Daniel Lubetzky's success with KIND Snacks is practically the definition of the American Dream. Lubetzky says he was born in Mexico City -- a self-described confused Mexican Jewish kid -- who later came to the United States at age 16 and then to New York in 1993-1994.
After immigrating to the States and becoming a lawyer, he couldn't find healthy snacks to eat on the go, so he decided to create them himself right here in Manhattan. Lubetzky says it was hard to convince people to eat them at first, because 11 or 12 years ago, people thought they looked too healthy to taste good.
Today, KIND bars are in over 150,000 stores. KIND has 6 snack lines, including granola, and sold more than 450 million units last year. As the brand grows, Lubetzky says he is committed to keeping it authentic and says KIND is about doing the kind thing not only for your body and your taste buds, but also for you world and each other.
The name KIND, and its philosophy, were both inspired by his father. Lubetzky's dad passed away the year KIND was named and launched. He was a Holocaust survivor who talked to Lubetzky about all of the horrors he went through, but also about how he survived because of the kindness of others.
Recently KIND has been accused of using too much sugar, something Lubetzky doesn't shy away from. He says their top product--the Nuts and Spices Bars--have only 4 to 5 grams of sugar, which is less than a teaspoon, but some of their original bars have two to three times as much, and they're working to change that. Lubetzky says they've decided to put unsweetened fruit wherever possible, so the apricots will be unsweetened and the apples will be unsweetened. But in the case of things like pomegranates or cranberries, he says you have to put some sugar otherwise they won't taste good.
Last spring, the FDA called out KIND for mislabeling. Lubetzky says the company got a letter from the FDA back in March or April advising KIND that 4 of their products had some labeling imperfections. He says they fixed all of them, including one on healthy regulations, but realized something wasn't quite right.
Lubetzky realized things like salmon and avocados and almonds couldn't be considered healthy under current FDA regulations because of their fat content, but children's sugary cereal could be. The rules were outdated and didn't make sense. So just last week Lubetzky petitioned the FDA to change the regulations that keep some of his KIND bars from being considered healthy. He says it's all about common sense, and a lot of nutrition experts agree and are supporting his petition.
Lubetzky believes you just need to ask some basic questions about the food you eat: Can you recognize it in nature? Is it real? Is it nutritious? Does it provide sustenance? He believes his products fit the bill.