If you happen to have shopped at any artisan food stores or local farm shops just lately, chances are, you’ll have spotted the beautiful chocolate bars of Rowdy & Fancy’s on the shelves. We mention this because, it’s fair to say, they don’t just look like your average Cadbury’s.
On the contrary, when they were deciding what to do for the design of their wrappers, they commissioned local artist, Dean Rush, to create a bespoke painting.
“As you may have seen, all our full-size chocolate bars feature an illustration depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but with a few little tweaks,” says owner of the business, Annys Kirkpatrick, who is based in Forest Row.
“If you look closely, you will see that Adam has a cocoa leaf covering his modesty, and he is also holding a cup of hot chocolate in his hand, while Eve has the usual apple. So, the general idea is that if there had been chocolate in the Garden of Eden, things could have turned out rather differently!”
It’s an inspired touch that epitomises the ethos of this creative little company. Always striving to do things a bit differently, they have also managed the difficult feat of making their packaging entirely eco-friendly. Not only is the outer cardboard wrapper recyclable but the inner wrappers are made from wood pulp and are all compostable.
“I like to try and be as environmentally friendly as I possibly can,” says Annys. “So, as well as all our packaging being bio-degradable, we also use an organic, FairTrade base for our chocolate, and absolutely no artificial ingredients. I always say to everyone, unless you can say it and spell it, it’s not going in!”
The result is an exquisite blend of fine, artisan chocolate, crafted entirely by hand, that tastes every bit as good as it looks. With flavours ranging from Fig & Cinnamon to Royally Minted and Forbidden Fruit, there’s sure to be something to tickle the taste buds.
“My own particular favourite is Sweet Rose because it reminds me of my childhood,” says Annys. “I have this wonderful memory of enjoying some real Turkish Delight, on a family holiday to Turkey, and this bar captures that.”
Sussex born and bred, Annys says she always loved chocolate when she was growing up – and, perhaps unsurprisingly, also Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “Even now, all my friends still call me Mrs Wonka!” she laughs.
Today, as well as online, her chocolate is available at independent retailers across the county – from the organic store in their own local village of Forest Row, The Seasons, to the shop and café of Wickle, in Lewes, where they also use Rowdy & Fancy’s in their hot chocolate, to the grand surroundings of Hever Castle in Kent.
“We really value our relationship with local retailers,” says Annys, who has been a proud member of Local Food Britain for two years. “It’s great because we all share ideas and feedback, and support each other. Our message to everyone is always to buy local.”
One day, she says she’d love to have her own little chocolate shop in Sussex, where the shelves will be stacked high with weird and wonderful confectionary. “Who knows,” says Annys, “perhaps I’ll even call it Mrs Wonka’s!”