TEXT OF STORY
Doug Krizner: Nutrition bars are big business. We spend $2 billion annually for that grab-and-go convenience. But if you look at what's in many of them, you might wonder why you're not just eating a candy bar instead. From the Marketplace entrepreneurship desk, Lisa Napoli reports on what happened to one customer when he read the label.
Lisa Napoli: Anthony Flynn is very particular about the food he eats. And so when he looked at those nutrition bars you can buy in the stores, he realized: Most of them weren't all that nutritious.
Anthony Flynn: You know, low-quality ingredients or high fructose corn syrup or preservatives.
So he started making his own. Now he finds himself customizing them for total strangers from around the world. Different protein powders, fruits, granola, nuts. People order from his Web site, YouBars.com.
Ava Bise: And it's soy nut butter, honey, whey protein and that's it.
That's Ava Bise's idea of the perfect nutrition bar. She happens to be Anthony's mother -- and his business partner. In their small shop in the center of Los Angeles, they're showing me their order form on the Web.
Anthony Flynn: Oh, you can choose, and you can choose any kind of base, you can choose a couple bases. If you like a certain type of butter, peanut butter's always good.
Anthony's helping me design a nutrition bar for my editor, who has a thing for sweets:
Flynn: I would say, if she likes chocolate also, pure cocoa, that is an amazing addition.
Napoli: Natural cocoa powder?
Flynn: Natural cocoa powder, yeah.
Anthony Flynn's finding out a healthy bar means different things to different people:
Flynn: You know, We've gotten some combinations of people who don't want any carbs in their bard, they just want soy nut butter and Splenda. They just say put as much Splenda and soy nut butter as you can possibly fit in a bar. Not necessarily my favorite, but they love it.
One of the You Bar employees gets to work, mixing up ingredients. And in under 15 minutes, a baker's dozen of customized bars is done, sealed in packages, and ready to ship.
At a little over $3.30 a piece, custom isn't that much more expensive that off the shelf. Anthony Flynn says he's getting orders from around the world.
Flynn: Last night at about 11 p.m. our time, we got listed in a Switzerland newsletter, and all of a sudden we just blew up with orders from Switzerland, you know.
Spreading the gospel of good nutrition, one nutrition bar at a time.
In Los Angeles, I'm Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.