There are myriad uncertainties in life, but among the unknown, one certainly emerges – the road less traveled will always require additional energy. Jenny Maxwell has dedicated a meaningful portion of her life to fueling people; she co-founded PowerBar in 1986 and launched JAMBAR in 2021. While putting energy bars in the hands of athletes, musicians, and health conscious consumers, she rode the roller coaster of life with her 6 children and late husband Brian Maxwell.
JAMBAR is an organic energy bar company that brings you real food, pure energy, and jammin' taste! Every energy bar is organic, made with 20% real fruit, and packs 10g of protein to sustain energy levels and help satiate appetite. There are gluten-free, vegan, and plant-based options with four flavors: to choose from: Chocolate, Jazzleberry, Mango, and Malt Nut. And each bar is sweetened with pure honey, maple syrup, or unrefined fruit juice to ensure digestibility is easy-peasy.
As a company, JAMBAR is deeply committed to supporting their community – as such, 50% of profits are donated to programs that support active living and the art of music. So, help support others by snacking more!
Jammin' organic, protein-rich energy bars made with real food.
Avoid the dreaded "bar fatigue" by embracing variety.
During the mid-1980s, Jenny was studying exercise physiology at Cal and running competitively when she met her late husband Brian Maxwell. After many iterations of homemade bars, the two started selling energy bars from their apartment in 1986. The co-founders would sell bars at running events, stick flyers on car windows, and take customer orders by snail mail. At the time, there was no social media advertising or TikTok influencers to corral.
Athletes immediately realized that PowerBar was creating a new type of fuel and the Maxwell's proceeded to create the sports nutrition category. For 14 years, PowerBar was an employee owned business that sponsored the world's top competitions and top athletes. Then in 2000, PowerBar entered a new phase as it was acquired by Nestle for $375 million dollars. This partnership changed the Maxwell's involvement at PowerBar and Jenny stepped away from the sports nutrition world for a number of years before making a splash with the launch of JAMBAR in 2021.
We caught up with Jenny at the JAMBAR manufacturing plant to get a peak under the hood!
How did sports nutrition come to play such an integral role in your life?
JM: I began running as a teenager in the late-70s and I've been involved in sports nutrition ever since. I lined up for my first marathon at age 13 and from that point on I was fascinated by how health and athletic performance were related. As a teenager, I was super active and loved long-distance running, and it was during these formative years that I first experienced the benefits of sports nutrition before, during, and after activities.
Then, fast forward to my college days and I studied Food Science & Nutrition at the University of California - Berkeley so that I could tackle the broad question of "how nutrition can help maximize human performance". And one of the off-syllabus lessons I quickly learned was, "there are as many different nutrition philosophies as there are people".
There are as many different nutrition philosophies as there are people.
What is a go-to nutritional philosophy that has worked for you over the years?
JM: I try to really listen to my body. Now this can be difficult, but over the course of years and many days of running, riding, and resting, you'll develop a unique sense of awareness that no dietician or nutritionist can replicate. By listening to my body, I've discovered the importance of staying close to nature. By that, I mean avoiding overly processed ideas and overly processed foods.
By overly processed ideas I mean, nutritional philosophies that are excessively prohibitive and remove food groups or specific foods entirely. When you remove joy from the consumption of food you're making a sacrifice greater than any incremental gains derived from a restrictive diet.
I define overly processed foods as products that go through multiple processes and contain added ingredients that are highly manipulated. My simple litmus test is – if I can't easily pronounce the ingredient then it's not close to nature.
As someone who has consumed a lifetime of energy bars, do you have any snack hacks?
JM: For breakfast, I love cutting two energy bars in half and creating a JAMBAR sandwich so that I get more variety in flavor. When doing this with the Chocolate Bar and Malt Nut Bar I get a Peanut Butter & Jam sandwich that is ready to-go in seconds! The remaining two halves can be kept in their wrappers on the counter, or in your backpack, for several weeks.
The JAMBAR logo includes the term "Organic" - why is this so important?
JM: Obtaining organic certification is difficult and expensive. Every raw ingredient used in our energy bar needs to be evaluated and certified, and the suppliers providing us with those ingredients also need to be certified.
We jump through all these hoops because we firmly believe in the benefits of organic farming practices. We only get one planet earth, so it's important that we do our part. This is also why JAMBAR is eyeing a transition to compostable wrappers in the very near future.
As a mother of 6 athletically-inclined children, how did you help them along their nutritional journey?
JM: My love of running was part of parenting from the very start. As a family, we spent a lot of time being active outdoors and this gave my children the opportunity to realize how proper nutrition could fuel their outdoor fun and exercise. I also taught my children to cook and helped them experiment with different foods at an early age. This empowered my children to understand what tastes, textures, and food combinations appealed to them. Similarly, I emphasized what makes specific foods healthy or unhealthy, while being careful to not label any specific foods as taboo. I'm sugar conscious, not sugar phobic.
With PowerBar, you turned a kitchen experiment into a category defining company that helped millions of athletes chase their goals. What is one lesson you brought with you to JAMBAR?
JM: It sounds simple, because it is – treat others the way you want to be treated. And one deep-seeded belief I have is that you don't rest on your laurels – as an athlete or entrepreneur – and that's why I'm back in the founder seat with JAMBAR!