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  • Writer's pictureAlison Bailey Vercruysse

The Fate of 18 Rabbits

Updated: Feb 3

My father never told us why the 18 rabbits all suddenly disappeared one summer evening in Farmers Branch, Texas. We would piece it together many years later - my brothers, sisters and me. My dad built a large cage four feet off the ground for the rabbits with plenty of room for the mom and her 16 bunnies to stretch out. Blackjack the 18th rabbit, the wild daddy, came to visit on occasion when the bunnies were hopping around the backyard and sipping water from the swimming pool.


Next door to our house lived a congenial turkey named George, a mean next door neighbor with a barrel shotgun, and an unruly German Shepherd who had the advantage of tall pines marking the boundary line so he could cross whenever he chose. When the sun had set late one summer night, the dog wrestled the rabbits out of the cage rendering them helpless and massacred them all.   


My father didn’t believe in guns only baseball bats. But the bat was kept in the back of the car and, one horror doesn’t mean another one needs to occur. The German Shepherd was hungry and following his natural instincts that hadn’t been curbed.


So what does this have to do with the fate of 18 Rabbits.  I can finally tell you. In 2017, we had a bar manufacturer Hearthside Food Solutions who despite every effort couldn’t produce our bars. They took our money and only produced a few of the half a million we paid them to make.  What they did produce was mostly hard and inedible. On what was to be the last production run with Hearthside Food Solutions, the samples we received could bruise your jaw and break your teeth the bars were so hard. The bar maker wouldn’t take responsibility or give our money back and in the end it crushed an already vulnerable 18 Rabbits.  


18 Rabbits was on a precipice.  With more stores and higher sales than ever before, we expanded quickly across the nation in grocery. There is only so long a store will allow their shelves to go bare.


For the ten years before then, we had sustained 18 Rabbits with investment and a smart customer mix that made money instead of draining it. Making organic granola bars is expensive. Getting them on the grocery shelves requires money to endure a couple of years of it draining the bank account before they take hold and start to fill it up again.  



So why now, 18 Rabbits sued the former bar maker Hearthside Food Solutions for breach of contract. The case took six years to get to trial. 18 Rabbits won. A jury of twelve found Hearthside Food Solutions guilty. It was a pyrrhic victory in that a bad actor supplier brought the company down but, there were not enough assets recovered from Hearthside Food Solutions to do anything more than pay the legal fees. Justice was served not in a wrapper but on record.


I am grateful for the time I had with the rabbits - both the real and the mascots. They brought me and my family much joy. The profound impact of 18 Rabbits still reverberates with its mission that everyone has the right to pure and simple food using organic and regenerative oats, fruit and nuts. 


I invite you to join me as I travel in a new direction. With over twenty years of baking experience, sourcing regenerative ingredients and traveling the globe, I share recipes for granola and other baked goods using regenerative flours, roots and sweeteners along with some writing on my website AlisonVery.com and Instagram @alison_very.


Thank you for being part of the 18 Rabbits journey. May your life be filled with treats and wonders of all kinds.  

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12 Comments


Heather Baker Horgan
Heather Baker Horgan
Jun 03

I miss the granola so much, my diabetic husband can't tolerate all the over processed high sugar options on the market. I would love to find another granola that works for him.

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Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Jun 03
Replying to

Hi Heather, thank you for sharing your comment. If you are up to making it, there is a recipe on my website. I would be happy to walk you through it.  Alison

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Mishkin Faustini
Mishkin Faustini
May 08

If you get a chance and you can, doing a recipe for those 18 Rabbits Date and Pecan Granola bars would be amazing. I loved those bars and I'm so sad I may never get to have them again with my morning coffee.

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Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Jun 03
Replying to

Those bars are the one I miss the most especially on my travels. I am working on an at home recipe this summer and will share it on my website and with you when I have it. Thank you for sharing, Alison

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Justin Bailey
Justin Bailey
Feb 06

Love you! 🥰❤️🥰

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Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Feb 11
Replying to

Love you too brother!

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monica_hahn
Feb 03

So that's what happened! I loved your products, your warm & authentic brand, & working with you. I wish you every success on your next adventure.

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Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Feb 11
Replying to

Thank you Monica!

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Chris Hottinger
Chris Hottinger
Feb 01

Alison, I worked with your dad as well as your husband in healthcare. I recall your early days developing the recipe for the fabulous granola you made in your kitchen and then scaled to the larger retail marketplace. Indeed, a very tough industry to compete in even when the deck is a level playing field. Which we all know it is certainly not! My Son-in-Law has been successful rising up in the quality management/compliance side of the food industry. He has stories similar to yours where a good and well-intentioned food producer gets squashed because of a third-party they had partnered with to supply ingredients, package or produce their cherished recipe. Thanks for sharing your story and hope you s…

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Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Alison Bailey Vercruysse
Feb 02
Replying to

Hi Chris, Yes, I remember you. Thank you for your kind words. It is an all too common story unfortunately. Easy to start a business and much harder to scale while making it profitable with all the outside forces. I remain passsionate about food and know there is much work to do to make it healthier for all. In gratitude, Alison

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