If it weren’t for City Flea, there might not have been Whirlybird Granola. In the market’s infancy in 2011, when its founders sought initial merchants, they tapped a friend, Christy White, who they knew made her own granola as a hobby.
“My original response was, No way, it’s way too much work,” White says. At the time, the new mom of twins worked full-time for GE Aviation, but she reluctantly obliged, taking a chance with recipes she’d crafted in her own kitchen out of necessity. “I couldn’t find any granola in the store that didn’t have all the added sugars, additives, and fillers but still tasted good and was good for you,” she says. Her blend of simple, natural ingredients was a hit, and her products sold out weekend after weekend.
Today, White’s granolas (original, vanilla berry, and chocolate) sit alongside established brands on shelves at Kroger, Jungle Jim’s, Remke Markets, and area specialty stores. The secret to her success, she says, is wholesome ingredients her customers can feel good about, including certified gluten-free oats, vegan chocolate, and nutrient-rich extra virgin olive oil in place of canola oil (typically genetically modified), along with nuts, seeds, and berries. Named after the sugar maple tree’s helicopter seeds, Whirlybird’s biggest differentiator is its light sweetness, created by a blend of Ohio maple syrup and organic agave nectar in place of refined sugars and honey. Though White intends to stick with her three staple flavors, she recently launched 2-oz. on-the-go packs, complete with a spoon; just add milk or yogurt.