Bixby & Co. is a fledgling candy bar company with a knack for making delectable sweet treats from whole foods and organic ingredients. Hoping to reinvent the classic American snack, McAleer began producing vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free treats with half the sugar of a traditional candy bar, drawing inspiration from her adventurous great-great-grandparents, Lillian and William K. Bixby, for the chocolate's 1920s packaging and irreverent attitude. Combining a health-conscious culinary sophistication with that sense of sporty nostalgia, Bixby bars are all about the fusion of whole foods and silky chocolate in a compact treat.
First launched in December 2011, McAleer's unlikely education spanned Chinese, art history and design before settling in the pastry arts. Her shop, located in New York's Hudson Valley, produces each of Bixby & Co.'s handmade bars. Eco-conscious to the last, the packaging is composed of soy ink printed on FSC-certified paper. McAleer's sustainability efforts have won the bars Rainforest Alliance Certification and a membership in Youth Trade.
McAleer's art and design education shines through in the throwback packaging. Cheeky names like "Whippersnapper" and "Knockout" theme the bars, which are mostly inspired by leisure sports of the '20s. "Heart's Delight"—a seductive combination of dark chocolate, almonds, dried strawberries and ceylon cinnamon—features an etching of famed ballroom dancers Vernon and Irene Castle. The newly introduced "Mulligan" and "Birdie" flavors are a his-and-hers pair that pay tribute to McAleer's days as a golfer.
As the popularity of bean-to-bar chocolate compels confectioners to reconsider sweets, Bixby & Co. is turning that same passion for ingredients toward the candy bar. The flavors are inspired by McAleer's time abroad in China, where unlikely flavor marriages along the silk road have bred rich regional cuisines. McAleer's tribute to China, "To the Nines" brings together white chocolate, goji berries, pistachios, almonds and cardamom. "I had this equation of chocolate, fruit, nut and spice that occurred to me," says McAleer. After a a dose of sweet chocolate and sour fruit, the lingering taste is often a spice—ranging from savory fleur de sel to spicy tellicherry black pepper. The addition of organic brown rice crisp lightens the bar considerably, separating elements and making for a more delicate texture.
Bixby & Co. chocolate bars are available from the company's online shop.
Images by James Thorne