The Health Benefits of Mushrooms, Infused Into Fruit-Flavored Gummies
Evidence abounds for the accelerated aging effects of the past two pandemic-filled years. Recently, however, I caught myself identifying with a friend’s 5-year-old daughter, Ella, who, every morning after devouring a chewable multivitamin, begs her mother, “More yummy gummies!” Turns out, the science developed to make vitamins munchable, colorful, and tasty for kids works just as well for grown-ups. Since kickstarting the new year with a daily regimen of Troop gummies—bright, fruity drops made from mushroom extracts—I’ll admit to craving more than the suggested one-a-day dose. Unlike Ella, all I have to do to satisfy my hankering is twist off the childproof top, and pop another gummy in my mouth.
Troop grew from the minds of Stephanie Moyal and Jake Mellman, Los Angeles–based cousins who found themselves cohabiting during the onset of virus-induced lockdowns in early 2020. After three weeks of exhausting reality television’s offerings, they began binge-watching documentaries including Fantastic Fungi, a 2019 film about how the organisms can provide solutions to some of today’s most pressing medical and environmental challenges. The two had been following the growing popularity of fungi in drinks and supplements, and were particularly fascinated by the wellness benefits of mushrooms—an antioxidant-rich food that generally contains more than a dozen vitamins and minerals—and even tried growing their own in Mellman’s closet. With newfound time on their hands (Moyal had been laid off from her hospitality job and Mellman was recovering from a broken leg), they embarked on a quest to create an accessible way for people to enjoy the health advantages of mushrooms that both was rooted in science and tasted delicious—even to those who don’t usually care for fungi’s flavor. They settled on Troop, the term for mushrooms growing near each other but not near enough to be called a cluster, as their venture’s name.
To create and refine their product, Moyal and Mellman recruited a team of experts: integrative health expert Robin Miller, confectionary chemist Manny Katz, and mycologist Jason Scott, founder of the mushroom extract company Feral Fungi. Together, they created Troop’s first three varieties from mushrooms grown on small farms in Oregon and harvested from forests in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Each piece is vegan, designed so its nutrients can be easily absorbed by the body, and free of soy, gluten, additives, and chemicals. And no, they will not make you high. (The gummies don’t include psilocybin, the compound that makes magic mushrooms trippy.)
Selecting the gummy that’s right for you depends on the type of support you’re looking for. Those wanting to gain mental clarity and focus should reach for a peach- and mango-infused Lion’s Mane chewable, named for a mushroom variety that, according to some studies, can improve cognition and reduce inflammation and biological markers of Alzheimer’s. To reduce stress, try a berry-flavored reishi gummy, made from a fungus that’s been used for centuries in Asian countries to treat infections and aid in sleep. For a caffeine-free pick-me-up, pop a Super Troop, a strawberry passion fruit–flavored gummy concocted from a blend of mushrooms including Turkey Tail, Chaga, and Cordyceps.
While I am sleeping better and feeling good results, I confess that the gummies’ fruit burst and chewy sensation are what’s really compelling my occasional double-dipping. Still, as someone with a medicine cabinet full of half-empty vitamin bottles, I expect my diligence in taking these tasty treats to prevail for years to come—even if it’s driven by a texture fit for a kid.