Creating ethically sourced and sustainably cultivated products is a priority for Askinosie Chocolate, its owners say.
Co-owner Lawren Askinosie, daughter of founder Shawn Askinosie, said the nearly 20-year-old company is proud to call Springfield home. Commercial Street houses its longtime factory, where the venture’s line of chocolate bars is produced, including its award-winning 62% Dark Milk Chocolate and Fleur de Sel bar. Crafted with hand-pressed cocoa butter, the bar uses cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, powdered goat’s milk and a hint of sea salt. It’s sold nationally in roughly 750 stores in 48 states.
SBJ: How and when did this product come about?
Lawren Askinosie: We developed it in 2011. It was a few years after we had started making chocolate. We were selling our dark chocolate bars and white chocolate bars. We had a harebrained idea of what if we can make a bar that appealed to all the folks asking if we can make a milk chocolate that still felt like us. We experimented for a couple of years until we settled on a recipe that we felt like was perfect. For us, that meant using goat’s milk, which is pretty unique, and really tweaking that cocoa percentage until we settled on one we felt tasted like it had that robust flavor that dark chocolate people love but was also palatable, easy to eat and would appeal to people who like a sweeter bar. It remains to this day one of our top-selling chocolate bars that we make. It’s also won awards for us. We’ve won two Good Food Awards, which are considered to be the Oscars for food producers. It’s also won some international chocolate awards.
SBJ: Where does it fit in popularity with the line of chocolate bars you have?
Askinosie: It’s in the top three. It was our No. 1 seller until about 2018, which is when we released our red raspberry chocolate bar and then our vegan dark milk bar – our coconut milk chocolate bar, which is plant-based. Those are our top three, and they kind of rotate around through the years.
SBJ: How many iterations of this bar did you create before being satisfied?
Askinosie: Dozens. And that’s usually the case for new products that we release. In this case, it took about two years, which was about average. We do things a little more quickly now, so it usually takes about a year. This one has been around for a while, and this was back in the early stages. There was really no one else making a bar like this. We were starting from scratch and weren’t even sure if this would work well. It took a long time.
SBJ: How many chocolate bars do you produce?
Askinosie: We have around 20. We keep about 15 (stock-keeping units) in stock all the time – and these are chocolate bars that are on the shelves in places like Whole Foods around the country. We also make a lot of seasonal, limited-edition bars throughout the year that are more what we call microbatch. These are bars that aren’t part of our core product line, so they sell through pretty quickly.
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