Diana Levy is the ultimate double agent — a health-conscious chocoholic.
When she launched Undercover Chocolate Co., her goal was to make decadent, chocolate-covered goodies, but she quickly realized most people wanted a simple, delicious, satisfying snack.
After lots of experimenting, she came up with Undercover Quinoa — crispy organic quinoa, lightly covered with premium chocolate. When two of her chocolate-obsessed daughters were diagnosed with celiac disease, she became determined to make her snackable treat gluten-free, too.
A little more than a year ago, Diana’s husband Michael, who worked on the investment banking side of the confectionery industry for many years, joined Undercover Chocolate Co. as chairman. Demand for their product soared, and when they couldn’t find someone to manufacture their snacks the way they wanted, Diana and Michael decided to build their own factory. In August 2018, the couple installed a state-of the art manufacturing line in the company’s facility in East Hanover, N.J., making them capable of producing large volumes of Undercover Quinoa.
Because their children can’t consume gluten, they’re sensitive to a range of food allergies and sensitivities. Diana and Michael recently had their factory certified not only as gluten-free, but also as peanut-free and tree-nut free.
Undercover Quinoa bridges the gap between healthy and delicious, and the woman-owned business is seeking to build a leading global brand of great-tasting, better-for-you snacks. Diana Levy talks running a business, staying optimistic and skydiving below.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Sorry for sounding self-serving, but I’d really have to go with my own product, Undercover Quinoa. It’s light, crispy, crunchy and incredibly delicious. And, if I had to choose one flavor, it would be Milk Chocolate. However, if I got two choices, the next one would have to be a Toblerone bar.
What’s the last cool thing you saw online?
Probably a surprise video of my oldest daughter sky-diving, which I saw unexpectedly when I happened to click on her Instagram account. Not only was it a surprise, but it was pretty amazing to see her shrieking the whole way down.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to run my own business. I was always envious of the kids who had family businesses they could take over one day, and since I did not have that, I was determined to create my own.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
I think the confectionery industry as a whole is absolutely amazing. It may be the last bastion of kindness in the business world, while also being incredibly interesting, dynamic and global. The people whom I have interacted with take tremendous pride in building the industry as a whole and helping one another. I am, of course, focused on issues like the cost of raw materials and other factors that can impact our business (i.e., I am hopeful the price of cocoa does not skyrocket).
What’s the last book you’ve read?
I just finished “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. It was a phenomenal book, which I highly recommend.
What is your pet peeve?
People who are convinced that the grass is always greener elsewhere without taking the time to dig in and work hard to make something happen.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever gotten was from my husband Michael, an eternal optimist. Through his success, he has convinced me to focus on the positives, because if you get lost in the negatives, it will become self-fulfilling.
What excites you most about your job?
Knowing that we continue to create a really delicious, unique and satisfying product that people truly love. My favorite part of the day is when a skeptic tries our product and then stops in their tracks, wide-eyed, totally shocked that they are loving something called Undercover Quinoa.