Sarah Michelle Gross of New York has two great passions in life — animal rescue and chocolate. The two things could not seem more different or far removed from one another. However, this innovative animal and chocolate lover found a way to unite them in a perfect marriage. The result is Rescue Chocolate, a product that benefits animal welfare and one that satiates the most discerning chocolate connoisseurs.
How can there be a relationship between candy and animals? Rescue Chocolate is the epitome of the old adage, “Where there is a will there is a way.”
Animal rescue has been part of the chocolatier’s life since she was a child. She began volunteering at her local animal control facility in Louisiana when she was in middle school. During that time she also became a vegetarian, and then she became a vegan. Her obsession with chocolate came much later.
“When I moved to New York around 2007, I started exploring all the chocolate boutiques and sampling the exotic varieties that I hadn’t seen anywhere else,” Gross said. “I created my own private rating system and collected the wrappers in a notebook, as a hobby. I also went to work for a raw vegan chocolate company where I developed a best-selling flavor.”
One day she saw a photo of a rescued pit bull dog that was put up in desperation to find her a permanent home. Gross could not get the dog’s face and her sweet, mocha-colored eyes out of her mind. And so Mocha, as Gross named her, did not just find her way into her heart, but into her home. One day, Gross finished up a luscious bar of chocolate before taking her new love for a morning walk. It was during that very walk that the idea of merging her two passions together came to her. “I got the idea to create a chocolate company of my own whose mission would be to raise money for animal rescues.”
The chocolate is very unique, not just in its mission, but in how it’s made and what flavors are produced. The product is vegan, handcrafted, certified kosher, organic and fair-trade. Gross works with an executive chef at a chocolate factory located in Brooklyn, New York. They have developed various flavors together, with the chef creating some of the flavors on his own. Gross has re-branded a few of the flavors under the Rescue Chocolate label.
“For certain holiday items, I branch out to other chocolate suppliers around Brooklyn, and I have been known to do the packaging myself if the batches are small enough,” Gross said. “My boyfriend, who is a graphic designer, has helped with a lot of the recent labeling and logo work.
Rescue Chocolate raises money for animal welfare in a variety of ways. “The profit from the product sold on my website and at other retail outlets is all donated to my annual beneficiary; this year it is the No Kill Advocacy Center,” Gross said. “You can also buy the product from various animal rescue organizations who sell it, kind of on the Girl Scout cookie model — they keep the profits for their own group. There is also a write-in program where supporters of an animal rescue can purchase from me online, and I donate one dollar per product back to their organization.”
You can help this company by recommending it to your local retailers and animal organizations. The more locations it becomes available in to reach impulse buyers, the more it will grow. The more that’s sold, the more animals in rescues are helped!
The Hope Veterinary Clinic located in Brooklyn proudly carries the chocolate. Veterinary social worker Juliet Sternberg offers nothing but praise for what she says is a wonderful company led by a dynamic and creative animal lover. “I think it sends a message about our beliefs,” Sternberg said. “We use the profits to help rehab the relinquished animals at the clinic, and it’s a fun thing to offer to clients on their way out!” She said the company makes it very convenient for people to participate. “It’s simple to order, quick delivery, we can order any amount — doesn’t have to meet minimums.” Sternberg also enjoys the candy herself with peanut butter and mocha being one of her favorite flavors, and she said the bacon and pepper flavors are good as well.
The Travelin’ Rat is an organization that helps animal rescues, especially those that take in rats. They promote Rescue Chocolate, which in turn also helps them. Danielle S., president of The Travelin’ Rat, explained. “We are considered a ‘partner organization,’ so if people order something from Rescue Chocolate and put the code ‘Travelin’ Rat’ in the notes section at checkout, that earns us.” She said the company has also donated a gift certificate to their past two World Rat Day raffles, which is a big fundraiser for the organization. “I have to confess I have ordered a few of their goodies,” she added. “Yum!”
So dive in animal lovers! Forget about feeling guilty about indulging in a scrumptious, chocolaty treat. You can feel good that it is vegan, no animals are harmed in its production, it is healthy and, most importantly, it helps animal rescue organizations and the sweet souls that live in them.
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