Chico, sweet Chico
Julie and Emily Atlas
Creating chocolate bars with wrappers covered with colorful photos of Chico is Julie Atlas’ passion. She and daughter Emily, 7, are starting up a business hoping to sell the bars all over town. Originally the sweets-selling duo created Reno Sparks Tahoe and Travel the USA bars, with photos of the respective places, and after moving to Chico, Atlas realized that people here like their city enough to sustain their own candy bar.
What sparked the idea to create chocolate bars?
I was flipping through a chocolate catalogue and I saw these rectangular bars that said “Vegas” or “Texas” and I thought, “Where’s Reno?” I’m also a photographer, and when you’re a photographer you think in rectangles. I thought I’d make a Reno chocolate bar, and because it’s a rectangle you can use more pictures. Then we moved and I decided to focus on Chico because what I learned is that Chico loves Chico. Nevada wasn’t exactly that way. I think I learned that if I’m going to be a city chocolate bar creator I need to choose cities in which the people love the city.
How are business prospects?
Yesterday I targeted 25 stores, and one of them was Made In Chico. I dropped off samples. I had only been gone 25 minutes and I got a phone call from the manager and she said, “Julie, I’m sorry to tell you this but I had to sell your souvenir bars.” And I said, “Well you’re not supposed to, those are for you.” And she said, “The people in the store would not leave unless we sold those Chico bars.” She put in an order, and that’s my very first order. It gave me a lot of hope.
You used to sell the Nevada chocolate bars in Wal-Mart?
After I got into Wal-Mart (in Nevada) I really felt sad because they put me in the beer section. I didn’t do very well because I was not in the right spot. I said: “I’m never doing chocolate bars again! That’s it! Forget it!” So then we moved and I kind of lost my identity, like “Who am I?” you know, “No one loves me” [Emily giggles]. And then it took me a year and I realized, OK, I’m relocating my company … I’m still really cool. But I decided I’m not doing chocolate so I donated my chocolate to Emily’s school and I got all these letters of thanks.
Emily reads: “Dear Ms. Atlas, thank you for the chocolate bars. I love chocolate. It is very very very good. Have a nice life.”
Julie: I decided to make Chico chocolate bars because these letters were so great.