Most people don’t make a connection between poison ivy and muffins.
Then again, most people are not Jerri Graham.
She and her daughter had recently moved to Westport from Taiwan. Jeri got a job at Greenwood Press — and a bad case of poison ivy.
Prednisone “made me crazy,” she recalls. She started baking muffins — lots of them. Soon her creations — including a delicious “Westport Morning Muffin” with flax seed, whole wheat flour, fruits and vegetables — were being sold at Doc’s.
Jeri envisioned a muffin delivery service that would “revolutionize breakfast around the world.”
Then she ate a supermarket granola bar. It was nothing but oats, and a few “well-calculated” pieces of nuts and dried fruit.
That was Jerri’s aha! moment.
“I’d been duped,” she recalls. “There was no flavor.”
Oats, she says, “are a blank canvas. You can add anything to them” — nuts, seeds, fruits, spices. There is no limit to creativity.
“If you pair almonds with cherries, that’s different than if you use cashews or pecans,” she says. “My brain is constantly spinning with possibilities.”
She started making the kind of bars she wanted, for herself and her daughter.
She shared them. Today she makes 62 varieties of snack bars. And counting.
Jerri says the reaction to her bars has been “incredibly positive. People are excited by all the different tastes and textures. They’re tired of being tricked.”
Nothin’ But — as in “nothin’ but the best real snacks available” — are baked in a Post Road caterer’s kitchen. They’re sold at Doc’s, Double L Market, Arogya, Cocoa Michelle, and 2 farmer’s markets (Thursdays at the Imperial Avenue lot, Sundays at Christie’s).
They’re also available at the Norwalk-Rowayton, Brickwalk and Greenfield Hill farmer’s markets.
Soon you can buy them at Yura in New York City, and Golden Pear in the Hamptons.
But not at Stop & Shop.
“Everyone’s trying to be the next Bear Naked,” she says, of the Fairfield County granola mega-succes story.
“I don’t want to follow that path. We’d go to Dean & Deluca-type stores — if we ever did those at all.”
Jerri’s mission is to “change snacking. America does not need to run on Dunkin’.
“Convenience stores sell snack bars, but they’re right next to cigarettes and Oreos. That’s not the impact I want. Almonds are better for you than butter cream.”
For now, Jerri’s goal is to “stay focused.” The 1-woman operation is ready to hire people.
Meanwhile, she’s working on a blueberry-based “brain bar.” A percentage of sales will go to Alzheimer’s research.
“If you don’t have a reason for what you’re doing, there’s no reason to do it,” she says.
And then she’s off to the kitchen, to make the
donuts snack bars.