Devotees of Shark Tank are familiar with the question quivering entrepreneurs are often asked: what makes your product so special and unique that somebody else couldn’t just copy it and offer it for a few cents less, putting you out of business?
In our heads, we shout back the answer in Rescue Chocolate’s case. Try it! Because that would mean even more money in the pockets of animal rescue organizations, which is our dream. (Besides, we don’t think anyone else could quite duplicate our scrumptious flavors, so we’re not going anywhere.)
Over the years, we’ve seen the rise of companies replicating our model. We LOVE that their missions include a donation component for the animals. Here are some of our favorites:
The Little Pine Restaurant in Silver Lake, California is a 100% organic vegan bistro, created by the musician Moby. It offers brunch, dinner, and afternoon tea, with all proceeds going to animal welfare organizations.
Sew Craftie is an ultra-creative little operation based in Flint, Texas. Proceeds from the sale of their quilts, dresses, Easter baskets, microwave mitts, kitchen towels, and other handmade items are donated to the SPCA of East Texas.
The Tree Kisser shop and blog are run by designer Jessica Schlueter. She donates 10% of her sales to the Love Infinitely Project Animal Fund, which in turn disperses money to animal rescue or advocacy organizations. Patrons can pick up tees, tanks, sweatshirts, totes, gift cards, and more.
Top naming honors go to Grounds & Hounds Coffee Company, where “every pound saves a hound.” The coffee is, of course, fair-trade and organic. The company’s donations are earmarked for no-kill rescue organizations which provide safe havens for pups between homes.
Hendrick & Company has partnered with more than 600 shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries across America to help animals in need. The donations come from sales of the company’s jewelry, apparel, accessories, and pet products. Founded by David Hendrickson, the business is based in Orange County, California.
Organic Wine Lounge (OWL) began as a vegan-friendly wine brand, but it has now morphed into a fashion brand as well. A portion of the proceeds from every sale go to animal rescue groups.
Sticking with wine, there’s the Cru Vin Dogs Wine Group. A dollar from each bottle sold online goes to one of the company’s Loyal Companion animal shelter or rescue group partners. Just a few of the organizations on the list include Freedom Service Dogs, Guardians of Rescue, Western Border Collie Rescue, and Adopt a Lab.
For non-alcoholic liquid refreshment, check out Margo’s Bark. This company makes an all-natural cane sugar-based root beer, and all profits go toward helping shelter dogs. There are tee shirts and hoodies too.
Greener Pup makes eco-friendly dog and cat beds whose fillings are made out of 100% recycled plastic. Profits are donated to the Ace of Hearts Foundation which is dedicated to rescuing dogs the day they are scheduled to be euthanized and finding them permanent, loving homes.
In keeping with the animal-products-for-animal-donations theme, there’s WoofTags. The company offers colorful and differently shaped ID tags that won’t wear out as quickly as the more common vending-machine variety. All of the company’s profits are devoted to helping homeless dogs and cats.
Finally, getting super close to home, we’d like to mention Safe Harbor Confections which donates all profits to animal welfare organizations, just like we do. And, just like us, they purvey handcrafted dark chocolate made in small batches. However, they differ from Rescue Chocolate in that they do offer non-vegan products as well.
If you know of any other companies in the animal rescue category that haven’t made our list, please let us know about them so that we can be sure to support them all. This is one area where we definitely don’t want to crush the competition!
Coffee does NOT get me started in the morning. I’ve never developed a taste for it. I guess that puts me in a 1% club of sorts. For the first couple of years after Rescue Chocolate was founded, it seemed like the other 99% were contacting us and begging us to come out with a coffee-flavored chocolate bar.
We resisted as long as we could, but then finally succumbed. And I have to admit, our best-selling Forever Mocha bar is divine. In addition to coffee, it contains a wicked-good hazelnut praline. It is possible (for me) to wolf down two whole bars in the blink of an eye.
Which got me thinking… what other vegan products containing coffee might be worth a try?
When visiting relatives in the Midwest recently, I stumbled upon something called Coffee Cereal. My cousins claimed this stuff allowed them to be super-efficient in the morning. Instead of drinking a cup of coffee and eating a bowl of cereal, they could eliminate one step and just ingest coffee cereal! I tried it. It was a corn flakey-type product with a nice zing. Coffee Cereal is only available around Illinois, but the two physics students who founded the company have plans to expand.
Moving away from the breakfast hour, there are the lovely little VerMints breath-freshening capsules that come in a variety of flavors--including Café Express. These contain organic, fair-trade coffee and a touch of Vermont maple syrup. Truly yummy, any time of day.
But let’s get back to the most important component of any meal: dessert! It is wonderful to note that most of the self-service frozen yogurt places popping up around the country have a soy-yogurt option for their patrons. The Tutti Frutti stores actually have a decaf coffee bean topping with which to crown your soy-yogurt creation.
Another great topper or drink infuser is the coffee syrup from Torani. It can be stirred into smoothies and spritzed over all kinds of baked goods for a genuine Brazilian coffee bean punch.
Meanwhile, So Delicious Dairy Free offers a coffee soymilk ice cream whose title says it all: Mocha Almond Fudge. The almonds are crunchy and the fudge creates a luscious swirl throughout the creamy coffee-ness. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the product is certified organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
Coffee-flavored desserts abound at my local vegan cupcakeries and donut shops. Here in Brooklyn, we are blessed to have Dunwell Donuts at our fingertips. Amongst their whopping 75 flavors, they serve up the Espresso Mocha donut which is to die for. In towns where there are not such civilized businesses, regular bakeries might do a single vegan flavor of the week incorporating coffee, if they are asked nicely.
And if you’ve had enough coffee-inflected food for awhile, how about considering some coffee beauty products? Lavami makes a body scrub utilizing finely ground coffee beans, coconut, raw sugar, coffee butter, almond oil and cinnamon and vanilla essential oils. I think the coffee is included for its rich aroma, while the other ingredients are designed to hydrate and nourish your skin. Then there’s the Wake Up Bath & Body gift collection from Java & Co. You get body butter, body frosting, a body scrub, a lip balm, and a lip scrub… all sporting your choice of regular or decaf coffee. These companies have the coffee addicts covered, literally.
All this talk of coffee is making me too antsy to sit around the computer any longer. Coffee lovers, it’s time to sally forth and conquer the world.