'Cancel the sugar, not the cookies': Guilt free snack startup given the Hollywood touch

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

'Sugar makes me sweet from my head to my feet': Sugar Panda loves to remain blissfully unaware of the pitfalls of eating too much sugar. Pic: Maximum Effort
'Sugar makes me sweet from my head to my feet': Sugar Panda loves to remain blissfully unaware of the pitfalls of eating too much sugar. Pic: Maximum Effort

Related tags: no added sugar, HighKey, keto, Gluten-free, grain free, Low carb

HighKey has teamed up with the marketing firm owned by Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds to develop a campaign designed to inspire Americans to kick the sugar habit.

Under the deal, Los Angeles-based Maximum Effort has become a minority owner of HighKey, which was founded by AJ Patel and John Gibb to satisfy their sweet cravings, without the sugar.

The brand was launched in 2018 with Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies, sweetened with a blend of erythritol, monk fruit extract and stevia extract. These soon skyrocketed to the #1 Chocolate Chip cookie online, laying the foundation to create dozens of other guilt-free treats.

Every HighKey product contains no added sugars, artificial flavours or colour, is gluten-free, grain-free and contains no more than 4g of net carbs per serving.

HighKey Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies

The campaign encourages consumers to “cancel sugar, not cookies” and stars Sugar Panda, a comical animated spokesperson. Sugar Panda represents a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of consuming too much sugar, such as tooth decay, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, according to Harvard.

Joe Ens, HighKey’s co-CEO told BakeryandSnacks the combo of HighKey and Maximum Effort is the perfect marriage.

“HighKey is trying to change how America eats by driving 10 million pounds of sugar out of our diet. We needed a disruptive creative partner and a platform to drive that much change. Maximum Effort has both the creative guts and the reach to help us make a difference,”​ he told this site.

“Apart from our shared passion in the mission, there’s a great collaboration between the two teams. We both felt it right away and it’s only grown since we first started brainstorming together.”

According to a statement, Maximum Effort ‘makes movies, series, content and cocktails for the personal amusement of Hollywood Star Ryan Reynolds’. It added it occasionally release these to the general public.

Maximum Effort released a Valentine’s Day teaser on social media, the day that 86% of Americans report they love to gift chocolate or candy to their loved one.

“There is not a more disruptive creative partner than Ryan Reynolds and Maximum Effort to help shake up the American diet,”​ said Ens.

George Dewey, president of Maximum Effort, added, “We like relationships that have a deeper level of investment, structurally and emotionally. This has been true for Aviation Gin, Match and Mint Mobile as well as our work with Hugh Jackman.

“We genuinely love HighKey cookies and their mission and culturally they work like we work – all in.”

The highs and lows of Sugar Panda

As a cub in the 90s, Sugar Panda had a legendary run as spokespanda for the major sugar manufacturers, popping up frequently on sugar packs and limited-time merchandise.

His catchy “Sugar makes me sweet from my head to my feet”​ jingle also resonated with consumers when he made his entrance into their homes on their television screens.

His role came to an abrupt end in 2007, and to this day, Sugar Panda strenuously denies the sugar embezzlement charges. After a series of stints pitching cookies and cereals throughout Eastern Europe, Sugar Panda has recently returned to the US to spread his message.

He remains a skeptic of the science that too much sugar is bad for you and says he doesn’t have a problem and can stop any time. He has confessed to an uncontrollable desire for nougat, though.

The voice of Sugar Panda may sound familiar but has asked to remain anonymous (hint: think Deadpool).

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