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|The lemongrass & coconut "Hunger Games" chocolate|
When William Brown went to see one of the biggest movies of the year, he had no idea he would receive one of the biggest shocks of his life. He had brought along some of his chocolates to give to a friend at the movies, completely unaware that he would be viewing them on the big screen a few minutes later.
In at least four scenes of the blockbuster The Hunger Games, which has grossed more than $415 million worldwide, three varieties of William Dean Chocolates appear. At one point, the only thing on the screen is a plate of chocolates, about half of which are William Dean creations.
The shot had nothing to do with a product placement deal though. Rather, it was just a lucky break for the company.
The movie is based on The Hunger Games book series, which paints a post-apocalyptic world where 24 teenagers are selected to take part in a televised battle in which only one person can survive. As the main characters head to the “Capitol,” the fictional city where the most powerful people of the nation reside, the movie shows scenes of high-end fashion and food to showcase the people’s extreme wealth and luxury.
“The [characters] are basically told they’re going to get the best of everything,” says Brown, president and chief chocolate officer at William Dean Chocolates.
And the very best of everything apparently includes William Dean.
The lemongrass & coconut, a yellow-green white chocolate ganache, appears on the bedside table of the main character, Katniss Everdeen. Meanwhile, the PB & J, one of the company’s best-selling chocolates, and the port with fig and plum, a fig and plum milk chocolate ganache, appear in scenes when the characters board a train to the city.
“They’re very visual — very unusual and high-end looking,” says Brown. “I’m not sure a lot of people even knew they were chocolates. They look like an extreme ultra-luxurious chocolate.”
The Hunger Games food stylist bought the chocolates from a local Dean & Deluca shop, a company William Dean Chocolates sells to.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” says Brown. “Somehow we were in the right place at the right time and sometimes that’s all that matters.”
William Dean Chocolates recently won four gold medals at the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon Awards. But now, a new and unintended kind of fame awaits the brand. Ever since a local newspaper picked up on news of the chocolates’ big screen debut, the company has been receiving multiple phone calls from consumers.
“We’ve had people come in and ask for ‘The Hunger Games’ chocolates,’” says Brown.
Although the company hasn’t been marketing the three varieties with that title yet, Brown says he definitely wants to take advantage of the opportunity he has been given.
May the odds be ever in his favor.