Lightning storm on a Colorado 14er strikes brothers with idea for ‘slow burn’ energy bars
The Denver Post
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Fourpoints energy bars are available locally at Yeti’s Grind in Vail Village and the West Vail Safeway grocery store. Visit www.fourpointsbar.com for nutrition facts and wholesale information.
the inspiration that became Fourpoints energy bars was sparked by a lightning storm that struck Evergreen brothers Kevin and Patrick Webber 11 years ago on a saddle between a pair of Colorado 14ers.
The Webbers were climbing Oxford and Belford peaks when the storm struck. They made a hasty descent but soon ran into a serious problem.
“I fell and literally had an energy crash like I’ve never had before,” Kevin said. “If you’ve never felt your blood sugar really drop, it’s pretty scary. I got lightheaded, tunnel vision, dizzy, heart started palpitating — I was like, ‘Man, I just don’t get what’s going on. I’m in a lightning storm, how am I going to get down?’ ”
Blood sugar spikes and crashes can happen to healthy people who don’t understand the energy sources they choose, but the brothers were more sensitive to the issue because their father had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a disease that would soon claim their grandmother’s life.
After that experience in the storm, they set out to make slow-burn trail food that would avoid sugar spikes and lows for their own use, utilizing low- and medium-glycemic substances while avoiding high-glycemic sources.
“When you eat something that’s super high on glycemic index and glycemic load, you get that sharp spike over 120 (milligrams per deciliter), and if it goes over 120, that means you’re going to have a crash,” Kevin said. “Ideally you want to keep your blood sugar between 120 and 80.”
Plums are low on the glycemic index and figs, which their bars also contain, rate at medium on the scale. Dates, which many other energy bars are based upon, are high on the glycemic scale.
“When you eat something that has a lower glycemic load, you get a nice, steady, slow release,” Kevin said. “When you add high fiber, fiber slows that down. Good fats and protein slow it down even further.
“The idea with our bar is that three to four hours of slow digestion is three to four hours of slow, timed release of naturally occurring sugars. That’s why plums are so good. I couldn’t believe nobody else on the market was using them.”
It took eight years for the bolt of inspiration to come to fruition. There was no timeline because the brothers weren’t trying to make a business, Kevin said. They just wanted to fuel themselves in the Colorado mountains.
“There are companies that make a product and then look for somebody to market it to,” he said. “Then there are companies like us who make something for ourselves and it just turns into that.”
They brought Fourpoints to the market in 2014 with do-it-yourself distribution and got a big boost last year when Backpacker magazine called Fourpoints “the slow-burn energy bar,” which helped them get into REI stores in Colorado and Utah. Now they are in many Colorado Safeway stores, and they hope to add King Soopers soon.
Fourpoints energy bars come in seven flavors, each with the motif of a Colorado topographic map on the wrapper.
“Each topo map represents a different special place for us that we grew up playing,” Kevin said.
The first one, Alpine Apple Pie, has the topo map from Oxford and Belford, the Colorado 14ers that started it all. Mountain Mocha Espresso includes espresso from Ink! Coffee, which has roots in Aspen, and that wrapper bears the topo of Aspen Mountain. Powder Day PB&J has the map from Ptarmigan Ridge at Vail.
“My brother and I grew up in Evergreen and we were skiing Vail when we were 10 years old, that was like our home mountain,” Kevin said. “In our 20s, after college, we moved up to Vail and were Vail locals for quite a while. …
“We used to hike that cornice all the time and do the Minturn Mile.”
Both brothers worked bartending and restaurant gigs during their time in Vail, and Kevin also worked as a sports nutrition consultant.
“That’s when we came up with the idea to make a bar,” Kevin said. “We had a Cliff Bar and we skied down Sun Up Bowl and it was 10 below zero and it was too cold, too hard to eat it. So we were like, ‘we’ve got to make our bars something you can eat when it’s cold out.’”
That’s resonated with skiers and snowboarders and helped their brand to grow.
“It is a very crowded marketplace,” Kevin said. “But a mentor of mine once told me, ‘The market is always ready for something better.’ You don’t always have to be different; you just have to be better.”
Vail Daily Editor Krista Driscoll contributed to this story.
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