An iconic St. Louis brand has changed hands.
Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier, a St. Louis-based company for more than 90 years, has been sold, but will continue to be locally owned and operated, featuring the same recipes and premium ingredients that have made its chocolates popular for generations. The Abel family, owners of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company, assumed all operations of the brand in July and will run Bissinger’s as a separate business entity from its other brands.
In a release, Tim Fogerty, previous owner and CEO of Bissinger’s, said he made the decision to exit the chocolate business to focus on 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group, which owns and operates local venues such as The Caramel Room, Lumen Private Event Space and The Chocolate Pig.
“We had no idea that Bissinger’s was ever going to come up for sale,” says Dan Abel Jr., president and CEO of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company. “When it did, I immediately thought, ‘It has to stay in St. Louis,’ and I knew we had the means to do that.”
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company has seen incredible growth since 2011. “We built a new, $2.5 million facility and hired a number of new employees, but by 2017, that expansion that we thought was the biggest deal in the world got maxed out; in 2018, we purchased another property – three doors down and about the same size as the other facility – and added more than $1 million worth of equipment for the next phase of our expansion,” says Abel.
As Abel and his team learned more about the opportunity to purchase Bissinger’s, they felt it truly aligned with Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate's core principles. “We’re all about sustainability,” Abel explains. “We use fair trade cocoa to produce sustainable chocolates, our manufacturing facility on The Hill uses solar panels and LED lights, and we recycle every piece of cardboard that comes through the door. Bissinger’s is very much the same in this respect.” Also, neither chocolatiers would dream of using artificial ingredients in their chocolate.
“The synergy was palpable,” says Abel. “Both companies have such a passion for chocolate.”
Abel wants to stress that Bissinger’s, as people know it, will not change. “Although we plan to grow the brand and add more products, we aren’t going to remove what works.” He is especially excited about Bissinger’s retail store at Plaza Frontenac. “I would never have admitted this before we owned it, but in my opinion, that store is the most beautiful chocolate shop in America,” Abel says with a laugh. “It has that wow factor, and when you go inside – when you can see and smell the chocolate – you’re going to have a hard time walking away without at least a few truffles in hand.”
And with Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate, Abel’s goal is to continue to increase its distribution channels nationally, maintain its current retail stores and provide an exciting tourist destination in St. Louis. “We have hundreds of people a day tour our facility on The Hill,” says Abel. “It’s an experience people seem to really love.”
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company, chocolatechocolate.com