Troy Umland admits he’s a “walking talking advertisement” for Umland’s Crunchy Cheese Bites wherever he goes. Remember the name of this delicious snack, because it will show up in local stores very soon. And you will know the Marengo connection.

Troy and his wife Barb have lived in Marengo since 1998. They have four kids—12-year-old Julio and 8-year-old triplets, Grace, Faith and Hope. Troy didn’t plan to become part owner of a company making snacks, but when he had the chance to partner with his brother Greg, Greg’s wife Louanne and their son, Taylor, of Carlock, IL, he signed on and brought his 30 plus years of experience in the consumer goods industry to the enterprise.

Greg Umland discovered a new technology for drying food that is energy efficient, faster and produces a more flavorful product. He used the technology to produce “Umland’s Pure Dry 100% Natural Cheese.” Troy joined his brother and family in 2017 and helped rebrand the product. It is totally cheese, not a “cracker type product posing as cheese,” Umland explains, so they named the snack Umland’s Crunchy Cheese Bites. This name truly describes these delicious bites of cheese that come in three flavors: Gouda, Cheddar and Pepper Jack.

Umland entered the product in a contest sponsored by Peapod, searching for the next best new foods. There were 100 entrants. The Cheese Bites made it to the top 18, making them part of an episode of ABC7’s “Windy City Live” show. On that show a panel selected a homemade pasta as the winner. The runner up: Umland’s Crunchy Cheese Bites! Peapod likes them so much they are interested in carrying them.

Greg Umland and his family continue producing the snack in Carlock. Troy Umland of Marengo pursues possible markets for the product in the Midwest, while continuing his full-time job and his life as a husband and father. “Balancing work and life is the challenge,” Umland states. If he can succeed in bringing this very healthy, incredibly delicious snack to local store shelves we will all benefit from his challenge. Watch for it and remember the Marengo connection.

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