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There is room in the chocolate world for your favorites

SALT LAKE CITY — Another industry in Utah is making headway with the sweets they offer.

"We are definitely not the bean-to-bar. We're really more of what you call a chocolate manufacturer," Jacob Cavanaugh, president of The Cacao Group, Inc., said.

Cavanaugh took over operations from his father, Keith Cavanaugh, continuing a family tradition of chocolate manufacturing.

His company encompasses three brands: Utah Truffles, Amber Lyn Chocolates and Cold Stone Chocolate. They source their chocolate through a Belgian company that makes the bars. The Cacao group then melts the chocolate down adds their own "special ingredients" and make their products.

In comparison to the bean-to-bar movement, Cavanaugh said his company purchases less expensive chocolate so it can sell to companies like Costco and Walmart.

"I see it as being a completely different market," he said.

Those who are involved with the bean-to-bar movement are "chocolate connoisseurs" who want to "nibble" on chocolate to discover a bean's origin.

"Well, that's not my market," Cavanaugh said.

His market includes those who are "every day chocolate lovers" who are looking for a "chocolate fix," he said.

Utahns have an affinity for sweets, he said, and have latched on to chocolate as their treat of choice.

"It's a lot like Jell-O in Utah; chocolate has become a lot like that."

He differentiates his company from Hatch's and Mrs. Cavanaugh's, because he sells directly to distributors and wholesellers and does not have a retail operation. He exports his products to Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines.

"I really feel like my business model has really worked," he said.

The Cacao Group specializes in truffles, sugar free truffles and sugar free bars.

Another Utah chocolatier is doing his part to continue family traditions. Stephen Hatch learned everything he knows about chocolate from his grandmother who dipped chocolates all her life.

“It was just a hobby. It was just for fun,” he said.

He leaned over a chair as he spoke about how he and Katie Masterson took the hobby to the next level when they opened Hatch's Family Chocolates, a chocolate confection and dessert shop, on 4th Avenue, in 2003. They wanted to create an ice cream parlor-type company where people could come and enjoy chocolate, drinks or ice cream and each other's company.

Their selection ranges from dipped chocolates and truffles to pastries and ice cream.

The two were stars of the reality TV show "Little Chocolatiers" which debuted at the end of 2009 and ran for one season on TLC.

The Hatch's ran into financial trouble after moving into a bigger location at 386 South 8th Avenue and struggling to find a tenant. The tenancy was filled by Avenues Proper & Publick House in the spring.

In fall 2013, they reached out to the public for help and have since found a few investors who may be interested in working with the company, Hatch said.

Their shop has shied away from the bean-to-bar movement, in part because Hatch knows his customers like the consistency of the flavors that come with the pre-made chocolate they use.

“I’m not going to tell you what chocolate you should like. I want to hear it from you,” Hatch said.

They hand dip all their confections rather than use a machine, he said, so that their customers will have thicker, higher quality chocolate.

A friend who stopped in to say "hello" to Hatch summed up what makes their shop, and the chocolates there, so special.

"It's made with love," he said.


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