SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker has returned to private ownership after being held by The Hershey Company for 16 years.

SCHARFFEN BERGER’s new ownership will make the brand’s reintroduction at Booth 11542 during the Sweets & Snacks Expo, set for June 23-25 in Indianapolis.

“We are excited to take SCHARFFEN BERGER back to its private ownership roots,” said CEO Paul Cherrie. “Embracing a founder mentality once again, we can infuse energy, passion and a deep love and respect for the brand back into everything we do. SCHARFFEN BERGER has a rich history and an amazing quality heritage. We are honored to be able to carry forward founder John Scharffenberger’s vision of making chocolate with the soul of a fine wine.” 

Cherrie brings not only entrepreneurial and leadership expertise but also confectionery experience to his role, having held global management positions previously at both Concord Confections (Dubble Bubble) and The Topps Company. 

Joining Cherrie at the helm of the new independent SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker is a team of industry experts. 

“It was paramount to bring a deeply experienced team on board to make sure we could live up to the SCHARFFEN BERGER name and reputation from our very first chocolate run,” Cherrie said. “The level of expertise and pure passion for the brand that this team delivers is humbling.” 

Joining Cherrie at the helm of SCHARFFEN BERGER are:

• Ray Major, master chocolate maker — a recognized leader in cocoa sourcing and production, Major has been in the confections industry for more than 45 years. He brings his extensive cacao sourcing, cocoa production, processing and chocolate making expertise to his role at SCHARFFEN BERGER, building upon the work he did with the brand while at The Hershey Company.   

• Wade Latz, engineer — Latz, an MBA and electrical engineer, spent 35 years at The Hershey Company, where he led global engineering for 10 years and was responsible for the entire U.S. supply chain including engineering, manufacturing and all production planning and scheduling.  

• Peter Lord, engineer — Lord, a chemical engineer, spent 40 years at The Hershey Company where he designed some of the largest and most advanced chocolate making systems in the world, producing as much as a million pounds of chocolate a day. 

• Chris Spirko, chief financial officer — an experienced finance executive from M&M Mars.

• John Scharffenberger, advisor — Brand founder John Scharffenberger is working closely with Cherrie and the new leadership team to ensure the quality and nuance of the brand’s original formulation are upheld, delivering complex, cacao-forward fine chocolate for baking, pairing and eating.

Manufacture of the 25-year-old craft chocolate brand has moved to a new facility in Ashland, Oregon. The company’s facility is running its first chocolate batch this month. 

“Our location in Oregon’s Rogue Valley brings SCHARFFEN BERGER back to its West Coast homeland and ideally situates us among this country’s leading craft and artisan wine, cheese and fine food makers,” Cherrie said. “We are excited to join this community and look forward to learning from and partnering with these top-notch, like-minded craft companies.”

Founded in 1996 by Scharffenberger and fine food enthusiast Robert Steinberg, SCHARFFEN BERGER led the American bean-to-bar craft chocolate movement. Combining practices of chocolate and winemaking, SCHARFFEN BERGER has long recognized the importance of the source of its cacao. 

Beans from each region are picked for their unique flavor characteristics — chocolate, fruit, spice, floral tobacco, leather, woody, earthy — and are specially roasted to bring out these notes. SCHARFFEN BERGER blends these freshly roasted beans to produce its signature flavors, balanced and complex, highlighting the true, rich flavors of cacao. 

“We are committed to carrying forward John’s legacy, sourcing the finest cacao from the best Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and making the best tasting chocolate on the planet,” Cherrie said. 

SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker crafts a select assortment of fine baking and tasting chocolate bars and chunks as well as cocoa powder. SCHARFFEN BERGER chocolate, in Milk (41% cacao), Semi-sweet (62% cacao), Bittersweet (70% cacao) and Extra Dark Unsweetened (99%), is available at premium grocers and specialty food shops across the U.S. and online at