Longworth at Large

“Gorilla Girl from Graham”
Like most senior citizens, I am set in my ways. I like to watch the same old TV shows over and over again. I like to wear the same old pair of jeans around the house. I identify more with Johnny Bench than Johnny Depp. And I won’t try any food that has “grain” in the name.
OK, so a few weeks ago I was leaving the Triad Today studio when my friend Steve Rehburg, an account executive at abc45, handed me a bag of something called “Gorilla Grains”. I trust Steve because, like me, his hair is turning gray, nevertheless I wasn’t about to sample a bag of grain just because he offered it.
“Try it,” he said. “My wife Alicia makes it.” I thanked him and walked away, intending to re-gift the Gorilla Grains to my wife Pam. As fate would have it, I got stuck in traffic on the way home, and the longer I was stuck, the hungrier I grew. In what can only be described as an act of desperation, I opened the convenient, re-sealable bag of Gorilla Grains, and poured a handful of the buttery sweet morsels into my mouth. It was the best thing I had ever tasted! In just a few short seconds, I had gone from being set in my ways, to being hooked on grain. As a journalist I was naturally intrigued to learn more about my new vice, so I contacted Alicia Rehburg to find out about her company, and how she came to invent Gorilla Grains.
Jim: How would you describe Gorilla Grains?
Alicia: It’s a small, batch-baked granola with a toasty, buttery taste, and light, delicate crunch. We use 100% organic oats and real butter.
Jim: What gave you the idea to try and create the perfect grains?
Alicia: My husband Steve was a chef by trade. Food had to taste good to him, so he was not on board with any granola snacks that I made for our children. In fact, I had him sample granola from far and wide, and he said the bag they came in tasted better than the granola. I was convinced that there had to be a better way to make granola that would be tasty to discerning palates like Steve’s. I also believed there had to be a way to make a healthier snack than the things people stash in their desks at work.
Jim: So how long did it take you to come up with the right formula?
Alicia: For fourteen years I tried out variations of the recipe on Steve.
The poor guy endured things no one should have to (laughs). Remember, this is someone who would rather go hungry, than eat foods that don’t taste good.
Jim: Once you hit on the right formula, how did you envision Gorilla Grains being used?
Alicia: Customers tell me they like to put it on top of their Greek yogurt. Others take it to work for a snack right out of the bag. In fact, I hear that a lot of moms put a bag of Gorilla Grains in their kids’ backpack for school. Our favorite way to eat it, is in a parfait with Greek yogurt, layered with Gorilla Grains and frozen, mixed berries, topped off with a sprinkling of salted mixed nuts. Steve says it’s a symphony in your mouth!
Jim: You talk about Steve a lot. How did the two of you meet?
Alicia: We met outside of his television station. I went there on a Saturday morning to volunteer to answer telephones for a crisis call line. He was there to let volunteers in the building, then he would go back to his office and drink coffee and read the newspaper. After he let me in, he never made it back to his office (laughs).
That chance encounter led Alicia and Steve to the altar, and later produced four children. Today, the couple and their youngest daughter live in Graham, and Alicia’s company is growing by leaps and bounds. Gorilla Grains is garnering rave reviews, and was a finalist in the first annual Big Tasty contest held in Asheville, winning Alicia an opportunity to study at Rutgers University’s Food Innovation Center.
Jim: How did the Rutgers experience help you, and what are your goals for the company now?
Alicia: The wealth of knowledge I gained there established our direction for future growth, which is to market Gorilla Grains as a premium food product, and make it available to the public through fine retail stores, as well as through online sales.
Gorilla Grains is currently available at the Farmer’s Curb Market in Greensboro, the Blend & Company in Burlington, the Roasted Coffee Depot in Graham, the Market at Summerfield Farms, and at Musten & Crutchfield’s Food Market in Kernersville. Orders can also be placed online at www.gorillagrains.com
As for me, I’m still set in my ways. I still watch the same old TV shows, and wear the same old pair of jeans. But my outlook on eating grains has changed, thanks to a lady in Graham, her guinea pig husband, and a bag with a gorilla on it.
Jim Longworth is host of “Triad Today” which airs Saturdays at 7:30am on abc45 (cable 7) and Sundays at 11am on MY48 (cable ch. 15) www.triadtoday.com.

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