Chocolate has come a long way from the days when Cadbury Dairy Milk and Milky Bars ruled the shelves. Today’s chocoholics are spoilt for choice. And among the stacks of handmade, ethically-sourced organic chocolate, Doisy & Dam stands out for its colourfully patterned vintage wrapping and plucky use of ingredients.
Take their dark chocolate with quinoa, smoked tea and vanilla, for example. Or they have a bar made from white chocolate with lemon, poppy seed and baobab (a tangy fruit pod from an African tree). These combos could be a case of style over substance but they actually work, giving the bars a unique taste and an irresistible texture.
The idea for making traditional chocolate more interesting was the joint brainwave of childhood friends Ed Smith (pictured above left) and Richard Wilkinson. Before they launched in 2014, they had demanding jobs in marketing and finance and were concerned about their rapidly expanding waistlines. So they started making healthy superfood infused snacks and got the thumbs up from friends and family.
“We became obsessed with superfoods,” says Smith.
“People couldn’t understand why foods that are good for you always tasted so bad, but when we combined superfoods with chocolate the end result was delicious. And so we went with it!”
Now every bar of Doisy & Dam has a minimum 8% superfoods – although a single-origin range “without bits” is in the pipeline.
Customer feedback spurs them on to make even better tasting chocolate
It’s been a steep learning curve. Starting out with just £10,000, they couldn’t afford to go on trips themselves to source the organic goji berries from northern China and super-fruit Lucuma from the Peruvian Andes used in their bars. And Smith recalls with horror a barcode printing error that scuppered a run of 150,000 small bars at a major supermarket. “It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes if you can,” he adds.
But the rewards are clear: “Seeing the concept you created sat on the shelves and chosen by a stranger from all the other brands out there is a fantastic feeling.” But it’s customer feedback that spurs them on to make even better tasting chocolate. “I’m shocked by how many handwritten letters we receive from customers – we even got a poem the other day!”
Smith and Wilkinson’s shared passion and drive to bring Doisy & Dam to a much wider audience has taken a boost from their recent partnership with Sodexo. “Our aim is to raise the bar and become the largest premium chocolate brand in the UK. Sodexo gives us direct access to a wider group of people with a great distribution network.”
And what about people’s predictions that working together would ruin their friendship? “They were wrong. We’re almost like brothers now,” says Smith, “and I couldn’t ask for better business partner.”