What I Do: Bob Brangle of Tastachios

St. Louis native Bob Brangle worked in finance most of his life, but barbecue has long been his passion. About two years ago, he began experimenting with wood-fire roasting a variety of nuts. “It was pistachios that completely changed when I did it,” he said. “The flavor was so different from anything else.” 

They were so good he decided to sell them, so he trademarked Tastachios, which are now available at an array of local retailers. Here’s how Brangle went from the stock market to the supermarket. 

“Barbecue has been a hobby for about 30 years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. When I wood fired the pistachios, my wife and I couldn’t stop eating them – they were addicting. We started to share with friends and family, and they said I should market them and start selling them.”

“People sometimes say they taste a little like bacon. They’re really good with coffee.”

“I had an idea of how I thought the roaster should work, and I fabricated through trial and error a small-scale piece of machinery, but it was very labor intensive. When I decided to do the Best of Missouri Market [at Missouri Botanical Garden] last October, I bought a commercial-grade smoker and had it fabricated like what I was doing on a small scale. I went from 36 pounds a day to 220 pounds a day.”

“They’re an extremely healthy snack – vegan, organic, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, keto-friendly – and that’s one of the reasons they’re being picked up at local farmers markets and ... why Ortega National Parks contacted me about carrying them in their visitor centers.”

“I’m cautiously looking at expanding. I don’t want to have too many products. I want to be really good at a few, not mediocre at a lot.”

“I give away these delicious chocolate clusters during the holidays. People have expressed interest in buying those, as well as the cheddar cheese wafers and the cheese ball, which I often have on hand at farmers markets to let people sample the Tastachios. There are a lot of regulations and hoops to jump through were I to start selling any of those, but there are recipes for each of them on the website.”

“It’s a labor of love. I do all the designs, labeling, websites, advertising, all the social media. I enjoy it, but it’s becoming a lot. My mentors are saying I need to hire people. That’s one of my goals for this year – 2020 is starting off big.”

“The corporate environment is very structured, so you’re – for lack of a better term – a number. Now I have the freedom to use my creativity; I just didn’t have that in the corporate world. I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit, and when the opportunity arose to leave finance, I had a full outpouring of support from my friends and family. I have no desire to go back into the investment business. I’m right where I want to be.”

Lauren Healey is associate editor at Sauce Magazine.