When two of her three chocolate-obsessed daughters were diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2000 and 2016, Undercover Snacks Owner/CEO, Diana Levy, decided to make an indulgent gluten-free, allergy-friendly snack that even non-vegans could enjoy.
Undercover Snacks Owner/CEO, Diana Levy, began her career in catering making decadent chocolates for events, but says she quickly realized that she was often left craving something that was a little healthier, lighter and less sweet. And when two of her three daughters were diagnosed with celiac disease she got down to business.
“I sat in my kitchen and I mixed ingredients for many months, and came up with our Chocolate Quinoa Crisps,” says Levy. “I got them on the market in March 2017 at one Whole Foods in Newark, New Jersey, and within about an hour or so on the shelf I was authorized to sell throughout the Northeast.”
But when another opportunity to potentially launch Undercover into a major coffee chain presented itself later that same week, Levy says she realized she couldn’t manufacture enough to fulfill their order. So, she rented a commercial kitchen where she made the crisps, mixed them, packaged them and often delivered them and sold them herself too.
And though her many efforts to find a co-manufacturer went nowhere, the fact that it was mostly due to the simplicity of her product spurred Levy onward.
“Nobody could make them for me because I wasn’t using enough chocolate to go through the chocolate lines with a chocolate factory. And I didn’t want to use any other kind of binder besides chocolate. So, I looked at my husband who had been on the financial end of the food space for many years and I said: ‘I might be totally crazy, but I think we have something here!’ He agreed, so we opened a state of the art SQF-certified manufacturing facility in 2018 and today we have products in, we estimate, about 20,000 stores,” explained Levy.
Currently flying two flavors of the crisps on United Airlines in their popular snack boxes, Levy says she’d love to expand to other airlines and even possibly tailor the flavors to different regions carriers fly as well.
“The nice thing about our products is, because we manufacture them ourselves, they are made in a certified dedicated gluten-free facility and a dedicated peanut tree nut-free facility,” adds Levy. “Which is really great, especially with so many airlines trying to meet the dietary needs of different customers. We’re also able to offer different size bags and different sort of fun, bespoke holiday themed things.” And because they are a one-stop-shop, Levy says they have no supply chain issues either.
Certified women owned – Levy runs the company now with her adult daughters and husband – all of Undercover Chocolate’s are made with non-GMO dark chocolate and all of the dark chocolate flavors are plant-based, Kosher and Halal as well.
“We’re really trying to check all of the boxes for the airlines,” says Levy who is also quick to point out that melting has not been an issue to date either.
“It is real chocolate, so it can melt but we have not had an issue with our individually-wrapped packages, because you open it up and it’s sort of a funny looking thing to begin with,” says Levy. “So, even if it melts a little it doesn’t look that much funnier than usual because it’s not a perfect looking piece of chocolate. It’s sort of meant to be, you know, imperfectly perfect!”
Want to find out more? Undercover Chocolate is at APEX/IFSA EXPO this year