For many people, healthy is certainly not the first thing to come to mind when imagining candy bars. But for CAS alumna Kate McAleer, a nutritious candy bar was the perfect way to take a new spin on chocolate.
Last year, McAleer opened Bixby and Co., an organic chocolate bar company named after her great-grandparents Lillian and William K. Bixby, with a simple goal in mind: to reinvent the candy bar and use organically and sustainably sourced chocolate, nuts, fruits and spices instead of preservatives. Her store, located in Warwick, N.Y., offers a variety of vegan and gluten-free candy that is sold at trade shows, the New York City Vegetarian Food Festival, Brooklyn Chile Pepper Fiestas and Whole Foods locations throughout New York.
“Each bar has its own identity,” McAleer said. “Everything harkens back to the turn of the 20th century, when there were no preservatives.”
When she was at NYU, McAleer was a member of the women’s varsity golf team where the snack of choice was either candy or chips. The amount of preservatives in the candy was something McAleer noticed, and this was one of many reasons she wanted to launch a store devoted to healthy and organic chocolate.
“My love of cultures, history and sports came together with chocolate,” McAleer said. “I took the big plunge, moved back home and opened my first factory.”
As opposed to a more conventional business major, McAleer relied on her East Asian Studies major and Art History minor to help her get Bixby & Co. off the ground. Many of her chocolate-bar recipes are inspired by various cultures and histories in the world, such as the To The Nines bar, a combination of organic white chocolate, pistachios, dried Goji berries and cardamom. The recipe is based on the Silk Road, a meeting place of European and Asian countries, and combines international ingredients like Chinese Goji berries, cardamom and Indian spice.
“She was curious about everything but admirably able to focus on the important things when required,” said Rebecca Karl, associate professor of East Asian Studies and History, who taught McAleer at NYU. “No matter what your major or degree, those are skills that can set you up well for success in business or whatever you choose to do.”
Jonathan Keshishoglou is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]