Join the tribe
It's no secret that our company was founded by endurance athletes. Thunderbird was initially created as fuel made by athletes for athletes. As we grow and expand, we're looking for unique individuals to partner with, to provide fuel for their epic adventures. This past month, I found one unique individual who embodies the Thunderbird ethos. Tribe, meet Colin O'Brady.
Upon meeting Colin, I realized that he met the first requirement of Thunderbird stardom: One must have quads of Thunder. Those quads brought him to victory in his first ever triathlon, which he completed only 18 months after he was severely burned in a fire in Thailand. Colin's win after this life-changing event shows a perserverance that is unmatched by other athletes.
While I was able to sit down with Colin and his amazing lady love, Jenna, I also had him answer some interview questions that would show a greater insight into Colin's life and values. His food philosophy is directly in line with the Thunderbird values of producing sustainable, whole foods, that nourish the body and mind. We couldn't be happier to have him as a sponsored athlete and hope he meets his current goal of reaching the 2016 Olympics!
Check out his interview:
Why do you want to represent Thunderbird?
Not only do I love the Thunderbird product, but the ethos of the company are right inline with my own values. The mission of delivering tasty, healthy and raw foods to consumers, while leveling a minimal impact on the environment is a mission I can proudly embrace.
What Athletic activities do you participate in? How did this passion develop?
I have always been involved with sports. As a kid I was a national ranked and 10 time Oregon Champion in Swimming, as well as a Oregon State Champion in Soccer. I went on to swim at Yale University. I thought after college my athletic career was over, but there was still a little boy inside of my dreaming of the Olympics.
In 2008 I was severely burned in a fire i- Thailand. It landed me in several Thai hospitals where I was unable to walk for months. Having life flipped upside down, not knowing if I would ever fully recover I my triathlon dream was born. I vowed to mom Mom I would complete a triathlon after I got out of the hospital. Not only did I complete a triathlon, but surprising myself I won the Chicago Triathlon just 18 months after my accident. reigniting my Olympic passion, I turned professional, have spent the last 4 years chasing the Olympic dream in triathlon.
Please explain your personal food manifesto:
My family has been in the natural food industry long before Whole Foods was a household name, and the natural foods industry was a fringe movement of hippie collective and co-ops. I was raised with that as the backdrop to my childhood, my mother and stepdad founding a New Seasons Market, a regional natural foods chain based out of Portland, OR, and my father being an organic farmer on the North Shore of Kauai. My food manifesto naturally grew (pun-intended) from there. I believe in the importance of eating organic, sustainable and local. Eating simple unprocessed foods, leads to a healthy life and a healthy earth.
What short term and long term goals in terms of nutrition and fitness?
My biggest goal is to qualify to represent the USA at the 2016 Olympics. Not only do I want to represent my country in the greatest sporting event in the world, but I want to have a forum to show people to never give up. I faced a tremendous setback when I was burned, and I got back on feet and may stronger then ever before. It was have been very easy to give up. I think goal setting whether big or small is an important process for anyone
Who or what inspires you everyday?
Jenna Besaw my beautiful girlfriend inspires me everyday. She has sacrificed a lot to my number one support on this journey. We approach each day and each race together. Without her I would be lost.
How does Thunderbird font into my lifestyle?
Although energy gels and powders do have their role in endurance sports, I love to eat as much real food as possible. Thunderbird bars provide just that in a easy and ready to eat form. It is perfect for a quick snack after a workout, or in the middle of a long ride.
For more information on Colin, check out his website, here.
Craigslist is a website well-known for buying and selling used items that have little little to no value to anyone. Let's be honest here, who really needs a free couch that looks like it has been repeatedly attacked by a grizzly bear? Yet, amongst the rubbish and personal ads, Craigslist came to be the light at the end of the tunnel for Thunderbird roughly eight months ago.
Amongst the growing pains of our national expansion, the Thunderbird kitchen lacked a strong leader with an extensive culinary background and stunning good looks. We were starved of innovation and consistency and turned to Craigslist, of all places, to hire such an individual. (We were obviously desperate). We posted the ad with low expectations. We simply needed someone dedicated, who would show up on time, and simply make bars. Yet, through a powerful cosmic connection, a young Eric Rasmussen walked into the Thunderbird World Headquarters for an interview!
Amongst all other candidates, Eric stood out like a Roman statue covered in gold. Within one month, Eric worked his way up the Thunderbird kitchen caste system to become kitchen MVPH (most valuable player hater). His work ethic, attention to detail, mad bar-blasting skills, and personality earned him the title of first ever, Kitchen Manager!
Legend has it that Eric was raised by a pack of wolves deep in the Galveston wilderness. At a young age, he learned how to hunt, forage for berries, and build fire. His natural inclination for preparing food for his wolf pack inspired him to take his skills to the next level at Le Cordon Bleu in Texas. After graduating Summa Cum Laude, Eric worked at Gaidos in Galveston as a Master Chef. He next moved to the lands of Central Texas and helped establish a family operated catering company specializing in deliciousness.
On a personal level, Eric is best known for his love of Will Smith (circa 1992) and his daily wardrobe which consists of a stunning assortment of bleached white, perfectly ironed chefs coat and hat. He also holds an ability to win over the kitchen staff with artisan breads and pastries.
In the short time Eric has been in the Thunderbird kitchen, he has taken our production to the next level in quality, taste, and professionalism. You remember Almond Cookie Pow-Wow? Yeah, at first it really wasn't THAT great. Thanks to Sir Eric of the Kitchen, it is now the top-selling Thunderbird bar across the country. For that reason alone, Eric has won kitchen employee of the month every single month he has worked for us!
We are so thankful for the tremendous value that Eric has brought to the Thunderbird kitchen. Next time you are eating a tasty bar (especially Almond Cookie Pow-Wow), think of Eric and all of the hard work he has put in to ensure your enjoyment!
It’s Celiac Disease Awareness Month. As a gluten-free consumer, I find myself asking other companies, “What does gluten-free mean to you?” Many companies are embracing the “gluten-free fad diet.” At the Natural Products Expo this past March, I walked through the aisles, my eyes wide at all of the products labeled “gluten-free.” Gluten-free breads, muffins and cakes! Gluten-free chips and drinks! If it can be labeled and it’s gluten-free, companies will do it. YET, a gluten-free label must be looked at skeptically.
For a few reasons:
(1) The product could be made in a facility that handles non-gluten ingredients, such as wheat and other grains. Cross-contamination in a “plant” or “kitchen” is very easy.
(2) The ingredients in a product could be gluten-free, but the manufacturer isn’t educated enough to know that a certain ingredient may contain gluten. For instance, brown rice syrup is created using melted barley enzymes. Barley isn’t gluten-free and brown rice is usually perceived to be so. Always check to see if there are any “hidden” gluten ingredients.
(3) The ingredients in question may come from a supplier that also handles other ingredients. Say, for instance, our energy bars. We source quinoa from a supplier and put it in the Sweet Lemon Rain Dance! Epic protein, gluten-free seed! YET, we have to make sure that the quinoa comes from a source that doesn’t handle any gluten products. Luckily, we make sure of this. Unfortunately, other companies do not!
Here at Thunderbird Energetica, gluten-free is more than a label. We take excellent care to make sure that every ingredient in our kitchen is not only gluten-free, but also grain-free. We have also asked each ingredient supplier about chances of cross-contamination. We haven’t allowed gluten sources to come near our kitchen equipment.
Why is gluten-free important to us? To explain this, I have to go back.
I’m trying to imagine where I was on this day last year. May 14th, 2012, I may have been studying for an Arabic final. I was most likely stressed and anxious, hunching over stacks of notes in the University of Texas library. Where may I have been the year before that time? May 14th, 2011? Maybe a similar situation, yet with a slight tummy ache. And May 8th 2010? There’s a good chance I was at home with a cramped stomach or laying on a bed at an emergency clinic, having an IV push fluids into my body for the second time in a month.
I was sick and I didn’t know why. Doctors thought they did, as I received many diagnoses of “gastroenteritis” and “irritable bowel syndrome.” The cure for abdominal cramping, nausea, occasional vomiting and the constant “D” word (I’ll spare you guys), is that I needed more medications.
In May 2010, I was still sick despite these “diagnoses.” At that point, I had stopped eating meat. Everything made my stomach hurt, from apples to lettuce to coffee to almonds. I adopted a vegan diet, because “meat was bad,” right? I mean, if Alicia Silverstone wrote a book about it and swears by it, I must be clueless and that’s what’s making me sick! Wrong. I still suffered. And so I stopped eating all together. I think there were days where I’d go to class and only drink coffee and gulp down water so that I’d just be able to make it home and eat 1 meal that day. I saw a nutritionist to help me with my “issue” but she wouldn’t believe that I didn’t want to eat because everything caused pain. She suggested that I just, “Live a little and eat a snickers.” I think if I saw this woman on the street now I would punch her in the face.”
Ironically, it was during my sessions with her that I discovered what might be wrong. After talking one day, I went home and opened a magazine. Inside, on one of the pages, was a little 1” snippet of a girl talking about her “gluten allergy.” I remember thinking to myself, “What on earth is gluten?” So I researched it. I went back to my “nutritionist” (if you could call her this) the next day and she informed me of gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease. She swore that I couldn’t possibly have either. I got up and left.
I took matters into my own hands. I cut out gluten and within days my stomach pain was gone. After an entire year, this discovery was life altering. I went to a GI doctor and they ran tests – they were positive for Celiac Disease. I slowly began eating more “gluten-free” foods and gained a healthy 10 lbs. I started shopping at Whole Foods because of their wider “GF” options. Yet, the life of a college student with food allergies is still as lonely as the life of a student who is constantly sick. Social situations never improved. I went from always sick to always needing to explain why I couldn’t eat pizza at every event gathering. Oh, you want to volunteer for an organization? Here’s free pizza, now you can explain to everyone why you’re just chilling there, starving.
I’d sometimes eat foods I know would make me sick, just so I wouldn’t have to explain to people why I was different. So, I continued to suffer occasionally. I would have nights that were similar to those before my diagnosis, only now they were more rare. Then, there were those times where I believed I was eating “gluten-free” and I’d be hit with a wave of sickness from cross-contamination. Or, I’d simply just react to a food that “cross-reacts” with gluten, like grains or dairy. It was a double-edged sword, one that left me with similar outcomes.
Yet, the days did become a bit better as I began to read more about my condition. Anything I could get my hands on, from Celiac Disease websites to articles in magazines to Gluten-free bloggers – I read it. I connected with people on forums and got advice about certain products.
As a runner, I searched for fuel sources for longer distances. I began to use gels and they would make my stomach cramp. I eventually decided to ditch them all together after a bad bout with a Honey Stinger. Imagine being stranded on mile 10 because you can’t run home – your stomach hurts that much that you have no choice but to stop.
I began to search for an alternative fuel source. If everyone was using gels, what would I use? What would be easy and not make my stomach hurt? Enter Castle Hill Fitness, the greatest gym in Austin. I was a member since 2010 and once diagnosed with Celiac began to discover all of the healthy foods they had to offer in their Food4Fitness Café. One day, a bright red wrapper on the counter caught my eye. It was nothing other than the great Cherry Walnut Crunch. I grabbed it and saw that it was labeled, “gluten-free” and “vegan.” No gluten, no dairy, let’s eat it! I still remember having it that day. It was the most fantastic, delicious, sweet and savory and crunchy energy bar that I’d ever tasted. But here’s the best part: it didn’t hurt my stomach a single freaking bit.
TOP SHELF = THUNDER @Food4Fitness Cafe (Thanks Amy!)
And so I began to eat these bars very frequently. Almost religiously, I shunned any other gluten-free bar and dedicated myself to eating Thunderbird Bars. I was the original Thunderbird-fan-girl. I used them before my runs, during my runs, after my runs. I also finally had a snack that kept me full in between my classes. At that time, in 2011, there were very few choices on my college campus (now they have tons of gluten-free options, including our bars, as well as a juice bar within walking distance – I’m quite bitter about it – I'm looking at YOU Juiceland).
So what does a “Celiac” do when she finds a product that she loves so much? She tells everyone how much she loves it. She demands that the owners of the product hire her and let her tell everyone how much she loves it. Now, one year later, in May 2013, I’ve reached one year since this journey began. Since that time, I’ve had the most rewarding job, where I talk with so many people about their food allergies, intolerances, preferences and choices. It’s incredibly fulfilling to introduce someone to our product who is struggling with food in any way. I have met many people who have asked me, “Should I get tested for gluten intolerance? Everything is making me sick.” I’ve been able to relate to so many of them and I hope that I’ve helped them in some way.
Two years from my Celiac Diagnosis and my life is 100% different. No more severe depression or uncontrollable anxiety. I don’t have mystery rashes on my arms. I don’t have chronic stomachaches and pains and issues. I don’t question whether or not I can have something. I’ve switched to a completely grain-free diet that has enhanced my quality of life to such a degree that it’s heartbreaking to think about how I suffered, silently, for so long.
So, what does gluten-free mean to Thunderbird Energetica? It’s what gluten-free means to me, someone who suffers from Celiac Disease. It means no cross-contamination, no gluten-ingredients, and no chances of getting sick.
Happy Celiac Awareness Month!
Meet Cycleast, the newest face in bicycles on the East Side as well as the sponsor shop of the Thunderbird Tribe of Sport! They are our good friends and we wanted to tell the world about them, their history, and their beloved founders!
Cycleast was founded on the principles of collaboration and inclusivity. Forged in the city streets on two wheels and polished on the open roads of Texas. They believe in the bicycle in all its forms and are passionate about getting people on two wheels and helping them go fast.
Cycleast is a full service shop specializing in repairs, restorations and custom bicycles. If it has wheels and pedals, they'll put a wrench on it. Whether it's your racing rig that gets a beating every weekend, your commuter that takes the punishment of the road every single day, or a long forgotten stallion that's been collecting dust in the garage for months, Cycleast loves the romance of making your ride functional and fabulous.
They adore breathing new life into an old frame. Whether it's reinventing a classic, upgrading an old whip with new parts or just sprucing up a slightly worn vintage frame, Cycleast restorations are all about making your dream a reality.
Cycleast also provides a full compliment of fitting services. Helping costumers discover exactly what they want out of a custom bike and who the right builder is to manufacture it. They have created partnerships with a handful of carefully selected bike manufacturers including, Festka Bicycle Company, Dorbox Bikes and Gallus Cycles. These collaborative relationships allow Cycleast to efficiently guide customers down the path of creating a completely personalized ride from beginning to end.
Co-founders and Co-owners Russell Pickavance and Jessica Wurtzebach are so happy to be the sponsoring shop of Team Thunderbird. Not only because we believe in the product and food philosophy of Thunderbird Energetica but because of the high caliber individuals involved with the organization. They race fast, love hard, and have stunning beach bods.
"Cycleast couldn't ask for more," says Jessica Wurtzebach, "although we are hoping sponsorship responsibilities will include sunscreen application to the sculpted quads of team racers".
Make a trip to Cycleast today! You will not be dissapointed!
Happy April to all!
It's EARTH MONTH! For that reason, we've decided to hold a mega competition that showcases our compostable wrappers! As you know, we were the very first energy bar company (and company, ever) to choose a compostable wrapper. Many companies choose plastic or other materials rather than biodegradable material for many reasons. First, a compostable wrapper is far more expensive than the .10 plastic wrapper. Second, a compostable wrapper decreases the shelf-life of your product. That is, since our bars are in a compostable wrapper, they do not last as long as they would if they were wrapped in plastic.
Yet, we consider ourselves environmental warriors. We didn't want to settle for a plastic wrapper or a recyclable wrapper OR a "terracyclable" wrapper. I mean, what does "terracycling" have on composting? Sure, the idea of turning a plastic wrapper into flooring is admirable, but then that flooring isn't going to turn into anything else. It will stay in the environment for thousands of years, much like plastic watterbottles or plastic bags. We even turned down the idea of having a recyclable wrapper! Why would we want to use the trees of the great Mother Earth when we could give back to her? We chose a compostable wrapper because it isn't only beneficial for the Earth, but it actually gives back to her. How so?
Benefits of Using Compost
- Improves the soil structure, porosity, and density, thus creating a better plant root environment.
- Increases moisture infiltration and permeability of heavy soils, thus reducing erosion and runoff.
- Improves water-holding capacity, thus reducing water loss and leaching in sandy soils.
- Supplies a variety of macro and micronutrients.
- May control or suppress certain soil-borne plant pathogens.
- Supplies significant quantities of organic matter.
- Improves cation exchange capacity (CEC) of soils and growing media, thus improving their ability to hold nutrients for plant use.
- Supplies beneficial micro-organisms to soils and growing media.
- Improves and stabilizes soil pH.
- Can bind and degrade specific pollutants.
To celebrate our compostable wrapper, we're holding the competition of all competitions! You'll need two very important things!
One: A Thunderbirdbar wrapper! (Found after eating any delicious Thunderbird bar of your choice!)
Two: A compost! If you have a compost, you're all set! Yet, you can always buy one from Amazon, Wheatsville Coop or TreeHouse (if you're an Austin local).
TO ENTER: You document your compostable wrapper from Day 1-5 to Day 30, to showcase the bio-breakdown! You MUST post your photos at least 5+ times throughout April on to our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and/or our instagram! You MUST use the hashtag: #COMPOSTHUNDER or #THUNDERBIRDENERGETICA #COMPOSTABLE
TO WIN: Each entry that completes all of the above rules will receive a MEGA discount code for your own personal use! YET, the person who posts the MOST FREQUENT content will be entered to win a MEGA PRIZE PACKAGE that celebrates Thunderbird Energetica and Mother Earth!!
GET GOING! You have until April 5th to enter!!
- Leslie Thunder