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Minnesotan To Meet: WholeMe's Mary Kosir

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- For a lot of people, the new year means it's time to get a fresh start on the foods you're eating. One local company is hoping you say "try me" the next time you're looking for a quick snack.

DateMe, WakeMe, are just a couple of the names of the bars Minnesota-based company WholeMe is offering up.

It started out as a new diet for Mary Kosir's family and now it's turned into a whole lot more for her, which is what makes her this week's Minnesotan to Meet.

The founder of WholeMe would hardly consider herself an expert in the kitchen.

"I love to bake but it's not a hobby of mine, but I definitely would not consider myself a foodie," Kosir said, as she recalled her first attempt at baking her first health first bar.

The fixings for her family of four began to change when her husband received a diagnosis.

"My husband was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and we started changing the way we eat," Kosir said.

At that same time she was just starting a paleo challenge at her gym and she decided to whip up some healthy snacks.

"I started experimenting with bars. That was my first entry into this," she said. "Then I started playing around with sweetening."

Just like that her first bar was born inside her St. Paul kitchen.

"We thought this was a really great product," Kosir said. "It's really the simplest ingredients ever. It's really almonds, pecans, dates, sea salt, natural vanilla and egg."

It was a girlfriend who came up with the name DateMe for the bar. That was just the beginning of a booming business, but Kosir decided she couldn't tackle DateMe alone.

"I really needed to find a partner who is the foodie, who's passionate about food, flavors, and textures and gets the science behind food," she said.

Three years ago, she decided to hire Krista Steinbach, the former pastry chef at Bachelor Farmer.

"Two years ago we were in a handful of CrossFit gyms selling our product informally. Last year at this time we were in about 65 stores," she said.

Steinbach helped Mary add another bar -- WakeMe, with an espresso punch -- and three more products. Then they added clusters.

"It's similar to a granola -- lemon berry chia, banana cinnamon chip, almond coconut," Kosir said, describing her options for nut clusters.

When she started baking the bars, she never envisioned customers would be buying them at local grocery stores. Now she's hoping this is just the beginning.

"We have a brand that we could really build out. We could enter spreads and all kinds of convenient healthy snack foods," she said.

Right now in the Twin Cities you can find them at Kowalski's, Lunds and Byerly's. They'll be making a major expansion across the country and expect to be in around 1,500 stores by the end of the year.

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