Dilbert's Assault On The Food Aisles Scott Adams's latest creation: the Dilberito, a vitamin-packed burrito for vegetarians
(FORTUNE Small Business) – If you are told that satirist Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert cartoon, has invented a consumer product that you can hold in your hand, you will likely be braced for something whimsical. But no--Adams's invention, the Dilberito, is sober and utilitarian. It's a tortilla-wrapped comestible consisting of vegetables, rice, beans, and seasonings that contains all of the 23 vitamins and minerals that nutritionists say are essential.
Adams, who hails from the swank Silicon Valley community of Danville, hit upon the idea several years ago when Dilbert--featuring the long-suffering engineer ever frustrated by a goofy, oppressive corporate management--was soaring toward fame. (The Dilbert workplace strip appears in 1,900 newspapers in 56 countries.) At the time, Adams was traveling endlessly and had no luck finding vegetarian food he could eat quickly.
Poison pen: Although he lampoons business with his pen, Adams, now 43, has an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley and knows the correct commercial path. He hired food-industry consultant Jack Parker to do a feasibility study. Afterward, Adams and Parker looked for partners to help make their healthy, quick meal. Eventually they got help from BASF, the global chemical company, on matters like minerals and vitamins, and they formed an alliance with Agrilink Foods, a giant that processes and markets such brands as Birds Eye. Scott Adams Foods Inc. came into being in 1998 with Adams as CEO.
The Dilberito: It was introduced in 1999 but infiltrated store shelves last year. It's now available for about $2.70 in frozen-food cases at 1,600 supermarkets around the U.S., including Safeway and Waldbaum's. Adams anticipates $4.5 million in sales this year. The primary market: colleges, where about 15% of students are vegetarians. Even if successful, Scott Adams Foods will remain an organization so lean it can hide behind a number 2 pencil. There is only one full-time employee, Jack Parker.