October 10, 2007

A snack for the MySpace generation

Indians Count on an Old Friend’s AppealPerhaps the trickiest thing about launching the Tanka bar, a sweet, smoky energy snack made from buffalo and berries, wasn’t developing the recipe or designing the package. It was describing MySpace to the leaders of the Great Plains tribes.

“You should have heard me try,” said Karlene Hunter, chief executive officer of the Native American Food Company in Kyle, S.D., which makes the bars. “It was a foreign entity to them.”

The social networking site’s youthful cultural impact is central to the marketing strategy for the Tanka bar, which is aimed at a generation of young people raised on grab-and-go food. But the makers also needed formal approval from the elders of the Oglala Sioux and other tribes. Without it, Ms. Hunter said, all the Internet buzz in the world could not keep the Tanka bar from tanking.

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