The idea of Hey Tiger first appeared in Cyan Ta’eed’s head when she was in complete darkness.
She had been diagnosed with an aggressive corneal ulcer and had to avoid light to recover. It meant no Internet, no television and no reading. “It was a massive detox of everything,” she tells SBS Food.
Over ten years before that, she had co-founded the tech marketplace Envato with her husband, a multi-million dollar company with hundreds of employees. While she still loved working there, her month in the dark made her realise she was ready for a new challenge, one where she could give back.
“I was shopping for an idea and I kept coming back to chocolate. I’ve been obsessed with chocolate for a very long time. Who isn’t? But I had made my own chocolate and I was very into it and felt there was a hole in the market,” she explains. “But I was telling myself I didn’t know enough about food and that it was a silly idea.”
A chat with the CEO of The Hunger Project, a non-for-profit committed to ending world hunger, made her realise how bad child trafficking and poverty was among cocoa-growing communities of Western Africa, where most of the world’s cocoa comes from. “Knowing that something that gives me such a big amount of pleasure and enjoyment is contributing to an incredibly broken and destructive industry… There really needs to be a shift in the cocoa industry,” says Ta’eed.
Launching Hey Tiger
Ta’eed hired two chocolatiers and they started developing recipes in her great-aunt’s kitchen. In March this year, Hey Tiger was born with a range of 22 dark, milk, white and vegan chocolate bars.
“We tried to be unusual. Our rule is usually not to do something that someone else has done,” says Ta’eed. “We make flavours that people get excited about. If we can’t stop eating it in the tasting session, it needs to go in our range!”
Peanut butter and pretzel, rosé and strawberry, and espresso martini are among the most popular flavours.
“We have a patisserie chef on staff who makes all the inclusions from scratch, so we make our own feuilletine, brownie crumbs and birthday cake crumbs,” she says.
For something different, try the pina colada, with pieces of dried pineapple or the butterfly pea, coconut and lemon bar, which is bright blue.
The flavours and packaging might be fun, but it’s not all smoke and mirrors. The chocolate is high quality and every step of the making is thought out carefully. For example, with the coffee and almond butter bar, they wanted to avoid the grittiness that usually comes with putting coffee grounds directly into the bar. “Instead, we infuse the chocolate with coffee for five days so you get that nice flavour, without the gritty texture. Then, we mix the almond butter in there so it’s quite a creamy chocolate,” she explains.
Hey Tiger only works with cocoa that is ethically sourced. The company is owned by a charitable trust and has committed to giving a minimum of $80,000 per year to The Hunger Project, even though they are not profitable yet.
When you buy Hey Tiger chocolate, a minimum of 25 cents (for the small bars) and 50 cents (for the big bars) is donated to the charity. The money is going primarily to microloans for women farmers, sustainable farming practices and financial literacy programs for farmers in Ghana.
If you want to try the tasty, pretty and ethical Hey Tiger chocolate, it’s available Australia-wide and on the Hey Tiger website.