Fancy Food Show, Part I: Askinosie Chocolate
July 2, 2008
Whew! The Fancy Food Show was fun and delicious but man am I tired! I took a couple days to relax but I’m back now to tell you all about it.
It was interesting walking around talking to various companies that produce chocolate and peanut butter products. They’d ask what I do and sometimes after explaining about my site, they’d kind of brush me off. Now, I realize that I am peanuts compared to some big store chain that’s going to buy a giant shipment of their product, but it doesn’t take that much time to give me a smile and a pamphlet with some information about their product, now does it?
However, this certainly doesn’t sum up all or even most of the companies I spoke to. It was fun to start talking with a company that would suddenly get all excited when I told them about the site. “A chocolate and peanut butter website? seriously?” Yep - seriously! :)
I’m going to dedicate each post for the next few days on chocolate and peanut butter products from the show that really stood out for me. But rather than save the best for last, I’m putting it first.
Recently I had the good fortune of coming in contact with the team at Askinosie Chocolate. If you’re staring at this site right now, you know that chocolate is a serious obsession of mine, but I actually work as a graphic designer and am only an amateur baker / food lover. So attending the Fancy Food Show was a double treat for me when a product that tasted delicious was also packaged in a beautiful way.
If you’ve never been to Askinosie’s website you should go not just to buy delicious chocolate but to get a glimpse of their design and packaging. After working with their team on a new product, it’s no surprise that everything is so well done since they carefully consider every inch of what they are making. The packaging is also environmentally friendly and gives credit where credit is due, to the farmers that sell them the beans used to make their chocolate.
The only complaint that consumers might have about their chocolate is that it’s a little pricey (but what high end chocolate isn’t?). However their latest product addresses this issue. They are now gearing up to sell Itty Bars, smaller fun sized chocolate bars that are just as high quality as their larger bars but will sell for only a dollar. These bars are housed in a glass jar that will sit by the cash register at various stores and cafes, tempting you to an itty bitty treat.
Designing this jar was by far one of the most fun projects I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on. Designing any kind of food package or collateral has always been a dream of mine and I got to design for chocolate of all things. Their packaging has an industrial look that was easy to work with and they let me paint, which is a rare occassion these days.
The woman on the jar insert is actually Shawn Askinosie’s (the owner’s) wife, painted to look like a WWII pin-up girl. The insert reads, “U.S. Morale Booster,” and the concept is that as you buy more of the chocolate, the jar gets emptier, revealing more of the pin-up, thereby raising your morale as you eat delicious chocolate and stare at a beautiful woman.
(My photos from the show came out a bit blurry, so here are some I took of the jar prototype in my house - you’ll have to imagine it full of individually wrapped mini chocolate bars)
The back of the jar insert with ingredient labels for all five Itty Bars:
A close-up of the painting for the front of the insert:
I can honestly say that Shawn Askinosie has a better design eye than some trained art directors and designers I’ve come across, so kudos to him for that. He was very involved in the design process of creating this jar. An attorney who became a chocolate maker, he can now add art director to his list. Is that a crazy resume or what?
Itty Bars will hopefully be on the counter at a store or cafe near you soon, so keep your eyes peeled. The collection of Itty Bars includes a 75% Bar, 75% Nibby Bar, 70% Bar, 70% Nibby Bar and a White Chocolate Bar. I just realized I’ve taken this whole post to blab about the design and haven’t spoken much for the chocolate itself. I prefer dark chocolate, but some brands can be too bitter or chalky. Theirs has that perfect smooth texture that dark chocolate should have, while being just a little bit fruity and completely intense. I can’t seem to stop eating it.
Buy some delicious Askinosie Chocolate today! The first photo in this post is one of their C-Ration Boxes that holds a month supply of chocolate, incase you’re looking for a great gift idea for a chocolate obsessed friend… hint, hint.
And, what the hell - here’s a shameless plug for my own site if you’re interested in seeing more of my work.