Here's What Happened To Honey Bunchies After Shark Tank

"Shark Tank" viewers may recall Kendra Bennett's seemingly "Top Gun"-inspired presentation for Honey Bunchies. It was featured in Season 14 Episode 20, which aired on April 14, 2023. Bennett appeared, dressed in a company tee shirt and her father's bomber jacket to present her family business — tapping into her dad's history as a fighter pilot, and her family's united efforts to recreate the snack her mother had lovingly made for him decades before.

Bennett, who hails from Colorado, explained that the story behind honey energy bars began when her dad, Ed Payne, was serving in Vietnam, and the candy bars he tried eating to stave off hunger from one meal to the next spiked his blood sugar in unsustainable ways. Her mother created an alternative: a peanut and honey-based snack that Payne could happily — and safely — eat. Many years later, he tried to recreate the bars but never quite nailed it. In the attempt, he came up with a slightly different recipe, which he christened "Honey Bunchies" after the pet name he used for his wife.

Shortly after, Payne started selling his new creation, beginning with door-to-door sales. The family got in on the business, and they started marketing the bars wherever they could. Before appearing on "Shark Tank," they had found their way into local Whole Foods and 7-Elevens but were looking for more capital to build the business. 

Not a bite from the Sharks

Kendra Bennett's pitch was lively and optimistic, but it was not well received by the Sharks. Bennett was asking for $200,000 in exchange for 10% of the company.  Unfortunately for Honey Bunchies, the Sharks did not match her optimism (though most thought the bars themselves were delicious). The Sharks thought she was overestimating the company's prospects and the product's innovative qualities; while the company only made $22,000 in profit (from $519,000 in sales) in the past year, they were projecting that a dramatic increase in the upcoming year —  between $2.2 million and $4.2 million in sales, which Bennett attributed to a series of factors that were by no means guaranteed to make it happen. 

Mark Cuban wasn't ready to commit. Noting the intense competition in the energy bar industry, he didn't see a way to make money quickly enough. Lori Greiner explained that she didn't like honey and couldn't invest in a product she didn't personally like. Barbara Corcoran lauded Bennett's optimism and work ethic but wasn't persuaded by her numbers. Daymond John cited the difficulties common to family business as his reason for holding back. Kevin O'Leary put the final nail in the coffin when he referred to Bennett's valuation as "completely insane" and to Bennett's pleas for an alternate offer, he just answered, "No." Bennett's presentation ended on an emotional note, as she broke down in tears, explaining how the business was "everything" to her and her family. 

Honey Bunchies becomes Bon Bee

O'Leary offered advice that was both encouraging and sobering, telling Bennett "The road of entrepreneurship is not a destination, it's a journey. It is full of heartbreak."

While the experience on "Shark Tank" was disappointing, Honey Bunchies has soldiered on, boosted by the spotlight that "Shark Tank" shone on the company. The company had rebranded slightly: their two bars — both the original peanut and honey flavor, and the peanut-free almond and coconut variety they launched in 2021 — are now called Bon Bee Bar rather than Honey Bunchies. Its& website says the decision was made in April that "our Gourmet Honey Bars could use a name that will grow along with them," raising speculation that they'll do some more with their honey base, a feature the company prides itself on. With the honey quotient at 42% of every bar, honey is a major player in the ingredient list and the name leaves the door open to additional honey-based products, though there is no indication at this time that the company is developing other products.

It's also possible that as the business expands, there was concern about the potential for conflict with "Honey Bunches of Oats," a Post cereal whose name is alarmingly similar. Since appearing on "Shark Tank," Honey Bunchies-slash-Bon Bee has become available in 1200 Kroger supermarkets in addition to the stores where the company had already established a presence and is available in bulk on Amazon. That massive expansion into a major supermarket marks a huge step for the company.

Present and Future for Bon Bee?

While Honey Bunchies' name has changed, ownership hasn't. Bon Bee makes all its bars in Longmont, Colorado, and proclaims itself proudly woman- and veteran-owned. Kendra Bennett is co-owner alongside her brother, veteran Ed Payne (Junior), and his wife Jennifer, and the company offers "Hero Discounts" to veterans, healthcare workers, and teachers. Those discounts are helpful since the bars themselves are on the expensive end of the retail spectrum at $2.99 each. Bon Bee's website and Instagram page suggest slow but steady progress for the business and an enthusiastic following among honey lovers. A large portion of their business is still found in smaller stores.

Many of Bon Bee's Amazon and other reviewers make note of the bar's appearance on "Shark Tank" as having piqued their interest in the bars and putting them on the map, so it's clear that going on "Shark Tank" had some decided benefits, despite their failure to secure financial support on the show. For now, the Honey Bunchies team is busy at work getting the buzz out on their bars, hopeful that their positive energy, hard work, and good food will take them where the Sharks weren't willing to go.