When a Traverse City cyclist needed something to fuel his Northern Michigan biking group, he decided to make his own energy bar. Now, his soy free, gluten free, and 25 percent fruit ERG! bars are on shelves across the nation.

This story was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

The idea was born, of all places, at Meijer: Dennis Bean-Larson, an avid cyclist, had stopped at the T.C. mega-store on his way home from work to pick up some snacks to fuel his group ride the following morning. But as he walked down the bulk aisle, it hit him: Instead of buying a preservative-filled energy bar, why not make his own? He broke his blender whipping up the first batch later that evening—“It turns out you can’t put a pound of raisins in a blender,” he says—but by the end of the night he had a dozen or so little Saran-wrapped cashew-raisin bars, ready to go.

Now, four years later, Bean-Larson’s fruit-and-nut-filled ERG! bars are sold at coffee shops and stores (including the holy grail of healthy grocers: Whole Foods) in 19 states. The Traverse City–made, cold-pressed, minimally processed bars are soy free, gluten free, and 25 percent fruit, and they come in a range of flavors like lemon blueberry, apple ginger, and yes, the original cashew raisin.

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Photo(s) by Carly Simpson