Parents will try anything to get kids to eat healthy: airplane spoons, edible art, calling carrots “cookies,” you name it. Sarah Tuft is trying something different with Wacky Apple, an organic line of naturally sweet goodies.
Name: Sarah Tuft
Occupation: Co-founder and marketing director for Wacky Apple
Education: A bachelor’s in business administration from Colorado State University; enrolled in CSU’s Executive MBA program
Good deed: Wacky Apple donates extra snacks and fresh fruit to the Food Bank of the Rockies’ Totes of Hope program, which sends food home each weekend with kids who may not get nutritious meals outside of school.
What was it like to spend your childhood on an apple farm in Hotchkiss?
My closest neighbor was about a half-mile away. I grew up riding horses; one of my favorite activities was to ride my horse in the orchards and pick the fruit. It was a very country lifestyle. It teaches you to be a dreamer. You have to have an imagination.
How did your upbringing influence your passions today?
I was living and eating organic before organic was cool. My friends were eating Little Debbies, and I didn’t know what they were. But I always had a lot of energy, felt great, and played outside. I think that has a lot to do with my desire to bring that to children today.
Have you always worked for the family business?
I grew up picking fruit, working on the line, sorting apples—I’ve done it all. After college I moved to Vail to be a ski bum for a couple of years. I was still there, working in real estate, when my dad had the idea for Wacky Apple. I had to dabble in something different to realize that I really loved working with my family.
Where did the name Wacky Apple come from?
My dad, being an apple farmer—he’s a little goofy. So we wanted to make it fun and playful to honor him, but the other goal was to make it attractive to children. How do you get a kid to eat healthy? Our take was: Don’t make it look healthy. So we use bright colors, happy pictures on the packaging—things that are naturally appealing to kids.
Do you have children?
I am not lucky enough to have kids yet, but I have a lot of friends and family with children who are near and dear to me. They’re our number one fans—and our taste testers. Kids are honest; they will tell you if they like the product or not.
Now that you live in Denver, do you go back to the farm often?
I do. It’s very refreshing for me to go to Hotchkiss and play in the orchard and pick apples; all my friends always want to come experience the orchard in the fall. They bring their kids and their families. It’s really cool.
What’s one of the worst snacks you see kids eating today?
We make Flat Fruit, a fruit leather; it’s a healthy fruit snack. I grew up eating those. When I see kids eating Fruit Roll-Ups that are just sugar and food coloring—I hate those!