What Happened To Wanna Date After Shark Tank?

It's hard to believe it's been more than 10 years since ABC's "Shark Tank" first went on the air (via IMDB). The Emmy-winning show is back this fall for another season that began September 23. As we watch Season 14 unfold, it's the perfect time to look back over the hundreds of products the show has brought to viewers' attention — and in many cases, their daily lives. 

Over all its seasons, "Shark Tank" has brought more than 1,000 contestants to the stage to stand before Sharks Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavec, and Daymond John, per All Shark Tank Products. Every season brings 100 fresh entrepreneurial hopefuls to the tank. Sometimes their ideas are so good you can't believe no one thought of them already, like Mrs. Goldfarb's Unreal Deli, which sells vegan sandwich meats and now has a thriving retail and sub shop presence. Other times, "Shark Tank" pitches leave the audience scratching their heads. One product that left judges divided was Season 11's Wanna Date date-based spreads.

What Wanna Date brought to the table

Contrary to what you might think, Wanna Date is not a dating app — hey, it wouldn't be the first time "Shark Tank" saw such a pitch; previously, a contestant presented their dating app specifically for cat lovers. The only connection Wanna Date wanted to make, however, was with people's taste buds: It's a cheekily named sweet spread made from dates.

When Wanna Date founder Melissa Bartow appeared in front of the Sharks during Season 11, Episode 12, she told them that dates would be the next superfood, following in the wake of avocado and cauliflower — and with reason. Dates are packed with nutrients, per Healthline, and though they're high in calories and sugar, Bartow created a 30-calorie-per-serving spread by blending the dried fruit with water and seasonings only — without oil, sweetener, or fillers. Bartow got the idea while taking a crowdfunding video production class at NYU. To get her business off the ground, she posted a video about Wanna Date on IndieGoGo in March of 2018 and made about $2,250 (via Shark Tank Blog).

Some of the Sharks thought Bartow's $500,000 valuation for a company that had only done about $30,000 in sales was overly optimistic, while Barbara Corcoran lacked confidence in the recent college grad because she found out her father was supporting her. Still, Bartow vowed that despite her financial security, she wouldn't go down without a fight, and Wanna Date made a connection with Mark Cuban. She had asked for $100,000 for 20% equity, but the date lover accepted Cuban's negotiations for a 33% stake.

Wanna Date has expanded its offerings

Prior to partnering with Cuban, Bartow was making many of her sales through in-person appearances at vegan fairs, Christmas markets, and farmers markets, as well as through wholesale and her company's website (via YouTube). Obviously, the pandemic put the kibosh on fairs and markets. But with Cuban's help, which came just at the close of 2020, Bartow has expanded her in-store presence substantially. You may even recognize those little $12 Wanna Date jars from your last trip to Whole Foods

Impressively, Wanna Date is available at major retailers, like Amazon, as well as 128 other shops and markets, including a date-themed store in the U.K. Bartow isn't just selling the original, cinnamon, chocolate, and vanilla date spreads she pitched to the Sharks; she's also added new flavors like cookie and pumpkin spice, and she's expanded her product line to include date-based cookie dough, as well. This raw, edible dough goes for $14 and comes in brownie, birthday cake, and snickerdoodle flavors — all of which have gotten positive reviews on the brand's website. Sales to date are now up to $4.7 million, per Shark Tank Blog.