By Bernard Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief
Candy Industry
pacyniakb@bnpmedia.com

getting fresh: Chocolate pleasures for a noble cause

It’s hard not to like Bill Copeland, president ofwww.aspecialtybox.com. Smiley and gregarious, he has a curiosity and passion for life that’s infectious. Together with his beautiful wife, Cindy, Bill has parlayed that joie de vivreinto a successful packaging enterprise.

Bill, who’s an avid golfer - warning, he’s definitely a ringer, so be very careful in betting any real money with the man - has an insatiable appetite for knowing how things work. He also has a penchant for the latest developments in technology, be they computers, cars … and now chocolate.

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised that Bill became involved in chocolate. Having traveled to a few European Candy Kettle Club events, he and Cindy have had the opportunity to sample a broad range of chocolates as well as see different manufacturing operations.

Bill’s interest in chocolates certainly received a boost several years ago when the two of us had the opportunity to attend a Next Generation Chocolatier Competition, organized by chocolate and wine aficionado and confectionery freelancerCurtis Vreeland, with a media sponsorship byCandy Industry.

Held at the exclusive Explorer’s Club in New York City, the event exposed both Bill and myself to a host of emerging artisanal chocolatiers, all of whom sought to dazzle the judges with their creativity and earnestness.

I’m not sure if that’s when Copeland caught the bug, but the event certainly inflamed his quest to discover as much as he could about chocolate. Thus, when I ran into him during the Retail Confectioners International’s annual convention this week in Lexington, Ky., I really wasn’t surprised to hear that he was close to opening up a chocolate shop in the hip, historic and artsy section of downtown Tulsa known as the Brady District.

Knowing Bill, I knew that this wouldn’t be just a retail front selling chocolate truffles. First, having had the opportunity to meet some of the most talented artisanal chocolatiers in the industry, Bill was going to offer customers the opportunity to pick and choose truffles, bars and specialty chocolates from the best of the best.

Given his packaging expertise, Bill’s new enterprise, dubbedGlacier Confection, also would offer customers the luxury of choosing their own packaging.

Finally, Bill was going to offer his own chocolate truffles - a broad range of luxurious treats created by hand. In this instance, these treats are actually made by him.

“It’s therapy,” he says.

Yes, the former photo technician-turned-entrepreneur-turned-packager has crossed over into the dark, rich brown side of chocolate.

But aside from offering a broad selection of really fine chocolate truffles, bars, nibs and chocolate drinks, Bill’s raison d’etre for Glacier Confection is a loftier mission, one that involves providing support for families who have made the supreme sacrifice: having someone close to them die for their country.

As the Web site states, “Glacier Confection is dedicated to a shared future with shared benefits for our U.S. Troops and their families. We are committed to making a difference in the lives of these families who have sacrificed much for their love of country.”

To that end, the company also is involved with theFolds of Honor Foundation, a charitable organization formed to provide post-secondary educational scholarships for and support to the spouses and children of service members who were disabled or killed while serving their country.

Most recently, Glacier Confections provided those participating inThe Patriot Cup, an annual fundraising event linked with the Folds of Honor Foundation and held at The Patriot golf course in Tulsa, with Patriot truffles.

As it turns out, the Patriot Cup enabled Copeland to combine two of his passions, golf and chocolate, in support of a noble cause.

What can we say but “Oorah, Bill!”

Consumers still wary about economic outlook, NPD reports

It appears that a thriftier consumer may be emerging from the recession, according to The NPD Group. A new report by the Chicago-based market research company reveals that many consumers feel their financial situation will not improve or will be worse over the course of the next year. The food and beverage study finds that after two years of cutting corners, consumers have learned to get by with less and say they will continue to practice thriftiness at least for the next six to 12 months and perhaps well beyond that.

“What’s Next on the Road to Recovery,” which explores how consumers’ habits related to food and beverage purchasing and usage have been affected by the recession, finds that nearly one in five consumers expect to be worse off 12 months from now than they are today, and half of all consumers expect their financial situation to be the same as it is today. Looking ahead, nine out of 10 consumers say they will plan and watch their spending on food and beverages outside the home.

“There are encouraging signs that the economy may be heading for recovery, but according to our findings, consumers, especially those with lower incomes, continue to struggle,” says Dori Hickey, director of product development at NPD and author of the report. “Most consumers have unquestionably felt the sting of tough economic times and have cut back on spending and adopted thriftier behaviors; behaviors that may become entrenched the longer the recession continues. Our findings suggest we may be looking at a new ‘normal’.”

Among the thriftier behaviors consumers say they will do more often than now over the next six months are decreasing spending on groceries (especially those with household incomes under $35,000); using coupons for food and beverage items from newspapers or magazines; stocking up on foods and beverages when they are on sale; searching store circulars for low prices on food or beverages that are on sale; buying less expensive brands of foods and beverages; and searching for manufacturer coupons online.

For more information about The NPD Group, visitwww.npd.com.

Bubble Chocolate expands distribution into NYC

Bubble Chocolate, a new all-natural brand that delivers aerated chocolate to North America, has announced that Duane Reade, the largest drug store chain in metropolitan New York City, is selling both its dark and milk chocolate bars in more than 250 locations.

“In nine months,Bubble Chocolatehas gained incredible distribution throughout North America, and getting our bars into Duane Reade confirms that American’s are ready for aerated chocolate,” says Paul Pruett, the company’s ceo. “The positive feedback from buyers and consumers is so exciting and we expect that this brand will continue to grow exponentially.”

In addition to Duane Reade and independent retailers across the United States,Bubble Chocolatecan be found in a variety of stores, including Meijer, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, BevMo, HomeGoods, Roundy’s Supermarkets, Akin’s Natural Food Markets, Central Market and Whole Foods Markets in the New England and Northern California regions.Bubble Chocolatealso has swiftly expanded into Canada and can be purchased in Winners and HomeSense stores.

According to Mintel, international aerated chocolate sales reached $1 billion last year. With one-third fewer calories than a traditional chocolate bar but with the same volume, it allows chocolate lovers on restricted calorie diets the option of enjoying real chocolate, the company says.

The aerated process, which introduces micro air bubbles into the chocolate, makes the bars lower in calories than a regular chocolate bar; but despite the lower calories, the process does not compromise the overall taste experience. Six squares of Bubble Chocolate contain just 100 calories.

Using the finest European chocolate,Bubble Chocolateis available in 2.82-oz. premium milk and dark chocolate bars and retails for $2.49. The chocolates also come in a 10-bar merchandising display and/or a 60-ct. floor display.

For more information, visit  www.bubblechocolate.com.

Inventure Foods names new svp of sales and marketing

Phoenix-based Inventure Foods, Inc., a specialty snack food marketer and manufacturer, has appointed Rick Suchenski senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Suchenski, a 30-year industry veteran, has extensive marketing and sales experience spanning organizations such as Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay and several small entrepreneurial beverage companies. He joins Inventure Foods after serving as general manager for the RTD Beverage Division at Sunny Delight Beverages Co. Prior to that, Suchenski served as president and coo of The Republic of Tea.

"As we enter a period of accelerated growth and expansion, Rick brings a wealth of experience in large, consumer-centric organizations that will make him a valuable asset to Inventure's leadership team," says Terry McDaniel, ceo of Inventure Foods. "We are excited to leverage Rick's extensive background in brand positioning and marketing strategy as Inventure Foods continues to capitalize on evolving customer eating habits through development of its specialty brands."

Suchenski expressed his excitement at this new opportunity, as well.

"Inventure's vision and innovation are opening new doors and creating tremendous new opportunities,” he says. “I look forward to being part of a very exciting and growing organization, and adding my background to their already strong leadership team."

For more information about Inventure Foods, visitwww.inventuregroup.net.

Peter's Chocolate ambassador Elaine Gonzalez retires

Elaine Gonzalez, master chocolatier emerita and ambassador for Cargill's Peter's chocolate brand, is retiring after making her final appearance at the RCI Annual National Convention and Industry Exposition, June 21-25 in Lexington, Ky. Gonzalez demonstrated chocolate handling and sculpting at the Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate booth during the convention and is the keynote speaker at the formal dinner this evening at the show.
 
"Elaine has been the creative and artistic face of Peter's chocolate for 27 years," says Don Pearson, president, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. "She has dedicated her professional life to the artistry of chocolate ... and the chocolate industry at large ... Peter's is forever indebted to Elaine for her grace, professionalism and passion."
 
Throughout her career, Gonzalez has been a famed teacher at institutions such as The Culinary Institute of America, The Malley School of Merchandising for Retail Confectioners and The Wilton School of Confectionery Art. For almost 20 years, Gonzalez also led tours of Mexico, exploring cacao plantations in Tabasco, observing chocolate traditions in Oaxaca and studying ancient chocolate rituals in Mayan and Zapotec villages.
 
Over the years, she has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Henry J. Bornhofft Memorial Award for outstanding instructional contributions to the confectionery industry as well as one of the industry's highest honors: induction into the Candy Hall of Fame.


sweet of the week: Bake Shoppe Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Miniatures

Theater box candy is at home not just at concession stands, but in grocery, drug and convenience stores nationwide. One of the latest products to join the theater box arena isBake ShoppeChocolate Chip Cookie Dough Miniatures from The Promotion In Motion Cos., Inc., Closter, N.J. This new product offers “Cookie Dough on the Go!” drenched in pure milk chocolate. The suggested retail price is $1.09-$1.29 per 3.5-oz. box; they’re also available in 1.75-oz. singles and 5-oz. pouches.

For more information, call 1-201-784-5800 or visitwww.promotioninmotion.com.