Staples of the Community

These companies have been around for decades, but they don’t rest on their laurels, as they continue to develop fun, new and delicious gluten-free products.

marketThe gluten-free marketplace is constantly changing. Each trip to the grocery store offers an opportunity to discover new gluten-free brands and products. However, for those newly diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and just starting out on the gluten-free diet, every gluten-free item on shelves—whether new to the market or celebrating two decades on it—is new for them.

A number of companies have a long history of serving the gluten-free community, many of which were founded in the 1980s and 1990s, when gluten-free consumers had far fewer options available to them. At that time, they filled a very important void, which they continue to do in 2017.

One of those early companies, Pamela’s Products, was founded in 1988 after Pamela, who does not have gluten intolerance but had experience with the gluten-free diet through her family’s natural food bakery, saw a need for gluten-free products and focused on providing them. Almost 30 years later, the company now offers a wide selection of cookies, baking mixes and bars, including Figgies & Jammies for those craving a fig cookie. Three of Pamela’s Products—the Baking & Pancake Mix, Ginger Cookies with Sliced Almonds and the Peanut Butter Cookies—have been on the market since the very beginning.

Like Pamela’s, the brand Glutino has been around for decades. Founded in 1983, the company has been providing a range of products to the gluten-free community for more than 30 years and today offers everything from toaster pastries and pretzels to crackers, pizzas and cookies. One of its product lines, Glutino Gluten Free Pantry Baking Mixes, has deep roots of its own. Beth Hillson founded Gluten-Free Pantry in 1993 and joined Glutino in 2005. The mixes cover the gluten-free gamut, starting with an all-purpose flour mix and a favorite sandwich bread mix as well as a double chocolate brownie mix.

Foods by George products have been made with love since 1991. The company was founded by a husband and wife, George and Ceil Chookazian, after Ceil was diagnosed with celiac disease. The Chookazians were the first to offer gluten-free ravioli and manicotti on the market, then branched out into new products that they are still well-known for today, including their Plain English muffins, which are so versatile you can have one for breakfast or use it as a burger bun, brownies, and cinnamon and currant English muffins. Foods by George also offers a pecan tart, crumb cake, pound cake and cheese pizza.

Kinnikinnick Foods Inc. recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The company has come a long way since its small beginnings, when one of the founders realized the difficulty of finding gluten-free products. From that encounter, Kinnikinnick was born, beginning with two types of bread and English muffins. Since 2000, the company has been making donuts, a harder-to-find gluten-free treat, in such mouthwatering flavors as cinnamon sugar, chocolate, vanilla, maple and pumpkin spice. Kinnikinnick also started producing new Soft Donuts with Vanilla Icing.

Tinkyada brought lots of gluten-free pasta to the late 1990s. The company that introduced brown rice pasta in 1997 today offers 18 pasta products in either brown rice or organic brown. The pastas are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, including spaghetti, penne, spirals, shells, fusilli and elbows. Two of their products, Vegetable Brown Rice Spirals and Spinach Brown Rice Spaghetti, incorporate the vegetables and colors that make a bowl of pasta exciting, fun and full of possibilities.

The dawn of the millennium brought with it Enjoy Life Foods. Since 2001, the company has filled a crucial need in the gluten-free marketplace. Not only are the company’s products gluten free, they are also free of dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, fish and shellfish. Given the number of individuals on the gluten-free diet who have additional allergies and sensitives, this company’s entrance to the marketplace affected the lives and taste buds of thousands. While Enjoy Life no longer offers its original products, its cookies, bars and baking mixes reflect the benefits of the knowledge base built up over 15 years of providing gluten-free and allergen-free products.

While not a completely gluten-free company, Nature’s Path has a longstanding commitment to the gluten-free community. The company was founded in the mid-1980s and is known for its organic cereals and snacks. A number of the company’s cereals, including Mesa Sunrise Flakes, Whole O’s, Crispy Rice and Honey’d Corn Flakes, were formulated to be gluten free from the start. Nature’s Path also produces an extensive line of kids’ cereals called EnviroKidz. With a nod to the environment and taking care of the planet, these cereals capture flavors that kids crave, such as Lightly Frosted Amazon Flakes, Chocolate Koala Crisp and Peanut Butter Panda Puffs.

With so many of these staple companies continuing to grow and expand—not to mention countless more developing quality gluten-free food—this is an exciting time to be gluten free. GF

Susan Cohen is a New York freelance writer. She contributes regularly to Gluten-Free Living.

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