“OCHO Candy is the best candy bar you never heard of,” said OCHO’s Denis Ring. Made in West Oakland, this organic all-American candy bar tends to fall between the shelves of mass produced traditional sweets and the more refined adult-geared chocolate section. And that’s exactly where they want to be.
A natural foods veteran, Denis kept waiting for an all-natural and all-American candy bar to hit the market. Every other type of food product had an alternative, why not Snickers? But on each trip to the supermarket the founder of 365 Foods and Safeway’s O Organic line felt the void.
So, with the passionate drive of a dad trying to get his kids off artificially flavored Halloween candy, he decided to make it himself. He partnered up with another dad, his friend and entrepreneur Scott Kucirek, and they began making chocolate bars with no additives or artificial flavors. In 2011 they opened OCHO Candy (O for Organic and CHO for Chocolate), and after presenting to Whole Foods, the company quickly grew.
“Our peanut butter is nostalgic. It’s not like we are saying we are using acai jelly and sunflower butter, but we’re making something that people will say, wow, that’s good! It’s familiar and it’s delicious.”
OCHO Candy is based in West Oakland, in a building easily missed right behind Tanya Holland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen. Unlike other organic chocolate brands, the company’s branding doesn’t allude much to place, mission or impact. It’s lighthearted with an emphasis on being delicious, affordable, and yes, organic.
Hanging out in the factory, Denis shares the company’s newest flavor: peanut butter and jelly. It’s a flavor representative of the company— old-school vibes, but with ultimate care for ingredients and technique.
Unlike other candy bars, fillings are made small batch. Peanut butter is made in-house, layered into the candy bar in a way that makes it taste like less of a block of salty chemicals and more like peanut butter fresh out of the jar. Creamy caramel is made from scratch with organic butter and cane sugar. Local Guittard chocolate is tempered and shiny, snapping perfectly when you break up a piece.
“Our peanut butter is nostalgic. It’s not like we are saying we are using acai jelly and sunflower butter, but we’re making something that people will say, wow, that’s good! It’s familiar and it’s delicious, ” said Denis.
OCHO’s magic also lies within their unique technology and growing team of staff members. Their high-tech machinery can mold and fill 6,500 bars per hour, and was specially engineered for the company. Denis also credits his staff of 35 employees, most of whom share the company’s passion for food. The day we visited, Sue Supaporn Wannapat, who has been working in packaging for two years, was serving a Thai soup to her co-workers for lunch.
To get your hands on a coconut dark chocolate, caramel peanut or one of the other eight flavors (they come in a mini size too) visit one of these retailers.