Many Canadians will remember Clodhoppers, a graham cracker and chocolate snack food that quickly became popular in the late 1990s. What many Canadians may not know is that Clodhoppers were developed by two Winnipegers, Chris Emery and Larry Finnson, based on a recipe from Emery’s grandmother. According to legend, and Wikipedia, they started selling Clodhoppers in 1996 and eventually sold the successful business in 2006.
Now the two business partners are back with a new treat, OMG’s. Again this treat is made out of graham crackers, but it is also made with toffee and diced almonds, all which are covered in milk and dark chocolate. Canada got one of its first looks at OMG’s this past winter on a episode of Dragon’s Den as reported here by the founders’ hometown newspaper, the Winnipeg Free Press. Dragon Arlene Dickinson showed her confidence in the pair of businessmen by providing a loan of $250,000 to the project in exchange for 50% equity.
Interestingly, the pair have revealed that when they sold Clodhoppers in 2006 they signed a five year non-competition agreement, a fairly onerous agreement but likely a standard one in the circumstances. Non-competition agreements are typically entered into so that a buyer has an assurance that they won’t have to face immediate competition from the sellers they just bought a business from. Also, in the case of the Clodhoppers brand, that the brand wouldn’t be diluted by Emery and Finnson selling the same product under a different name. This is especially important in the case of Clodhoppers since the product website still says “Chris and Larry’s Clodhoppers”. Now that the “non-competition” clause has expired it looks like Chris Emery and Larry Finnson are taking advantage of their new found business freedom and are launching a snack food that appears to be in direct competition with their old brand.
Unlike the launches of many new food products, OMG’s were launched directly into major retailers in Canada including Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws. Looks like that’s the advantage of having some experience and success under your belt, as well as the economic and marketing support of a major investor. When they started Clohoppers, it took two years before Emery and Finnson signed a distribution contract with Wal-Mart in 1998 putting Clodhoppers in front of millions of shoppers. Now that the new OMB’s are in big chains coast to coast it will be interesting to see just how many chocolate covered graham clusters they can move, and if OMG’s will ever become popular in the United States, a notoriously competitive environment for any snack food product.