Startup Stories Series: Founder of Dirtbag Bar, Mark Andrew Gravel

Born from personal adversity and crafted with a spirit of rebellion, Dirtbag Bar is a testament to founder Mark Andrew Gravel’s journey through substance addiction and depression toward a healthier, more fulfilling existence. 

In this episode, we discuss how Mark transformed his battle with addiction and depression into a mission to provide a unique, healthy alternative to the candy bars we know. This single-SKU, chocolatey health bar balances indulgence and wellness, connecting with consumers who embrace an active, unconventional lifestyle. We also dive into Dirtbag Bar’s mission to stand for mental health, contributing a portion of sales to organizations providing no-cost mental health care services. We also get an honest insight into what it takes to expand reach and navigate the intricate terrain of growth in food distribution.

Watch the Full Video

Here’s What We Discussed

  • [00:37] Mark’s Unconventional Journey Behind the Creation of Dirtbag Bar
  • [07:41] How Dirtbag Bar Redefines Health Snack Branding
  • [13:45] Supporting Non-Profits & Choosing Mental Health Organizations
  • [19:16] On Growth, Challenges, and Expansion Plans

Dirtbag Bar’s Founding Story

Dirtbag Bar became Mark’s Covid project—an endeavor born out of passion, necessity, and a commitment to his own well-being. Drawing from his culinary expertise and incorporating his love for wholesome ingredients, Mark crafted a range of snack bars that epitomize both flavor and nutrition.

Today, Dirtbag Bar stands as a symbol of resilience, determination, and the triumph of the human spirit. Mark Andrew’s story serves as an inspiration to anyone facing their own battles, demonstrating that from adversity springs opportunity, and from personal growth emerges innovation.

How To Capture Your Market With Clever Branding

Dirtbag Bar was created with one goal in mind: to provide the perfect snack for outdoor enthusiasts. Designed to be easily taken on hikes or stashed in a chalk bag at the climbing gym, the term “dirt bag” represents an unconventional mindset that encourages authenticity and fearlessness. For Mark, it was the ideal way to capture the values and way of living that Dirtbag Bar embodies.

Beyond being a snack, Dirtbag Bar intersects with mental health and the importance of connecting with nature. It serves as a reminder that access to natural spaces can offer stillness, peace, and a sense of something greater than oneself.

Learn About Mark

As the Founder of Dirtbag Bar, Mark Andrew Gravel has carved a niche for himself in the food industry, from spearheading unique pop-up restaurant events to crafting an artful food magazine. His professional journey started in 2007 with Bouwerie Projects, where he made his mark as an artist for over a decade. His professional journey in the food industry spans over 15 years, marked by a dynamic mix of popups and conceptual art projects. Throughout his career, Mark’s passion for food remained steadfast.

Dirtbag Bar was born out of a personal need for a healthy snack. Starting as a snack bar he made for himself and shared with friends and family, the product quickly grew in popularity. This prompted Mark to commercialize the product, starting from formalizing the recipe to figuring out manufacturing, branding, and packaging, all in the midst of a global pandemic.


“And it’s really all about just listening to like what people are saying and the, you know, people that are interested in your product.” – Mark Andrew Gravel

“It goes back to that idea of being unconventional, not being afraid to do what you love or step outside of the boundaries. Just march to the beat of your own drum and live your life in a way that’s meaningful to you.” – Mark Andrew Gravel“The mental health component in Dirtbag intersects. I think access to mental health is access to nature, to be able to go outside, connect with your surroundings, and connect with something that’s bigger than you.” – Mark Andrew Gravel

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