Whaddyaluv: Spruce0132’s experiential artisan chocolate brand set for US entry
The company was created by Garrett Anderson, brother-in-law of George Loquvam, founder of cocoa clone variety Sacha Gold.
The high-end Whaddyaluv brand uses cocoa from Loquvam’s Cimarron Cocoa Estates and is enclosed in hand-folded packaging.
Spruce0132 began as a pop-up Christmas store in California called Blitzen’s, but it is now concentrated on chocolate and will today(September 22) open its own chocolate store in Los Angeles.
It has also opened discussions with retailers to stock the Whaddyaluv brand across the US.
‘Not a lot of people are growing the beans too’
“Everybody is doing bean to bar, but not a whole lot of people are growing the beans too,” the Spurce0132 founder told ConfectioneryNews.
Spruce0132 - story behind the name
The Spruce0132 name is based on the dialing code for company founder Garrett Anderson’s grandparents' former farm in Golden, Colorado.
The company will also produce a private label product for one retailer, but Anderson said “our intention is to build our own brand”.
Hand-folded packages and personalized messages
The company’s new own store has a large chalk board allowing visitors to write messages detailing what they love about life.
Anderson said the idea came after he left a chalkboard at Laurel Canyon’s Love Street Festival and was blown away with the responses.
Spruce0132 will supply mini chalk board displays to third-party retailers to create an experiential in-store feature, allowing customers to write what they love about their lives.
“It’s a different retail experience,” said Anderson. “If you go to a Whole Foods or a Target there are so many brands out there – I don’t know how people choose.”
“Our brand is a 3x3 square and the paper that wraps around the bar is hand-folded,” which differentiates it from other brands on shelf, he claimed.
Spruce0132 will start by targeting artisan shops, wine stores and gift shops for the Whaddyaluv brand, which retails for $4.95, for a 25 g bar.
Anderson said the company was looking for distribution in “any smaller store that has a bigger story other than plain retail, something that’s talking to the community”.
He added that the company would like to explore larger retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in the long term.
“Someone at Target was interested, but we’re not looking at that channel yet, but we will someday as they expand in a natural and ethical direction," said the Spruce0132 founder.
The company has been talking to boutique stores from coast-to-coast in the US through family members living in Washington and Portland.
“It’s definitely a family affair and it’s dedicated to where we all are,” said Anderson.
Single estate: Packaging communications
The brand does not currently communicate that it is a single estate chocolate sourced from a family farm, but Anderson said he hoped to introduce this messaging as the brand evolves.
He said Whaddyaluv would have a nice social story to tell as Cimarron Cocoa Estates trains its farmers in good agricultural practices, which has helped them quadruple their income.
“I want people at the farm to write a note [to be inside the packs] about they do to tie it back to the farm,” said Anderson.
Himalayan salt bar with cocoa nibs
The Whaddyaluv brand is produced in a commercial kitchen in LA by Anderson and just one other helper.
The company’s main product is its 75% pink Himalayan salt bar with cocoa nibs, but it is also producing a 75% bar with cayenne pepper.
Anderson formulated the products himself and the company uses molds created by people at the farm in Ecuador.
A national brand & NPD plans
Spruce0132 is looking at brand extensions such as a chocolate bar for the US election with pop rocks inclusions.
It has also created whole cocoa beans from Cimarron Cocoa Estates covered in chocolate, which are around the size of M&M’s. But it is working on perfecting the packaging before commercialization.
Anderson said that by 2020 he hopes Whaddyaluv will be a national brand and will continue telling a story rather than simply selling a chocolate product.
The company hopes to partner with the Pachamama Alliance, a charity supporting indigenous people in the Amazon, to donate part of its proceeds.