Hunter Schaeffer was frustrated. The avid surfer, who is passionate about fitness and holistic health, couldn’t find a nutrition bar that checked all the boxes. “I pretty much tried everything on the market,” says Schaeffer, who grew up in Dover but moved to Rehoboth Beach after graduating from Caesar Rodney High School.
Some bars had great ingredients, but the taste was off. Others were packaged as protein bars but contained unhealthy oils and artificial sugars.
Schaeffer wasn’t about to play Goldilocks and wait for one that was just right. Instead, he began experimenting in his kitchen. “The goal is to create one of the most functional, great-tasting and cleanest protein bars out there,” he says.
He took his homemade bars on surfing trips and gave them to friends. “Wow,” they told him, “these are super sick.” (FYI: That’s a good thing.) Their enthusiasm led to the founding of Fringe Food Co. in March 2022 (fringefoodco.com).
Since then, Schaeffer has worked with a production company to create a scalable recipe for commercial production, and a branding team helped him develop the packaging. “I’m super stoked,” he says. “The goal was to create a super unique and radical look — it’s very clean, sharp.”
Online sales are a big part of the revenue. However, Schaeffer markets Fringe bars at skimboarding, surfing and paddle board events. He’s also attended vegan festivals. And he’s done it all while managing Rise Up Coffee Roasters in Rehoboth Beach.
What is the secret ingredient in Fringe Bars? Functional mushrooms and other adaptogens like ashwagandha. [Adaptogens are botanicals and mushrooms that may help balance cortisol, which affects nearly every organ and tissue in the body. An imbalance can lead to health issues.] You don’t see these in many products, so there’s an opportunity to educate everywhere I go.
How do you make mushrooms taste good? It is trial and error, but it’s about using natural, minimally processed and clean ingredients. You won’t get an earthy taste. Each flavor is super unique and super delicious. Currently, there are three flavors: Coconut Cashew, Chocolate Almond Butter and Mango Hemp.
How do you manage your time? That’s the biggest challenge. Being a general manager is an around-the-clock job. On the weekends, I’ll get out to events for Fringe, meet people and do samplings.
How often do you get to surf? As much as I can. If there are waves, I structure the day around them. It’s a good way to center your mind and keep fit and healthy. Even if you’ve only got a half-hour, catch a few waves and get out there.
HUNTER’S LOCAL FAVS
- Restaurant Lupo Italian Kitchen
- Coffee Double espresso from Rise Up
- Lunch spot Surf Bagel
- Dessert Chocolate Almond Butter Fringe bar
- Happy hour Marys and Margs (the bar in Rise Up)
- Healthy dish Thompson Island Brewing Co.’s grain bowl with grilled salmon
- Surfing spot Northside of the Indian River Inlet
- Skimboarding spot Dewey Beach
- Gym My garage in the summer and Rise Fitness in the winter.