From a teenager obsessed with building muscle mass to the founder and CEO of a snack stick company, the story has come full circle for Peter Maldonado. “I used to ride my bike to the McDonald’s and 7-11 a mile away, up the road from my house, to get burgers and Slim Jim’s. Obviously, this was a terrible diet that only a teenager could pull off!”
In college, Peter learned more about fitness and healthy lifestyles, becoming a personal trainer and a CrossFit enthusiast. “Observing clients working hard in the gym, then turning to crappy snacks to recover after an intense workout, I became really conscious of food’s role in our overall health.” After starting the Paleo diet and learning to read labels, Peter wondered what mechanically separated chicken was and knew it was time to stop compromising between a healthy lifestyle and convenience.
Setting a No-Sugar Standard
The first step in creating a superior snack stick was to find a co-packer to make the product. Step two? Sourcing raw materials like grass-fed beef. “Once we had all the supply chain pieces of the puzzle, we started experimenting with flavor profiles. We came up with a really great Original Flavor after just a few iterations, and it happens to be the same Original that’s our best-seller today,” Peter shared.
What sets these sticks apart is sugar—specifically, the lack thereof. “It’s challenging to create a great tasting product without any sugar,” Peter said. Sugar typically acts as a binder in meat snacks. “Because we don’t add any sugar to the product at all, we learned very quickly to double down on quality control efforts, and started hand-inspecting every single Chomps stick. We still do it today. Every choice we make is about achieving the highest quality possible, which requires a lot of work to perfect the process so we can continue scaling production,” Peter shared.
The effort has paid off. Take a look at what some of our Thrive Members have to say about their favorite snack stick:
“These meat sticks are the best on-the-go snack on the market!! They're made with clean ingredients, and the flavor is delicious without any junk added. Definitely hubby-approved!!”
“I didn't realize that pretty much all jerkys out there have sugar in them. I needed something to snack on for long hikes and these were perfect. Very tasty and just enough to hold me over until the next meal.”
“Searched at least 30 keto-worthy beef snacks or jerky.... this is the only one that’s really keto and not super expensive!”
Avoiding sugar isn’t the only way Chomps makes its snacks more wholesome. Instead of preservatives, it uses celery juice! We were curious, and asked Peter to share more. “Not getting too scientific, the simple answer is: All shelf stable meat snacks require nitrates and nitrites in order to create the shelf stability. Our commitment was to NOT use anything artificial—we wanted a natural product free from all the weird, nasty stuff you find hidden in traditional jerky products. We discovered the combo of celery juice and sea salt was a way to use naturally occuring nitrates to create a shelf-stable product instead of artificial preservatives.”
It Starts at the Source
With meat being the chief ingredient, Chomps carefully screens its grass-fed beef, free-range and antibiotic-free turkey, and grass-fed venison vendors to ensure they meet quality standards along the food chain. Humane treatment of animals is a top priority, and Chomps looks for protein suppliers that are either Certified Humane and or Animal Welfare Program Step 4+ rated, and farms that practice regenerative agriculture, so cattle are rotated on the pasture as they graze. “With the right process for raising and growing our ingredients, we create snacks that are designed to not only fuel your body, but also do it in a way that works with your body chemistry as nature intended.”
Take beef as an example: “We go to the very beginning, down to the grass our cows eat. It’s not enough to eat grass, we want it to be non-GMO grass,” Peter said. And grass-fed isn’t enough, either—Chomps beef is both grass-fed and grass-finished. “The list of what we have taken out is long, leaving only humane and sustainably sourced meat, whole-food ingredients, and simple spices you can find in your kitchen, and that’s it!” Peter said.
Ready to start snacking? Here are the top picks from Thrive Market!
The O.G. snack stick is slightly smoky and slightly spicy—and right texture for snack time perfection!
Turkey lovers will gobble up these slightly smoky, slightly spicy sticks that are ready to satisfy hunger pangs.
Turn up the heat! This stick is made with real jalapeño pepper for just the right amount of kick!
With a blend of 100% grass-fed venison and 100% grass-fed beef, this wild game protein snack is ready to pack for your next adventure.