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October 18, 2012

Nothing to Yaff At: YaffBars of South Hero Are Energy For Hounds And Humans

YaffbarWhen Mark Brooks set out to create a power bar that outdoorsy dog owners could share with their active pooches, he made an interesting observation about interspecies cuisine. His first instinct was to bake a dog biscuit that people could eat. But that concept proved too hard to swallow, as he discovered the day he asked his teenage daughter to try one.

“She said to me, ‘Dad, I am not eating dog treats!’” recalls Brooks. “My first reaction was to get into an argument with her. But when I thought about it, I realized, my God, she’s right!”

Brooks' prototype was appetizing enough. But the classically trained chef from England, whose company, Mudd+Wyeth, is based in South Hero, had come at it from the wrong direction.

“If you make a product and people think it’s for dogs, it’ll be a novelty, and it won’t sell,” he says. “But if it’s a good human product that people can also share with their dogs, people will buy it.”

The result: The YaffBar, billed as “the world’s first energy bar for you and your dog.” (Yaff is an old English word meaning “bark.”) Because many ingredients typically found in energy bars — flour, butter, chocolate, refined sugar — aren’t good for dogs, Brooks turned to all-natural ones, including puffed rice, honey, brown rice syrup, almonds, cranberries and carob. YaffBars are endorsed by Williston veterinarian, dog trainer and triathlete Ryan Canales.

How do you product-test a treat for dogs, who eat virtually anything that hits the floor?

Brooks and his wife, Mary Powell, used their own four pups, including two Great Danes, a Cairn terrier and a mutt named Mudd — one half of the Mudd+Wyeth name. According to Brooks, only one ingredient — coconut — didn’t agree with Mudd.

“He became very flatulent,” Brooks recalls. “Not a big selling point at all.”

YaffBars, which hit the market a month ago at Pet Food Warehouse, come in three flavors: honey almond cranberry, banana peanut butter and blueberry carob. And no coconut.

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