Sunday, February 5, 2012

Franco Harris + Founder Of Super Bakery

Franco Harris + Founder Of Super Bakery, Ex-Steelers star Harris takes enriched pastries to the supermarket. Hoping for a sweet reception. Franco Harris peers into the freezer case at the Giant Eagle grocery near his McCandless office. Behind the chilled glass, there on the top shelves are stacks of red boxes containing sweet, sticky pastries called Super Donuts and Super Buns, $2.99 per box of six.

Those are his products. Somehow, it seems like he's hitting the big time.

"It feels good to see it in there," said the former Steeler who is enough of a big deal in this town that his image is enshrined in a statue at Pittsburgh International Airport.

But his 16-year-old business, Super Bakery Inc., has been generally behind the scenes, selling nutritionally enriched bakery goods to schools, hospitals and other food-service customers. The average consumer has not been able to buy them -- until now.

Mr. Harris officially launched a new retail operation, RSuper Foods, earlier this year and in March, the first two lines arrived in all of O'Hara-based Giant Eagle's 200-plus stores. Eventually, he'd like to see products available in retail stores across the country.

The timing seems tricky. After all, these are doughnuts and cinnamon buns coming at a time when obesity is on the unofficial national list of hot topics and even the average consumer can toss around nutrition terms with ease. Congress is considering overhauling rules on what foods schools can sell.

But Mr. Harris -- more familiarly called "Franco" by almost every shopper he passes in the McIntyre Square grocery -- thinks his products fit effectively into the demand for better, healthier versions of traditional favorite foods.

Super Bakery, and now RSuper Foods, uses a trademarked fortifier called NutriDough with 14 essential minerals, vitamins and protein -- or MVP as the boxes cleverly note. It is still a doughnut -- it has 220 calories, in line with other doughnuts.

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