April 18, 2016 PULLMAN, Wash.,
Cougar Gold Cheese may have found a worthy and upcoming rival in the form of chocolate.
WSU Crimson Confections is the world’s first WSU-produced commercial chocolate. The business is the coalescing of hospitality business management, food science and engineering students coming together to create something novel.
“We have all come together and put in a lot of hours to create a new product. Cougar Chocolate is our first of hopefully many new creations,” economics and business administration graduate student Jeremy Knowles said.
As each department has their specialty and skillset, Knowles and business partner and finance major Annie Lever were brought on as marketing consultants to assist with the business aspects of the product.
“We really wanted to get involved in this because it is student-run. All the profits go back into the students and it creates job opportunities for them. We just wanted to get our hands in the mold of creating a business,” Knowles said.
Not only is this a locally piloted project, but the ingredients involved are locally sourced as well.
“This is the first time I’ve really gotten to use things I’ve learned in class and apply it to something viable,” Lever said.
Callebaut, a Belgium chocolate company, has factories in the United States, the packaging for Cougar Chocolate comes out of a company based in Seattle, Idaho based company, Food Services of America is involved and the chocolates are made by WSU hospitality business management students.
“Having students from so many departments involved in developing WSU Crimson Confections is the most powerful and impactful part of the entire project,” head student chef and graduate student Jessica Murray said.
The chocolate truffles come in four flavors. A dark chocolate expresso with the signature cougar logo sugar spun onto it, cinnamon milk chocolate, earl grey tea white chocolate and hazelnut liqueur with toffee crumble.
I got to sample each chocolate, which was a beautiful start to my morning and just another reason why I love my job. Who else can say they get to eat free chocolate at 10 a.m.? As I am not an ardent chocolate fan, I was surprised that I enjoyed all of them. My favorite was the hazelnut, with an invigorating roasted flavor and caramel-esque toffee bits. Knowles and I both agreed the toffee and earl grey in the white chocolate could have been stronger. Those criticisms were more personal preference than quality inspection, but I think Crimson Confections has a strong showcasing for a first-time product.
There is something humbling to eat food so close to the source. It is inspiring to see our school create something. Even more so, a product for the pure enjoyment of others. This was a quality product made by people who are passionate. You don’t have to be a food critic to taste that.
Crimson Confections has a Facebook page and are working on a full website. They are currently being sold in the Todd Hall atrium with plans to expand to more locations.
By Daniel Anderson | Evergreen food columnist