Unhappy with the options for providing wholesome, nutritious meals to her growing vegetarian family, Lancaster resident Laura Lapp decided to take matters into her own hands.
“I was reading the label of a popular meat replacement one day when I realized, ‘This isn’t even real food!’” she says. “It was then that I decided to start experimenting with ingredients in my kitchen.”
Lapp, who has a background in neurochemistry, experimented for three months before coming up with the formula for the first soy-free, gluten-free and dairy-free shelf-stable meat replacement on the market. “I used mainly beans in the beginning,” Lapp says, “but the girls [daughters Morgan, 9, and Kaitlyn, 6] got tired of that pretty quickly. I started adding nuts and other spices. Finally, as we were eating tacos one night, Morgan said to me, ‘This isn’t meat, Mom. It’s neat!’” That’s when the Lapps knew they had a product—and a name. Husband Phil’s entrepreneurial mind went into full gear. Before stepping down to work on Neat, Phil spent seven and a half years as director of corporate sales at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. In March 2012, just a few months after Neat’s inception, the company was incorporated. Today, there are three flavors—original, Italian and Mexican—that include ingredients such as pecans and garbanzo beans. The Lapp’s commitment to keeping Neat soy-and gluten-free helped earn the product a “Best New Grocery Product” nomination at the 2013 Natural Products Expo East.
“The response has been overwhelming so far,” Phil Lapp says. “And that’s due mostly to the fact that there is literally nothing like it on the market right now. ”
The Lapps are already working on new Neat products. “We’re not a flash in the pan brand,” he says.
Neat is available at select retail stores such as Arrowroot in Byrn Mawr, and the Devon and Wynnewood Whole Foods (and will be available at both Philadelphia Whole Foods starting in February), and online at eatneat.com.
Story by Emily Brooks.