For four years in a row, the Penn Staters party, drink, eat slices of Canyon late at night, and more or less destroy their bodies in the process. Naturally, a former Penn State student once had about four days of fun before her stomach gave out and she couldn’t keep up.
Around this time, Jennifer Meyers developed severe IBS. She couldn’t eat anything – gluten, soy, dairy, alcohol, eggs… you name it.
“I wanted to feel like I could still be part of the party that was going on at Penn State,” Meyers said. “So I thought, ‘How can I fit back into this society and make it fun for others to understand what I’m going through?’…because what I went through was insane. It was horrible. I was in the hospital 12 times a year. I mean, I would go to three parties and then end up in the hospital with a stomach ache.
Rather than let her dietary restrictions keep her from the Penn State experience, Meyers chose to be heavily involved in everything the university had to offer. Between THON, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and launching his own radio show, “Happy Hour Fridays at 5 pm,” Meyers did it all.
The catalyst for Meyers’ healthy food journey, however, began with her involvement with Valley Magazine. Meyers rose to a leadership role fairly quickly, and she began creating recipes for her health and wellness column.
“I would drive my car to Wegman, spend six hours there, and read the back of every product,” Meyers said. “Every fruit, nut and seed. I have become like this scientist. I started this silly little Instagram called “Healthy, Fit, Delicious,” and that was before all the food Instagrams happened. So I started it. And then I would meet people at parties and they would say to me, “You are healthy, fit, delicious!
Fast forward to 2021, and Meyers launched Earth Sugar Superfood Confectionery in Phoenix, Arizona. It specializes in raw organic desserts, energy snacks, clean label confections and adaptogenic pantry items. Each product is handmade with fruits and botanicals and never contains natural flavors, additives, preservatives or chemicals.
But, Meyers’ Earth Sugar journey was far from straightforward.
During her second semester of senior year, Meyers was part of Penn State’s Hollywood program, which eventually landed her a job at CBS.
“I was backstage at the Grammys. I met all the celebrities. I worked all the red carpets. I was at all the movie premieres,” Meyers said. Keys, Sam Hunt, Hans Zimmer, Steve Martin Celine Dion told me I was beautiful once.
Meyers was working like crazy – living the dream! Yet all she could think of was the health section and Valley Magazine.
“In my free time working in LA, I spend seven hours at the farmer’s market, learning about zucchini,” Meyers said. “I felt like a fish out of water in Hollywood.
“I work 10 hour days doing silly things for silly celebrities like curling Khloe Kardashian’s hair extensions. That’s what I do,” Meyers continued. “I’m a really happy and awesome person, and I have a lot of knowledge in an area that makes people feel better. And I was like, ‘Fuck it.’ I quit that job and moved back to New Jersey.
Meyers took a job at a gym and was also helping individuals lose up to 80 pounds through creative and tasty food plans and recipes. Meyers has become a healthy Willy Wonka, if you will. Regardless of food allergies, she’s spent hours blending joy and happiness into her recipes and her brand.
“I didn’t want to do anything else because I just started building this concept,” Meyers said. “It got so strong in my head. There was no escaping it anymore.”
Meyers also worked as an R&D director at Lavva, a vegan yogurt company. Despite studying journalism, she found herself in the sciences. This work was the last piece that gave him the courage to bring Earth Sugar to life.
Meyers booked a one-way trip to Phoenix with 10 shirts and his mixer amid the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meyers messaged the only person she knew in the area — a guy she never met in person but spoke to twice in high school — to pick her up at the airport. Thanks to a love story from a movie and a bit of courage, Meyers and her new boyfriend have returned to the East Coast to collect her belongings.
“We went to Florida and through Arizona. During that time, I had my notebook and just wrote down recipes,” Meyers said. “I was gathering ingredients on the way and talking to Joey about this business I wanted to start.”
After designing a logo and perfecting her recipes, Meyers debuted her first farmer’s market in October 2021 and earned $11,000 in one month. Earth Sugar received an extreme level of attention in Phoenix, and it’s been history ever since.
“My goal was for the products to be Actually delicious, instead of fake good, like, shit,” Meyers said. “I always said my belly was kind of my blessing.”
Meyers made sure Earth Sugar was not just a healthy alternative, but a favorite dessert for everyone, regardless of diet.
“There is no creativity in the natural food space. Nobody did anything new. “Let’s do this again and do that again,” Meyers explained. “No. Let’s develop really delicious things that people find really good and buy because they’re delicious. And they happen to be good for you and not harmful. That’s something that other companies they do not do.
When Meyers was working in R&D, she realized that the people who make our food aren’t chefs, they’re scientists. They make sugar and stand in front of test tubes. After gaining this knowledge, she could not look back.
“You have these snack bars, like Clif bars, RXBARS, all these things that take up space in people’s daily lives. Every day we eat a bar, and every day is eating a piece of poison because that’s what it is. Even fruits and vegetables, you kind of can’t monitor how they’re grown,” Meyers said. “All of this information is less fun, so I decided to color the brand with rainbows, flowers and sprinkles. Now I talk to kids…I catch the attention of people who love the Oreos, the colors and the feel of going to the candy store.
Earth Sugar’s message is unique because it tries to focus on the positives and not be “anti” this or “anti” that. Restrictions can be damaging and food phobias are real.
One of Earth Sugar’s most popular items is a caramel candy “microcake”. It has a sweet almond crust, date butter caramel and a cocoa coating. Other popular sellers include the classic crunch and the chocolate cherry Super Barks. Bars are an “all day” food – perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert.
As a student, Meyers was involved with THON and always imagined that one day her fictional company would give back in some way. Now that Meyers is finally realizing his dreams, Earth Sugar is donating 500 Super Barks to THON 2022. Additionally, Earth Sugar will be donating $5 to THON for every online order with the code “FTK”.
Meyers is extremely grateful for the community she fostered in Phoenix and the love she received.
“That’s my goal. I’ve always wanted to make people smile,” Meyers said. “I’m doing everything I’ve always wanted to do.”
Fresh, whole foods are expensive in this country, but affordability is a core value of the Earth Sugar brand.
“I learned so much about access to food in this country. It’s tough,” Meyers said. “At first it was all I thought about – all the ingredients I bought, the farms I worked with. The fruit is local and I really tried to understand my supply chain. came up with this first recipe, I needed to work on my ratios so that we hit that flavor and it was affordable for everyone.
“We also package it in a way that makes sense,” Meyers continued. “I built them in such a way that they’re so physically filling that you can’t eat them. People eat my snacks, take half a bar and they’re full.
Earth Sugar is run by a small, tight-knit production team. As the business grew, it transformed a two-story apartment into a commercial kitchen. Three days a week are devoted to production before the products reach the markets from Friday to Sunday.
Meyers shows up to markets every week dressed in pink, with a load of stickers and even a karaoke machine. Earth Sugar is throwing the party that Meyers had always wanted to throw.
She credits Penn State and Valley Magazine with places and things that gave her the tools to do what she wanted to do. College, for her, was a place of practice and curiosity.
When it comes to advice, Meyers encourages Penn State students to take the plunge and go all-in.
“Whatever you’re good at, do it,” Meyers said. “My core mission is to empower people to do what they want to do. People say there’s nothing to lose when you’re young, and that’s so true. Once you’re out of college, find out who you are. Put yourself in weird places, take new jobs, and go on every date. You only know what you’ve been exposed to.
“If you have ambition and a dream in your head, give it a try,” Meyers continued. “There will always be a job to take and money you can earn.”
Discover Earth’s Sugar’s website and follow the company on Facebook and instagram to follow Meyers and his journey.