Introducing BonBonBar LLC

But first… I wanted to thank everyone for your comments on the $5.00 question. They were all so thoughtful and helpful, and I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to acknowledge them.So, as a consolation… I give you a name… and labels… and an update!


Malt Bar Front Label


Caramel Nut Bar Front Label

I thought that it would be fun to play with the candy bar label aesthetic, instead of using wall-to-wall gold and brown and getting in line behind so many other artisan chocolatiers. Although mine may not look as fancy in a traditional way, I’m hoping that the original look will help them stand out and be appreciated. The colors pop out a bit more when printed on glossy stickers — esp the gold shadow on the letters — but you can get the idea here. What do you think?

I like the idea of each bar having its own personality portrayed by a character, and that there are nostalgic and contemporary elements to the labels. The boy was created first by my fantastic graphic designer, and I knew that it was perfect for the Malt bar — expressing pure excitement for a yummy candy bar. We thought about creating a similar girl for the Caramel Nut bar, and my graphic designer also suggested putting the boy in a cute elephant costume to suggest an elephant going after a nutty snack, but I’m not quite that brave with my labels… yet. The Caramel Nut bar arguably has a more sophisticated flavor than the Malt bar, so I thought that it would be a good idea to make it a bit more grown up — which would also signify that the bars really are for adults with $5 to spare.

I somewhat wish that the bars could be packaged all in white so they would look especially simple and neat, but I don’t have the kind of resources to do that. I’m also trying to be as eco-friendly with packaging as possible. So, instead, the bar will be placed on a greaseproof layerboard for support, sealed within a narrow strip of cellophane (made of biodegradable cellulose), and labeled with stickers on the top and bottom (the bottom label has further description, ingredients, etc). At least the bars themselves will also be partially on display that way.

For shipments, the bars will probably be packaged within two-piece recycled kraft boxes, cushioned by recycled tissue paper and possibly a candy pad, if necessary. Either kraft paper or starch-based biodegradable packaging peanuts will cushion the candy box within a cardboard box. Marshmallows will also be in cellophane bags, and probably in a thinner, fliptop box for protection.

If anyone has any packaging suggestions, please let me know. It’s so complex… And frankly, I now consider finding a reasonable priced supplier for my layerboard — who’s also friendly towards small startups — as the perhaps the crowning achievement of my life.

So, when is this all going to come together? I’m hoping around Thanksgiving. I’m still waiting to get all my paperwork… And the website is still in the works, and photographs still have to be taken. The part-time lease has started for my commercial kitchen use, unfortunately, but at least I consider it valuable to go in and get used to the facilities while making samples…


25 Responses to “Introducing BonBonBar LLC”

  1. Eddie Says:

    Hi Nina,

    Congrats on your progress thus far. I’ve been following you blog, and it’s really exciting how you’re turning your passion in a reality. I’m really happy for you. Starting a business is never easy, especially your first, and I wish you success. Do you have someone helping you part time, taking care of the administrative side of things?

    Cheers, and I look forward to trying your candy bars.


  2. Paula Says:

    Wow, Great Job, I too have been watching your progress and wish you the best of luck.

  3. Vince Says:

    huzzah! grats on making it to the production stage! Not sure what you’re doing about distribution, but if you haven’t already, you should talk to the guys over at Fog City News ( — they sell oodles of artisan chocolate, and it’s a mecca for chocolate lovers all over the financial district. If they like your bars, they could quickly launch a cult following for you in SF… good luck with everything!


  4. Nina Says:

    Eddie – Thank you so much! Such support really means a lot to me… especially since, um, it is just me right now coordinating and keeping track of everything. I do hope to hire as soon as it makes sense, though.

    Paula – Thank you! Glad you like it.

    Vince – Thank you for the well wishes… and the Fog City News tip! It sounds like a wonderful outlet — hundreds of premium chocolate bars being sold w/ news publications in the financial district… Brilliant idea on their part. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. rainey Says:

    I like the wrapper designs รขโ‚ฌโ€ very charming. They say warmth, youth, energy, personality and humor to me. What they don’t say, however, is expensive and luxurious and I think you want to tip the balance for the undecided or reluctant to make the price fit the product.

    I like the idea of a cellophane wrapping. Maybe printed with a white bakery doily sort of thing around the perimeter so you could print the short, punchy description of the goodies inside against that background. Your work is so beautiful that it will sell itself.

    Barring cellophane that showcases the bars, how about a lifesize photo repro of them on the wrapper?

    Good luck with whatever you decide on. I look forward to seeing them on a shelf somewhere in Los Angeles.

  6. Cupcakes Says:

    I agree with rainey… Im not sure they are exactly upscale enough for that kind of price tag. They are totally adorable, dont get me wrong.. i just wouldnt associate a kick ass candy bar with that wrapper.

  7. Nina Says:

    Thanks so much for bringing this issue up, Rainey and Cupcakes! It is risky packaging. And judging from the paucity of responses about the labels, I’m guessing that other readers are thinking that, too. I’ve been debating over it since I first came up with the concepts behind it, and I really appreciate the feedback.

    I think that it’s important that you both like the labels, and I’m wondering if their likability (and a posted $5 pricetag) would at least attract people to notice them and consider them. Words like “Handmade in LA,” “cacao nibs,” and “ganache” are also pretty unusual for a candy bar label, and then the back label lists the ingredients, many organic, and has a description — ie “Our Caramel Nut Bar is packed full of organic almonds, organic walnuts, and pecans grown in California. We believe that chocolate should only mingle with wholesome ingredients that are organic and local wherever possible. BonBonBars never contain artificial ingredients or high-fructose corn syrup.”

    I’m wondering if they fit in with other “fun” upscale-ish brands — like Paul Frank, Wii, Ben & Jerry’s, or even Pinkberry (froyo)/Sprinkles (cupcakes) or VW. Those brands make you feel young when you use their products and I like that about them… but I don’t want the consumers to feel that the labels are too juvenile and discourage their buying them.

    Otherwise, I don’t know how to distinguish them from other upscale chocolate bars… which really do blend in with each other in my mind…

    What would be the ideal wrapper for candy bars for adults? What would you think if the characters were taken off? I tried to leave the cellophane bare on top for one trial and put a label on the side, but then they looked too barebones/generic, like those hanging bags of candy, unfortunately.

  8. Cupcakes Says:


    I really do like the female character.. she comes off as sassy and shi-shi (sp).. what if it was on a different color paper? Same premise just a diff color background. That being said, I would lose the boy on the wrapper… They dont really mesh well as a “theme” so to speak. When you do look at the other ihgh end treats as you mentioned, their themes all kind of work together.. the boy and the “woman” kinda dont… you know, come to think of it, i think that may be part of my personal opinion (you know what they say about people and opinions =\)… the 1 with the boy on it doesnt say to me high end gourmet.. it “looks” like its meant for kids whereas the 1 with the woman says its more for grownups.. (this all makes perfect sense to me, im sure im not explaining it correctly tho).. the boy looks cartoonish.. ack ! Man i feel your pains trying to decide these initial ideas.. I still vacillate regarding the names of my cupcakes and my business, and its been 3 years!! Wait, so maybe you should just ignore my opinions when clearly i cant even be happy with my own.. OY

    I am however itchin to try them both!

  9. Sandicita Says:

    I agree w/ Cupcakes- a cartoon of a kid on the label doesn’t scream “gourmet adult candy bar you should pay $5 for” but rather “kiddie candy bar; why is this so expensive?” I really like the girl though!

  10. G Says:

    I ran across some good articles on the chocolate industry online at Business Week. Search for “chocolate” and just keep reading. Multi-million dollar chocolate-company buyouts are interesting!

  11. Nina Says:

    Cupcakes — Welcome to my world of uncertainty and candy bar consolation!

    Sandicita — Hmmm… What do you think would be a good unique alternative?

    G – Great, thanks. What do you think about the labels and name?

  12. G Says:

    I like the name, and prefer the caramel character. I did like that little malt guy at first, but upon repeated viewing, have become fixated on his nose–it looks strange to me. With the caramel character, I start thinking of “bon” in the French adjective sense, so “bon bon” becomes “superlatively good.”

    When I see “LA” out of context/in print, I think Louisiana before Los Angeles.

  13. Nina Says:

    Oh, no — his nose? Oh geez, but actually, I never really fixated on that unique nose before. I’m cool with, though, and it points to the name, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I was concerned about the Los Angeles vs Louisiana thing, but periods between the letters didn’t look good. I hope if LA Gear got away with it, I can, too.

    It’s funny, when I asked my circle of friends about the labels before, the girl was the underdog. Glad she’s being more appreciated now, however casual it is!

  14. rainey Says:

    Have you considered the life-sized photos of the candy printed on the wrappers? They’re so beautiful they’d sell themselves. I can’t imagine people being able to resist the little coconuts! And, in general, I think it would bridge the concepts of sophisticated and fun.

  15. Staecie Says:

    At first I did not like the boy wrapper, and loved the girl wrapper, but now that I’ve been looking at both for several minutes I think that the girl picture looks like something that Jordi Labanda would do. Unfortunately, if I saw it in a store, I would assume that because it was so ‘hipster’ looking the chocolate bar inside must be low fat, low cal, carob, etc. and I might ignore it…. Although the great ingredient descriptions help with that some.

    Can’t wait purchase online when they are available!

  16. Nina Says:

    Rainey – Yeah, that would be cool, but right now, they’re packaged in cellophane so that you can see parts of the bar, so a life-sized photo on the wrapper would look like double vision. If I could have somehow package them in eco-friendly contemporary wrappers used by Mars and & Hershey, that would be something to try.

    Staecie – Thanks for your input. Jordi Labanda is new to me. Her stuff is slightly more hipster, but I could see that. And yeah, I wish that original artwork would signify original and handmade… So, I hope the image catches people’s attention and draws them to read the wrapper.

    Hope you like them!

  17. cybele Says:

    I agree about the “handmade in LA” it makes me think of Louisiana (and I live in Los Angeles).

  18. Nina Says:

    Cybele – Oh dear… Well, I’ll see how it goes. Maybe “L.A.” will be used for the next printing. At least on the back, it says that it’s made in Los Angeles, CA, so there shouldn’t be total confusion.

  19. maltsense Says:

    Yes, they should be in a more adult, sophisticated wrapper–not cartoons. Yes, LA is not Los Angeles to most people. ( “Handmade in Los Angeles” sounds nice — why shorten such a pretty name?)

    Maybe the pictures could somehow hint at “serious foodie”– candy making equipment, (a shiny saucier or something copper? I’m not a cook!) some cream, etc. Or picture: red and white stripes with black lettering?
    Lavender and white stripes with black lettering?
    It won’t matter once they catch on!

  20. maltsense Says:

    Since the name is BonBonBar, (is that one word?) should the packaging suggest “French” in some way? The lady picture reminds me of the actress in “Chocolat”.

  21. Nina Says:

    Maltsense – “It won’t matter once they catch on!” YES! hehe

    Thank you so much for your ideas. All the aspects of packaging are the bane of existence now… and that’s saying a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d rather spend more days waiting in drab government buildings for permits… but I’ll work it out.

  22. Sara Says:

    Your labels don’t scream “luxury” but I think you know that.

    Try again with graphics and consider a cleaners look, like the Dean and Delucca chocolate bars.

    You should also remind buyers what’s special about your bar:

    Organic, small batches, farmer’s markets. Your candy bar label comes off as another Mars Company product.

  23. Tartelette Says:

    Nina, I wish I could offer some help…but one thing for sure, ad far as the designs go, I am glad I am not in your shoes. I love the idea of departing from the now common “mode” packaging a-la Martha Stewart, however I tend to agree with others about the cartoon/kid association for the adult candy bar. I would happily pay $5 for it though. Ok, so I am really no help at all…I am just impatiently waiting for an online shopping source of your bars…hehehe!!!

  24. elarael Says:

    I used to work in health food stores when they were just tiny, family owned shops and most of the products were in ‘start-up’ packaging, usually far, far from professionally designed. Eventually, the packaging would evolve, but the best ones always kept the same design look, just upgraded the packaging. Dr. Bronners soap and Bumble Bar come to mind.

    I think yours looks great! If I am reading it right, it gives a very fresh/retro look that does have a bit of an upscale ‘hipster’ look. It’s got a bit of a Seattle vibe going for it, that way. That’s a good thing, design-wise. It is especially refreshing for a packaging addict like me to see a CHANGE of perspective from all the other artisan bars.

    I wonder if the BonBonBar text should be black inside, (or gold), with the same outlines in order to make the graphics a tad bit sharper so as to stand out a bit more? Because the white text fill makes me think of marshmellow bars. Um, sorry. This might not be helping.

  25. jamie Says:

    i love the name and i love the labels. while i can understand that by looking at the labels you are getting mixed reviews i think seeing the candies wrapped and in a store changes the whole show. the first time i walked into cooke’s and saw isabella’s cookies near the register, the cartoonish plain cookie logo and cutesy font didnt make me think “so childish for gourmet cookies”, instead i saw a bag of delicious looking cookies and that they were local, fresh, and home made. i think bonbonbar has the same essence, and having seen the bars side by side wrapped with the logo i think you’re in fine shape, as did the 15 other ppl who were devouring your goods and loving every bite.

    i don’t want your labels to scream luxury. i want your labels to scream delicious, unique, and independent, and they do. if isabella can do it i know bonbonbar can too.

    for what its worth i never once thought LA was Louisiana, but maybe its because im an LA person and socal central, i never ever think of Louisiana when i see LA, and i think local buyers are going to see LA and think LA over Louisiana in more situations than the other way around. but you do have room to say “HANDMADE IN SOCAL” OR “HANDMADE IN L.A.”

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