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The Untold Truth Of Annie's Homegrown
Organic grocery line Annie's Homegrown came out in 1989 with snack food products like mac & cheese, fruit snacks, and condiments, and the goal to create environment-friendly and healthy packaged foods. The founder of Annie’s Homegrown, Annie Withey, began her food production career at age 21, alongside her husband Andrew Martin, with a white cheddar popcorn recipe.
Withey and Martin finalized one of their white cheddar popcorn recipes and shared it with their friend Ken Meyers, hoping to license it to snack food companies. Agreeing that Annie’s product was a hit, Meyers and Martin named the product Smartfood and started their business with Connecticut-based snack food distribution owner Tom Protheroe.
Smartfood officially launched in 1985 and was sold to the massive snack food corporation Frito-Lay in 1989. Today, the brand has six more flavors, including Movie Theater Butter, Flamin' Hot White Cheddar, and Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn, plus low-calorie options and limited-time, seasonal flavors like Caramel and Cinnamon Apple mix.
Annie was never interested in the business side of things, and following Smartfood’s sale to Frito-Lay in 1989 for about $15 million, she experimented with her white cheddar powder to create a new kind of boxed mac and cheese for her new brand. In 1999, Homegrown Natural Foods invested $2 million to help Annie’s Homegrown expand and was instrumental in helping the company be sold to General Mills for $820 million in 2014.