Where did the name "Askinosie" come from?
It's my last name; so it came from my parents. It was originally, Ashkenazi but my grandfather changed it to Askinosie when he came to the U.S.A. It is pronounced ask-i-no-see.
Where can I buy your products?
You can visit us at 514 E. Commercial Street, Springfield, MO. Our storefront hours are M-TH 10-5:30, Friday 11-5, and Saturday 11-3. Or call us at 417.862.9900, and we will tell you where all the closest retailers are to your location. You can also shop online from our website askinosie.com.
If you want to make a trip to Springfield for an overnight, accommodations can be made at Springfield's best bed & breakfast, the Walnut Street Inn.
How can I use my Askinosie gift card or a coupon code?
You can type (or copy/paste) your gift card number or coupon code in the shopping cart during checkout. Just look for the section called "Coupon or Gift Card" and enter the number there.
Do you have a list of all of the nutrition facts and ingredient list for all of your products?
Here you go and please search for any specific product you had in mind.
Is your chocolate Kosher certified?
No, our chocolate is not yet Kosher certified. However, we are looking into Kosher certification.
Do you have any sugar-free chocolate?
We do not have sugar free or sugar substitute chocolate bars. Our chocolate contains three (two, really, since the cocoa butter comes from the same cocoa beans) ingredients: cocoa beans, organic cane juice, and cocoa butter (that comes from the cocoa beans). We make the cocoa butter ourselves and we are the first small batch chocolate maker in the US to do this.
Do you make milk chocolate?
In November 2008, we released our first dark milk chocolate bar. It has a 62% cocoa content and is made with goat's milk powder, organic sugar, cocoa butter (that we press in our factory) and a touch of Fleur de Sel sea salt.
In October 2011, we released our second dark milk chocolate bar and our first bar in our new CollaBARation™ Line. We partnered with our friend (and Scandinavian distributor) Martin Jörgensen, and his licorice factory, Lakritsfabriken, on this bar. This Dark Milk Chocolate is made with cocoa beans from Davao, Philippines and contains contains 62% cocoa. We add organic cane juice, goat's milk powder, and a touch of Fleur de Sel sea salt. We then add bits of organic, gluten-free, salted black licorice from Ramlösa, Sweden. This bar also includes anise, enhances the licorice flavor.
In January 2012, we released our newest dark milk chocolate bar, the Dark Chocolate + Malted Milk CollaBARation™ Bar. We partnered with our friends at Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream to create a dark chocolate + malted milk bar. This bar is made with 60% cocoa and infused with malted milk powder. Each bite is like enjoying a chocolate malt at an old fashioned soda fountain. This product contains wheat in the malted milk powder.
Is your chocolate gluten-free?
To the best of our knowledge, our chocolate is gluten-free. Our chocolate contains only three ingredients: cocoa beans, organic cane juice, and cocoa butter (made from the very same beans). Our White Chocolate does contain goat's milk powder. We don't use lecithin, vanilla, or any other additives.
Does your chocolate contain nuts?
Our chocolate is made on equipment that may have been in contact with nuts. Additionally, we make one chocolate bar that contains nuts, our White Chocolate Bar + Pistachios. Therefore our other chocolate products may contain traces of peanuts and/or tree nuts.
Does your chocolate contain additives or emulsifiers such as vanilla or lecithin?
We do not add any vanilla or lecithin of any kind to our products. In fact, we don't add any additives to our chocolate; beans and sugar that's it.
Is your chocolate certified organic?
Our dark chocolate is made from two ingredients: cocoa beans and certified organic evaporated cane juice (from Paraguay). Our cocoa butter is pressed from the same cocoa beans that we use to make our chocolate. Our chocolate is unofficially organic. We go to great lengths to make sure the farmers do not use chemicals and pesticides. We are not certified, however, in part for the same reason we aren't Fair Trade certified -- the certification process for the beans is very expensive and our farmers can't afford it. Though we are not certified organic, our beans can be traced completely back to their origin. We have the name of every farmer who contributed to each crop. We state the bean origin, the bean variety, the percentage of cocoa content, the process (bean to bar), and a choc-o-lot number that our customers can use to trace their chocolate from the origin of the bean through each step to the final product. Our customers can literally visit our website, submit the Choc-o-lot number from their chocolate product, and read all the steps that lead up to the very moment their product was packaged.
What's the big deal about your cocoa butter and your natural cocoa powder?
The big deal is -- we are the first small batch chocolate maker in the U.S. to press our own cocoa butter AND the only makers of natural cocoa powder. Our Natural Cocoa Powder is made right in our factory using the same beans we use to make our dark chocolate. We have a custom press in our factory that we use to make the cocoa press cake from chocolate liquor that we create with beans from San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador. The cake is then refined to a powder that is easy to bake with. It is an authentic single origin powder that is unsweetened and non-alkalized. The true flavor of the beans translate into a rich dark cocoa powder great for baking.
Our cocoa butter is also pressed in our factory using the same custom press as the natural cocoa powder and we are the only small batch chocolate maker to do this. But don't take our word for it. Emily "Duff"Anderson, chocolate guru for Zingerman's Delicatessen, writes:
"When I found out that Shawn and his team from Askinosie are actually pressing their own cocoa butter from the San Jose Del Tambo beans, I was pretty impressed. This means that the 'cocoa butter' on the ingredient list of the bars is coming from the same beans used to make the chocolate, which is pretty cool."
Who designed your packaging?
The package design is something very important to us. I designed the packaging and engaged a local graphics company to execute it. I source all of the package materials. The entire chocolate bar packaging and our “marketing identity” has been carefully considered to reflect who we are. More importantly, the packaging was designed to honor the farmers. In fact, the package itself impacts the taste of our chocolate bar.
Our packaging has been mentioned in multiple reviews around the world writing about our unique packaging design and website, which is then quickly followed by mention of the taste of chocolate that is equal to the quality of the design. We were recently honored with a highly complimentary review of our package design in the famous design blog (in the trade) thedieline.com. They said, “As you can see, besides being a virtuous chocolate maker, their packaging is equally impressive.”
No other chocolate maker, that we are aware of in the U.S., is receiving this kind of attention regarding the packaging design. This is a key competitive advantage. We do not use a marketing firm to originate design any of our product or packaging ideas. Again, this goes back to knowing who we are.
What is the significance of the strings on the top of your chocolate package?
These strings come from our bags of cocoa beans delivered to our factory. They are biodegradable but we reuse them. The women at a local shelter, Victory House New Life Program, make these strings for us from the bags. We pay them for this work and collectively they decide what to do with the money.
What do the "1-2-3" and "toot-toot" mean on the back of the bar packaging?
1-2-3 is something that my wife and I have been writing in cards and notes to each other for nearly 25 years. Nobody but us knows what it means and this was my little tribute to her on the package. Our daughter says that we need to put the meaning in our will or safe deposit box so they can know what it means someday. As for "toot-toot", when our daughter Lawren was little and we tucked her in at night we would leave her room and say "night night" and she responded "toot-toot" for some odd unexplainable reason. This phrase has carried on with us now for years. Putting "toot-toot" on the package was my way of remembering her in those days long ago.
I shop fair trade as much as possible. How do you pay your farmers and how do they share in the profits?
I love the Fair Trade idea. I believe that we have to be vigilant that Fair Trade does not become a marketing gimmick or reduced to a bumper sticker. We must ask the questions and dig deeper to find out how the company treats those that supply them raw materials AND how they treat their own employees. Fair Trade has been scrutinized because some question if the money ever finds its way to the farmer in the field and not coop bureaucrats. My chocolate is not "certified" Fair Trade mainly because the farmers I deal with cannot afford the certification and they are very very loosely organized. They are very poor. I go way way beyond Fair Trade and here is how I do it:
1. We DIRECT TRADE with the farmers 100%. We have a rule that we will not buy beans from farmers we have not met - in person. This is hard because Shawn Askinosie travels a lot. The travel is not the hard part; it is the complicated nature of importing that we do ourselves. When we go to these origins we see the farms and determine the issues that a Fair Trade certifier would observe. The main thing is that we are building relationships with the farmers and their families. This is hard and takes time, but it is worth it.
2. We pay far above the Fair Trade market price (which is set above the world market price) for beans. In some cases – Tanzania for example – our first bean purchase from 40 farmers raised the market price of beans for the other 5,000 farmers in the country in less than one year.
3. We have implemented a program called Stake in the Outcome™ (a profit sharing program for the farmers) which is described below and on our website at The Farmers page. This guarantees to the farmers open books. This is not a negotiation tactic to get them to lower the price on the beans; it is in ADDITION to what we pay them for the beans. We know the name of every farmer who contributed to the crop in all locations. This is something that we doubt any other chocolate maker in the world can say who sources on multiple continents. You can't share with someone if you don't know who they are. Shawn says that the profit sharing trips are some of his best days yet in the chocolate business! The farmers say that nobody had ever come back to thank them let alone share money with them and show the books.
4. Shawn created Chocolate University to benefit the children and teens of the factory neighborhood. It was formed with a vision to provide a learning experience to local elementary, middle and high school students through the lens of artisan chocolate making, directly sourcing beans from farmers. The goals of the project are to inspire the children about (1) social entrepreneurship and (2) a world beyond their own. Chocolate University is funded by Askinosie Chocolate factory tour proceeds and private donations from around the world.
The fans and customers of Askinosie Chocolate are loyalists and die-hards. Of course one reason for this would be because the chocolate tastes great; but perhaps the most compelling reason is that they feel connected to the communities that grow the cocoa to make their chocolate. This is because one of Askinosie Chocolate’s main goals is to make that connection for people. The company does this several ways: by connecting students with farmers (which it did when Shawn led 13 high school juniors to Tanzania to meet the cocoa farmers there and drill a deep water well); or by serving their community (one example of this is the computer lab they built at the homeless shelter for the students who lived there to do their homework); but also by regularly engaging their customers in their projects via newsletters, social media, factory events, etc. Chocolate University students have also worked with a school in the Philippines (another place where the factory sources cocoa) to raise money to provide them with the Internet. Their next project is to set up a sustainable feeding program in both Tanzania and the Philippines for the many children there who go to school hungry.
What is A Stake in the Outcome™?
Aside from the title of his popular book, A Stake in the Outcome™, (SITO) is a business philosophy founded by Jack Stack, based on the principal that if workers share in the end success, they will hold a greater stake in the process along the way. SITO was originally intended for employees in the workplace, but I have taken A Stake in the Outcome™ "upstream" to farmers, thereby linking quality, price, and profit share. I travel to Ecuador and Mexico to meet with farmers and to share 10% of the net profits from the chocolate that was made with beans grown on their farms. We have the names of each of the twenty farmers in both locations. We pay higher than Fair Trade prices, but that is simply not enough and is never a guarantee of quality and taste. Our hope is that, through SITO, our farmers will share in the success and ultimately we will have the opportunity to make higher quality chocolate with higher quality beans while sharing with the farmers who make it possible.
The key here is more than a distribution of profit but showing the farmers how we arrived at the number. We had our financial statements translated into Spanish and I went over this material, line by line, with the farmers when I distributed money to them. This program has revolutionary potential because it’s simple and it ties quality with price and profit share unlike anything that Fair Trade could ever accomplish. Why should companies in the U.S. buy raw materials, jack up the price and not share with those they source from? My prayer is that one day a small company from another industry will ask me how to implement this model. If I can inspire even one other company to adopt A Stake In the Outcome™ then I will have been a success in this business.
The impact of this model has already been realized. Each farmer group told me that they wanted to make sure we obtained the premium crop and other farmers wanted to know if it was “too late” to join in.
Why are you no longer selling chocolate products made with beans from Soconusco, Mexico?
According to Meso-American expert, Dr. Jan Gasco, we were the first chocolate makers in the world to export beans from this historic place in over 100 years. I now see why that is the case. There are many reasons but the primary reason is quality. After multiple trips to that region and a lot of money invested (and lost) I have decided that we can no longer reliably source beans from there. I am also concerned about long term trust. We have had money stolen from us. I am sure that we could occasionally obtain acceptable beans from there but not consistently. It took a lot of money and heartache for me to learn the logistics of how to get beans out of that part of southern Mexico and to my factory. All is not lost though as we now sell chocolate we make from Honduran cocoa beans which we are very excited about. This part of Honduras is very close to Soconusco and has a rich cocoa history in its own right. A door closes and a window opens.
Who is Jack Stack and why do you talk about him so much?
Jack is the CEO of SRC Holdings Corporation and co-author of The Great Game of Business and A Stake in the Outcome™. Inc. Magazine calls him the "Father of Open-Book Management" and the "smartest strategist in America." He is a Judge for the Ernst &Young World Entrepreneur competition and has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, Newsweek, CBS, CNN, PBS and more. He is a highly sought-after speaker on the subject of building great companies with open-book management and its profound effect on people's lives. Jack has been a mentor of mine for years. He first attended the Great Game of Business Seminar and implemented OBM in my law firm in 1998. Over the years Jack has challenged me, instructed me, and inspired me.
What is Open Book Management?
Open Book Management (OBM) is NOT about full financial transparency; OBM is about giving employees the key measures of business success and teaching employees to understand those measures and use them to improve business performance. It’s about fully engaging employees in the business. It’s about teaching employees how the business works and what is critical to success. It’s about getting employees to openly discuss wins and losses so they can keep learning and getting better.
OBM works because employees get a chance to act, to take responsibility rather than just “doing their job”. Each employee knows how they can contribute to the financial performance of the company and understands that they have a direct stake in the company’s success. Each week we review the numbers and other metrics at our factory so we can all measure our success. Click here to learn more about OBM.
What is Chocolate University?
Chocolate University is a collaborative partnership of Askinosie Chocolate, Boyd Elementary School, and Drury University formed with the vision to provide a trans-disciplinary learning experience to Boyd Elementary students through the lens of artisan chocolate-making. I was motivated to found this program because of the neighborhood where our factory is located. Our factory is in the Historic Commercial Street District and one block from Springfield's largest homeless shelter, the Missouri Hotel, where more than 80 children sleep on any given night. Many of the kids attend Boyd Elementary School just three blocks from our factory and just across the street from Drury University. We wanted the children of the neighborhood to be exposed to what we do and how we do it. Chocolate University is more than a tour for the kids. We really involve them so they are a part of our company, and in turn we are a part of their education and development. When I travel to other countries, for example, I email the kids with daily reports and pictures. When I return, I come to the classroom and answer questions. About a month ago we went to their class and used our numbers to teach them the basics of balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.
Askinosie Chocolate is the sole funding source of Chocolate University. We fund it by offering public and private tours of our factory. We average four tours per week. Each tour lasts about an hour and 100% of the proceeds go to Drury University to administer this program. We hope that this model of business and school partnership can be easily duplicated.
In what ways is Askinosie Chocolate a Green Company?
There are three primary areas in which we have focused our attention in order to become a green company.
1.Packaging. Our packaging is designed with environmental consciousness. Part of our mission as a company is to leave this world a better place than we found it. Some of the ways we try to implement that value is by sourcing packaging that has the smallest negative impact on the environment as possible. The outer bag that we use to package our bars is a natural waxed kraft paper bag that is non GM, containing no bleach(which can be harmful to the environment). We look for packaging that is biodegradable and compostable, such as the NatureFlex™ bags that we use to package our bars. The inner wrap is 100% home-compostable, non-GM packaging from a sustainable source. The tie that binds the package is from a biodegradable bag of beans shipped to our factory. We reuse the strings from the bags on our packaging in our attempt to avoid unnecessary waste. The strings not only tie our bags – they also tie us to our community. We pay the women from the Victory Mission Women’s Shelter to tie the strings for the packaging.
2.Construction. We used Green construction practices when renovating our building. We used many of the materials we demolished from the original structure; for example, we used 2x12s that we had removed from the original wood structure to reinforce the center girders, both for aesthetics, since we were putting larger posts in, and for added structure. We used windows which had been removed from the Wilhoit building, and which would have been headed for the scrap yard had we not salvaged them. We re-purposed the original posts from the building,which had some termite damage, into a conference table and a retail table. We recycled all materials possible, including all plastics, glass,cardboard, metal, and wood. The sheet rock scraps were composted. The cut-offs from trim and framing lumber were used for home heat. The bricks from the expanded window cuts in the brick wall were re-used as patio pavers. The concrete slab cuts from the in-slab plumbing were used as pavers in another construction project. Our efforts in this area meant that we only took one medium sized flatbed trailer to the landfill and did not need an on-site dumpster.
3.No waste in the process. The only possible waste our factory might generate is the shell around the beans. However, we don’t throw these away. We trade all of our shells with a local farmer who provides all of us in the factory with in season fruit and vegetables.
Can I tour the factory?
We have tours every Tuesday at 3pm that are open to the public. The cost is $4 for adults and $3 for students and children. All the proceeds from our tours go to fund our Chocolate University program with Boyd Elementary, Pipkin Middle School, Central High School and Drury University. You can find out more information about our tours by clicking here or reserve a spot in an upcoming tour on our tour reservation page.
Private tours are available for $75.00 or $5.00/person--whichever is greater. Private tours can be scheduled by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How are my products shipped in warm weather?
Our normal shipping days during the warm months (holidays excluded) for overnight, 2-day, and ground shipments are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Overnight shipments are also sent on Thursday. This schedule is designed so your chocolate does not sit over the weekend in a warehouse without temperature controls. We may ship on Thursday if cool temperatures allow your chocolate to be safely transported. We also include polar packs in your order to help maintain the integrity of the chocolate during the warmer months. Click here to read more about our shipping.
Will Askinosie Chocolate give to my charity or make a donation for my fundraiser?
We greatly value the opportunity to give to our local community and to share in our successes as we grow as a business. For our company, this is demonstrated through our commitment to two Springfield organizations that are especially important to us: Chocolate University and Lost & Grief Center.
Chocolate University (http://www.chocolateuniversity.org) was established by Askinosie Chocolate to provide a unique learning opportunity for the students who attend Boyd Elementary, Pipkin Middle, and Central High School, all within the factory neighborhood. This cooperative learning program offers students a chance to learn through the lens of artisan chocolate making and directly connects them with the regions from which we source cocoa beans.
Lost & Found Grief Center (http://www.lostandfoundozarks.com/) was co-founded by our founder Shawn Askinosie to provide grief support and education to individuals and families in the Springfield area at no cost.
Futhermore, during a bean-sourcing trip in Davao, Philippines, Shawn noticed that malnourishment was a major problem at the local elementary school. Askinosie partnered with Malagos Elementary School's PTA to create a product to fund a sustainable nutrition program. The PTA made a product called Tableya, a traditional hot chocolate drink. We bought this product from the PTA, sold it to our customers, and used 100% of the profits to provide 111,000 meals for these students while they are in school. This project is 100% self-sustaining, requiring zero donations. Planning is currently underway for a similar program in Tenende, Tanzania at Mwaya Secondary School.
In the past, we have made full effort to meet each of the donation requests we have received in the Springfield area and beyond. Recently we have decided to laser focus our giving efforts to the organizations and projects mentioned above in order to serve with even greater depth. Unfortunately, we are unable to meet any other donation requests.
Do you have any recipes?
You betcha! We've gathered recipes from friends, family, and customers. Click here for a list of recipes or visit our Facebook Notes page for some other recipes. Here are some a few links to fantastic photos of some of these recipes made by the Food Channel. And feel free to send us your own tasty Askinosie recipes by emailing email@example.com.