NEW YORK — Chuao Chocolatier, the San Diego-based maker of culinary-inspired chocolate bars in such varieties as potato chip, bacon, and cinnamon cereal, has introduced a new line of organic dark chocolate bars featuring fruit and floral flavors. Made with fair trade certified, 72% dark chocolate, the Enamored Collection includes coconut hibiscus, blueberry lavender, and raspberry rose varieties. Uplifting messages are printed on the chocolate and the packaging, and for every seven bars sold, $1 benefits Girls Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to helping girls achieve confidence.
|Michael Antonorsi, master chef and co-founder of Chuao Chocolatier|
“This has been one of our most fun and, at the same time, most difficult developments because we are really trying to express emotions through the chocolate and connections in a different layer,” said Michael Antonorsi, master chef and co-founder, during an interview at the Summer Fancy Food Show, where the brand unveiled the new collection.
Founded in 2002, Chuao offers a range of premium chocolate bars, including Firecracker Bar, packed with popping candy and a hint of chipotle; Oh My S’mores, featuring mini marshmallows and crushed honey graham crackers; and Pop Corn Pop Bar, which contains puffed whole grains, toasted corn chips, popping candy and a sprinkle of sea salt.
“A lot of our flavors evoke memories from childhood,” Mr. Antonorsi said. “You have the s’mores, the popping candy. I love when some of these elements trigger these memories. People start smiling and connecting. And (the Enamored Collection) is actually an evolution of that.”
The Enamored Collection represents the brand’s first big launch since opening its headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., earlier this year. The move enables significant growth for the future, Mr. Antonorsi said.
“Before, we were in three buildings, renting here and there,” Mr. Antonorsi told Food Business News. “Now we have a building that we own and can grow in size… We can probably triple or quadruple in size if we had to in the same place. There are no restrictions right now. We have ample space to play.”
The company also is expanding its footprint in more retail outlets. In late June, Chuao announced a deal with CVS to sell six of its chocolate bar varieties in 7,800 of the drug store chain’s locations. The distribution increases the brand’s presence to new consumers. Chuao’s chocolate bars also are sold in Target, Starbucks, Cost Plus World Market and select Whole Foods Market locations.
“CVS did something really amazing in my book when they took away all the cigarettes and were able to forgo over $3 billion,” Mr. Antonorsi said. “In the U.S. nobody lets go of money, so for me that was shocking and really inspiring because that means they are really boldly moving forward and committed to wellness.”
What’s next for Chuao? The brand may expand into other confectionery formats, such as bonbons and truffles, in addition to introducing more unexpected flavor combinations, Mr. Antonorsi said.
“There are more unusual ideas that I’m working on that I get real excited about,” he said. “Sometimes they are so off the wall that I’m going to have to wait for a little bit. But I think we’re in a great position to experiment now. And keep using the same formula to present ourselves in different formats and different placements so we can reach more and more people and spread the word.
“We started with bonbons and truffles. We have a little of that experience and are ready to revisit that. Bonbons and truffles are a very beautiful way to share joy because by nature they’re shareable… (but) they have a limited shelf life because they are all natural, so we have to work on ways to do quick transactions.”
In May, Chuao received silver and bronze prizes at the International Chocolate Awards for a dark passion fruit caramel bonbon and a dark chocolate ganache bonbon.“That is a whole new environment for creativity and innovation,” Mr. Antonorsi said of bonbons and truffles. “We look traditional, but we have a more creative vibe, culinary driven… We’ve done those things since day one, and we’re going to revisit that and see how we can add more gifting and how we can spread the availability of it. That’s a challenge of its own.”