A round of applause, please, for the man who gave us guilt-free (and still tasty) snacking — twice.In 1989, Doug Foreman revolutionized the snack-food industry when he created Guiltless Gourmet, a line of baked chips that took the remorse out of a late-night Tex-Mex feeding frenzy. Some say he’s responsible for putting low-fat snacks into the public’s noshing vernacular. He sold the company a few years later, once sales figures hit the millions. But you can’t keep a fit man down. Last year, Foreman launched Bean Brand Foods, an Austin, Texas–based company that brings corn-free, whole-bean chips otherwise known as Beanitos to the global market. The low-glycemic, gluten-free chips come in four naughty flavors, and American Way caught up with Foreman over a bag of our personal favorite — the Pinto Bean & Flax Beanitos.
Doug Foreman: With the first, I researched baked chips and found that there were none on the market. And, with Beanitos, I wanted to create a low-glycemic, corn-free chip after reading books by people like Michael Pollan [author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food].
AW: You are drawn to the “unpredictable path.” You’ve been a helicopter pilot and launched two successful food companies, and Inc. magazine and Ernst & Young named you Entrepreneur of the Year in 1992, honoring that risk-taking trait. What advice do you have for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
DF: Opportunities for innovation are all around you. Do your homework and think it through. It’s a lonely process, and it takes time, but if it’s a great idea, it will happen. Don’t be the one who says, “I thought of that.”
AW: You tested and perfected the recipe for Beanitos in your home kitchen. Suggestions for future product developers?
DF: Make sure the batteries work in your smoke detector! I burned a lot of beans before getting the recipe just right.
AW: Which of Beanitos’ four flavors is your favorite, and how do you like to eat it?
DF: Chipotle BBQ Black Bean, straight out of the bag!
AW: Besides eating Beanitos, what do you do to stay fit?
DF: I try to eliminate all processed flours in my diet, I do P90X workouts, and I stay active and try to keep up with my three teenage boys.
AW: We hear Beanitos now come in individual-serve bags. What else can we expect from Beanitos in the near future?
DF: We have already developed gluten-free, black-bean tortillas, as well as crispy tortilla shells made without corn. We also have the only black-bean pasta and bread in the works.
Doug Foreman Dishes on the Best Way to Eat His Beanitos