Last week I learned about the passing of a man whose name I had never heard before. Yet, he was responsible for some of the sweetest moments of my childhood, filling it with the smooth flavour and jolly candy colours that stayed with me all the way, up until maturity.
The man was Mr Ioannis Kotsiopoulos, member of the founding family of ”ION” chocolate company, in operation since 1930. Mr Kotsiopoulos took over and headed the company since 1950. He remained active almost until the day he died, on 24 November 2015. He was 93 years old.
ION is the only chocolate company in Greece with complete control over the entire production process. They import cocoa beans, mix them to create the right blend, grind the beans, and produce the cocoa liquor used in the various chocolate products and cocoa powder.
ION is also the only chocolate company who withstood selling out to powerful multinationals and remained wholly Greek. It offers a variety of mouth-watering goodies ranging from chocolates to candies, out of which two are my all time favourites:
”ION amigdalou”, milk chocolate with roasted almonds. It comes in different sizes, but the 200g offers the ultimate crunchiness, being the only one large enough to contain whole almonds and still keep its brick-like shape. Anything smaller means they have to use crashed almonds, which is absolutely not the same.
Serano, a chocolate with a luxurious velvety, delicious filling, which has me all smiling and eye-lash batting my way to the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. Every time, to this day.
Embracing the power of marketing early on, ION came up with a number of memorable ads since the late ’50s and a slogan which pretty much sums up my sentiments, despite the fact that, for the most part of the last 15 years, I live in the country that invented the praline:
”ΙΟΝ Για Πάντα – ION Forever”
Vintage ads from ION website, on which you can also find more information about their history and products.