9th July, 2016 found me strolling about stores in the Manchester City Centre. It was my first time in the UK and even though I was overwhelmed by the bustle, I felt alive as I surrended myself to it all. There are very few activities I love more than walking the aisles of supermarkets and checking out especially the packaged food products; marveling at creativity on display, applauding packaging designers, debating ergonomics and imagining which products I’d choose and why.
My pedometer clocked in at approximately 24,000 steps and though I was exhausted, my mind was racing. As I processed the events of the day, one thought that persisted was how ridiculously cheap chocolate was! I bought a 400g bar of Toblerone for £1! An equivalent of NGN400! Meanwhile, back home, this same Toblerone bar retailed at about NGN3000! I had always been curious about why we didn’t have Made-in-Nigeria Chocolate. And this was because I was a home-baker and one of my favorite cakes to bake was chocolate cake! The baking stores were flooded with compound chocolate but I wanted real chocolate! Plain, delicious, cocoa-rich with complex flavors. But I just couldn’t find what I wanted. When I did stumble on some nice chocolate, the price would prohibit me.
I had never seen Nigerian cocoa beans (or any cocoa beans) but I knew that it was one of the main cash crops in Nigeria. I had never paid attention to the incongruity of having so much the raw material for chocolate and yet paying obscene amounts for imported chocolate. Well, I haven’t stopped thinking about Nigerian cocoa since then. Thinking back on that day, I could not have imagined that six years down the line, I would be a big part of putting Nigerian chocolate on the map and making it a thing. A really cool, delicious thing.