Former American Gladiator and El Segundo resident Barry Turner is hoping that people looking for a sweet treat with a nutritious edge will gravitate to Lenny & Larry’s line of cookies, muffins, brownies and breakfast bars. He is co-owner of the tasty baked goods company and he promises that his line also packs a serious muscle-building protein punch.

Formerly known as “Cyclone” to American Gladiator fans, Turner was working out with this friend and former business partner at Gold’s gym in Venice Beach when the idea hit them to pump protein into muffins.

“It was one of those coffee-shop moments. We didn’t have a business plan, but we knew we had a great idea,” Turner recalled of the light-bulb revelation in 1993.

A great idea indeed. Famous for the Triple Chocolate Muscle Brownie, Lenny & Larry’s products are now carried in stores such as Ralphs and Whole Foods.

Turner explained, “I was motivated to do something (after being injured on the show). I knew I had a short window of being a celebrity and wanted to take advantage of that.

Turner and his partner launched the company with only $1,400. They designed a logo from a photo of themselves with wild hair and silly faces and decided to call the company Lenny & Larry’s, a play on their real names. Gold’s Gym was their first client; fun was their goal.

Soon after founding the company, Lenny & Larry’s was invited to create a private label for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. A contract with Robek’s Juice came seven years later.

In 2001, they sold the company to current President and co-owner Don Croutch, an experienced businessman and vending machine entrepreneur.

Turner couldn’t stay away for long, though.

“I was always sad about selling. I would not equate it to selling a child, but it was hard,” he said.

In 2007, Turner returned to Lenny & Larry’s, buying back 50 percent of the company and assuming the role of CEO. The self-described “jack of all trades, master of none” immediately felt a strong partnership with operations-focused Croutch.

Soon after his return, Turner had an epiphany to create the muscle brownie, which revitalized the Lenny & Larry’s brand.

Record sales have followed.

“Back in 2007 and 2008, we made a conscious decision not to participate in the recession,” said Turner. “The future is unbelievably bright.”
In addition to a new line of breakfast bars and updated packaging, the company has an aggressive promotional strategy planned for 2011. They move into 13 Costco stores in January; concurrently Ralphs and Whole Foods will run specials. Turner is meeting with potential clients Kroger and Trader Joe’s.

However, Lenny & Larry’s success is not all about sales; the company has a heart.

Turner and Croutch are committed to giving back to the community. The company regularly sends care packages to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turner, a family man first, supports the El Segundo sports programs and encourages uncertain entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.

“Giving is contagious. It feels good to give,” says Turner with a smile.

To buy Lenny & Larry’s health snacks, go to www.lennylarry.com or head to the energy bar section at any of the businesses mentioned.


By Alana Garrigues for The Beach Reporter