People are only now realising the inspiring meaning behind Tony’s Chocolonely

We've all seen Tony's Chocolonely bars wrapped in bright papers on supermarket shelves.

The chocolate bars have become super popular in recent years, but you may not know the inspiring story behind the tasty treats. Produced by a Dutch company, the choccies instantly give off a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vibe due to the wrappers bold and funky colours.

And, even though the fictional character of Willy Wonka has nothing to do with them, the sweet treats (that come in a range of flavours) carry their own special story.

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It was a team of journalists, led by Tony's namesake Teun van der Keuken, who founded the company in Amsterdam in 2003. They decided to make a new product after they learnt more about the worrying reality of life at cocoa farms in West Africa, which produces 60% of cocoa output around the world.

With a great passion to fight slavery at cocoa farms, van der Keuken chose the name to reflect his "lonely fight against inequality in the chocolate industry".

Even though the initial founder walked away from the brand later down the line, the company (whose tagline is "crazy about chocolate, serious about people") still works to its core values to this day.

Tony's current CMO, Thecla Schaeffer and Niels Heimens, opened up about the challenges of making ethical chocolates.

"How can we tell our story and mission in an exciting and compelling way? How can we inform about the problems in chocolate without being lecturing or even patronising, but engaging and perhaps even entertaining?" Schaeffer said during an interview with Creative Review.

As well as the bold packaging, the bars are also quite eye-catching underneath the wrappers. Instead of a typical square format, the bar comes in unequally divided pieces in a bid to symbolize the unequally divided cocoa supply chain.

"We still get complaints about that, but it is always a great excuse to talk about what is fair," said Schaeffer. "We also see that it has become a conversation piece between friends and family."

Back in 2020 Luther actor Idris Elba also narrated Tony's manifesto film, which was a 55-second short clip that explained the brand's mission with an Afropunk aesthetic.

Heimens explained: "He fits the brand perfectly. His mother is from Ghana, and along with the Ivory Coast, it's the main producer of cocoa beans And he wanted to do it.

"He's passionate about helping improve lives there, so the mission is one that really appeals to him. Plus we're secretly a bit in love with him, Idris is in almost all our presentations – including our first presentation to Tony's."

As well as producing super nice chocolate, it seems people are now starting to understand that it's one of few brands that are completely fair and slave-free. This is explained inside every bar's packaging for costumers to learn more about.

Talking about the matter on X (formerly known as Twitter), one person said: "Tony's Chocolonely is the best brand name for anything I’ve ever seen or heard." Another wrote: "Wow. I wasn't expecting the whole part about slavery in the chocolate industry."

A third replied: "Strange name of this chocolate brand made by a Dutch entrepreneur is said to refer to lonely little kids in third world countries forced into slave labour harvesting cacao beans."

Meanwhile, a fourth admitted they were "glad" they learnt more about the brand, and praised them for "bringing awareness of modern slavery & child labour in the [chocolate] industry".

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