Have you ever heard of Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate? Most probably not yet. But, after conquering the Dutch market the brand is ready to take on the UK, kickstarting with a ‘free Chocolate event’ in London. An opportunity to share just how great Tony’s chocolate is, and also what they want to achieve.
Founded in 2005, Tony’s sole mission is to make 100% slave free chocolate the norm. The name comes from Dutch journalist Teun (you can see why he went with Tony!) and was inspired by a book he read about child slavery on cocoa farms in West Africa. After revealing this dark secret on a Dutch TV show, he decided to lead the way and prove that creating Fairtrade ‘100% slave free’ chocolate bars could be done. Tony’s Chocolonely was born.
The event was held at a small location in Soho from 28th March to 1st April 2019 and entrants were queuing up outside to get in. Before any chocolate tasting was allowed we were shown upstairs to an immersive room which featured a huge rectangular screen – the shape of a huge chocolate bar, of course! We watched and listened to a short educational video and audio explaining the inequality of the chocolate industry and the process and poverty trap that farmers are caught in, with some alarming stats highlighted throughout about child slavery on cocoa farms.
Did you know that about 90% of children working on cocoa farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast (where 60% of the world’s chocolate comes from) work under illegal and often very dangerous conditions? Go and read the full Tony’s Chocolonely fairtrade story for yourself to understand in more detail.
So, what happened next? We were taken up another flight of stairs and here, we entered the world of Tony’s Chocolonely.
A rainbow of colour wrapped chocolate bars were displayed in a variety of Instagrammable ways throughout the room. It was like we had stepped into Tony’s mind. Here, we could try all their chocolate flavours. The Dark Milk Pretzel Toffee, Salted Caramel and their Milk Chocolate flavours quickly became personal favourites.
We snapped pictures of the English red post box and luggage boxes filled with Tony’s Chocolonely bars, as well as bars glued to the walls in various patterns and hanging from the ceiling. This wasn’t just for show, Tony’s encourage ‘sharing’ with anyone you want to. The more you share, the more you spread the word of their important brand message. So, there was even a small table with Tony’s branded postcards for us to write to family or friends abroad and an iPad for anyone to sign up to their newsletter. This meant you became a ‘Tony’s Chocolonely Serious Friend’, receiving regular promotions on ways to get involved and rewarding us with ‘Serious Friend’ perks.
There were multiple Tony’s staff members encouraging us to taste the chocolate and they walked around to answer any additional questions we might have. After speaking to Carlijn, we were so impressed with the impact they’ve had so far. She mentioned the additional wage they give to farmers on top of the Fairtrade wage and we learnt of The Chocolonely Foundation they’ve built, completely funded by chocolate sales, to empower cocoa farmer communities.
They still have a long way to go and face many challenges (not many of the big chocolate giants want to change their ways). But it’s definitely a start.
What’s great to see is how social media can be part of such a positive impact for change. Tony’s mission and message to share it as much as possible is clear and they hide nothing in their ambition. They value each customer that engages with the brand, often reposting user-generated content of customer’s buying their chocolate bars on their own Instagram page. After becoming aware of the brand, it now seems to be everywhere, and the chocolate bars are increasingly being stocked by independent shops. In such a short time frame they are making big strides!
The chocolate bars are currently stocked in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Whole Foods – so the next time you see a bar, give it a try. It certainly makes a difference.
Written by Jordanne Hoesli-Atkins
June 18, 2019