To define Judy Goodman as a “one woman show” wouldn’t be an understatement — from designing the logo on her BGood Artisan Chocolate Energy Bars to tempering chocolate in her kitchen and hand-delivering orders to her distributors — she takes care of business. Her business, to be exact.
Though she officially started BGood in 2014, the series of events leading to hundreds of batches made and sold started on a backpacking trip in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in 1984. Taking a break from graduate school, Goodman packed some of her homemade energy bars on a trip to Ice Lake — 34 years later, she’s returned for good, living and running her business in Joseph.
Before transitioning into her entrepreneurial endeavors, Goodman spent the first 20 years of her professional career as a fisheries research biologist, working mainly for Idaho Fish and Game in Stanley, near the headwaters of the Salmon River.
“Occasionally they would want me to go out and do a spawning ground survey, so that meant getting dropped off and walking eight miles up river,” she said. “So I would have to pack all my food — usually it was nuts, dried fruit, chocolate — and that’s what I would nibble on all day. That was the general idea behind the bars.”
After a job near Joseph fell through, Goodman found work at Arrowhead Chocolates in 2011, where she was trained as a chocolatier — an experience that would later influence her business.
“In some ways (it) really worked for me because working with the chocolate and making confections is almost like a science,” she said. “I think I liked it for that reason, and also (I really enjoyed) making something beautiful (and) artful.”
It was only later, when the owners’ daughter, Erica Reininger, suggested Goodman start making energy bars to accommodate the influx of hikers and outdoor recreationalists who frequented the area, the experimentation on her first four bars began. Goodman made small batches for her coworkers to taste test, tweaking her recipes for what would later become Chia Blueberry, Peanut Ginger, Nutty Fruit and Pistachio Cherry.
“I just used what we had — nuts, seeds, dried fruit, honey, chocolate — things sitting on the shelf, (and) we just kinda tested,” Goodman said. “Some of it was intuitive.”
Despite the energy bars’ initial in-store success, Goodman eventually left the chocolate shop to work at a local bank.
“One day the owner (of Arrowhead Chocolates) came to me and said, ‘No one can make those bars (like you). If you made them, we’d buy them from you,’” she said. “I guess people were coming back to the chocolate shop and asking for the bars after I’d left.”
Though intimidated by the prospect of entrepreneurship, Goodman didn’t need much convincing.
“I went back to the bank the next day and gave notice — that was scary,” she said. “The thought had never occurred to me to have my own business. I borrowed the kitchen at Calderas and just figured it out, and I started my business a month later.”
Goodman was health- centric from the beginning when creating the recipes, using mostly organic ingredients, no preservatives or artificial additives and local or homemade ingredients when possible. She would later create two other flavors — Cranberry Hemp and Espresso Date Nut — with inspiration from different trail mixes.
She makes and uses her own almond butter for the recipes, as well as chocolate from Arrowhead and espresso from a local coffee shop — combining and preparing the ingredients herself in a commercial kitchen she rents in Joseph.
“I came up with a formula that now I can follow and can change out (with different ingredients). The formulas and the process just seemed to work,” Goodman said. “I feel like I have a unique process. It’s a trade secret of infusing the flavors. There’s nothing really like it on the market. These are all handmade (and) hand-dipped.”
See more in Friday's edition of The Observer.