By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
Palisadian Chris Frank was on a ride through the Santa Monica Mountains with a fellow cyclist when he “bonked.”
It’s a phenomenon known and dreaded by endurance athletes the world over: When a person bonks, or “hits the wall,” their body enters a condition of sudden, debilitating fatigue triggered by the depletion of glycogen in the liver and muscles.
Without a way to push through it, usually in the form of a densely nutritious snack, it can force the end of an athlete’s day.
Frank had been down this road before—he competed as a professional cyclist in his years between UCLA and a career in finance.
But this time he was caught without a snack. Thankfully, his companion had a power bar to offer.
Its appearance was a little dubious: Plain, clear shrink-wrap with a little sticker dubbing the bar “Bonkbreaker.” But when Frank bit into it, he realized, “This is the best bar I’ve ever had.”
“It tasted fantastic,” he later recalled. “This was real food.”
Frank broke his bonk and finished his ride, then returned home determined to find the bar’s manufacturer.
But rather than a storefront or website, he heard tales from fellow cyclists of a “dude with a ponytail and a white van,” doling out samples.
That “dude” was Palisadian Jason Winn—today he’s still known to his neighbors in The Village by his van, a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that’s brightly wrapped with Bonkbreaker’s logo.
Back then, Winn’s van was plain white and his power bars merely a nascent passion project.
A D-1 college quarterback turned triathlete, Winn had been experimenting with ways to make his favorite mid-race power snack, PB&J, more portable and nutrition rich.
He was cooking up the samples in an apartment kitchen, with help from his mother.
Frank eventually tracked Winn down and the pair “immediately hit it off.”
Over a few years, Frank transitioned from loyal customer to investor and financial advisor, helping Winn develop a strategic business plan.
Bonkbreaker officially launched in 2011. Within about two years, Frank told the Post, “I left my ‘real job’ and came to cook energy bars with Jason [full-time].”
In the years since, Bonkbreaker has carved out its place in the market as “the Ferrari” of power bars.
They boast densely packed nutrition and a minimalist list of high quality “real food” ingredients. That, of course, comes at a cost—Bonkbreaker bars retail at about $30 for a box of 12.
But they’re wildly popular in the “specialty retail” sector—places that cater to high-level athletes, like bike shops and sports equipment stores.
They’ve earned the endorsement of myriad professional cyclists and NFL players, and they’re the “official nutrition partner” of USA swimming.
The bars are so popular, in Frank’s opinion, because they pair convenient, high-level nutrition with a product that’s actually tasty. He calls this marriage the “holy grail.”
And the high-end model it demands works just fine for Bonkbreaker.
“We want to be the best,” Frank explained. “We don’t care about being the biggest.”
Still, Bonkbreaker is growing beyond their core following.
The duo has had successful experiments placing their products in grocery and convenience stores, expanding their reach to busy professionals and “weekend warriors” with the means and interest to try higher-end snacks.
And as they grow into this new market, Frank said, there’s no better base than Pacific Palisades. “It’s home,” he told the Post, and “most people here live our lifestyle.”
So keep an eye out for the Bonkbreaker van on your next jog through town—you might get a free sample when you truly need it.