As Endangered Species Chocolate has continued to expand its product offerings over the past few years, we’ve never had a place where we could try out new recipes without having to worry about invading precious production space. A small area in production was sanctioned where new product development took place…but that changed a few months ago when Endangered Species Chocolate converted part of an old storage area into a new test kitchen!
Our test kitchen gives us a dedicated space where we can get creative. This new space includes a tiny tempering machine to heat chocolate and stir in inclusions. A mini fridge cools down the chocolate and stores samples until they’re ready to be tasted…I mean tested.
This test kitchen has gotten a workout over the past few months! We’ll be introducing TWO NEW FLAVORS in January and a brand new product line (shhh – top secret) is in the works, set to launch in early 2014. So tell us, what would YOU cook up in our new test kitchen? Comment below with flavors you’d like to see from Endangered Species Chocolate.
I don’t work in our production area on a daily basis, when I have the good fortune of finding myself back there I’m always amazed at how everything seems to work like a well oiled machine. The manufacturing of our chocolate looks as if it’s part of a synchronized dance that is set in place by the humming of machines and shuffle of our production workers.
Our confection creations begin with large tanks slowly stirring the chocolate before inclusions such as raspberries or almonds get poured in them making your favorite bar come together. Once the bars are set into the molds, they meticulously come out of the lines and workers inspect to make sure each bar looks like perfection. They are then wrapped in our labels with an inspiring animal on the cover and boxed-up before moving back into shipping.
In shipping, you’ll see precisely labeled boxes our quality department has put together letting our production workers know about any allergens they contain and eliminating the chance of cross contamination for our customer’s.
Finally, forklifts whisk by you carrying boxes of chocolate as they get set-up on pallets which are then picked-up and shipped off to ultimately end up on the shelves of your favorite store. In my next post we’ll explore ESC’s new test kitchen.
After working at ESC for four years I can tell you what seems like an ordinary day for me isn’t a typical work day for most people. When you first walk into the building you get hit with a whiff of chocolate although like anyone who’s worked here for more than a few weeks sadly, you will be become accustomed to the tantalizing aroma and don’t notice it anymore unless you go back into shipping or production and they are running one of our stronger aromatic inclusions such as mint or orange then you can defiantly smell it (more on that later).
As I wait for my computer to boot up I go into the kitchen and grab some coffee. ESC purchases organic coffee and no disposable cups here; everyone uses reusable mugs and dishes each day. After answering emails and returning some calls I head back into shipping to coordinate samples going-out and I get hit with the nose twitching smell of mint. Which almost immediately makes my stomach grumble and luckily it’s time for lunch. As I walk back to the kitchen and grab my lunch out of the fridge you’ll notice no soda or snack machines around. This is an employee inspired effort to help support company wellness. This time of year I enjoy making salads with produce from my home garden and reading a book while eating my lunch outside on the ESC patio.
After lunch it’s time to start going through the 10% GiveBack applications that have been submitted over the past few months so that we can pick our next partnerships. After carefully reading through some applications and giving my feedback it’s time for a quick meeting. As I walk to the conference room you’ll notice almost all the materials in the building including desks, chairs and even the carpet is made from recycled materials. The rest of the afternoon is filled with phone calls, research, emails and some writing. Late in the afternoon several employees head out back to the work-out room to de-stress and work-up a sweat.
After finishing-up for the day, I gather my things and head out to the parking lot. While you see several eco-friendly cars and employee’s car pooling you’ll occasionally also see employees ride home on their bikes when the weather cooperates. Next time I’ll give you a peek into the factory where our chocolate is made.
Selecting Wrapping Paper
“So what species should we put on the wrapper?” is the main thought that obsesses our minds after determining a flavor for a new Endangered Species Chocolate bar. This packaging element is the first thing people notice about our chocolate bars. The success of a flavor can often hinge on the appeal of the animal. Case in point: a boost in our Smooth Milk Chocolate Bar sales coincided with a cover art switch from the red salmon to the sea otter. Coincidence?
Everyone can connect with the cute and cuddly. But we don’t want to do a disservice to the rest of the world’s endangered species – you know, the ones that some consider a tad creepy. So yes, the majority of our chocolates feature animal photography that is easy on the eyes but that doesn’t mean we neglect the weirder ones. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Would a chocolate bar boasting a bat on the wrapper fly?
We boldly assigned the bat as the ambassador of our Intense Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs bar in 2004. Among the most endangered of wildlife, bats, as pollinators and controllers of insects, are vital to nature’s existence. But they give many people the willies! That’s why I’m pleased to report that “The Bat Bar” has been embraced by our consumers and enjoys a healthy sales ranking to this day.
An Iguana? Really?!
It doesn’t always work though. Take our long ago misguided notion to have a marine iguana grace the cover of the Organic Smooth Dark Chocolate Bar (view it here). This flavor should have been a shoo in for top selling flavor but it languished. After months of struggle, it was stuck being the least popular chocolate bar in our collection. However, almost immediately after the wrapper art was morphed into a butterfly, this bar soared to the top sales spot and is still there today!
Ophiophobia (fear of snakes)
So would my debilitating fear of snakes keep me from grabbing a chocolate bar that had a serpent on the wrapper? I’d like to think not. Each creature holds its own important place here on Earth – and honestly, I think there is beauty to be found in the strange and unique (a sentiment shared by ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle).
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle
What creatures do you find fascinating that others tend to shy away from?
Do I blame the endless summer heat for squelching my creative process? (that one gets my vote) Could it be that I am still struggling to get back in the swing of work, post-vacation? (doubt it – I took 2 weeks off and returned refreshed) Maybe the fact that I stopped exercising 3 weeks ago has something to do with it. (ugh, I feel really guilty about that one)
The ideas just aren’t flowing, y’all. I feel like a turtle tucked in a shell – hiding from my writing. I have neglected to compose an engaging post (or any post for that matter) for 3 weeks. No thoughts on chocolate. No inspiring words about the importance of conservation. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.
But, ya know, maybe the cure lies in just admitting that I have a problem. Because – strangely - penning this mediocre post is actually making me feel freer, more relaxed…and dare I say it, unblocked. Finally facing the fact that my mojo is lost has also encouraged me to take control and seek out ways to recapture it. This list, 33 Ways to Stay Creative, is my new mentor.
Thanks for being patience with my humanness. Carry on.
Welcome to Involved, a blog written by a handful of avid, chocolate-wise employees at Endangered Species Chocolate. As a supporter of our company, we know you are as passionate as we are about species, habitat, humanity…and, of course, chocolate!
This is a place where you can get inspired, ask questions and share experiences about bettering the planet. And it practically goes without saying that you’ll learn a ton about the captivating power of chocolate. We expect to learn a lot from you too!
Welcome. We look forward to having you Involved.
What steps, big or small, do you take to make a positive impact on the planet?