Product Manja Review: Chia Chicks NYC “Allergy Concious” Chia Cookies & Reviewing Food Startup

About Chia Chicks:

Chia Chicks NYC is a baked goods company, founded on the mission of making snack food not junk food. Their manifesto? It is OKAY to treat yourself to cookies and other savory baked goods and possible to do so without hurting one’s health or cheating on your diet (dietary food restrictions and purists).

Chia Chicks NYC pet peeve? That much gluten free food in the market is loaded with refined sugars, high fructose syrup, and rarely made from whole grains. These foods are also processed to the point where the “gluten free health food” becomes highly glycemic, not so healthful, especially for those with diabetes and thyroid concerns. Chia Chicks have taken their cookies to more of a healthful marketing level, by adding one main ingredient - chia seeds. Rich in omegas, the seeds are known to help reduce inflammation and high cholesterol as well as improve cognitive performance. Rich nutrition for the body and solid nutrients for the brain. Literal brain food, Chia Cookies make a fantastic snack or delicious treat.

The website is currently under construction, but readers can view the site (in progress) at chiachicksnyc.com . Their social media pages on Facebook and Twitter are choice place to contact them, inquire about samples and ingredients, and to order your very own cookies today.

Inquire Within:
718.930.8444
chiachicks@gmail.com


Chia Chicks NYC “Allergy Conscious Cherry Chocolate Chia Cookie” Manja Product Review

Chia Chicks NYC found us on Twitter and connected via Facebook. They wanted to run by their new allergy conscious cookie and recipe by us. Chia Chicks NYC prides themselves in offering gluten free healthful snacks and treats (baked goods) out of New York and Brooklyn.

Being a food startup and newer to the food and small business scene, we wish to highlight some positive attributes we noticed in the brand and product (Chia Chicks NYC) as well as the relevant concerns we have when claiming to be food allergy conscious (safe brand, safe recipe).

Here is a list of the ingredients in the cookies sent to us in our sample box …
Ingredients: Garbanzo Bean Flour, Fava Bean Flour, Whole Grain Sorghum Flour, Unsweetened Cocoa, Unsweetened Organic Applesauce, Dark Chocolate Chunks, Organic Dried Cherries, Dehydrated Sugar Cane, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold pressed), Water, Chia Seeds, Pure Vanilla Extract, Baking Powder, Baking Soda. (all ingredients used are certified gluten-free and certified organic)

Allergy Concious and Labeling Notes:

Note that they refer to the ingredients list as “allergy conscious” meaning that they mark the cookies safe for our blogger’s nut allergy, safe for the as marketed gluten allergy, and wheat allergies. After tweeting and emailing back and forth, we were able to confirm with the reps on Twitter that the cookie recipe is marked as allergy safe for the top eight food allergens.
Our main concern is that “allergy conscious” is not a term we have come across in our experience with food labels, cross processing and contaminate notes, and food startups. Are the cookies conscious meaning that their best intentions are to not trigger any allergic reactions from the top eight food allergens? Or are their cookies truly allergen free as they confirmed on Twitter? Of course we trust human interaction over a label itself, but as a purchasing customer such a loose term/foodlabel/ingredients-list may alarm the average customer as supposed to a food allergy taster, blogger, or food critic.

Another concern we have for the small business, is the risk of cross processing for nut allergies. We are told that the allergy conscious cookies are safe for nut allergies, however we noted that one of the recipes contains organic walnuts on their webpage. Not being physically in New York, LiveLoveManja is not able to physically test the kitchen for tree nut protein and allergen contaminates. We trust that they prepare their “allergy conscious” cookies in a nut free facility or a sanitized facility, however we wish to be open and honest that often in small business this is not a possibility (funding) and wish to highlight this relevant concern for our readers. We at LiveLoveManja areinterested to know what percent of tree nut protein is present in the kitchen and preparation facilities.

Should the kitchen and preparation facilities be separate or sanitized, we wish to recommend including these notes on the brand’s packaging and labeling. Testing and confirming through the FDA can be very expensive and not possible for small businesses or the independently run. We suggest reaching out to FoodTech+Connect for food startup investment resources and backing for your food startup. We also suggest reaching out to LocalFoodLab whom specialize in food startups, investment firms, portfolios, and labeling.

Packaging and Cohesive Product Notes:

LiveLoveManja wants to call attention to the branding, packaging, and cohesiveness in the product’s brand image. The vibe of brand/product Chia Chicks NYC, is small business, private label, sustainable business, buy local, indie, and grassroots. We adored the feminine and eco-friendly hippie feel of the box, the polka dot tissue paper, the individually wrapped cookies, the cardboard box, the label on the box, and the ingredients list inside. As a food critic, blogger, and taster, Ashley Nicolei appreciates the locavore look and positioning - she thinks we need more of this in the food industry and all consumer goods.

The bottom part of the ingredients label was cut off and the ingredients (print) list a little cloudy. Either the font, resolution, ink, and printing needs to be improved or outsourced. Hand written also works for the same vibe and feel (cohesive) but is not realistic for high volume, which we understand. Outsourcing to a local printer or graphics business would be a wise investment and give a clearer label for the food allergy conscious customers. To this micro niche, clear writing and printing of ingredients list, processing notes, and allergen notes are key to customer loyalty and heath preservation.

Taste and Texture:

The cookies are more of a powder and grainy taste, rich and dense. The cookies remind us of a Berkley local protein cookie/bar sold at a Los Gatos local coffee house. These cookies are fantastic taste and texture wise for more of the “health nuts”, athletes, and for those looking for a low glycemic index food. The cookies also serve as a power snack for those in the fitness and health industries. Rich in nutrients the body appreciates and rewards the snacker with an increase in energy and stamina. The taster will feel good about eating these cookies. Not too sweet and not too salty. Don’t expect the cookies to be chewy or moist - they are drier and more hearty. Not for all tastebuds, a particular palette, but still delicious.

Manja!

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