From the January 2000 issue of Entrepreneur

The "Next Big Thing" is the holy grail of entrepreneurship--recent history is teeming with entrepreneurs embarking on quests to create the next McDonald's or build a better Microsoft. People allude to it, promise it, hawk it--but rarely hit it. Here are a couple of our votes for the elusive, enticing Next Big Thing:

Why Nut?

Found in 75 percent of U.S. households, the sticky, tan goodness known as peanut butter remains cemented on the roofs of American mouths, achieving staple kitchen status. This speech-impeding goo has been identified as a product of "personal nostalgia" by 26-year-old Lee Zalben, owner of Peanut Butter & Co., a cafe in New York City's Greenwich Village that offers a rich variety of gourmet peanut butter sandwiches. "Peanut butter is something everybody knows," affirms this pioneer of peanut butter eateries. "It provokes feelings of happiness and simpler times."

Zalben's offerings, such as The Fluffernutter, a marshmallow fluff and peanut butter sandwich, have captivated everyone from students to executives and senior citizens. And Zalben sees Starbuckian status in his future: "Ten years ago, people were drinking coffee and they sort of accepted it as coffee," he says. "Then some great retailers raised the bar by providing a gourmet product matched with great atmosphere and service. That's the model through which we're building Peanut Butter & Co. We get requests from all over the country for our peanut butter, and people are waiting for us to come to a city near them. Right now, we're working on a growth strategy."

Bidding Block

Thanks to our beloved Internet, a new forum in e-cruiting is giving free agents the opportunity to auction their skills. Assuredly the Next Big Thing in the labor market, sites like http://www.ubid4geeks.com and Monster.com's Talent Market offer the swelling pool of free agents--more than 10 million, according to the U.S. Department of Labor--an environment in which they finally have the leverage to achieve the respect, pay and work environment they desire.

Posted profiles display the skills, experiences and location preferences of a variety of independent professionals, along with desired hours and rates. Employers can then place their bids during a one- to five-day auction period for a chance to conduct the all-defining interview. "We've moved from an employer-controlled economy to a skill-based economy," observes Jeff Taylor, founder and CEO of Monster.com. "The lack of skilled graduates, the boomer population falling away and e-business's effect on the job market are all rolling out the red carpet for a free agent world."

Dress For Success, 21st Century Style

Increase your bio-energy and allow your aura to shine through with bioresonant garments from Dr. Tom J. Chalko's Bioresonant of Melbourne, Australia--colorful clothing scientifically tuned to resonate with your biz-savvy bio-emissions.

Maximize efficiency with "self-sanitizing" garments. New anti-microbial clothing marketed by Seattle-based HaloSource can be worn for days without reeking.

No success-striving entrepreneur should be without a "sensory stimulating" outfit. With sound bytes sewn right in, these suits from such companies as Moschino offer everything from uplifting chirps to motivational cues.

Contact Source

Peanut Butter & Co., 240 Sullivan St., New York, NY 10012, http://www.peanutbutterco.com