“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” —Charles M. Schultz
February is National Chocolate Lovers Month and many Chickasaw Nation-owned businesses offer unique options to celebrate the sweet observance, beginning with Bedré Fine Chocolate.
Bedré is the only Native American-owned chocolate company. It is a one-of-a-kind attraction in Chickasaw Country.
Bedré’s 34,600 square-foot facility is situated along I-35 near Davis, Okla. Upon entering the Bedré manufacturing facility, you are immediately drawn into the delightful world of chocolate, beginning with a complimentary chocolate sample and a warm welcome.
There are mountains of chocolate melt-a-ways, chocolate-covered twists and a wide range of other chocolate-enrobed delights. Other unique items include chocolate-scented candles, body scrubs, chocolate soda and cozy blankets.
There is chocolate-covered popcorn, peanuts, pecans, potato crisps, cookies and orange slices. And don¹t forget about the cowboy boot, cowboy hat and Oklahoma-shaped chocolates!
This decadence is found all year long at the Bedré retail store, said Bedré general manager Philip McWherter.
“At the retail shop you can get specialties,” McWherter said. “There are things that are not in everyday product line, such as cookies enrobed in chocolate or dried fruit.” Bedré is always prepared for any occasion, he said, from Valentine’s Day to Fourth of July, with special offerings.
“A visit will give you new ideas on what to get your sweetheart, and every time you come, there is going to be something different,” McWherter said. “We try to keep it fresh and fun.”
Some new offerings include a chocolate-covered raisin and coffee and cream-covered coffee beans. The very popular chocolate-covered strawberries are offered on a first-come, first-served basis only on Valentine’s Day.
One of the best reasons to visit the Bedré manufacturing facility is to watch the skilled staff create a variety of confectionery delicacies. Using specialized high-end machinery, a variety of melt-a-ways (mint, caramel, hot fudge, peanut butter, raspberry, espresso), candy bars, clusters, twists and sensations are ultimately created from the selection of white, dark and mint chocolate, peanut butter and caramel stored in huge vats.
This process can be viewed from large glass windows separating the factory from the retail area.
Chocolate’s Native American connection?Plans are under way to expand the chocolate experience with the “Bedré Experience.” The interactive attraction will include the Native American connection to the history of chocolate and the Bedré process, and chocolate sampling in several forms.
“The ‘Bedré Experience’ will appeal to all the senses; touch, smell, taste, vision, Mr. McWherter said.
“You will smell, taste and touch the chocolate. You will also learn chocolate is a Native American product. It played an important part in Indian culture and trade. The cocoa bean was even used as currency.”
The chocolate experience is a natural complement to Chickasaw Country tourism efforts. Bedré Fine Chocolate is located in the same vicinity as other area attractions like the Chickasaw Cultural Center, Artesian Hotel and Spa, Turner Falls Park and Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
The company just concluded a busy holiday season and doubled its sales total from the same time last year.
Quality and sustainability are always the top priority at the manufacturing facility.
“Everything we do, we are aware and try to be a company that is very involved in sustainability,” Mr. McWherter said. “Our suppliers are very involved in making sure the farms where the cacao is grown are using best practices, have sustainability programs and are educating future generations about the importance of sustainability.”
In addition, Bedré is a member of the “Made in Oklahoma” program which assists companies in promoting agricultural products that are grown, produced or manufactured in Oklahoma.
Bedré Fine Chocolate is conveniently located on the southwest corner of I-35 at Exit 55 at 37 N. Colbert Road in Davis. It is adjacent to Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center.
The Bedré retail store is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Labor Day until Memorial Day and open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
An additional Bedré retail store is located in Ada inside Sovereign Pharmacy and Fine Gifts, 1007 N. Country Club Road.
You can follow Bedré Fine Chocolate on Facebook (facebook/bedrefinechocolate) and Twitter (@bedrechocolate) or call 1-800-367-5390 for more information.