Non GMO Candy: Opportunities with Kick

Theo Organic Dark Chocolate: Chili (70% cacao)

Non-GMO Candy: Take Your Customers on a Flavor Ride 

Silhouette of a roller coaster at sunset

When it comes to food, Millennials (ages 21-35; also called Generation Y) and Generation Z (ages 20 and under) crave bold, adventurous flavors.

They love experiential, experimental food that takes their taste buds on a roller coaster ride.

  • So, new, different food combinations are a must for these generations.
  • Hot and spicy flavors carry extra appeal.

Candy is no exception.

And that may explain why premium chocolate’s so hot—both literally and figuratively.

dark chocolate with a scoop

  • After all, premium chocolate makers (makers of chocolate sold at $11 or more per pound) often get adventurous.
  • They add chili peppers, spices, coffee beans, and other bold tastes that conventional candy makers don’t touch.
  • Premium chocolate’s outselling all other candy.
  • Its growth rate (10%) is four times higher than that of conventional chocolate.

Chili peppers.

These food preferences “trickle up,” too. Millennials and Gen Z members inspire older generations to seek flavors with a kick.

But candy enthusiasts, of every generation, also want ethical food. Premium candy with a kick isn’t enough. They want non-GMO candy, too—candy with no genetically modified ingredients. So, make sure you sell bold chocolate without GMOs.

In this article,  you’ll find out more about ingredients used in bold, kicking chocolate flavor combinations. Also,  you’ll learn the reasons why people avoid chocolate with GMOs. Finally, you’ll discover several adventurous chocolates to sell in your store!

Bold Combinations with Chocolate

Spiced chocolate drink (a modern version of the ancient delicacy) Cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamonBroken-up bars of premium chocolate

The ancient Mesoamericans, who first consumed chocolate, enjoyed it as a drink with chiles and spices. So, consumers who enjoy chocolate with a kick are actually returning to chocolate’s royal roots! Adventurous ingredients that appear in today’s premium chocolate include chili peppers, cinnamon, ginger, and coffee.

Chili Peppers

A row of red chili peppers

Thanks to capsaicin, chilis (chiles) in chocolate offer a spicy sensation. You might not realize it, but they’re actually part of the nightshade family. Some peppers that have found their way into artisan chocolate include:

  • California: Milder, dried red peppers. Also known as Anaheim peppers.
  • Guajillos: Medium heat, dried chili peppers with a slight fruitiness.
  • Cayenne: Chopped up or in powder form, these peppers bring a medium heat.
  • Ancho: Milder than most chilis, these peppers are fruity and a bit sweet.
  • Chipotles: Chipotle peppers, or smoke-dried jalapenos, have a distinct smoky, earthy, spicy flavor.


A pile of cinnamon sticks.

Make way for cinnamon’s classic aroma and taste—people have loved it for thousands of years, both as a spice and a medicinal food.

  • In fact, it was a key ingredient in Aztec drinking chocolate.
  • The distinct, warm flavor adds spicy life to chocolate, without as much power as chilis.
  • But sometimes, it pairs with chilis to bring out their heat.


Ginger root

The ancient, root-based spice has a reputation as a powerful antioxidant and immune booster. You might not expect ginger’s hot flavor in chocolate. But millennial and Gen Z tastes are all about sampling the unexpected!


Pile of coffee beans.

Not as spicy as other bold flavors, but guaranteed to deliver a kick. There’s no denying the classic combo of coffee and chocolate: mochas and coffee-dessert pairings are timeless. But coffee beans in a chocolate bar bring a much-needed new twist.

But, make sure any chocolate you sell with these bold flavors contains no harmful modified ingredients. Remember: ethical eating is just as important as adventurous eating!


Why Do Consumers Want Non-GMO Chocolate? 

Health Concerns 

The word "health" in blue against a green background. A hand places the "L"White question marks on a rainbow of balls.

Need For More Testing—Safety Unknown 

  • Not enough GMO testing has happened in the U.S. to know if genetically modified food is safe.
  • No real standards exist in the U.S.  for testing of modified food.
    • Manufacturers, not the government, do the vast majority of the testing.
    • So, most testing can easily get biased.

A stop-sign-like sign reads "Warning. Pesticides. Fire will cause toxic fumes."

Pesticide Woes

  • Farmers spray genetically modified plants with ridiculous amounts of pesticides.
    • After all, many of these plants resist pesticides.
    • Pesticide effects are unknown, but they might cause cancer in humans.


Genetically modified corn.

GMO Ingredients—Unfortunately Common

And so many common ingredients (especially in candy) are modified. They’re hard to avoid!

More than 75% of processed food contains GMOs, according to the Center for Food Safety.

  • Corn: The most common genetically modified ingredient, in human food and animal feed. (Up to 92% of U.S. corn is modified.)
    • If cows eat modified corn, then their milk becomes modified, too.
  • Soy: Soy lecithin, a common ingredient in chocolate, prevents the separation of cocoa and cocoa butter. Unfortunately, it comes from soybeans. And most U.S. soybeans (up to 94%) are heavily modified.
  • Sugar: Oh, sugar! Manufacturers often modify sugar beets, a common sugar source. Unmodified cane sugar’s a better option, but not as many candy makers use it.


Environmental Concerns

A tractor spreads pesticides

Pesticide Dangers

  • Pesticides kill all the plants they touch, not just weeds.
  • Runoff from these pesticides pollutes the water. The constant spraying also pollutes the air.
  • And weeds become more resistant to pesticides the more farmers spray. Unfortunately, this keeps the vicious cycle of pesticides going. After all, more weed resistance leads to even more spraying. 


A bee pollinates a yellow flower

  • Genetically modified plants are plants of one species injected with a gene from a totally different species.
  • So, pollen from genetically modified plants carries this modified gene.
  • Sometimes, bees visit genetically modified plants and collect pollen.
  • And sometimes, the wind carries modified pollen to unmodified plants.
  • If modified pollen reaches unmodified plants, then cross-contamination happens.
    • The previously unmodified plants acquire the gene. Then, they become modified.
  • Many farmers don’t want their plants to be genetically modified. But, they can’t control bees or the wind.
    • Only farmers who set up natural barriers around their farms can reliably protect their crops.


Ethical Concerns

Triangle warning sign with red background and black exclamation point

But cross-contamination, pesticides, and health concerns aren’t the end of genetic modification dangers.

  • After all, in the U.S., GMO candy manufacturers don’t have to label their products as GMO.
  • Consumers believe they have a right to know what’s in their products.
    • And, as natural, ethical products keep trending, they object to hidden modified ingredients.
    • So, consumers buy products certified as non-GMO instead. 
    • They trust third parties to verify the non-GMO claim.
  • Non-GMO Project Verified, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified and Fair Trade are all reliable non-GMO indicators.

Adventurous Non-GMO Chocolate

Not to worry. Many chocolates with these non-GMO indicators contain bold ingredients. Here are a dozen chocolates with adventurous flavors—and no modified ingredients.

Chili Chocolate Heats Things Up

Theo Chili Dark Chocolate 

Theo Spicy Chili Organic Fair Trade Dark Chocolate (70 percent cacao)

  • This wild Theo bar will revolutionize consumers’ view of spice and chocolate.
  • Premium 70% dark chocolate, sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, provides a bittersweet base.
  • Ancho, cayenne, and California chiles blend for a dynamic trio of spice.
  • Combined with cinnamon and subtle citrus (orange essential oil), the chilis’ warmth takes over the senses.
  • A Non-GMO, USDA Organic, and Fair For Life Fair Trade bar. In fact, all Theo bars have earned these certifications.
  • Also, it’s a soy-free and vegan chocolate. So, no soy lecithin or milk here!
  • In addition, it’s a Kosher (D) candy.
  • Made with organic Brazilian cane sugar.

Taza Chipotle Chili Chocolate Mexicano

Taza Chipotle Chili Chocolate Discs

  • Think outside the bar with these stone-ground chocolate discs.
  • Taza uses traditional Mexican stone mills to bring out the cacao’s bold, fruity flavors.
  • The smokiness of chipotle chili permeates the discs for “chocolate with true grit.”
  • Only three major ingredients: organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar, and organic chipotle chili powder. (Also contains traces of nuts.)
  • A direct trade product (made with cacao bought directly from farmers, at ethical prices).
  • Also, it’s USDA Organic, gluten-free, Kosher (Pareve), and Non-GMO Project Verified.
  • In addition, it’s a dairy free, soy free, and vegan candy.

Dagoba Xocolatl Rich Dark Chocolate 

Dagoba xocolatl organic chocolate

  • The ancient Mesoamericans called their spicy chocolate drink xocolatl (choco-lat’tl).
  • Dagoba’s Xocolatl bar hearkens back to this Aztec drink—chocolate’s roots.
  • Made with 74% rich cacao, plus crunchy roasted cacao nibs (cocoa beans with shells removed).
  • Of course, Dagoba didn’t forget the spicy chili from the original xocolatl.
  • But, Dagoba has also added a bit of citrus oil, as a slight departure from the drink.
  • This fruitiness brings out the spice in a new way!
  • The bar is a USDA Certified Organic candy.
  • Also, it’s gluten-free.
  • In addition, like all Dagoba products, it’s made with Rainforest Alliance Certified organic cacao, sustainably grown and sourced only from small farms.

Endangered Species Cinnamon, Cayenne, and Cherries in Dark Chocolate 

Endangered Species Cinnamon Cayenne and Cherries in Dark Chocolate

  • From spicy to soothing, this bar lights a fire in your mouth, then calms your palate down.
  • Heat builds from warm cinnamon to spicy cayenne.
  •  But soon, the heat gives way to the tart sweetness of fruity cherries.
  • According to Endangered Species, this complex canvas of flavor pairs well with red wines or Merlots, almonds, and sharp, white cheese.
  • A Fair Trade, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Kosher (D) candy.
  • In addition, it’s Certified Vegan and Certified Gluten-Free.
  • Contains unmodified soy lecithin and cane sugar.
  • 10% of Endangered Species proceeds benefit conservation programs.
  • This bar spotlights the beautiful golden lion tamarin on the inside of the wrapper.

Chocolove Chilies and Cherries in Dark Chocolate 

Chocolove Chilies and Cherries in Dark Chocolate

  • Consumers will fall in love with semisweet 55% dark chocolate, plus cherries and a chili duo.
  • Ancho and chipotle chilies bring an initial punch. But then, dried cherries follow up with deep sweetness.
  • Finally, the two flavors produce a warmth as the chocolate fades.
  • With love poems inside every bar, this delicacy’s perfect for sweetheart gifting year-round.
  • A Non-GMO Project Verified candy, made with premium, ethically sourced cocoa.

Green & Black’s Organic Spiced Chili Chocolate 

Green and Black's Organic Spiced Chili Chocolate

  • A 60% cacao dark chocolate tangos with chili and other warm spices for a heat wave.
  • Consumers will enjoy how the six-spice blend brings out chili’s own burst of spice.
  • First, pink peppercorns and juniper berries emphasize the fruitiness of chili.
  • Then, ginger, cassia, star anise and cloves subtly warm the taste buds, leading up to chili’s heat.
  • Also, the bar’s USDA Organic and Fair Trade.


Spiced-Up Chocolate Without Chiles

Green & Black’s Maya Gold Organic Chocolate

Green and Black's Maya Gold Organic Chocolate

  • This decadent bar is chocolate gold. After all, the ancient Mayans revered chocolate so much, they called it the “food of the gods.” Also, the ancient Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency.
  • Green & Black’s channels the Mayans and Aztecs with this 60% cacao bar. Fruitiness, savoriness, and rich depth abound.
  • Made with Trinitario (Dominican Republic) organic cocoa.
  • Inspired by Mesoamerican spiced chocolate. But, this solid version focuses on spices and omits the chili.
  • Subtle orange twists together with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of vanilla.
  • In addition, it’s a USDA Organic and Fair Trade bar.

Chocolove Ginger Crystallized In Dark Chocolate

Chocolove Crystallized Ginger in Dark Chocolate

  • Belgian rich dark chocolate (made from African and Caribbean beans) and Australian crystallized ginger collide for a warm delight. Unexpected, but amazing!
  • Tangy, smooth chocolate (65% cocoa) makes way for “moist, sugar-coated chunks of hot, spicy ginger.” From sweet to spicy and back!
  • Non-GMO Project Verified and Kosher (D). Made with unmodified sugar and soy lecithin.
  • Contains a short list of 7 ingredients—only those within the dark chocolate and the ginger.
  • Consumers will love to enjoy this bar themselves or give it to their loved ones.
  • After all, love poems provide a romantic touch inside every bar.
  • In addition, it’s a candy made with only premium, ethically sourced cocoa.

Salazon Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Salazon Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

  •  Sea salt and crushed black pepper? On a chocolate bar? You may be puzzled at first, but trust Salazon. Adventurous customers love these unique flavors!
  • Organic cracked Indian black pepper brings out the Hispaniola cacao’s fruitiness, in a way that salt alone cannot.
  • Millennials will enjoy pairing this bar with red wine, as recommended by Salazon.
  • Salazon always hand-sprinkles the sea salt on its chocolate bars, rather than mixing it in. This way, the salt, pepper, and cocoa achieve perfect balance. Yep, it just works.
  • A USDA Organic, non-GMO, and Fair Trade bar.
  • Salazon’s a member of 1% For the Planet. So, the company contributes 1% of its profits to environmental causes.


Chocolate with Coffee Causes A Buzz

Taza Coffee Chocolate Mexicano

Taza Coffee Chocolate Mexicano discs

  • Stone-ground discs of chocolate, ground in traditional Mexican stone mills.
  • Ground Counter Culture coffee adds a bitter punch.
  • Always made with organic, direct trade cacao and coffee.
  • Also, a USDA Organic, gluten-free, Kosher (Pareve), and Non-GMO Project Verified chocolate.
  • In addition, it’s dairy-free, soy-free, and vegan.
  • Made with only three main ingredients: organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar, and organic coffee bean. (Also contains some slight traces of nuts.)


Salazon Organic Dark Chocolate With Sea Salt And Coffee

Salazon Organic Dark Chocolate With Sea Salt And Coffee

  • Caffeine enthusiasts will love this new take on chocolate paired with sea salt and organic, Fair Trade coffee. Some customers describe the pairing as “enlightening!”
  • Salazon always hand-sprinkles the sea salt on its chocolate bars, so the salt balances out the cocoa and course-ground coffee.
  • Also, a USDA Organic, non-GMO, and Fair Trade candy.
  • Since Salazon’s a member of 1% For the Planet, 1% of company profits go to environmental causes.
  • This particular bar supports the Pacific Crest Trail Association, which works to preserve and protect the national scenic trail.
  • In fact, Salazon chocolate came to be when the founders got inspiration from a backpacking trip. They realized that pairing salt and chocolate would bring the energy needed for outdoor activities.
  • And with coffee in the mix, this bar provides an even stronger boost!

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans 

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans 

  • Dark on dark. Crushed roasted espresso beans blend with 72% cacao dark chocolate. Intense times two!
  • A Non-GMO Project Verified and Fair Trade bar of bittersweet chocolate.
  • Also, it’s a Certified Gluten-Free, Certified Vegan, and Kosher (D) candy.
  • The bar features a royal predator: the tiger. Learn more about tigers on the inside of the wrapper.
  • In addition, 10% of Endangered Species proceeds support conservation efforts.


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Author: Jessica.Huhn
Jessica Huhn is a graduate of Mount St. Mary's University and a content writer for When she is not engaging in her passion for writing, there is a good chance that Jessica is singing, whether by herself or with one of her choirs. She might also be admiring cows, animals that she has seen a unique beauty in since the age of two.