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People are just finding out incredible meaning behind Tony’s Chocolonely’s name

People are just finding out incredible meaning behind Tony’s Chocolonely’s name

With a little help from Idris Elba.

You've seen the chocolate bars wrapped in brightly-coloured paper, but you may not know the real, ethical mission behind Tony's Chocolonely.

At first, the chocolate bar produced by the Dutch company hit you with their bold font inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And while the slightly eccentric, very fictional chocolatier Willy Wonka has nothing to do with them, it seems that the chocolate, that comes in array of flavours (from the classic milk chocolate to more creative combinations like pretzel toffee), has a pretty special story of its own.

Not a chocolatier, but a team of journalists, led by Tony's namesake Teun van der Keuken, founded the company in Amsterdam in 2003 after they discovered the worrying reality of what was happening at cocoa farms in West Africa, which generates more than 60% of global cocoa output.

Determined to fight child slavery in cocoa farms, van der Keuken picked the name to encapsulate his 'lonely fight against inequality in the chocolate industry'.

While the original founder walked away from the brand later on, the company (whose tagline is 'Crazy about chocolate, serious about people') still maintains the same core values of when it first started to produce its delicious goodies.

Tony's current CMO Thecla Schaeffer and Niels Heimens discussed the unique challenges of making slave-free, ethical chocolates and how to make consumers care.

"How can we tell our story and mission in an exciting and compelling way? How can we inform about the problems in chocolate without being lecturing or even patronising, but engaging and perhaps even entertaining?" Schaeffer asked in an interview with Creative Review.

Not just the in-your-face packaging, but also the bar design came in handy to attract people's attention to the cause.

Tony's changes the standard square piece format of the chocolate bar to unequally divided pieces to symbolise the unequally divided cocoa supply chain. "We still get complaints about that, but it is always a great excuse to talk about what is fair," said Schaeffer. "We also see that it has become a conversation piece between friends and family."

And a little help from Luther star Idris Elba seemed to do the trick. In 2020, the actor narrated Tony's manifesto film, a 55-second short explaining the mission in a catchy way with an Afropunk aesthetic.

"He fits the brand perfectly. His mother is from Ghana, and along with the Ivory Coast, it's the main producer of cocoa beans," said Heimens. "And he wanted to do it. He's passionate about helping improve lives there, so the mission is one that really appeals to him. Plus we're secretly a bit in love with him, Idris is in almost all our presentations – including our first presentation to Tony's."

It seems that people are now realising that Tony's doesn't just market nice chocolate, but it does so as one of the few brands that are completely fair and slave-free, as it is explained inside every bar's packaging. Introduced to the UK in 2019, the brand is now gathering momentum, benefiting from consumers' word of mouth on social media - because Tony's doesn't do paid media advertising as part of their policy.

"Tony's Chocolonely is the best brand name for anything I’ve ever seen or heard," one person commented on X/Twitter.

"Wow. I wasn't expecting the whole part about slavery in the chocolate industry," was another comment.

"Strange name of this chocolate brand made by a Dutch entrepreneur is said to refer to lonely little kids in third world countries forced into slave labor harvesting cacao beans," one person reflected, while another said they're "glad" they take a closer look at the brand, praising them for "bringing awareness of modern slavery & child labor in the [chocolate] industry".

Featured Image Credit: Petra Figueroa/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images/X/@‌VechainMaxi