Antidote Blog


By Red Thalhammer

Experimenting with cacao in Ecuador

Antidote Founder, Red, has recently returned from a week in Ecuador, where she was surrounded by cacao pods, farmers, and their kids - little rockstars.

Our top priority is full flavor while preserving the power of the bean and preserving flavonols, magnesium and pectins. Red is constantly experimenting with cacao to improve our process. To maintain the highest amount of nutrients possible, we work directly with our farmers and production team to specify the exact temperature and level of fermentation, our cacao drying procedures, and temperatures for further processing methods for all Antidote chocolate bars. Fermenting and roasting (if not working with raw cacao) are some of the most critical steps to ensure delicious AND healthy chocolate.

Preserving the power of cacao

Red works directly with Vicente, an expert in cacao fermentation, and has the gratifying experience of matching his know-how to our attention to detail. Working with Vicente allows Antidote to make pure dark chocolate with cacao percentages between 73% and 100% without any trace of bitterness. How is this possible? Rather than separating the cacao beans from their surrounding pulp before processing, our farmers use the natural sugars already in the pulp during the fermentation process. As a result, this delivers a very delicate, non-acidic and low astringency cacao bean - perfect for our dark chocolate - that allows us to lower the sugar in every Antidote bar!

Antidote has led the dark chocolate industry in creating more potent and pure formulations of dark chocolate bars, particularly our famous “Raw 100% Bars,” and it’s always an honor to hear of European chocolate companies who have gotten in touch with our Ecuadorian partners to find the source of Antidote cacao beans. However, it’s not that simple. Apart from sourcing the finest cacao, we also take extra steps for the finest production methods available. For each of our chocolate bars, we have a cacao formula that is exclusive to Antidote - including cacao region, fermentation level, drying method, and roasting temperature. Antidote chocolate bars are some of the most complicated to produce due to the temperature control throughout the entire process. We pay attention to the details because we are SERIOUS about preserving the natural power of cacao!

The natural power of cacao

Highly specific production methods allow Antidote to deliver the most nutritious benefits the cacao bean has to offer. The health benefits of cacao, presented in potent form in an Antidote dark chocolate bar, shine through. Thanks to cacao, dark chocolate has a very high ORAC level.

ORAC means “Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity,” and is a unit of measurement to rate antioxidant content in foods which was developed by the National Institute on Aging. Wild Blueberries (a known antioxidant powerhouse) have an ORAC level of 9621. Goji Berries come in at 3290, while dark chocolate lands at a tremendous 20816!

And, it’s not just a marketing scare tactic. Protecting against the detrimental effects of oxidative stress is one of the most important things you can do to prevent aging. While there are many compounds in Antidote’s dark chocolate that contribute to this awesome ORAC level, there are three that stand out.

Serious nutrients, serious chocolate

There are three important nutrients that contribute to dark chocolate’s high ORAC level and this is what we are trying to maintain in the bean: flavonoids, pectins, & magnesium.

Flavonoids are phytonutrients - they help plants resist disease and bacteria as they grow. The flavonoid present in cacao is flavonol, and is what contributes to the cacao bean’s natural bitterness. Flavonol can lower blood pressure & cholesterol, improve glucose metabolism, and improve brain function.

Pectins are a form of soluble fiber. While we all know how important fiber is, we still don’t get enough! The recommended amount of daily fiber intake for an adult is 20-35g; the average American gets about 10-15g. Pectins also lower cholesterol and protect against colon cancer.

Magnesium is 1 of the 7 essential macrominerals you should always include in your diet. It helps maintain normal muscle & nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, keeps bones strong, and supports a healthy immune system. Sometimes when you are craving dark chocolate, your body is telling you it needs magnesium.

Feel the difference

What all of this means is that when you eat Antidote chocolate, you can FEEL the difference.

All of these nutrients exist naturally in cacao beans - it’s up to us to make sure they stay there once they become dark chocolate bars. High quality production methods means more antioxidants which means better health. Instead of giving in to a craving with a sugary chocolate, boost your mood and your health with Antidote dark chocolate.

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By Red Thalhammer


Have you ever noticed?

If you look closely, you will discover a heart-shaped mouth on all our Antidote packaging. You may not have realized it, but these little kisses are sent to you direct from a goddess! If the illustration looks too abstract to you, look for the mouth on the front of the box, and you will see a goddess peeking out.

All our Antidote flavor fusion bars depict a Greek goddess that embodies the taste characteristics of the bar - she is illustrated on the front of the bar by the ingredients that compose her: 

Kakia (Wicked Goddess of Vice), with a full head of coffee beans and a necklace of cardamom, blows you a kiss.

Hebe (Goddess of Youth), laughing wildly, juggles a handful of lemons.

Hestia (Goddess of Hearth Fire)’s banana headdress and fiery hair reminds you of the warmth in the bar.

Panakeia (Goddess of Cures and Well-Being), patterned with lavender flowers, soothes your soul.

Artemis (Goddess of Hunt, Wilderness, & Moon) in her almond headdress aims her bow and arrow directly for you.

Aletheia (Goddess of Truth & Wisdom) - with a necklace of ginger pieces, invites you to taste.

Hybris (Goddess of Pride & Insolence)’s mango-reminiscent coiffure gives you buoyancy with each bite.

Gaia (Goddess of Mother Earth) looks to the sky, surrounded by cacao trees.

Design thinking: From the inside to the outside

The primary focus is always on the chocolate, of course. It’s even in our name - Antidote: Serious Chocolate. The good stuff always comes first! However, we think the outside is just as important as the inside. As far as chocolate packaging design within the industry, we see a lot of packages that are designed to look handmade. Sentimental romanticism is something that people love, but unfortunately it leads to lots of praise being heaped upon amateurish designs. In an era where everyone feels like an expert - everyone has access to the tools and knowledge of the internet - our judgment for what’s good quality has become sometimes overly subjective. With social media attention, everyone can be a writer, designer, photographer, creative director, etc. Unfortunately, this can lead to amateurism and mediocrity. At Antidote, we yearn to develop a more heightened sense of determining what is good quality and what is just unprofessional. A handmade ‘look’ can be charming, hip, and cool - but don’t let quirkiness hide poor design!

In the boutique food industry, woodcut prints, hand drawn fonts, antique imagery from the last century, and retro design are very popular. These elements are fine when applied with thought and expertise, but retro design, if not well done, is pure kitsch. A marriage between retro and modern is necessary! The way into the future is not the way of the past. Particularly if your retro design costs so much to handprint onto fancy paper that it drives up the cost of your product! The label “hipster” in the chocolate industry is a dreaded one, as it has come to denote inaccessibility, unnecessary cost, and dubious quality. There’s nothing cool about that! At Antidote, we strive for a packaging design that is affordable, looks clean, feels luxurious, and tells you a story about the chocolate inside.

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By Red Thalhammer


“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” It certainly doesn’t fact, chocolate is love! Charles M. Schulz was more true than he knew. Chocolate, more than just being a palliative measure for the blues, can actually reproduce the feeling of being in love. It all comes down to getting the right chemicals to activate the right neurons in your brain. How does chocolate make you feel like you’re in love? Cacao beans contain very high concentrations of some important compounds that are key to keeping your brain happy and your mood lifted.

Caffeine + Theobromine 

Cacao beans contain caffeine and theobromine which stimulate blood flow in the brain, decrease fatigue, and increase cardiac activity after consuming. The result is elevated serotonin activity. You might recognize serotonin as the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you look at someone you love, or at a bar of Antidote. :)


PEA, or phenethylamine, is probably the strongest “love chemical” in chocolate. Even though it occurs in small quantities, it triggers massive endorphin release in the brain. These happy little endorphins produce a pleasant, euphoric feeling. PEA also makes the activity of dopamine, an antidepressant that floods your system when in love, more potent.


The name for this compound comes from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss. This compound naturally occurs in three places - chocolate, the human brain, and marijuana. With the ability to produce powerful feelings of euphoria, this compound is why some get very relaxed and peaceful after eating a bar of chocolate. While many think that chocolate is merely a libido-enhancer, it can actually reproduce the sensation of being in love!

All these compounds are in cacao but even stronger and multiplied in a chocolate with high cacao percentage and when raw cacao is used. Now you’ve got the Antidote Love with all feel-good love compounds in higher doses. Low in sugar and potent with raw cacao and botanicals, Antidote will give you an extra love boost every day.

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By Red Thalhammer


 We are making some changes to Antidote, and wanted to fill you in. Transparency is key for consumers to make informed decisions, so they know exactly what they are putting into their bodies. It’s important to us too when we buy food, and this led to transparency as a priority for Antidote as well. Let’s take a look at our commitment to you, our Antidote customers, and what you can expect in the future.

1) Organic ingredients 

For many years now we have used organic ingredients whenever possible. We’ve been lucky to find high quality certified organic cacao. The fruits and flavor ingredients we source in Ecuador have been more challenging though. It took a while to gather more and more ingredients organic, finally having 7 out of 10 bars fully organic certified with the USDA seal. The remaining 3 bars were 90% to 95% organic and did not have the seal.

We are making a few changes as some of the vendors we partner with have dropped the organic certification. Many of you may be aware of the high cost the certification incurs. In addition to the financial impact, many of our vendors also felt the administrative burden that resulted from all of the requirements. So we at Antidote had a decision to make. Maintaining the superior level of quality and delicious flavor we deliver is and always will be one of the most important factors we consider when sourcing ingredients. So while we are still using many certified organic ingredients, some of our ingredients will no longer be certified. The coffee for the year-round favorite coffee + cardamom bar, for example, will no longer be certified organic. After researching (and taste testing!) different organic suppliers, we simply couldn’t find the quality we needed. Organic is great when it delivers on flavor and quality, but that isn’t always the case. Additionally, the cacao farm we work with went through some changes with their organic certification, further impacting our organic status. 

2) Sustainability 

We have a proverb in Germany: “aus der Not eine Tugend machen”, meaning to make a virtue out of emergency. In other words, while these changes were driven by necessity, we decided to take this as an opportunity to strengthen our commitments to you: to deliver high quality, and promote sustainability.

Instead of working with one certified organic farm as we did in the past, we now work with many small, independent farms, contributing to a larger part of Ecuador’s community and economy. Supporting the families who own these farms is one of the advantages of sourcing naturally grown cacao (no pesticides or chemical fertilizers) rather than being limited to a certified organic farm. We carefully choose these farms to partner with, and teach them our unique processes to achieve the desired flavor. We are happy to support these families, and in turn increase our support for the community as a whole.

3) What the future holds

So within the next months you’ll find beautiful Antidote packages without organic seals. And we trade that in for even better quality. We are 100% committed to a clean product full of flavor and free from chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Most of our other ingredients will be from the same organic source, including many of our spices and cacao butter, for example. What we are NOT committed to is the certification organizations. The certification has been a headache since day one, and we look forward to putting more energy in what we love—making chocolate that is super delicious and an Antidote that makes you feel good.

Even though we continue to use many certified organic ingredients, the packaging will no longer show any certification. We sell in Europe and Asia in addition to the US, and the organic laws differ for each region. Producing in the country of origin (Ecuador) adds another layer of complexity in regards to EU organic law. As a result even when we had USDA certified organic bars, we were not allowed to sell them in  Europe designated as organic. This led to printing additional versions of labels to remove organic references; yet another challenge to overcome!

In short, here are the upcoming changes:

  • naturally grown cacao instead of certified organic cacao
  • no organic certification for our bars
  • the certified organic ingredients we do use won’t be labeled as such on the packaging
  • supporting more small, independent farms and families in Ecuador
  • even better cacao flavor

As always:

  • continued commitment to ultimate quality and sustainability
  • No GMO’s
  • No artificial flavors, not even essential oils

We hope you continue to trust us to make delicious chocolate that is good for you in all ways. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions, suggestions or comments. We'd love to hear from you!

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By Red Thalhammer


With Halloween right around the corner, we have the perfect Antidote to all of the sugary candy that will leave you with a tummy ache: delicious, serious and healthy chocolate. 

Healthy chocolate that's incredibly delicious - No tricks! 

Ginger + Panela Antidote. Spicy ginger pieces with the caramel aroma of panela sugar mingle on dark chocolate of 77% raw and roasted cacao, every batch prepared lovingly. It sounds dark but is a refreshing, healthy treat without any bitterness.

How can chocolate be healthy? We’ve thought about that, a lot! 

  1. Low sugar, high in cacao - We use high percentages of the best cacao available in our chocolate bars to leverage the incredible health benefits of cacao. Our dark chocolate bars range from 73% - raw 100% cacao, allowing you to choose your level of seriousness! The cacao and fruits, seeds and spices take center stage instead of sugar, creating a flavor experience as well as a healthy chocolate snack. Our creamy milk chocolate bars too have a high percentage of cacao at 56%, and much less sugar than any other milk chocolate, perfect to awaken your inner kid!
  2. Raw cacao - By working with raw cacao, our chocolate retains important nutrients that are lost with fully roasted bars. More antioxidants, vitamins and flavonoids make Antidote a more potent and, with our genious half raw and half roasted approach, incredibly delicious chocolate. Simply Health through Pleasure.

What does "raw" mean at Antidote?

Simply put, we make the most raw cacao that we can. Cacao beans need to be processed much more than, say, raw broccoli or juice. Howeever, the world "raw" at Antidote speaks t our process: strict temperatures controlling and the least amount of processing possible. We do this to retain as much of the beans' properties as possible. Learn more from out blog post "The Myth & Mastering of Raw Chocolate"

A real Antidote

Need help getting through a mid-week slump? Stress got you frazzled? There's an Antidote for that! This Antidote makes you feel good, and is good for you. It can be the nutrient-rich superfood that boosts your day when you're too busy for lunch, or your daily Antidote for finding balance. Founder and tastemaker Red was inspired to create an Antidote to her own heart blues: in the form of a healthy chocolate treat, and now you can have one too. Antidote is not just a cool brand name, each of our bars have real Antidote powers.

Visit our Shop Bars page to get your Antidote fix! Cheers!

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By Red Thalhammer


We've got a few things to celebrate: enjoying the last days of summer, along with our our newest Antidote, the two Big Kid Milk Chocolate bars. Oh, and we turned six this month! For six whole years we’ve been dedicated to potent delicious chocolate that is low on sugar; a bar that’s as delicious as it is healthy and as healthy as it is sinfully delicious. A chocolate that is gratifying in small pieces and nourishing and energizing when eating the whole bar at once. One that is made directly in Ecuador where we source all the cacao.

As Antidote turns six, I wanted to thank all of you—the early adopters of a new breed of chocolate in this country—for making it happen with your appreciation, support and purchases. I’ve always been a bit ahead of the times, even when I was in advertising and design for twenty years before launching this chocolate adventure. I’m glad you’ve followed us in this! Over the years we’ve noticed how many more people every day develop a palate for quality, flavor and less sugar. Although there are good alternatives to white sugar, in the end sugar is always sugar and we believe in less sugar and more cacao. Or no sugar at all with your favorite Raw 100% Antidote. (this one, only for the strong at heart)

Even though these ideals are inherently European, I never could have launched Antidote in Austria, where I’m from. Therefore I have a deep, personal gratitude to the people in this country who have been celebrating my talents and ideas. I arrived in New York roughly 16 years ago with my design portfolio under my arm to find a job during the recession in 2010. Art directors said “you are very talented”, and throughout the next years working in design studios and advertising firms I was called “big Red” when I walked in the door. When I first launched Antidote, my friends welcomed the idea (although some couldn’t believe it) and eagerly assisted in tasting and rating my samples and throwing an official launch party. The first official batch was done and sold in many places in NYC. Fast forward one month and I proudly bring some bars back home to my family in Austria. I sit together with my sister and my parents to have them try. My mum thinks it would be better if there were some liquor in it. She was a respected chef and famous for her alcohol drenched cakes - Schwarzwalder-Kirsch and Sacher Torte. Growing up, the cakes we ate were delicious but never kid friendly! My younger brother walks in the door and says with a smirk: “Why do you all look so bitter? Did you eat some of Red’s bitter chocolate?" Laughing in the room, and next my older brother joins the tasting of the first five 84% bars that I launched, commenting dryly: “Well, this chocolate you have to sell in the drug store." Thank god for their humor–although their feedback wasn’t too inspiring at that time. Of course by now their palates have also become more refined and now Antidote gets hidden and hoarded immediately before someone else can get their hands on it.

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By Red Thalhammer


What makes cacao “raw"? Is it possible for cacao to be raw? The existence of raw cacao has been debated a lot, with questions surrounding the temperature during fermentation, potential safety issues from raw cacao and the numerous machines and processes that cacao undergoes to become chocolate.

The debate is not a new one. And I bet a lot of bars out there that claim to be raw might not actually be. How can you tell? If the only difference claimed between a raw and roasted bar is the roasting, then it’s probably questionable.  Here, we take a closer look at raw cacao, what it means to Antidote, and to consumers and the complex and labor intensive process we have developed in order to offer raw chocolate and it all starts with the cacao pods.

What does raw mean for Antidote?
Simply put, we make the most raw cacao that we can. Cacao beans need to be processed much more than, say, raw broccoli or juice. However, the word “raw" at Antidote speaks to our process: strict temperature controlling and the least amount of processing possible. We do this to retain as much of the beans’ properties as possible. Ultimately, this three letter word signifies that less nutrients have been roasted away, and that is a key value for customers.  As mentioned above, you’ll encounter a broad spectrum of “rawness” in the chocolate market. Many bars may not undergo the measures we take to ensure the quality of our raw cacao. The same is true for any roasted chocolate bar—the quality of beans, cacao percentage, quality of ingredients and freshness—these factors all impact the flavor and nutritional quality. And we like the flavor of roasted cacao as well – hence we use it in our 50/50 bars. Our milk chocolate uses roasted cacao. But raw cacao excites us also, it's delicate flavors and nutrients are so interesting. Our Raw 100% bars go through even less processing since no sugar is added, and less refining is needed.

We considered each of these questions working with raw cacao and creating a high quality and delicious raw chocolate. We have been working with internationally awarded cacao farmer, Vicente, who is a master in fermentation methods, to develop the Antidote Raw process, from the tree to the bar.  It all starts with the cacao pods. We don't simply purchase beans and not roast them, we carefully choose the right pods specifically for our raw cacao. The processes that follow all occur in a clean environment to avoid contamination. The fermentation process is strictly temperature controlled as are the other machines the cacao mass and liquor go through. Macrobiologic testing of the final beans is standard to further ensure the safety. It’s a complex, highly sophisticated process that requires lots of care and attention to detail. Why do we do this? We want to ensure the safety of our cacao, and retain as many nutrients and raw properties as possible.

Why Raw Cacao
At the very beginning, during my nine months experimenting with raw and roasted bars, I constantly asked my friends to sample what I was developing. Some liked the bars made with raw cacao while others liked the roasted. I didn’t know what to do—and there was a moment when I asked myself what seemed like the unthinkable: why not combine them? Back in 2010 the world was divided on its preference towards raw or roasted bars, but I decided to create a blend of both, something that had never been done before. I was thrilled with the aroma and taste. Antidote is a gourmet chocolate, but it feels like a food. It’s nutrient dense and a good source of energy. You can eat a bar and feel invigorated. The flavor of the raw + roasted blend is more subtle, it makes you feel better, and it’s still gratifying even after you’ve eaten the last bit. For us, the love for raw started with the taste, and with our mantra of “health through pleasure” which led to combining raw and roasted cacao in one bar. Antidote stands for delicious and potent. We offer a range of chocolate bars now, from a raw 100% bar to raw + roasted bars, to a low sugar milk chocolate—but always low sugar, nutritious and potent.

Feeling good!
Try tasting raw bars. Try roasted ones too and taste the difference. But think about how it makes you feel too! You can taste the potency and feel the energy from Antidote. Many of our customers tell us that they can eat as much as they want and feel great five, ten or thirty minutes after.


Why Raw is Potent
The flavors of raw cacao are wonderfully subtle. As with all foods, when you roast them more flavors develop. Choosing raw cacao is choosing more earthy, even green and subtle flavors. The flavor transformation of roasting is called the “Maillard reaction”, and as with any food such as coffee or nuts, the roasting enhances the flavor, but when you eat raw you get more nutrients and antioxidants. We have two fully raw bars with 100% cacao and no sugar, and we launched them mostly for fun—it was a cool idea and natural evolution for Antidote. They became big sellers and with the rising popularity of no sugar products, a lot of other bean-to-bar makers have launched 100% cacao bars recently. But we are still one of the very few raw 100% bars in the world.

Raw chocolate is still being debated by some food critics and the media. And in addition to the broad spectrum of "rawness," the flavors can vary a lot, which speaks to how challenging it is to work with raw cacao. But the health and wellness trend of raw and superfoods is widespread and gaining importance. And there are many critics who do acknowledge the importance, benefits and flavor of raw cacao, and the health benefits of raw cacao and chocolate have been demonstrated scientifically. We are excited to have developed our unique process with farmer Vicente for our raw requirements; we've managed to offer a potent and delicious Antidote.

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By Red Thalhammer


Now available, Antidote “Minis” in five of your favorite flavors!  These double doses of perfectly portioned mini chocolates are ideal for special occasions, party favors, “on the go” instances or any needed quick fixes life may throw your way. In a single "Mini" you can add not only flavor but a boost of powerful antioxidants and energy to your being. Grab a handful, share them with friends and bring Health Through Pleasure in these bite sized indulgences.

We do things a little differently.

Although we’re headquartered in Brooklyn, we make all of our bars with a wonderful team in Ecuador, not only ensuring the utmost quality, but contributing to the local economy. Red, founder and taste maker works directly in Ecuador with suppliers and farmers surrounding the cities of Quito and Guayaquil, like Vicente from the award-winning Camino Verde Farm. This also fosters direct relationships with our suppliers and farmers and allows her to fine tune every step of the process - ultimately creating a delicious and unique product.

Here are a few other things that make Antidote unique:

1) We created a new breed of chocolate:

Although we primarily focus on potent, flavored dark chocolate, we also produce raw 100% bars.  When Antidote was launched over 5 years ago we pioneered a low sugar 50% raw and 50% roasted chocolate bar.  Our raw 100% bars launched in 2012 are very popular ever since and one of a few raw 100% bars in the market.  And a couple of weeks ago, we introduced 2 milk chocolate bars with surprising great flavor and low sugar...we call it "Big Kid Chocolate"

We summarize our approach of “health through pleasure”,  having the best of both worlds.

2) Mastering the art unique flavor combinations:

We are known for our unique and wonderful flavors, that are all in perfect harmony with the chocolate…not overpowering but perfectly balanced.  Red hand selects the ingredients and specifies the process for all our flavor inclusions. All of our spice, herb, fruit and salt ingredients are pure and of the highest quality – we don’t use essential oils and all of our fruits are dried naturally without preservatives. She also designs all Antidote brand and product packaging!

Red has been living in Brooklyn, New York for 15 years. Inspired by New York City and the Austrian tradition of great flavors and premium quality is fused with Ecuador’s top ingredients including the world’s best cacao – the perfect marriage.

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