“Create the things you wish existed.” – Anon.

The best inventions are usually born out of necessity. They’re the most meaningful creations; the most useful ones. Our SOUL CO. Bars are no exception.

“The SOUL CO. journey really began eight years ago, all the way back in 2008,” founder Carmen Marshall explains. “I had just started to incorporate more raw and plant-based foods in my diet – something I believe most everyone can benefit from, even if they don’t want to go completely raw or vegan – and I found that one of my greatest challenges was finding a delicious and convenient snack that was also truly nourishing.”

“Almost everything on the market that was both raw and plant-based contained too much fruit and too little protein,” Carmen continues. “There’s nothing wrong with fruit – it’s a whole food, it’s natural and it’s full of important nutrients – but snacks that contain too much fruit can also contain too much sugar.”

The numerous effects of eating high-sugar foods are well-documented. Not only can they stimulate appetite, potentially leading to overeating and therefore weight gain, but they can also spike blood glucose levels. This, in turn, may result in energy highs that are followed by (undesirable and inconvenient!) energy lows.

“Anything that was low-sugar was sweetened with something synthetic or artificial,” Carmen muses.

Other benefits that proved difficult to find included greater levels of fibre (“I didn’t want to want – or need – to eat four bars at once!” Carmen exclaims) and a higher protein content.

“I’m very physically active,” Carmen explains. “I wanted a snack whose protein levels would provide lean muscle support as well as be easily digested and absorbed. And I didn’t want it to taste like chalk.”

High-protein foods offer a wide range of benefits – not only do they aid muscle recovery and repair, they also play a critical role in normal bodily function, contribute to satiety (i.e. the sensation of fullness) and further reduce a food’s impact on blood glucose levels. Unfortunately, the vast majority of commercially-available protein bars contain whey, which is highly allergenic. Many people are unable to digest – and therefore absorb – whey, which renders its protein content less or ineffective.

As an exceedingly busy entrepreneur who travelled frequently between countries, Carmen also wanted a snack that was portable and easy to eat. Furthermore, she wanted something that tasted great (“So important!” she laughs).

A convenient health food that could boast a higher plant-based protein content, lower sugar levels, great taste and a satisfying amount of fibre – surely not too much to ask, right? Wrong.

“In the space of eight years, I’d lived in six different countries and tried just about every protein bar on offer. There was hardly anything available that met these seemingly simple criteria. I just couldn’t understand why something like this was so difficult to find! It’s been a dream of mine to create the SOUL CO. Bars ever since.”

Fast-forward to this year – 2016 – and Carmen finally decided to bring her dream to beautiful life. “I’ve spent eight years wishing these bars existed. I didn’t want those eight years to turn into nine, or ten.”

When asked what has surprised her most about the SOUL CO. Bar journey, Carmen is thoughtful.

“Formulating the bars wasn’t easy. Creating something that ticks all of these boxes is no mean feat, and we did it! But what was most difficult was creating a bar that was truly all-natural.”

She’s referring to a process that delayed the production of the Bars – and the actual launch of SOUL CO. to the general public – by two whole months. “The day before the bars were due for manufacture, we learned that one of our supposedly ‘natural’ ingredients contained a synthetic chemical called Propylene Gylcol.”

The synthetic – scientifically tested and shown to be safe for human consumption – was present in such a small quantity that it wasn’t legally required to be listed as present, hence its ability to remain undetected until it was almost too late. Worryingly, companies who use propylene glycol-containing ingredients are also allowed to class their products as all-natural, even though they aren’t genuinely all natural.

Due to propylene glycol’s synthetic origin, Carmen insisted it had no place within the SOUL CO. experience, citing one of SOUL CO.’s founding pillars – to create truly all-natural products.

“I want SOUL CO. to be completely transparent with its customers. We will not compromise our values or our quality. If it means delaying production; if it means postponing our launch; then so be it.”

Searching for a truly all-natural replacement was an adventure unto itself (“We searched everywhere – when local sources were exhausted, we looked abroad.”). When a potential candidate was finally located several weeks later, all fingers and toes were crossed as the SOUL CO. team looked on and awaited Carmen’s verdict: Would it taste as good or better as the original formulation?

“We LOVED it!” Carmen breathes a sigh of relief and laughs. “The search, the wait, the stress of the entire saga – it was all worth it.”

So there you have it, SOULie. Our NEW Dark Cacao Crunch SOUL CO. Bars are no ordinary bars – they’ve been eight years (and two months!) in the making.

We love them, we’re that excited to finally have them in our lives, and we can’t wait to share them with the world. Enjoy every bite, SOULie!

The SOUL CO. team x