By Bernard Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief
Candy Industry

getting fresh: Chimps and chocolate

Next month, on February 12, STS-119 mission specialist Steven Swanson will board the space shuttle and take eight chimps with him.

No, this column isn’t a retro tribute to Ham the Astrochimp, who took flight on January 31, 1961, aboard a Mercury capsule as part of NASA’s testing program.
 
Rather, it concerns Swanson’s personal request for a dessert item -- Endangered Species Chocolate’s Supreme Dark Chocolate bars, featuring chimpanzees on the wrapper, to be specific -- while he serves as flight engineer during the 14-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
 
As recently detailed on www.collectSPACE.com -- a Web site dedicated to space history, artifacts, news and memorabilia -- Swanson asked for the “chimpanzee chocolates” because they are his “favorite dessert.” He goes on explain in the article that the 72% cocoa content chocolate bars satisfy his craving for dessert without containing too much sugar.
 
Of course, Swanson promises to share his chocolates with crew members aboard the space station. He specifically mentions Sandy Magnus, a flight engineer who will return with Swanson aboard the Discovery after spending three months in the ISS, noting that she’s a chocolate lover.


Steven Swanson

The news that Swanson wanted to take some chocolate chimps into space proved to be a “very cool surprise” for everyone at Endangered Species Chocolate, Renee Sweany, public relations and advertising manager, explains on the collectSPACE Web site.
 
Sweany found out about Swanson’s request when United Space Alliance, the company that procures “fresh food” for the crew’s pantry aboard the shuttle, called Endangered Species to find out where it could purchase the chocolate bars. It didn’t take long before everyone at the Indianapolis-based organic chocolate manufacturer was doing the moonwalk.
 
Sweany points out that 10% of the company’s net profits are donated to help support “species, habitat and humanity.” Hence its name: Endangered Species. In this instance, Swanson’s request happens to feature chimpanzees on the wrapper. I mean, what better tribute to the first hominid launched in space than to take along an all-natural and organic chocolate that supports chimpanzees and other endangered species?
 
How cool is that?
 
Of course, I’m wondering if chocolate tastes any different in space, and whether zero gravity affects the textural experience. Perhaps Swanson can provide us some answers when he returns. I’m confident, however, that he and his fellow astronauts will enjoy the treat, particularly as they savor views of the Ivory Coast and Peru, home to the all-natural and organic cocoa beans that are used to produce Supreme Dark Chocolate.


While we’re on the subject of chocolate, I wanted to let readers know of the French Pastry School’s upcoming For the Love of Chocolate annual gala (www.fortheloveofchocolatefoundation.org).
 
I recognize that not all of you will be in Chicago on February 7, but it’s a really resplendent event that raises scholarship funds for future students at the school. Some of the highlights of the black-tie affair include an edible chocolate sculpture garden, complete with chocolate sirens; a cocoa dinner buffet featuring exquisite French fare prepared by Chicago's preeminent chefs; a Cocoa Dessert Salon featuring three distinct dessert tasting menus paired with matching wines and cordials; and Cocoa Sutra, a place where attendees can indulge their senses with chocolate body art, exotic chocolate creations, belly dancers, chocolate healing massage and more. To cap off the evening, there’s the hip VIP Cocoa Lounge, offering the trendiest mixed drinks and chocolate delicacies.
 
Oh, yeah, and participants have a chance to win two-round trip tickets to France, complete with hotel included. So, for the love of chocolate, if you are in the area, consider attending.


Divine director receives MBE

Sophi Tranchell, managing director of Divine Chocolate Ltd., has been awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the Prime Minister’s New Year’s Honors List for service to the food industry. An MBE is one of a series of honors bestowed annually to a variety of people in different segments, including individuals who have done something special for their communities.
 
Since Divine Chocolate’s beginning in 1999, Tranchell has dedicated herself to educating others about Fair Trade chocolate and changing the way trade with farmers in developing countries is done. Today, Divine Chocolate has grown as a popular Fair Trade brand, with $17.4 million in sales. It shares its profits with the Ghanaian cocoa farmers’ cooperative, Kuapa Kokoo, which owns 45% of the company.
 
Tranchell will meet the Queen in February to receive the honor. For more information, visit www.divinechocolate.com.


Stauffer's adds to all-natural line

Stauffer’s Googles are the newest addition to the company’s line of all-natural cookies and crackers. Featuring natural frosting drizzle, the cookies are made without any preservatives or artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. Googles are trans fat-free and cholesterol-free, and are a good source of calcium. The cookies are available in Chocolate Sundae, Orange Crème and Banana Split flavors. For more information, visit www.stauffers.net.

ADM launches new Web site

Decatur, Ill.-based Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) has announced the launch of its new Web site, www.adm.com. The site features a new layout with more content and user-friendly navigation. It also will inform viewers about the company, its products and services, its responsibility and corporate philosophy, investor information, ADM news and its worldwide operations. In addition, the site offers a search feature allowing viewers to access technical data sheets, MSDS documents and product information.

Americans head here for good health

Ten grocery stores recently were named “America’s healthiest” by a panel of nutritionist judges for CNN. The following five retailers were among those recognized for their organic prowess, among other healthy attributes.
 
1. Whole Foods: With 279 stores in 38 states, Whole Foods offers an “extraordinary selection” of fresh conventional and organic fruits and vegetables, and clearly labeled packaged goods. Its bakery items are free from artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and trans fats.
2. Safeway: With 1,700 stores nationwide, Safeway is a traditional grocer that transforming itself with its own organic brands and locally grown produce, as well as organic spices and packaged nuts.
3. Harris Teater: With 176 stores in the Southwest, this grocer offers more than just organic foodstuff. It also has “healthy shopping tools” such as Harris Teater’s YourWellness For Life program.
4. Trader Joe’s: With 300-plus stores in 23 states and Washington, D.C., this specialty food chain offers foods from around the world at reasonable prices, including healthy cereal options such as Triple Berry O’s.
5. Hannaford: With 165-plus stores in the Northeast, this relatively small chain is that largest certified-organic supermarket in its region and features a Guiding Stars nutrition-label program.
 
To learn about the other five grocers selected by CNN, visit www.cnnhealth.com and search for “America’s healthiest grocery stores.”


sweet of the week: Kellogg's FiberPlus Antioxidants bars

The evolution of consumers’ palates combined with their need for more in their confectionery products has led manufacturers to create more functional snacks and treats. Kellogg’s FiberPlus Antioxidants bars are an example of this trend. Available in Chocolate Chip and Dark Chocolate Almond flavors, the bars offer 35% of the recommended daily value (DV) of fiber, 20% of the recommended DV of antioxidants vitamin E and zinc, and 10% of the recommended DV of calcium. The bars also contain 7 gm. of whole grains and no cholesterol. The Chocolate Chip variety contains 120 calories and 4 gm. of fat, while the Dark Chocolate Almond variety contains 130 calories and 5 gm. of fat.
 
“Consumers are always looking for ways to add more fiber to their diets, and they know fiber is only one important part of overall nutrition,” says Julie Salmen, R.D., nutrition business partner, Kellogg Company. “Kellogg’s FiberPlus Antioxidants bars are a delicious way to enjoy both fiber and antioxidants in a snack.”
 
The 1.2-oz. Kellogg’s FiberPlus Antioxidants bars come five to a box at a suggested retail price of $3.09 each.
 
For more information, visit www.kelloggcompany.com.