In the heart of Modica Alta, Sicily, is Ciomod a delightful Modica chocolate shop. The location is striking – right next to Pizzo Belvedere, where you arrive after a tiring walk – and the poster next to the entrance. It says: “Save the Earth … it’s the only planet with chocolate”. It is this sign that pushes me to enter and immerse myself in a world made of new and particular flavors.
Here I meet the owner of the company, Innocenzo Pluchino, disguised as a salesman for a day, who explains to me why his chocolate is different from all the others.
“Ciomod, in its most obvious declination, means Modica chocolate but the “mod” also stands for trend (moda in italian) because for us it is important to keep up with the times – says Pluchino – Our premium line is made with the highest quality cocoa and packaged in a sustainable and design packaging that respects the environment. We could define it zero impact as it is made from recycled cardboard and colored with natural colors. For example, the green of the Evo oil chocolate package is obtained with 15% of olive processing by-products. We try not to use chemical dyes and leave nothing to chance throughout the entire supply chain, from production to packaging”.
There’s more: in addition to using recycled cartons, Ciomod tablets are hand-wrapped one by one to enhance the work of local people. Tradition and innovation meet in Pluchino’s chocolate, which has the authentic right of the past.
“The goal of our bean to bar line is to recover traditional, hand-made processing. Modica chocolate – says the owner of Ciomod – is cold worked, according to the ancient tradition imported from the Spaniards, at a temperature of about 43 degrees. In this way, the cocoa does not go through the conching phase: the granulated sugar added to the mixture is unable to dissolve or blend, giving the bars the characteristic rough appearance, with a grainy texture”.
Innovation lies not only in ecological packaging but also in the search for selected raw materials. In synergy with the Sicilian Slow Food presidia, Ciomod offers quality ingredients, such as the IGP salt from Trapani or the late mandarin from Ciaculli, rich in essential oils. For the bean to bar line, or from the bean to the bar, the company has chosen Colombian cocoa, with all its magic and contradictions.
“The choice takes into account the extraordinary qualities of this variety of cocoa but also the history behind its production. A few years ago, during a trip to Colombia, I had the opportunity to meet small producers who had made the courageous choice to convert the coca plantations into cocoa and I strongly wanted to support their business”.
Environmental and social sustainability enclosed in a single chocolate bar, which also tells the story of Sicily. Not surprisingly, the bars are wrapped in what look like old newspaper sheets. “The theme was not chosen by chance, it is a true work of design – explains Innocenzo Pluchino – It is a tribute to the old Sicilian newspapers but above all it recalls the times when chocolate was first wrapped in greaseproof paper, so as not to exude the ‘cocoa butter oil, and then in the newspaper, which had insulating properties and did not let the chocolate absorb external odors”.
Thanks to its green packaging, made by the Favini paper mills, Ciomod has also activated a partnership with Legambiente: “In unsuspected times I got to know the current president of the association, Stefano Cianfani, with whom a relationship of esteem and affection. It was he who pushed me to apply for certification for sustainable packaging”.
The choice of the point of sale, in an area of Modica little frequented by tourists, was courageous and counter-current. “We wanted to redevelop the Pizzo Belvedere neighborhood, enhancing its beauty and the hospitality of the people. Because, as I often repeat, the good thing is also the right one”.