From a young age, Joyce Zhu suffered from a rare autoimmune disorder that doctors could not explain and medicine could not fix.
One day her mother, Jane, noted they didn’t have “fancy food” when she was a child, but they also didn’t have “strange disorders and diseases. Everyone ate their mother’s cooking and got plenty of sun and sweat.”
Inspired, Joyce began to run experiments with her diet and exercise regimes. She quit sugar for a month, exercised 1-2 hours a day, only ate vegetables and lean meats, and would spend 1-2 hours a day cooking. Miraculously, she saw improvement, but it wasn’t sustainable as Joyce was also leading a busy life and loved sweets too much.
It was then that Jane started hand-making the milky and chewy sweet treats from her childhood. Joyce realized not only that they were delicious, but also how nutritious and travel-friendly they were.
And so, Numa Foods was born. The name “Numa” comes from the Chinese characters from daughter, “nu,” and mother, “ma.” Inspired by an age-old Chinese recipe — and created after spending months in the kitchen and consulting food scientists — Numa’s Milk Chews were developed without artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Available in Original, Chocolate and Strawberry varieties, Milk Chews are milk-based chewy snacks infused with nuts and dried fruit. They are inspired by Taiwanese nougat, an extremely popular Asian treat.
Joyce Zhu shares her views on developing a healthy relationship with sugar, her dream collaboration and the best piece of advice she’s received.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Our chews! Functional, delicious, and made by my mother – how could I not?
What’s the last cool thing you saw online?
We’re about to test out an A/B testing tool whose functionality looks really cool.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher because I really respected mine at the time.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
I would like to see the industry begin to place more importance on embracing a healthier relationship with sugar. Sugar types are varied and complex, and consumers are not always savvy on how best to consume sugars to best suit their lifestyle in a healthy manner.
What’s the last book you’ve read?
“The Road to Character” by David Brooks.
What is your pet peeve?
If given the chance to choose anyone, with whom would you like to collaborate?
As an Asian-inspired confection, it’d be really cool to collaborate with Asian-inspired chefs like David Chang.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t assume everything before you’ve tried anything.
What excites you most about your job?
Being able to grow something I helped create day by day.