Whether it’s preparing for an end-of-world apocalypse or a backpacking trip through the Rocky Mountains, Future Foods offers a retro yet futuristic crunchy snack for the journey.
As a pandemic-born business, Future Foods specializes in reimaging childhood favorites like Skittles and Jolly Ranchers into something whimsical and crisp with a renewed shelf life that goes decades beyond their counterparts.
Colorado native Mandy Wolz launched her freeze-dried production in February 2021 with years of fanatic interest and research on the science of food. As the sole owner and taste tester, Wolz modestly thinks of herself as the Willy Wonka of the freeze-dried world.
“Not to sound cliché but the part in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where everyone is eating candy-like grass and drinking from the chocolate river — that excitement is how I feel when I see people eating my candy,” Wolz said.
While most may not be familiar with what exactly the freeze-drying process entails, Wolz explains it as the sublimation of any food item which helps make it shelf stable for decades to come. As the ultimate food preservation method, it can be seen most popularly with backpacking food, astronaut food and apocalypse-style food prepping.
“I’ve never been a food science person until now. I tried some freeze-dried candy two years ago and I was intrigued by the crunchiness and how fun it was to eat. I became obsessed with it for about seven months and finally purchased a machine in February 2021 after a ton of research,” Wolz said.
The Future Foods commercial kitchen is in Englewood, Colorado, where all food preparation, freezing and packaging takes place. This drying process drops the temperature to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit while also heating metal trays — ultimately creating a loss of pressure. This combination increases the flavor, size and crunchiness of the candy.
Some of the futuristic treats for sale include Skittle Puffs ($7), Peach Rings ($5), Crunchy Sharks ($6), Saltwater Taffy Balls ($5) and Jolly Rancher Puffs ($7).
Any preconceived notion about the texture of these candies is thrown out the window once they’ve been altered. The Skittle Puffs have an intense fruity flavor with a unique puffy crunch whereas the Jolly Rancher Puffs tend to have more of a cotton candy-like consistency.
“I’ve been a fan of Skittles my whole life, but I rarely eat them as an adult. That is until I had them freeze-dried. It’s fun to take anything fruity and chewy and turn into a crunchy and crispy snack,” Wolz said.
With a fully functioning freeze dryer at her side, Wolz would be going against her Willy Wonka tendencies if she didn’t test out other foods. Along with the candies, she’s created freeze-dried Palisade peaches that are typically on sale when in season and a surplus of various fruits from strawberries to pineapples.
Looking towards the near future, the online shop will include a vegetable line with freeze-dried zucchini, eggplant and carrots — all seasoned with various spices from cumin and curry to paprika and Tajin. While the texture and heightened taste are enticing, the added benefit of maintaining nearly all nutritional value is the real science.
Though Wolz has never owned a business prior to starting Future Foods, her background in corporate marketing has created a polished and stable starting point for her company. She hopes to become one of the most recognized snack brands through the integrity of her product and slogan — kindness is sweet.
Future Foods can be found at in-person events, farmers markets, various retailers around Denver like It’s A Bodega! and online here.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.