If you’ve attended a local farmers market over the last couple of years, you’ve likely had a conversation with HamdAllah Olona, creator of GoodieKrunch. She’s this week’s guest on The 495 podcast with Doug Sparks.
GoodieKrunch Brings Nigerian-Inspired Snacks to the MV
If you’ve attended a local farmers market over the last couple of years, you’ve likely had a conversation with HamdAllah Olona.
Olona, the creator of GoodieKrunch, calls out to anyone who walks past her table and invites them to sample her “yummy coconut snack.”
“I don’t let a potential customer pass by,” she says. “I engage my customers. I ask them, ‘Do you like coconut? Have you tried GoodieKrunch before?’
“The marketing strategy for my product is ‘tasting is believing,’” she adds.
It usually does the trick.
“When they taste it, they get hooked, they will buy it,” she says.
In fact, the crunchy snack, packed with healthy ingredients and available in a range of flavors, has legions of fans.
Olona, a native of West Africa, produces GoodieKrunch using a traditional recipe for “coconut candy,” a popular snack in Nigeria. Her grandmother, using a traditional recipe, often made it for Olona during her childhood and later passed on the recipe to Olona’s mother, who shared it with her daughter.
Although it’s a popular snack, few people know how to make it well, Olona says. They often create a concoction that’s burned or too sticky.
After marrying in 2005, Olona and her husband, Rasheed, relocated to Canada and then to America in 2006. They settled in Haverhill in 2008. Through it all, she continued to make the family favorite for gatherings with friends, just as her grandmother did.
“I would make different kinds of snacks when I entertained,” Olona says, “and the first thing I would hear is, ‘Are you going to make that coconut snack?’”
She would oblige, and Olona says the feedback was always the same: “You should sell this.”
The idea wasn’t completely foreign to her. Olona completed her studies in England and has a degree in accounting and finance. Her parents were entrepreneurs. Her mother was the regional distributor for the Coca-Cola Company, and her father owned Peugeot auto dealerships, gas stations and real estate.
“I had always known I would one day be an entrepreneur,” Olona says. “It runs in my blood.”
She just didn’t know what she would sell. Then she saw a need and knew she could meet it.
Adapting to life in the United States, Olona says she realized the prevalence here of gluten allergies and intolerance. But she also saw how many of the gluten-free options on the market were disappointing due to a lingering starchy taste and unpleasant texture.
Her vegan snack, which is gluten- and preservative-free, is different. It contains no starchy corn or rice, and is also grain-free.
GoodieKrunch — named by her four kids because the snack is both good and crunchy — hit the market in 2017. By the following summer Olona had added three additional flavors: peanut butter, dark chocolate and flaxseed.
“They are all very delicious,” she says. “They all have their own beauty.”
In the original recipe, the coconut flavor is strong, but the flaxseed is lighter with a more vanilla taste. She hopes to eventually add an offering for people on the ketogenic diet. Olona makes her GoodieKrunch at a commercial kitchen in Andover.
Besides being an easy on-the-go coconut crumble snack, Olona recommends trying GoodieKrunch with cereal, oatmeal, ice cream or yogurt.
This year, COVID-19 social distancing requirements kept Olona from participating in the area farmers markets that she typically attends each summer, but her snack can be purchased on her website and at several local shops, including Butcher Boy in North Andover, Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, Tuscan Market in Salem, N.H., and Mill No. 5 in Lowell.