Bambino’s Baby Food: Nourishing and Flourishing
By Robert Foran III
Like the olive branches that grow abundantly in the hills of Greece, so does the company of one of its descendants, Zoi Maroudas — award winning entrepreneur and CEO of Bambino’s Baby Food.
“Bambino’s” is the name that was chosen because Maroudas says, “it sounds fun and you’re always somebody’s Bambino no matter what age you are.” The word often refers to “baby” in many languages including Greek, Italian and Spanish. Since Bambino’s has become a registered trademark in 2013, the baby food company, its supplemental products, and the high-spirited woman behind it all, Marodous, have established a credible name for themselves.
Bambino’s is created just as any health conscious parent would want with a home cooked meal. This includes medical knowledge gained while Maroudas was a student at Baylor University regarding allergies, child obesity awareness and other concerns parents naturally have raising a blooming child.
With children, Maroudas acts as a caring, overseeing grandmother of sorts, consistently delivering an easy to cook, nutritious meal, ready for the days when parents wished they had more time to prepare something themselves. With Bambino’s, the complete balance is there: flavor, natural sources, nutrition, and the science behind cooking it all.
All of these aspects together are what matters most in delivering the quality that families are looking for. “That’s very important to me as a mom.” said Maroudas.
Bambino’s comes in frozen star shapes in flavors like ‘sockeye salmon bisque,’ ‘hali halibut,’ and ‘vegetable stew w/ filet mignon,’ and it conforms to all children’s developing stages with the ways it can be prepared. Whether it remains frozen like a popsicle, or warmed up in the microwave to a smooth or chunky texture, Bambino’s can be for kids or adults. Another delicious way to eat these protein packed stars can be thawed and mixed into your favorite soup as a flavorful stock or bisque.
Maroudas’ character and self-driven attitude has led her to gain valuable opportunities to get families and other businesses aware of her enterprise. Not only has Bambino’s been featured in local news stories from KTVA, KTUU, KSKA and local newspapers following her journey, but Maroudas has also found herself recognized nationally. She has sat in with Hoda Kotb’s talk show on SiriusXM radio discussing Bambino’s, Martha Stewart has been in contact through the Food Network, and more recently Bambino’s Baby Food was a close consideration for ABC’s Shark Tank.
The recognition doesn’t stop there. As a graduate of Baylor University, in 2017 Mayor Kyle Deaver proclaimed Nov. 2, as “Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas Day” in Waco, Texas in honor of her “outstanding leadership and commitment to health and nutrition.” This attention all derived from the production of her baby food brand and its benefits toward the well-being of infants, children and adults with certain health conditions.
Furthermore, state politicians such as Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and other members of government have even noticed Bambino’s mission and ideals using fresh Alaskan grown sources. In 2018, Former Governor Bill Walker had invited a group of about thirty businesses across the state to travel to China, Alaska’s largest trade partner. Visiting four cities, the grand networking showcase allowed Alaskan industries, including fishing and seafood, lumber, minerals and Alaskan grown food to get familiar with one another and represent their brands to relevant Asian businesses and families.
Even the current administration continues to back Bambino’s. “I was very humbled and honored,” said Maroudas, “we got a call a couple weeks ago from Gov. Dunleavy. He invited us to the state of the state address, so they are very supportive.”
During the China trade delegation, Maroudas met with Dave McCarthy and Jason Motyka, co-owners of 49th State Brewing Co., an “Alaska Grown” certified restaurant in downtown Anchorage. The brewpub is a major supporter of working with other Alaska Grown businesses. After Maroudas discussed the details of her business with them, they agreed to establish a working partnership. The ideas they had arranged got underway and by Jan. 2019, a new sub-category within the kids’ menu at 49th State Brewing Co. was born — the infants’ menu, featuring three of Bambino’s most popular flavors.
49th State Promotions Director Ellen Maloney said, “Our business is focused on Alaskan foods and Alaskan products on the menu, so when we met Zoi it was just a natural fit. We knew that it would be a good fit for our menu.”
49th State didn’t know what the response would be at first, thinking parents would just be used to bringing their own food for their infants when they come to the brewpub. But not so — once they posted about the new menu items on social media, it blew up with positive comments. Soon parents were making plans to come in for family gatherings and sharing the news with other friends with little ones to come in and try it.
“We’re a very family friendly brewpub,” Maloney said, “when we added Bambino’s to the menu (and the gift shop), people just felt like it was a way that they were being reached out to. I think a lot of families are looking for inclusive options.”
Maloney expressed the Maroudas couldn’t be a better partner. “It’s a great cooperation in Alaskan food, Alaskan made — Alaska is our business and we’re really happy to be working with Zoi.”
With Maroudas’ work ethic and personality shining through business conversations, strong relationships are being built, and more opportunities are unfolding. Bambino’s can now be found on the shelves and end-caps of the frozen food section of neighborhood Carrs-Safeway supermarkets.
Being there for about eight months, the point of Bambino’s being sold at supermarkets is for convenience. It is evident that families are becoming more familiar with it and word is also being passed on to staff from customers, and maybe even from some occasional enticement from its owner, Maroudas, while shopping there with her own family. The overall feedback about Bambino’s in the store has been positive.
“Zoi and her team have repeatedly helped with sampling and educating our customers throughout the various locations,” said Reino Bellio, Carrs’ General Manager. “Her products are innovative, healthy and locally produced. We see this as an expanding segment within the stores.”
Throughout Carrs-Safeway in Anchorage and the surrounding areas, Bambino’s products are Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) approved and located accordingly for better visibility and awareness for customers. They are also making efforts to add additional signage and announce information to shoppers.
Marouda is offering a special deal if parents would like to help spread the word about Bambino’s. Just as she approaches parents with little ones in the supermarket to educate and introduce them about Bambino’s by purchasing one bag for them to try at home, she encourages any parent to do the same while shopping at Carrs-Safeway. Just bring her the receipt and your story and she will happily reimburse the money spent on the new customer. Please contact Maroudas for details on this offer.
As accessible as Bambino’s is locally, Maroudas’ current and biggest focus is the awareness of Bambino’s providing national distribution of all its products being sold online.
“That’s how I actually started the company — direct distribution to customers from our website.” said Maroudas. “It gave us the capacity to grow as we could and as fast as we should.”
The most reasonable option for parents is to order a one month supply of food from Bambino’s website so they know it’s coming straight from the Anchorage manufacturing facility direct to parents homes. Amazon.com was recently added with Bambino’s products for the amount of exposure it could bring to the Bambino’s name, but direct from bambinosbabyfood.com is the most transparent and traceable way to order.
Bambino’s online platform is unique compared to others in the industry, “We’re actually the only baby food company that has online sales with the subscription option in the United States.” says Maroudas.
Bambino’s has been shipped to satisfied families in every corner of Alaska. “Within Alaska we have different shipping methods of transportation. With families outside the state, usually we ship FedEx. Whatever method gets it there the fastest and the safest.” said Moroudas.
Since traveling to China with her fellow business owners, shipping has expanded internationally into Asia with Alaska working as a central hub for global transportation. Chinese families are now sharing photos with Maroudas, smiling with their infants and their newly arrived shipments of Bambino’s.
“That’s where my biggest energy comes from — seeing our parents and little ones happy, it never gets old for me.” Maroudas shared.
Being an entrepreneur, Maroudas’ email address and cell phone number remain open to families with questions and concerns. The intent is to be sure everyone is satisfied and offer a direct relationship with the consumers.
That direct relationship extends into Bambino’s main facility where every Fri. and Sat. from 11a.m. to 6 p.m., parents can come in and learn about how Maroudas’ products are made. Maroudas calls it the “family fresh baked good days,” where every week holds a fun surprise for families who attend the workshops.
One week could hold a sauce making workshop, biscotti, cookies or pizza baking — Maroudas likes to keep it fresh and fun and thinks of it as an extension of her kitchen to every parent’s kitchen, maintaining a personal connection. A special Valentine’s Day theme will be conjured up for the weekend following the holiday at Bambino’s shop at 2819 Spenard Rd.
Looking to the future, Bambino’s is coming up with new flavors in the seafood category. Packed with healthy Omega vitamins, Maroudas revealed that the source will be of more premium quality than the already popular, ‘Hali Halibut.’
Maroudas is always looking to expand her brand into new areas of Alaska, like Girdwood’s Alyeska Resort. Whereas she has not officially reached out to the resort yet, it is among her list of ways to promote her lifetime plan of healthy eating habits. She said, “One thing I do hope is that the resort will consider our baby food for their expecting families.”
People like Maroudas who genuinely love their home in Alaska and all it stands for are here to prove that there is more to Alaska than just natural resources and tourism.
“We do this as a state together, we bring together the right choices, the right people, and never lose sight of the purpose.” Maroudas said. “The purpose and our mission is children. The profitability and the successes of the business will come all together with our families for that great purpose of a healthier generation.”
For more information regarding prices, products, selling locations or questions, bambinosbabyfood.com is a thorough website containing FAQ’s, nutritional information and more.