Fueling up for a trail trek or an afternoon on the slopes is about to get even easier thanks to Croo Snacks.
If you’re a skier, you may have found yourself where Melissa and Linda Li were on a winter day last year: sitting in a lift, scaling the mountainside as they readied to make another run through the snow. It was a beautiful—but cold—day, and the sisters were trying to make the most of their time outside, which meant fueling up with a quick snack in between trips downhill.
“We’re always looking for a way to have a great day on the mountain without having to break for lunch,” Melissa says. The all-around outdoorsy siblings grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where they spent their days hiking, skiing and chowing down on energy bars, which always seemed like the most convenient and portable mid-day meal replacement.
But on this afternoon on the slopes, it was too cold for the sisters Li to take their gloves off. They were struggling to get the wrapper off their energy bar without the full mobility of their digits—and when they finally did get that shiny packaging off?
“They were frozen because it was so cold outside,” Melissa recalls.
That moment of frustration inspired the Li sisters to create Croo Snacks—a pourable portion of nuts, seeds and dried fruits in a portable tube that adventurers can eat on the go. The enthusiastic pair quit their jobs in tech last year to get Croo off the ground, sampling different ingredient combos with friends and testing tubes in their Somerville living room.
The name, Croo (which is stylized CROO), comes from Melissa’s alma mater; she attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where groups of students who participate in outdoor programming are called “croos.” She wanted the company to reflect that sense of outdoor adventure and community. “Our slogan is kind of ‘Join the Croo,'” she explains. “When you’re doing fun things outside, you’re usually doing them with your friends.”
Croo is currently available in three variations, with ingredients like apricots, raisins, walnuts, almonds—and yes, chocolate. (“Everyone loves chocolate,” Linda laughs.) They clock in at roughly 200 calories, and nutrition-wise, the packs are pretty comparable to a granola bar.
The Li sisters say the snack packs have been a hit at athletic facilities, climbing gyms and ski resorts, but it isn’t just hikers and bikers who enjoy Croo. It’s also been popular with commuters, who find it’s more convenient to pop the top on a portable portion of trail mix rather than buying a bulk bag that ends up spilled all over the floor of the car.
Croo Snacks are currently available at a few ski resorts in Vermont and New Hampshire, and you can place a pre-order for your own tube of treats online. The first batch of Croo Snacks should ship later this month.
It’s an exciting time for Melissa and Linda, who say it’s been exciting to get out from behind their computers and build their own company from the ground up.
“We really wanted to work on something that you could hold, could touch, could eat,” Melissa explains. “That makes our product very real to us.”
Curious about Croo? You can learn a little more about how the sisters started their own company at the tail end of the December 26 episode of NPR’s “How I Built This.”