CHARLOTTE – Jerrod Adkins looked forward to his burger cheat meal after his week of working out and bodybuilding. Six years ago, he asked himself why a burger had to be a cheat meal.
On that day, the idea of UnBelievaBuns was born.
“Burgers, when you look at them, they don’t have to be unhealthy,” Adkins said. “You could get 93% lean beef patties, so I switched to those and I cut 100 calories out of the burger itself. But everything else: lettuce, pickles, onions, it’s all vegetables so it’s all healthy. The only thing was this bun, so I wanted to switch out the bun and have a healthier bun, and I searched everywhere and couldn’t find one.”
Adkins, the founder and CEO of UnBelievaBuns, said the high-protein craze of the Atkins diet presented an opportunity for him to create a product that would allow dieters to eat bread products without feeling guilty. Six years later, the high-protein, low-carb diet remains popular with the emergence of the ketogenic diet.
“When it started off, everybody was so into the Atkins diet and low carb, and bread was one of the main things people had a hard time overcoming,” Adkins said. “And now, everybody’s into keto, which is very similar, and it’s still a major pain point. People just don’t want to give up bread.”
UnBelievaBuns are 119 calories with 17.4 grams of protein, 4.7 grams of fat and only 1.8 net carbs. Adkins said the buns do not have any preservatives, mystery ingredients or added sugars. Despite its health value, he said the buns still retain the familiar taste and texture of gourmet hamburger buns.
It took Adkins six years to perfect the recipe after a process of trial and error. He started in his home kitchen before approaching a commercial bakery.
“I was like a mad scientist in my kitchen, working on the formula and baking,” Adkins said. “About a year ago is when I had finally gotten enough successful runs in my kitchen to where I felt confident enough to take it to a commercial bakery. And then once we got to the commercial bakery, it kind of started all over again because it’s really hard to scale a kitchen recipe up to commercial production. It was maddening and frustrating.”
Shai Muse watched Adkins go through the process of developing the recipe. Muse said the taste was always consistently good, but Adkins wanted the size of the buns to be perfect. She tried to convince Adkins to sell them as dinner rolls, but he was adamant about making them burger buns.
“He stayed true to his vision and now look at them,” Muse said. “Any normal person would have given up after a year but no, he kept at it. His passion kept him dedicated to his dream.”
Muse said she sees big things in the future for UnBelievaBuns and she hopes to be part of that future working for the company.
“This is just not your ordinary bread,” Muse said. “It’s thought and done differently. When you have watched someone create their passions before your eyes, it’s truly a beautiful thing.”
Gavin Off met Adkins when the two would lift weights at the gym. From then, Off could tell Adkins had a determined nature. He said every time he would swing by Adkins’ condo, Adkins would be in his kitchen, making the buns. Adkins would give Off the leftover buns to take home.
“I didn’t have a doubt he could do this,” Off said. “Not because I’m a food critic by any means, but because it’s Jerrod … He never missed a day lifting and he has this attitude of ‘I have an idea and darn it, I’m going to get it done.’”
Right now, UnBelievaBuns are available online, as well as in certain markets in the Charlotte region. People can find the buns at two Rhino Markets in Charlotte, the Overton Market in Uptown, Charlotte Wholesale Supplies on South Boulevard, Vitasmart in Concord and others. He said the buns will soon be available at stores in Asheboro and Raleigh.
Adkins said the response to the product has been overwhelmingly positive. He said some have called it a “game-changer,” and people have told him they snack on the buns by themselves.
The buns have been so popular that the website now has a subscription feature for people to receive the buns on a regular basis, Adkins said.
Moving forward, Adkins hopes to see UnBelievaBuns in grocery stores and restaurants.
“Similarly to how you go to a restaurant and they offer a gluten-free bun, we want them to offer a low-carb bun. 44% of Americans say they’re either on a low-carb diet or try to eat low carb, and that’s a huge segment of the population that would choose that option if they were given it. That’s a major education process with the restaurants.”
Want a bun?
More information about UnBelievaBuns can be found at www.unbelieva
buns.com and Instagram @unbelievabuns.