by Ken Picard
When Mark Brooks set out to create a power bar thatoutdoorsy dog owners could share with their active pooches, he made aninteresting observation about interspecies cuisine. His first instinct was tobake a dog biscuit that people could eat. But that concept proved too hard toswallow, as he discovered the day he asked his teenage daughter to try one.
“She said to me, ‘Dad, I am not eating dogtreats!’” recalls Brooks. “My first reaction was to get into an argument withher. But when I thought about it, I realized, my God, she’s right!”
Brooks' prototype was appetizing enough. But the classicallytrained 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 anovelty, and it won’t sell,” he says. “But if it’s a good human product thatpeople can also share with their dogs, people will buy it.”
The result: The YaffBar, billed as “the world’s first energy barfor you and your dog.” (Yaff is an old English word meaning “bark.”) Becausemany 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 triathleteRyan Canales.
How do you product-test a treat for dogs, who eat virtuallyanything that hits the floor?
Brooks and his wife, Mary Powell, used their own four pups, includingtwo Great Danes, a Cairn terrier and a mutt named Mudd — one half of theMudd+Wyeth name. According to Brooks, only one ingredient — coconut — didn’tagree with Mudd.
“He became very flatulent,” Brooks recalls. “Not a big sellingpoint at all.”
YaffBars, which hit the market a month ago at Pet Food Warehouse,come in three flavors: honey almond cranberry, banana peanut butter andblueberry carob. And no coconut.