People have snacked on chocolate since it was invented in 1900 BC, but people have only bought ‘snacking chocolate’ since 2013, when Scott Semel decided to sell chocolate bark in retail stores. Barkthins are essentially pieces of chocolate bark embedded with pretzels, peanuts, or almonds. This doesn’t sound novel because it isn’t—candy stores or gourmet food shops have always stocked chocolate bark. But Semel differentiated Barkthins by appealing to mass-market retailers. Instead of gift-wrapped packing or glass jars, he chose clean, resealable, and colorful packaging that emphasized healthier qualities like “Fair Trade” and “Non-GMO.” By the time Hershey acquired Barkthins in 2016, the brand’s annual net sales were estimated to be ~70k. Barkthins are an infinite source of stress relief for me. I try to snack selectively, as I have a tendency to tear through bags of chocolate, so Barkthins test my willpower as well. But I respect the brand largely because I think it’s hilarious that someone could so commercialize something that was already mainstream—chocolate bars.
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