Eddie Sandoval’s family is from Chihuahua, Mexico. Growing up, he would take trips twice a year to visit and bring home pinole, a multiuse, nutrient-dense mixture of roasted ground maize savored by his family for generations. Little did he know it would become his life’s work.
While studying business finance at Wichita State, Eddie realized his family wasn’t the only one that missed having easy access to pinole, a dry mix used in coffee drinks or smoothies. He also realized many locals were unaware of pinole and its extensive health benefits. Pinole originates from the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico, who would drink it for energy before running long distances. Today, it’s used by some of the best distance runners in the world for endurance and energy.
An entrepreneur at heart, Eddie bought a half ton of heirloom organic blue corn and drove across the country to get it. He started processing and packaging pinole between classes to sell to locals. Soon, his dorm room transformed into Pinole Blue headquarters and Eddie invented his own Pinole-based protein blend to appeal to athletes. He entered Pinole Blue in an annual venture competition at Wichita State – and won the $10,000 grand prize.
“Wichita is diverse, centrally located and the entrepreneurship community is close and always willing to help, making it the ideal place to pursue the business.” – Eddie Sandoval, founder of Pinole Blue
Four years later, Pinole Blue offers cookies, protein balls and four flavors of pinole – including pumpkin spice – in more than 300 stores across 18 states. Eddie even founded a second business that specializes in tortillas, made using ancient methods to achieve the best flavor and retain the most nutrients. Pinole Blue products and Pinole Blue Tortillas, both headquartered in the Douglas Design District, are served at numerous local restaurants, including Reverie Coffee Roasters and Taco Locale in Revolutsia, a shipping-container mall with several local shops and restaurants. Pinole Blue has been featured in major outlets including Midwest Living, Buzzfeed and Remezcla.
"The business has exploded, and Eddie returns a portion of proceeds to the Tarahumara. 'It’s all about the story,” Eddie says. 'My family sharing it, and giving back to the tribe.'" – Midwest Living