getting fresh: Splitting cocoa beans
When I first joined Candy Industry in 2001, moving over from sister publication Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, the challenge of learning about the confectionery industry did, indeed, look daunting to me.
And while the snack and baking industries have their own complexities, the sheer variety of confectionery products and processes looked overwhelming to me. And then there was chocolate, a mystery unto itself.
Through the years, I’ve become more knowledgeable, having had the benefit of visiting both domestic and international confectionery operations. There’s nothing like seeing and learning. As a trained journalist, there’s one cardinal rule I adhere to when it comes to observing and then conveying that information to readers: Let the experts do the talking.
That doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes – occasionally, this noggin can’t grasp concepts as quickly as others – but at least they’re honest ones. And it looks like I recently made another mistake, although it’s probably one many in the industry also commit.
Last week, in writing up a brief blurb for Sweet & Healthy about an upcoming event being hosted by www.dallaschocolate.org, I referred to Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate (www.patric-chocolate.comm) and Steve Devries of DeVries Chocolate (www.devrieschocolate.com) as “chocolatiers.”
In a subsequent e-mail McClure later sent me, he pointed out that both he and Devries preferred to be called “chocolate makers,” noting that there is a significant difference. He cited two Web sites, www.craftchocolatemakers.org and www.finechocolateindustry.org – the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) – where definitions are provided.
I have to admit, at first glance, I thought McClure was splitting cocoa beans with me. After all, here I am giving him and Devries a plug about an upcoming event, and the guy’s quibbling about semantics.
Still, I opted to find out exactly what the fuss was, so I checked out the Web sites. (I actually recommend that everyone reading this click on both sites – lots of good information there.) Essentially, a chocolate maker is one who sources cocoa beans and then uses traditional techniques such as roasting, winnowing, mixing and conching to produce chocolate in micro-batches.
A chocolatier is one who uses chocolate supplied by a chocolate manufacturer/maker to produce unique chocolate products and confectionery. In other words, a chocolate maker can be chocolatier, but a chocolatier isn’t a chocolate maker.
Upon thinking about it, I realized that making the distinction was critically important for the growth and appreciation of chocolate in the United States.
In talking to McClure earlier today, both he and I agreed that there was a serious education gap amongst consumers about chocolate, beginning with sourcing and extending to processing. In the end, it’s an educated consumer that does the industry more good than a misinformed one.
Chocolate companies, chocolatiers and chocolate makers have a greater opportunity to expand category offerings to consumers who appreciate and demand variety and quality. McClure also pointed out that he’s not alone in emphasizing the distinction.
At an FCIA meeting during the recently held Fancy Food Show in New York City several weeks ago, not one single person from a crowd of 50-plus objected to the need for differentiating “chocolatier” from “chocolate maker.”
So thanks, Alan, for making me aware. I’ll do my best to get the word out.
Attune Foods gives back with bars
Probiotic bar producer Attune Foods recently capped the second quarter of a charitable giving campaign to share the benefits of digestive health with thousands of U.S. consumers. Through it, the company provided samples of its chocolate and granola probiotic bars to charitable groups in select regions of the country.
Attune handed out more than 156,000 bars at events in California, Oregon, Colorado, Florida and New York, including Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation walks and giveaways to the Portland Parks Foundation and A Chance for Children in Los Angeles as part of the Today Show’s Lend-A-Hand road trip with Al Roker.
“More than 70 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders – from kids to seniors and everyone in between,” notes Rob Hurlbut, ceo of Attune Foods. “This affects not just short-term health but the ability to live life to the fullest. We’re committed to sharing the digestive health benefits of Attune with groups throughout the U.S. to show how a chocolate or granola bar can actually help change a life.”
Each Attune bar includes a blend of three probiotic strains selected for their superior clinical efficacy and safety, as well as demonstrated stability. Consumers can choose from 80-calorie Chocolate Probiotic Bars, which retail for $1.19 each, or 170-calorie Attune Granola Probiotic Wellness Bars, which retail for $1.59 each.
For more information, visit www.attunefoods.com.
Surf Sweets expands retail distribution
All-natural gummies and jellies maker Surf Sweets has expanded distribution of its products into Harmon and Sweetbay Supermarket grocery stores. Surf Sweets brand candies will be sold in most of the 13 Utah-based Harmons stores and in many of the 102 Florida-based Sweetbay Supermarkets. Both retailers will offer many of Surf Sweets’ seven varieties of gummy candies and jelly beans, including Gummy Bears, Gummy Worms, Organic Jelly Beans, Sour Worms, Organic Fruity Bears, Gummy Swirls and Sour Berry Bears.
For more information about Surf Sweets, visit www.surfsweets.com.
Innovation Roadshow takes to Philly
Registration is now open for flavor supplier David Michael & Co.’s annual Innovation Roadshow, which highlights the company’s best ideas for technical creativity, new flavor development, cost-saving technology, and thought-provoking and timely discussions with food and beverage industry experts. This year’s show is themed “Branded & Private Label: Strategies for Success” and will take place Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing in Philadlelphia, Pa. The event is free and kicks off with a dinner at the Independence Seaport Museum.
To register, visit www.dmflavors.com.
Students complete PMCA chocolate course
Thirty students recently completed a Pennsylvania Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association’s (PMCA) short course called “Chocolate and Compound Manufacture and Use.” There, industry experts presented on topics ranging from the science of using raw materials through the processing of the finished product. The course began with a visit to Bloomer Chocolate Company at East Greenville, Pa., where students saw the process in operation from raw cocoa beans to bulk chocolate and its use in molded blocks and chocolate drops as well as the production of cocoa powder of many colors. Wolfgang Candy Co., York, Pa., then hosted the hands-on part of the course, where students hand-tempered chocolate and experimented with a commercial enrober.
For more information about PMCA, visit www.pmca.com.
sweet of the week: Navitas Naturals Trail Power
Novato, Calif.-based Navitas Naturals has introduced a line of certified organic snack mixes called Trail Power. Made with exotic raw organic berries and nuts for a power punch of antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, Trail Power comes in three varieties: Goji-Golden Berry Mulberry, Goji-Cacao Nibs-Cashew, and Three Berry-Cacao Nibs-Cashew. The new product is not only organic, but certified kosher. It is available in 4-, 8- and 16-oz. re-sealable bags as well as 10-lb. bulk packages for retail bins, foodservice and adventure outfitters.
For more information, visit www.navitasnaturals.com.