Back in 2017, Matthew Poat was running the European operations of an onboard video & data-logging company when he first had the idea of creating racing helmet shaped chocolates. Inspiration came from a random social media post by a New York chocolatier whose creations were as shiny and colourful as contempory racing helmets. Using a collectible 1/8 scale racing helmet and some silicon, Matthew created his very first mould and proceeded to make some solid chocolate racing helmets with it. Initial tests showed promise but it was clear that the approach needed further refinement.
A more suitable racing helmet shape was developed via CAD and 3D printed, but it wasn't until professional production moulds were created that the Racing Chocs concept began to gain momentum. The custom 40-shore silicon moulds resulted in a smooth and shiny chocolate racing helmet that could be both decorated and filled. It was at this stage that Matthew enrolled in an intensive week long course at the Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Banbury, UK.
During his chocolatiers course, Matthew learnt how to correctly temper chocolate, create tasty ganaches, pralines & other fillings, understand shelf life and most importantly, how to work with coloured cocoa butter via airbrush to create truly striking chocolates. His time at the Chocolate Academy gave him the confidence to create his own chocolate business, whose primary customers would be racing teams and sponsors for hospitality gifting and events. Racing Chocs Ltd was born and Matthew began converting his garage based office into a food production facility. It was not long before the very first online orders began to arrive.
As more and more orders started to come in, it became clear exactly where the business' bottlenecks were and more importantly, how they could be overcome. In early 2019, investment was sourced through a longtime motorsport industry contact and additional equipment was purchased, including two Selmi chocolate tempering machine, which had a dramatic impact on production times and the number of chocolate racing helmets that could be produced in a single day. The business increased output from 40 chocolates per day to 200 chocolates per day. The Selmi's did bring some new complications however. They melt chocolate at 50C making temperature control the new production bottleneck, especially in the summer.
Creating custom chocolate racing helmets was a key part to the early success of Racing Chocs. The business was capable of branding chocolates, branding packaging and replicating helmet designs, which made them the ideal hospitality gift for race teams, drivers and sponsors. Some of our biggest jobs in the early days included W Series, Arai, Mark Blundell, Walero, Pirelli, McLaren & Mercedes.
Covid-19 brought many challenges but also great opportunites. We secured a government bounceback loan and were able to rent space in a Brackley based chocolatiers workshop. We suddenly had more space, equipment and a temperature controlled environment. The business also needed to pivot due to the lack of hospitality gifting orders and so we prioritised building the brands social media presence and servicing motorsport fans via our website. Unlike many business' Racing Chocs were able to grow significantly during the pandemic.
In November 2020, the management team looking after F1 driver Lando Norris got in touch and enquired about Christmas gifts. This initial discussion evolved into our first custom designed chocolate since 2017. The chocolate resembled the 3rd place Austrian GP trophy Lando won, his first in Formula 1 & was gifted to all members of his McLaren team. This was a huge task that needed to be completed in a tight timeframe and in difficult circumstances (Covid-19 lockdown). Over 1000pcs were designed, created and individually shipped in time for Christmas. In the new year, an additional batch were created as gifts to Lando's loyal fanbase. Although the business needed to close the order book in the run up to Christmas and hire additional staff in order to fulfill the order on time, the overwhelmingly positive response to the chocolate gifts more than made up for it.
Easter is one of the busiest times of the year for any chocolatier and in 2020 we launched our "Heroes of Motorsport" 150mm tall Easter egg. These are our fully customisable, decorated eggs & over the years we have created versions celebrating Ferrari, Stirling Moss, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, MB Motorsport, W Series, Lando Norris and many other racing drivers, series & teams. Due to the time consuming nature of creating these fully customiseable & decorated eggs, orders need to be placed well in advance of Easter to guarantee a production slot.
We were able to demonstrate both our passion for motorsport and our chocolatiering skills by celebrating Daniel Ricciardo's amazing victory in Monza 2021 by creating a chocolate version of his iconic shoey. The TikTok video of our product development amassed almost 500,00 views within one week. You can view this over on our media page.
One of our biggest orders in 2022 was for game company Frontier Developments, who wanted to use them as part of their influencer gifting program to announce F1 Manager, a brand new Formula One based management game. The social media response to the game and chocolates was extremely positive, which strengthened Racing Chocs brand awareness among the motorsport community.
What's Next for Racing Chocs?
We are constantly working on new & exciting projects, all of which help us to maintain our passion for the work we do and the motorsport community. Be sure to follow our social media accounts to be kept up to date as we release new designs, flavours and products.