Innovative Chocolate Shop Makes Zombie Bunnies

Tired of traditional Easter bunnies? An innovative chocolate shop in Medford, Oregon, is selling Voodoo Bunnies – blood-splattered, zombie bunnies with exposed brains and eyeballs hanging out!

Voodoo Bunnies take up to five hours to make and are made only twice a year at Easter and Halloween. The idea originated from regular Easter bunny chocolates that ended up with defects. The chocolatier added marzipan and colored cocoa butter and the Voodoo Bunny was born.  They became so popular that they had to be removed from the website after going viral on Twitter.

Lillie Belle Farms Artisan Chocolates was started in 2002 by Jeff Shepherd, a chef who began selling truffles at a farmer’s market. Always experimenting, he has tried thousands of combinations, “from Thai chili and lemongrass to crystallised flower petals.”

Jeff’s R&D has certainly paid off. Now his shop is renowned across the country. Dessert Professional magazine named him as one of the 10 best chocolatiers in the US in 2009, and his salted lavender truffle won a silver medal at the International Chocolate Awards in 2013. One year, his chocolates ended up as Martha Stewart’s corporate gifts.

Other creative products from the shop include chocolate covered pears and the ‘Do Not Eat This Chocolate,’ made with a generous ratio of ghost chillies. They have even partnered with a local cheese shop, Rogue Creamery, to create an amazing cheese truffle. It took many failed attempts and they nearly gave up on the idea, but it was worth the perseverance in the end. As Jeff recalls, “One day we decided on using their Smokey Blue, organic milk chocolate and toasted almonds in an exact ratio and voila! The ultimate blue cheese truffle was born… We have been making them for 10 years now and while we are quite aware of how weird they sound, we also know just how incredibly good they are. We put about a year into the R&D. Now it’s perfect.”

As Lillie Belle has proven, investing in the creation of new product lines in order to differentiate a company can create a strong competitive advantage. Companies undertaking certain R&D activities can claim the state and federal R&D tax credit, which can then be reinvested into the business. To find out whether your business qualifies, contact Swanson Reed R&D Tax Advisors.

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