Ep. 160 Transcript

Disclaimer: This is transcribed using AI. Expect (funny) errors.

Mindy Peterson: [00:00:00] I’m Mindy Peterson, and this is Enhance Life with Music, where we explore the ways music makes our lives better. On this show, we talk quite a bit about music’s impact on areas related to science and health and education. Things like how music affects brain development, healing, dementia and social emotional skills. Today’s topic is a little bit different and a really fun topic. I’m really looking forward to it, and it involves the overlap of music and food – and who doesn’t love music and food?! My guest today is Jennifer Maxwell, who is joining me from California. Jenny is a mother of six, a lifelong athlete, musician and food science and nutrition expert. In 1985, Jenny and her late husband, Brian, created PowerBar, which became a household name, and ended up launching an entire energy bar industry. Jenny recently launched a new Certified Organic whole food energy bar called JAMBAR that combines her passions for nutrition, athletics, music and community. Welcome to enhance life with music, Jenny. Thank you, Mindy. Happy to be here with you today. Well, Jenny, I love having the chance to spotlight how music enhances our lives sometimes in unexpected ways. And it’s a very special treat for me when those ways overlap with my own areas of passion. And I’ve always had a passion for natural health, including eating whole foods and staying active and exercising and staying healthy in that way. So I’m really excited to talk today about this combination of passions that you have and how you manage to bring them all together with JAMBAR. So first of all, I’d love to hear about your relationship with music. I know JAMBAR was inspired by your love of music. The company’s tagline is “Get your jam on;” and I love the flavor names. They have a musical theme: Musical Mango; Jammin’ Jazzleberry, Chocolate Cha Cha, and Malt Nut Melody. So how can you not love that?! But tell us how and when did music become a passion in your life?

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:02:15] Okay, so I’ve always loved music as a child. I played a little piano. I’ve always been drawn to music. But I think the real big draw was when my husband Brian, unfortunately passed away in 2004 when our sixth child was seven months old. And it was part of my healing process. I really had to reinvent myself. I had to stay positive. I had to find purpose. I had to find a way of of connecting to something that was going to bring a source of tranquility and peace into my life. You know, I was raising my kids and I just I think the music just called to me. And I don’t know exactly why it was it was the drums. I think the drums are very an athletic, very much an athletic instrument. And being an athlete my whole life, I was really drawn to the drums and I decided in 2007 to take up the drums. So I worked really, really hard, studied with a couple different teachers, and then decided to get into a local band, really took off after I started playing live. It took about ten years, I’d say, to get to the point where I was competent enough on my instrument that I would play with other people and feel like I can really express my creativity, express the music that was inside me. But ten years. So now I have been playing for 16 years, almost 17 years. And it’s, I mean, two bands and music is a really big part of my life. But it was really that that healing process that originally drew me to the music.

Mindy Peterson: [00:03:47] Wow. And you found time in your spare time of raising six kids as a single parent to pursue this. It sounds like you don’t do anything half way. If you do something all in.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:04:01] I would play. I would practice, you know, the 2 to 3 hours. You know, you say you get good when you put in the 10,000 hours. I would practice 2 or 3 hours a day. The first probably seven, eight, nine years, something like that. It was a way for me I could do something other than be with my children. Actually, it was like, okay, Mom’s time’s in the music studio. I had a drum kit put in my in a different part of the house in a room that was soundproofed and I’d always wear my headphones. But, you know, then I have lessons twice a week. So I was pretty, pretty committed to it, put it that way. Yeah. I mean, now, you know, I don’t practice as much because I’m, you know, I’m playing gigs and it’s in the beginning, you got to practice a lot, right? So how that works.

Mindy Peterson: [00:04:44] But yeah, well, it’s interesting that you mentioned that connection between drumming and being an athlete, and I know you’re a competitive runner, but I hadn’t really heard that until just recently. And we actually had a very recent guest on the podcast. Asked to created a fitness program called Pound. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. No. She was a Division one athlete, and when she graduated from college, it was kind of like, okay, what’s my relationship to exercise now that I’m not in a team? And so anyways, I won’t spend too much of our time talking about that. But she really mentioned that connection between being an athlete and drumming, and now you brought it up and that’s the second time, just a real short period of time that I’ve heard that.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:05:28] So that’s a lot of it. I think it’s the the tempo and pulse that you hear within your heartbeat and your breathing. Sure. As a lifelong athlete, I mean, as an endurance runner, you have a lot of that time to yourself or you’re just really focused on your breathing, focused on your respiratory and your and your heart rate. And it’s continuous. I mean, it’s hours and hours. I mean, you know, hundreds of thousands of hours of that. And then with drumming, it’s a similar. Right? You’re focusing on the tempo, you’re focusing on the pulse, the beat and subdivisions. And so you run and regulate and keep that constant synchronicity there. So sure, you’re tied pretty closely. I would say also it’s interesting with athletics and being a musician is the dedication it takes to to excel and to be competent. I’d say at both of those are very similar. You can play in a group, right? You can play on a team, you can play in an ensemble, you can play an exercise solo as a runner or cyclist, but you can also take classes and be part of a group setting. Sure. And it takes a lot of dedication, a lot of perseverance to get to to be at a level that you want to aspire to. So they’re very, very similar that way.

Mindy Peterson: [00:06:43] Yeah, agree. And actually, there was another really recent guest, too, that was talking about that, those similarities between performing artists and athletes. And they have an organization called Athletes in the Arts, where they’re kind of bringing those two worlds together. But let’s let’s go ahead and move on to Jambar and tell us how Jambar came to be. How did you end up creating Jambar?

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:07:08] Yeah. So as you mentioned in the top, I’m a food scientist and my late husband, Brian and I created this whole industry of energy bars, which is proliferated unbelievably right since the 80s I was in school. My my degree in food science and nutrition, a minor in exercise physiology from UC Berkeley in mid late 80s. And that’s when when Brian and I started Power Bar and we grew that company and sold it in year 2000. And I was out of the food industry for quite some time and decided it was a conversation actually with my daughter about this gap in the industry of energy bars. There were so many of them, right, But none that I really wanted to eat. And I asked myself, why is that? And as someone who created this whole category and I’m pretty knowledgeable about food and ingredients and wanting to be organic and wanting to be real food, how about if I just get into the kitchen and see what I can recreate? And that’s that’s what I did. Starting in about 2015 16, I actually spent four years working on JAMBAR because I wanted I want yeah, I wanted it to be really good. I want it to be really proud of what it is.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:08:14] I want it to be different enough so that it wasn’t just another also ran bar in the industry. It was really it was new and different that provided what I thought was not in the industry market. And really what that is, is real food, organic nutrition and primarily real sweeteners. You know, I don’t I didn’t want to use brown rice syrup and tapioca syrup a lot of the other manufacturers use because that’s to me, it’s not a real food ingredient. Those are starches and they’re converted starches into a sugar syrup. I also didn’t want to use fake sugars like Steve or something like that. I wanted to be gluten free grain based, so I didn’t want to base it on dates because to me it was too sweet. So the base of a JAMBAR is oat bran, so it’s gluten free grain based. And then we use quinoa, sorghum and brown rice. And then maple syrup is our sweetener, right? And we use some sweetener from honey dates and grapes and then a good amount of protein in each bar. And with the protein, we have ten grams per bar and we have a choice of whey, which would be protein from milk or plant based sunflower protein, which is a complete protein from sunflower seeds.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:09:28] So that gives consumers an option if they want to go more plant based or if they want to mix it up and do both and four grams of fiber in each bar. So you’ve got the protein, the fibers, you’ve got a very satiating, healthy whole food bar that can be used before athletic events, sports because the ease of digestion is not particularly high in fat. There’s only anywhere from 4 or 5g up to maybe 7 or 8, depending on the flavor. So it’s not a real high fat bar like some of the bars might be based with a peanut butter base and that might. Is a little too heavy to use in a sports context. So this is a little bit more lower to moderate fat for ease of digestion. Also, the texture of it doesn’t crumble, it doesn’t fall apart, doesn’t melt, it doesn’t freeze. So that part of the formulation is really important in terms of, you know, sticking this bar in your gig bag. You know, I put it in my cymbal bag. It could be in there for months. It’s got a year shelf life.

Mindy Peterson: [00:10:23] That’s funny you mention it doesn’t freeze like, I know I saw that it doesn’t melt. And I was like, oh, yeah, great. But I hadn’t thought about the fact that it doesn’t. And those of us who are here in Minnesota, thank you for that, because I hadn’t thought about that. But all these Nordic skiers, they will appreciate that, that they can still bite into that bar when it’s been in their pocket for an hour outside.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:10:45] It has to do with how the water is bound into the grains. But so it’s really versatile and the taste is fabulous. Another thing I wanted to do with all these natural ingredients is to have each flavor be different enough that you won’t get flavor fatigue. So for instance, the two berry or the two fruit ones, the Jam Berry and Musical Mango, have a lot of real fruit and very different, right? One’s got a lot of big pieces of mango and the Jasil Berry has got these incredible pieces of freeze dried fruit, a lot of real fruit in each of those bars and the plant based bars. And then the other two are chocolate and chocolate chacha malt nut melody. And the malt nut melody is a combination of peanut butter, malt, sesame and vanilla. So it’s very similar to the original power bar, which was called Malt Nut as well.

Mindy Peterson: [00:11:34] Oh, okay.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:11:35] And very unique. Nothing else on the market like it. And then the chocolate cha cha actually has three kinds of chocolate. We’ve got cocoa and then an unsweetened chocolate mass. Bittersweet chocolate. And then we’ve got a milk chocolate. And so it’s a very complex, very really satisfying chocolate taste, all natural and fair trade, I might add. So each of the flavors is very, very different. And sort of I jamba every day 1 or 2 bars every day and I like them all. So I mix it up.

Mindy Peterson: [00:12:05] Yeah well I got to try them and I some of the reasons that you already mentioned the benefits of them are what really jumped out at me. I travel a fair amount for work and I tend to save using energy bars for when I’m traveling. And I just like I need to stop in and get something for lunch real quick. I’ll just run to a grocery store usually and grab some energy bars. But I kind of feel like it’s a treat because of one of the reasons that you mentioned. I feel like the ones that are pretty much Whole Foods and all natural are usually sweetened with dates and are or the brown rice syrup and are really sweet and I have a terrible sweet tooth. So I try to limit how much sweetness I put into my diet and just be very strategic. Like, okay, I am treating myself to a dessert right now. And other than that, like I try to not overdo it with the sweet stuff because otherwise it just kind of turns into an addiction where you have sweets, you know? So when I’m at home, I don’t really eat them because I do feel like the ones that are all natural are really sweet. And like you said, they don’t tend to have a lot of protein in them. And I do better with higher protein. So when I tried yours, I was like, Oh my goodness, they taste really good, but they’re not overly sweet and they have those ten grams of protein in them, which I really liked a lot. The other thing that really caught my attention is you do have that sunflower protein based two, two of the four flavors have that. And I have a daughter who doesn’t do that well with dairy. And so whenever I’m with her, I’ve started thinking about that because some of the protein bars, she’s like, nope, can’t have that it’s way. And so I started paying more attention to alternate sources of protein. And so when I saw that you offered that, I thought, Ooh, Adrian could have this. Yeah. So really love that as well.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:14:02] Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I like to I like to, to provide options for people, for consumers. That’s part of our goal as a company.

Mindy Peterson: [00:14:10] So just to summarize, this is a premium organic fair trade, energy bar, non-GMO gluten free options, vegan and plant protein options, real food, good source of fiber, complex carbs and protein. Think some or maybe all of the bars are 20% real fruit. Is that right?

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:14:34] Well, the two fruit ones are. Oh, that makes sense. Yeah. 15, 15. 15. Yeah.

Mindy Peterson: [00:14:40] Yeah. Naturally sweetened only natural sugars from maple honey or grapes. Love that doesn’t melt or freeze. Right. And it’s a one year shelf life, which is really nice. You can just throw it in your briefcase and then if you need it, like, you’re missing lunch or. For some reason, then it’s there.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:15:01] Well, it’s interesting when I’m at a gig, so I have a gig on Saturday, but my band mates, you know, a lot of times you pack up and I’m packing my kit, takes a while. You drive to the gig, you set up, you play a three hour gig, they might give you dinner or not. And so my my band mates are always asking me for bars because you get pretty hungry. It’s like a little mini marathon.

Mindy Peterson: [00:15:19] Yeah, sure.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:15:20] Yeah.

Mindy Peterson: [00:15:20] And there are some all natural bars that need to be refrigerated, so it is really convenient to not have to refrigerate these and they’re shelf stable for a year. Yeah, well, not only did you combine your passion for organic nutrition in this bar, athletics, you know, fuel for optimum performance music, but also community and kind of that music and community piece you involved in JAMBAR by your practice of donating 50% a huge percentage of your net profits to music and active living partners which I mean I don’t know of any other company that’s donating 50% of their after tax profits to non-profit causes like this. Um, and your website I think is where I saw you, you said music is, is an art form that goes beyond borders. It has the power to heal, bring people together and inspire. Right? Love that quote. Is there anything else that you want to say to us about why music like why is that one of the two causes that you give such a huge percentage of your proceeds to? And also if you can give us some examples of the music related non-profit organizations that Jambar supports.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:16:40] Sure. So I think it stems from wanting to contribute to community and community means people getting out of their houses and being together. And so that could be through sports and that could be through coming together to enjoy either playing music or listening to music. And the musical component, of course, is because I’m a musician and I wanted to bring that to light because I feel passionate about it. And Jamboard does that through a fund through the Marin Community Foundation, where we we will look at different organizations that align with our philosophies. But in terms of what some of those might be, we have supported large programs such as the California Jazz Conservatory that’s there in Berkeley, and that’s a music education. It’s a accredited degree program and community school. So you got the education and the community aspect actually, of having people, whatever their instrument is, they audition and they can be in an ensemble. They have over 600 people in the Bay Area participating in this community outreach program. So it’s pretty significant. We also donate to smaller performance venues, something like a Jazzmobile that during Covid this musicians would drive around and they would set up pop tent in downtown San Francisco or wherever, and then they would put on a free concert for people.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:18:03] Then we have something here local called Enriching Lives through Music, which is for children. And it’s in lower income communities where it’s not just music, but it’s also mentorship. So it’s an after school program where kids come and they they learn an instrument and they get after school mentorship and counseling and tutoring. That’s something there. Another one for kids is something called Sticking Up for Children, which is based out of New Orleans. And they have a music program in Haiti where it’s a music school actually in Haiti. And we donate funds and we donate bars to these children in Haiti. So those are some of the bigger ones. But, you know, every weekend almost we’re giving bars to festivals such as Sound Summit on Mt. Tam, big festival music Festival Bottle Rock, which is a pretty well known music festival. So we’re getting involved with festivals, education and and musical performance. Love that.

Mindy Peterson: [00:19:04] Yeah. Well, and when you were talking earlier about what first brought music in a bigger way into your life, you talked about needing purpose after the loss of your husband and connecting and peace and tranquility and healing. And it’s really interesting that music does bring all of those things and activity movement, exercise really can do those things as well. So it’s interesting that these two, I think, are two really worthy causes that you are pursuing and supporting through JAMBAR. I know there’s so many studies about how connecting through music and also moving and exercise can have a bigger effect on mental health than sometimes antidepressants, right? So I think just helping promote those two fields of music and movement are you’re. Doing so much to move the needle and make the world a better place and bring about some of those core things that all humans like. We’re all looking for purpose. We’re all looking for peace. We’re all looking for love and connection. And those are universal across all parts of the world, across all cultures. So I love that you’re enriching lives everywhere by donating to these organizations that promote movement and music. And just one other thing, too. I know you mentioned donating bars to the festivals and things like that. I think you sponsor some athletes too, right? Does Jan-bart sponsor athletes? We do.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:20:37] Yeah. We sponsor a number of athletes, dozens actually, across the country, most notably this couple skiers. Johnny Moseley, you may know he’s an Olympic Olympic skier, Ryan McClellan, Ali Tetrick, kind of gravel queen of mountain biking. But a lot of runners, you know, local sometimes will have submissions into, you know, hey, can we can I be an ambassador? Right. And they want free product and it’s usually just in-kind, not monetary. All the bigger ones might be, but they just want to be involved. They want to be involved with a company that’s doing so much good. And they you know, there were a logo and they talk talk about the word of mouth. Marketing is really important for us because we are fairly small company and we just want people to understand all the good stuff we’re doing.

Mindy Peterson: [00:21:24] Sure. Well, tell listeners where they can find JAMBARs and where they can learn more.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:21:29] Yeah. So if you go on to our website, so jambar.com, we have a lot of good stuff on there. It talks about the product in more detail, talks about all these different organizations that we promote different sports and different musical organizations, different sponsored athletes like you mentioned. It’s on the website. And then we also have a really cool blog and there’s nutrition articles I’ve written. There’s all kinds of other exciting things going on with athletes that we sponsor and events all across the country. So JAMBAR.com is a good place to start. You can order product from there. You can also order JAMBARs on Amazon. That’s, you know, people like to order that way. It’s perfect. And then on our website also, you can go to a store locator and you can see where in your area, if we have any stores that are near you. We don’t have many stores in Minnesota. I don’t think we’re right now, mostly in California, a little bit Bay Area and then so Southern California, San Diego, maybe a little in Pacific Northwest, some in Colorado, Utah. And then we actually have a subsidiary here within in the southeast, in Asheville, North Carolina, going east a little bit. So we do have some stores there, Earth fair and and a fresh markets coming on in in the fall. But we’re growing pretty rapidly. Yeah, pretty exciting.

Mindy Peterson: [00:22:51] Yeah. Great. Well, hopefully we can change the fact that you’re not available at many places in Minnesota right now because. That’s right.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:22:59] That’s right. If you have a store near you that wants Jamba, let us know. We’ll ship them an order, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Mindy Peterson: [00:23:06] Well, a couple fun facts I just want to point out. JAMBAR the name came from Your love of music was kind of inspired by jamming. And like I said, the tag line involves that word. But it’s also your initials, right?

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:23:20] Yeah, I know, I know it is.

Mindy Peterson: [00:23:23] That.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:23:23] That was just serendipitous. At the end. I was like, Wow, that is so cool. Yeah.

Mindy Peterson: [00:23:29] And another fun fact. The JAMBAR production facility is in San Rafael, which the building was once a music studio for the Grateful Dead. Is that correct?

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:23:40] Right. That is right. And it was incredible because as I was so we have our own factory, which was really important to me because a lot of the smaller bars out there will be packed, you know, made by big factory. And, you know, there’s not as much caretaking. And I’m like, well, that’s not going to be I’m not going to get what I want if we’re going to Co-pack. So I decided to invest in a factory, a small factory here, state of the art. And so I was looking where to where to locate. And there was this building that had been a music studio back in the day, somewhere in the 80s, mid late 80s. And so there’s two murals. One is a very large Grateful Dead mural on the wall. So when we when we renovated the space and set up the factory, we covered it to protect it. And it’s we’re very proud of it.

Mindy Peterson: [00:24:27] Oh, I bet. Very cool. Well, before we close, I just want to read a couple quotes that jumped out at me from your website that sort of succinctly encapsulate this combination of passions that you bring together in JAMBAR, those passions for nutrition, athletics, music and community. One of the quotes that I read was talking about how JAMBAR envisions a world quote where people put energy into reclaiming authentic human connections by. Celebrating music and active living. And then another quote that I saw that I just loved was by eating organic, being physically active and experiencing music. You are an instrument of positivity. So those quotes, that kind.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:25:16] Of, oh, thank you.

Mindy Peterson: [00:25:17] Disparate but connected passions that you have that you bring together in. Yeah. Well, anything else that you want to say before I have you close things out with a coda? Anything that we missed that you want to just let listeners know about before we wrap up? Well, I think.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:25:34] We’ve done a fabulous job covering it. I would just say our slogan is get your jam on. So that’s what we like to do around here.

Mindy Peterson: [00:25:42] Uh huh. Love that. Well, as you know, I ask all my guests to close out our conversation with a musical ending coda by sharing a song or story about a moment that music enhanced your life. Tell us the coda that you want to close our conversation. Oh, I thought I.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:26:00] Thought about that many like, okay, a moment. I would say that music enhances my life every moment. So I would say it really struck home when I was playing a gig and I’d been playing, you know, probably eight, nine years. So I was good enough to play live and people were complimenting my playing. People were like, Wow, you don’t see women on the drums all that often. So sometimes people pay special attention. But, you know, to feel like I was actually impacting people so positively with my playing, it was such a fabulous feeling. So I would say that was the moment.

Mindy Peterson: [00:26:36] Oh, wonderful. Well, I think I have a little jingle, the JAMBAR jingle that I can also play for listeners. As we wrap this up, is there anything you want to say about the clip of the jingle that listeners will hear at the end here? Yeah.

Jennifer Maxwell: [00:26:51] Well, you know, I wanted something kind of funky. Even though I’m a jazz musician, I love funk. When that was recorded, I said, You know, one of my favorite bands is Sly and the Family Stone. And I said, you know, can we do something kind of funky? Kind of like Sly ish? My favorite tune, of course, is Everyday People from Sly. And so that was kind of the magic behind this jingle.

Transcribed by Sonix.ai