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by Judy Antell


As a young, extremely underweight boy, Michael Sands was “encouraged to eat anything.” But as a parent, the Tuckahoe resident wanted to avoid his kids becoming “junk food junkies”. His company, Lesser Evil, specializes in all-natural kettle corn, made with no trans fats, no corn syrup, and no artificial flavors or preservatives.

Still, as he acknowledges on the boxes of his flavored popcorn, “We’re not talking broccoli and carrots here.” Sands says he and his wife, Suzette, make sure their kids understand that the popcorn is “a sweet treat…it is not a daily occurrence.” His goal is to produce snacks that he can feel good about serving to his kids — Bridget, 5, Liam, 3 1/2, and Finn, 2. “It’s easy to do the McDonald’s drive-through,” he notes, but he adds that he has never taken his children there. One of his previous jobs was developing drinks for Snapple, but in the Sands household, “we’re a water generation,” dad reports. His kids drink juice at most once a day, and they use that old parenting trick: The juice is watered down.

Michael said his kids “love to tell me what they like and don’t like’ but he pointed out that Finn is still too young to eat popcorn.

Lesser Evil has peanut butter and chocolate, and SinNamon (cinnamon) kettle corn, and a new maple pecan flavor, as well as Black & White (which his kids like to share according to color — chocolate and vanilla). His kids have also been testers of a new ‘potato-based’ snack due to come out early next year.

Because the company is based just a mile from home, Sands is able to eat breakfast and dinner with his family, and put the kids to bed, though he admits to nipping back to the office after they are asleep. Starting a snack company may run in the blood; this summer, Bridget had her first lemonade stand and told her dad, “I’m an entrepreneur like you!”

The snack police may take a more hard-lined stance, and eliminate all snacking, but Michael Sands takes a more reasonable approach. “There is time and a place for everything. My kids are not eating popcorn every day, nor are we advocating that.” But he makes sure that those controlled amounts contain “natural sugars, no trans fats, no unnecessary evils.”

For the holidays, Lesser Evil has lumps of coal — chocolate flavored Cocoa Coal, for stocking stuffers. The products are sold locally at Mrs. Greens, Deccicio's, Scarborough Fair, Over the Moon, Park Place Bagels. and at www.lesserevil.com.

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