the other flavors, the Honey Cashews have a teasingly light taste of honey and the Sea Salt flavor will please purists who need just a hint of salt and a lot of cashew flavor.
In fact, one of the stand-out features of these nuts is that the all-natural flavorings do not mask a really delicious, premium cashew. There’s a lot of crunch to these nuts and the flavoring complements rather than covers the cashew. I was sold on the taste, but my eyes were really opened when we put a plate of “premium” brand-name cashews next to a plate of Yumnuts. Looks may not be everything in other areas of life, but when it comes to food, appearance matters. The brand-name nuts were smaller, inconsistent in color, over-roasted and covered in oil, salt, sugar, and in one name brand, a thick candy-like coating. The contrast was stark: Yuk, not yum, was the word that came to mind.
Yumnuts Naturals CEO Tyler Ricks explained that Yumnuts are sourced from premium growers in India and dry roasted close to the source, soon after picking to lock in freshness. There are no added oils, no preservatives, no artificial flavors or colors, no artificial sweeteners, no trans- fats and no gluten. Cashews are heart healthy, containing mono unsaturated fat; they are high in protein and in essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron and phosphorous. One ounce, which is approximately ¼ cup or about 16 cashews, contains 160 calories; the flavorings add only 10 to 20 calories per serving. Yumnuts begins with a perfect snack and makes it even better.
Clearly, these guys know their nuts. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Mike Cochrane, one of the principals, is the son of a nut broker and has worked in the cashew business for 15 years, visiting suppliers and facilities around the world to ensure product quality. Mike is the mastermind behind the cashews’ all natural flavorings, and it was a chance meeting with Tyler, a veteran sales and marketing guy from PepsiCo and Bear Naked that led to the branding and selling of Yumnuts. Jerome Metivier is the company’s finance guru, who also brings global food industry experience to the party. And while I’m sure it’s work to this trio, they are following their passions with this new venture and appear to be having fun in the process. The company philosophy is to squeeze as much ‘yum’ out of life as possible, which by their definition means remembering to laugh, following your passions, enjoying the little things and chasing your dreams.
Lucky for us one of their dreams includes creating healthy snacks for people who value a healthy lifestyle. The company is at work on developing new flavors of cashews and expanding into other types of healthy snacks. You can find Yumnuts at Whole Foods throughout the Northeast and at select local stores such as The Village Market in Wilton, Palmers in Darien and The Pantry and Spic and Span Market in Fairfield. In the near future, Stop & Shop will also carry YumNuts, which retail in most places for $4.99 for a 5 oz. package. So, have you said yum today? What are you waiting for?