IntroductionA luscious GNAW milk chocolate bar. It’s sweet, smooth and delectable. It’s wrapped in 100% home-compostable packaging. It triggers your taste buds in all the right ways, but it also treads lightly on the planet. GNAW isn’t just exceptional chocolate. It’s the taste of integrity.
In a world filled with thousands of chocolates, GNAW today stands as a beacon of sustainability and real ethical commitment. Single-origin sustainable ingredients, a state-of-the-art solar-powered facility and a truly committed team behind it all.
But have you ever wondered what some of the products were like before the plastic was removed? Or how GNAW got its unique and memorable name? Join us on a journey down memory lane as we explore the origins of GNAW from the very first bar to the future plans of the brand!
In this blog:
- The Story Behind The Chocolate
- Why The Name “GNAW”?
- The First Chocolate Bar
- The First GNAW Facility
- Sustainability Initiatives
- The Impact of eco-friendly packaging in the chocolate industry
- Solar Power
- Ethical Practices
- Why we source from Columbia
- The importance of ethical practices in the chocolate industry
- The Future of GNAW
We hope you enjoy exploring The Heart of GNAW: Origins of a Sustainable Chocolate Legacy. Feel free to ask any questions you have or tell us what you think by dropping a comment below!
The Story Behind The Chocolate:
The innovative ideas of founders Matt and Teri led to the launch of the first great-tasting, sustainable chocolate in Norfolk, UK. Ever since, GNAW has expanded from a small 950 square foot facility to being in numerous global markets today!
Interrogating GNAW founder Matt for a few minutes gave us some fun and interesting answers and stories surrounding the origins of GNAW! From the first bar to the future of the brand, let’s explore the story behind the chocolate.
Why The Name “GNAW”?
According to Matt, the name GNAW primarily came from the county the company was founded in - Norfolk. Known for having squirrels, and squirrels known for gnawing on things, this inspired the name GNAW. - or GNAWfolk - Chocolate.
The name GNAW permeates the visual identity of the brand. From the very first wrapper of the very first bar, there was a bite mark in the band. This bite mark can be seen throughout every iteration of wrapper ever since on all GNAW products.
Matt also mentioned the squirrels seen on the packaging have names! Gnawra and Gnawrman! These playful squirrels are said to be the culprits of the bite marks on all the packaging. They sure like to gnaw on chocolate bars!
The First Chocolate Bar
The very first bar to be made in the very first facility was the fabulous “Crunchy Peanut Bar.” As seen in the image above, the original packaging had cardboard bands. Matt mentioned they had to attach multiple stickers to each bar at this time to keep the bands in place. But when packed into a case they all stuck together when taking them out!
The 2nd iteration of the bar packaging was the J-card wrapper. Similar to the bands, but no more stickers! This packaging showed off the creative bar toppings, designs, and amazing swirls of the bars being made. They did contain a lot of plastic in the packaging however.
The third iteration of packaging is what you see today. 100% home compostable NatureFlex foil and paper. Meaning a 100% reduction in single use plastics! And although you can’t see the bars with today’s packaging, the chocolate tastes just as good!
The First GNAW Facility
The first GNAW facility began in a little place called Brooke in Norfolk. Beginning with a dream of making chocolate and 950 square feet of space, Matt and Teri went for it. They quickly learned the ins and outs of making chocolate, as the first batch quickly ended in disaster! - All the milk chocolate bloomed and went completely white!
After research and investigation, they found airflow issues with the chocolate spinner. Fixing these issues and resetting themselves and the machine, the next batch was underway. And successful it was! The crunchy peanut bar was ready to send off the shelves and be enjoyed by GNAW’s first customers.
Two years in, and after a conversation in a bar in the south of France, the decision was made to go big or go home. GNAW needed an upgrade. A 6,000 square feet upgrade to be exact. This big new facility off the Hall Road in Norwich was GNAW HQ 2. Matt said “We thought there’s no chance we are ever going to fill this place.” - Which brings us to today.
GNAW HQ today on Whiffler Road is a massive 30,000 square feet. Everything we do at GNAW happens here - from production and packaging to order fulfilment and writing this very blog. Although these 3 warehouses are almost enough to contain the entirety of GNAW, there is only so much time before we outgrow even here!
GNAW is constantly trying to push the boundary of sustainability in the chocolate industry. We see this as a core responsibility, reducing plastic pollution, increasing our transparency and setting the example of how to do it for others in the industry.
The Impact of eco-friendly packaging in the chocolate industry
Eco-friendly packaging initiatives, like the ones we embrace at GNAW, significantly reduce the use of single-use plastic. This means fewer plastic wrappers and containers end up in landfills or polluting our oceans. All of this helps combat the global plastic pollution crisis.
Traditional plastic packaging contributes massively to greenhouse gas emissions. This is why we conserve natural resources and reduce our carbon footprint associated with manufacturing new packaging by using 100% renewable and 100% compostable packaging.
Plastic pollution harms wildlife and marine ecosystems. By adopting eco-friendly packaging, GNAW sets an example in the chocolate industry. We play our part in preserving biodiversity and protecting vulnerable species from the devastating effects of plastic waste.
Solar Powered Facility
GNAW's commitment to sustainability extends beyond just eco-friendly packaging and ethical sourcing of ingredients. We encompass a forward-thinking approach to energy consumption. In 2022 a significant step was made towards full sustainability with solar panels.
The rooftops of GNAW HQ generate over 150,000kWh annually. This results in around 70% of our entire production being made from renewable energy. We are continuously evaluating and improving our processes to ensure they’re as energy-efficient as possible.
The future goal is to generate 100% of our own electricity to produce all of our chocolate goods. We want to be fully sustainable, and that means in everything we do. From running the office to packaging our chocolates, we don’t want to take anything from the environment.
Why we source from Columbia
Our relationship with Columbia is a long term friendship and partnership. GNAW works with the people on the ground, making sure we invest into the wellbeing and livelihood of our farmers. We believe in supporting those who work with us, not exploiting them.
This responsible sourcing means multiple things. We can say for certain our chocolate is completely free of slavery. We know exactly which plants on which farms our beans come from. Our growing process is 100% sustainable year-on-year for the environment.
Single-origin beans are also the reason we can make our exclusive chocolate recipe so luscious! The curated GNAW flavour comes from the consistency and flavour profile of the beans we source from the outset.
The importance of ethical practices in the chocolate industry.
The destruction of cocoa bean plants due to a lack of biodiversity is a critical issue that directly impacts farmers. Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, has primarily been cultivated using monoculture farming practices that have led to the depletion of biodiversity.
When ecosystems lack diversity, they become more vulnerable to pests, diseases, and extreme weather events. This vulnerability not only threatens cocoa bean plants but also endangers the livelihoods of the farmers who rely on them. This is why GNAW invests in helping farmers diversify their farms, giving a shield of protection for their cocoa plants.
Sustainable cocoa production requires the preservation of biodiversity through practices like agroforestry, which incorporates a variety of crops and trees into cocoa farms. By addressing this issue and embracing biodiversity, we can not only safeguard the supply chain, but also contribute to the well-being of the environment and the communities it depends on.
The Future of GNAW Chocolate:
The core values of GNAW will continue as the company grows. Sustainability in everything we do from supply chains to our own chocolate production. Ethical sourcing and farming practices which help the livelihood of everyone involved and produce a better product overall. Exceptional chocolate in both taste and the integrity which holds the brand together.
The plan for GNAW is to push into 28 global markets by 2026. We’re already in 18 markets globally, not bad for a company which started in a 950 square foot building! But the plan for expansion is well underway and GNAW will continue to challenge the industry, leading by example of how chocolate should be made.
We hope you will join us on our journey towards a more sustainable and ethical chocolate industry. Setting the standard for exceptional chocolate that also reflects our unwavering commitment to responsible sourcing and production practices. Together, we can make a positive impact on the world of chocolate, ensuring it's not only delicious but also environmentally and socially conscious.
We hope you’ve thoroughly enjoyed delving into the captivating history of GNAW and discovering the remarkable journey we’ve undertaken! I’ve taken great pleasure in researching the history and crafting this blog. Every day’s a school day, and we believe knowledge is power here at GNAW. Take your newfound knowledge and spread the word!
In summation, we’ve come a long way since 2010! GNAW has consistently pushed boundaries and embraced innovation within the chocolate industry. And with your invaluable support, we look forward to shaping the future of GNAW in a lasting way. Together we can change the chocolate industry for generations to come.
We’re hopeful you’ve enjoyed this short blog surrounding the origins of GNAW. If you have any questions floating inside your head, or simply want to let us know what you think of the blog.- Drop a comment below!