Kodiak Cakes co-founder and CEO Joel Clark advocates whole grains with all of his healthy heart and soul, and his company’s latest venture—a summer 2019 launch of whole-grain graham crackers with added protein—follows suit.
But he’s no Sylvester Graham. Unlike the famously dour preacher who invented graham crackers in 1829, Clark is a progressive, philanthropic entrepreneur who loves the Park City life and thrives on optimism. So much so that after he walked away from a weak Shark Tank offer in 2014, his employee-owned company went on to hit $100 million in sales in 2019. Not bad for a kid who started out with a little red wagon and bags of pancake mix for sale.
As the family lore goes, Clark’s mom, Penny, packaged the dry ingredients for her father’s beloved whole-grain pancake mix in brown paper bags and enlisted her eight-year-old son to peddle the goods around the neighborhood. That tactic eventually sowed the seeds for a family business, which went on to become legendary in the packaged foods industry. Today, Kodiak’s huge selection of whole-grain mixes ranges from muffins to brownies to the mainstay pancakes.
The graham crackers, called Bear Bites, stand to actually take a bite out of the white-flour graham cracker market that has dominated for years. With honey, cinnamon, and chocolate variations, s’more lovers everywhere should be smiling.
Beyond thriving sales, Kodiak is known for its obvious love of bears, ongoing support of conservation, and giving back. “With success comes responsibility, for both businesses and individuals,” Clark says. “But I think philanthropy needs to be a priority, and you have to plan in advance how you plan to give back, or you may never do it.”
So what’s his favorite breakfast?
“I still love buttermilk pancakes with plenty of butter, bananas, berries, and raspberry syrup,” he says. “You just can’t beat it.”