It’s time for Dr. Bronner’s hive to rise. It’s our time, now we can have our soap and… chocolate too? At the beginning of August, the giant of natural soaps will be released a line of chocolates this, the company hopes, will bring more fairness and transparency to an industry facing both environmental and labor crises. But how does that stack up against the company’s legendary non-food products? Can it clean up my life?
I picked up a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s for the first time years ago to inspect the absolutely weird label, stuffed with thousands of spiritual, religious and political proclamations, and it has since become a staple in my life. Now any mention of Dr Bronner grabs my attention – I feel a burst of happiness every time I walk past a bodega window filled with rows in these chaotically labeled large containers. I wash my body, my dishes and my floors with it. And in a world where hundred million dollar “good companies” are almost mythical, Dr. Bronner’s seems to come close. Like Vox written, employees earn well above the minimum wage and receive subsidies for health care and childcare, and each year the company spends millions of dollars advocating for prison reform, the legalization of cannabis and environmental justice. In 2012, David Bronner, the CEO of the company (that’s Cosmic Engagement Officer, in the language of Dr B), was in Washington, DC, locked in a cage of hemp plants to protest the criminalization of hemp. and cannabis.
It’s, at first glance, surprising to see the famous natural cleaning company making its way into the food space – they also sell coconut oil – but in many ways it makes perfect sense. that a chocolate bar was where Dr. Bronner’s would begin. Even though the focus has been on issues along the long food supply chain, chocolate production is still rich in exploitation, child labor, and environmental devastation. A press release from Dr Bronner presenting the new chocolates says this entry into the food space is “a way for the company to spread delicious chocolate while fighting ecological and social damage in the chocolate industry by modeling best practices in the sourcing and production of Dr. Bronner’s All-One Magic Chocolate.
According to the press release, the chocolate was developed in collaboration with Swiss chocolatiers and industry experts, creating “a chocolate experience like no other – from the best-known brand for making soap like no other” . Cocoa production for these bars will focus on regenerative agriculture, i.e. dynamic agroforestry, which Dr Bronner’s describes as “the integration of complementary trees and other crops that create biodiversity, enhance yields and income streams, and avoid the use of toxic chemicals by mimicking how plant species naturally support themselves in a healthy tropical forest.
The decision to add chocolate to Dr. Bronner’s line of products was boosted, the statement said, by the company learning that many Ghanaian farmers who provide its regenerating certified organic Serendipalm (Dr. Bronner’s soaps contain organic palm kernel oil) also cultivate cocoa. “It was,” writes David Bronner in the release, “a perfect opportunity to expand our partnership with fair trade farmers by developing these cocoa beans and other ingredients – all of the highest possible standards – into one. Rich and delicious dark chocolate that uplifts soil and community health, as well as the quality of life for everyone in the supply chain.
Looking at one of the company’s All-One chocolates soon to be released, it’s admittedly hard to tell it apart from a bar of Dr. Bronner’s hand soap. And honestly, I love it. The bars are made 70 percent dark chocolate – not dark enough, but I’ll allow it – and sweetened with coconut sugar. Flavors like salted almond butter, coconut praline, and toasted whole hazelnut very aptly emphasize the type of salty-sweet accompaniment that distinguishes the best chocolate bars.
While it’s hard – and yes, okay, totally unnecessary – to compare soap and chocolate, the bottle of liquid gold on the edge of my shower sets the bar high for everything the company sells. . Can a company that has established itself as the standard-bearer of quality and ethics in the cleaning industry once again capture the lightning and demand the same type of cult audience it reaches with its soaps? Maybe Easier to Measure (or Maybe Not): Is there a food in the world that can really match the searing glory of a chunky bottle of peppermint soap?
Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that the flavors of the chocolate don’t match Dr. Bronner’s soap scents more closely. The brand’s citrus soap smells of the freshest fruit, and the peppermint is like something I’d inhale while taking a bite of panna cotta. Except for eucalyptus and tea tree, every scent of soap is something I would definitely order from an ice cream shop. While a Swiss chocolatier reads this and works on my idea of fusing the best of soap and chocolate, I’ll settle for a bar of hazelnut butter chocolate. It’s wrapped in a green tag almost identical to the one that squeezes a bottle of soap under my sink.