4 Cool Things About CLIF Bar

4 Cool Things About CLIF Bar

Most outdoor enthusiasts are familiar with the ubiquitous CLIF Bar. Hearty and healthy, these brown-wrapped energy bars have long been a staple in hikers’ and skiers’ backpacks. But there is more to this company than just its tasty treats. Explore visited CLIF Bar & Company headquarters in Emeryville, California, and discovered four cool facts about CLIF:
Eco-Sensitivity
Credit: CLIF Bar

Eco-Sensitivity

CLIF Bar & Company walks the walk in this department. In 2001, CLIF developed an in-house sustainability program to determine the best courses of action to lower their overall carbon footprint. Over the next 10 years, shrink-wrap was cut from secondary packaging (eliminating 40,000 kg of plastic refuse annually); CLIF Bars were certified organic; company-wide composting was implemented; CLIF Bar vehicles were modified to run on biodiesel; contributions in the hundreds of thousands of dollars were made to carefully selected environmental charities; and company HQ was certified LEED Platinum, the highest standard a building can earn as a measure of its sustainability. Further, CLIF has invested in wind-energy initiatives (with NativeEnergy) and even provides its employees with cash incentives to make eco-improvements to their homes. Looking to the future, Communications Manager Dean Mayer says fully compostable packaging is an aspirational goal.
Nice Perks!
Credit: CLIF Bar

Nice Perks!

One of the most poignant statements I heard about CLIF Bar & Company founder, Gary Erickson, came from the taxi driver who drove me back to San Francisco Airport: “He was not raised a rich man, so he doesn’t have a rich man’s needs.” Certainly, Erickson has done well, but how he runs his company reflects the cabbie’s comment. In 2012, Erickson had the opportunity to sell CLIF and reap a large personal profit. Instead, he decided to keep the company and continue running it the way he saw fit — he celebrated his decision by purchasing each of his 200 employees a brand-new bicycle. But this was just par for the course; Erickson has always spread the wealth. Employees are treated to an on-site gym and yoga room with free personal training and classes (which they are encouraged to take advantage of during work hours). A 9/80 work-schedule is offered, where employees work 80 hours in nine days to receive every second Friday off. Been an employee for seven years? Enjoy your paid, eight-week sabbatical! Nutritional counseling? Pro deals on gear? Cheap child care? Grants to enter competitive races and events? Cash perks for walking or bicycling to work? Yes! The list of benefits is lengthy. (Haircuts? Sure — have one on-site, during paid time.) It’s little wonder employee turnover is practically non-existent.
What’s in a Name?
Credit: CLIF Bar

What’s in a Name?

No, CLIF Bars are not so-named because they are popular with climbers. Gary Erickson (pictured, with wife and co-owner Kit Crawford) named the bars after his father, Clifford, who inspired him to explore the outdoors and to follow his passions. But where did he get the idea for the product itself? As the story goes: in 1990, Erickson set out for a 285-km bicycle ride. He had packed commercial energy bars to eat during the trip — but midway in he found himself exhausted and starved, unable to choke down another bite of the unappetizing snacks. From there, he had what is within the company dubbed, “The Epiphany,” and began a six-month-long quest to make a better-tasting bar. CLIF Bars hit the market in 1992, and one year later the company celebrated its first million in sales.
Nutrition (& Taste!) Matters
Credit: CLIF Bar

Nutrition (& Taste!) Matters

Active marathoner and former varsity cross-country runner Tara DelloIacono-Thies is a registered dietician and nutrition strategist for CLIF Bar & Company. Her goal is to determine not only what goes into a CLIF Bar, but also who it is meant for — thus formulating the ideal mix of nutrients to assist with optimal athlete performance. A great deal of research is conducted to conclude what specific athletes (runners, climbers, skiers, etc) require — such as determining the different digestion rates of proteins, testing different recipes on athletes and referring to established nutritional guidelines — before working in tandem with Cliff Chefs to create a treat that satisfies both taste-bud and metabolism. The final step? A panel of “Golden Tongues” (including company founder Gary Erickson) tastes each new recipe to confirm it is, in fact, delicious.
Plan your next great adventure with explore!
Off the beaten path locations, tips and tricks, interviews with intrepid explorers and more.