Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Butler Middle student’s chocolate bar may rival Willy Wonka’s

May 29, 2022 12:44PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Butler Middle has its own Willy Wonka.

For an English class project beyond the books, sixth-grader Isaac Ison helped create his concept of a campfire crunch chocolate bar into a reality.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn the science behind making candy bars and be part of the making of them,” Isaac said. “I really appreciate Mr. S and Utah State for letting us have this opportunity. It was super fun.”

The project began after reading Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at the beginning of the school year. The sixth-grade students were challenged to come up with their own new flavor of a chocolate candy bar, along with the slogan, tagline and marketing label.

It was the brainchild of English teacher Mark Sanderson, who likes how students can apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world.

Last year, he was instrumental is setting up the task for sixth-grade students to invent a soda flavor and similarly, have a slogan and bottle label. The school’s winner, Emery Gallegos, had her “Sunset Blend” raspberry-strawberry lemon soda made and distributed by Real Soda in California.

“I was in Logan when I saw their chocolate bars,” he said. “We already had been reading ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ for years so I put the two together. It just grew out of the soda pop idea. It’s a really cool opportunity for our students to work USU’s Aggie Chocolate Factory and learn a little about the food science program. The university imports their own cacao beans and makes high quality chocolate bars; and they were willing to work with us. It’s a real-world learning opportunity and a great fit.”

With this year’s chocolate project, similarly to the soda assignment, students presented their concepts and then the 300 Butler Middle sixth-graders voted on the top five finalists and overall winner. Each of the top six winners—Isaac along with Isla Croft, Marin Fail, Victoria Jardine, Matthew Jensen and June Merrell—received a golden ticket to help make the winning candy bars at the Aggie Chocolate Factory.

“I was behind in the voting and somehow, mine pulled out ahead in the last period of the day,” Isaac said. “I was just shocked and incredibly happy. I felt a little like Charlie Bucket when he found the Golden Ticket.”

Isaac said several of his peers had great ideas and he, in fact, voted for June’s “The Chocolate Drop,” which had Twix and Kit Kat in its recipe.

“It sounded great, and the name was hilarious,” he said.

Isaac’s concept didn’t come easy.

“I was super stressed and didn’t feel like any of my ideas were that creative,” he said.

When Isaac shared the assignment with his parents, they advised him to think about what he loves.

“I love camping with my friends and family and there’s always s’mores, so then I thought I’d take a twist off that,” Isaac said. “I had lots of ideas for my tagline, but I choose ‘night under the stars’ because it fit perfectly.”

Campfire Crunch combines milk chocolate, Golden Graham cereal and mini freeze-dried marshmallows.

The Golden Ticket students not only toured Utah State’s chocolate factory, but also donned disposable lab coats, gloves and hair nets to have a hands-on opportunity to make Isaac’s actual winning candy bar.

“We made four trays of eight candy bars. We poured the chocolate into the mold, added the Golden Grahams and scooped mini-marshmallows and sprinkled them on top,” Isaac said. “The hardest part was getting the foil on the wrapper right on the fold.”

Isaac still has the first candy bar.

“It’s the original and I made it,” he said, adding that he didn’t even take a lick of the chocolate while in the factory.

Utah State University brought samples for the entire sixth grade. Principal Paula Logan arranged for Campfire Crunch to be stocked in the school store.

USU Food Science Professor and Aggie Chocolate Factory Director Silvana Martini said that they also will have some Campfire Crunch bars available at USU.

“We liked the whole idea of this when Mark approached us,” she said. “Our staff, our food science students, thought this was a very good concept and recipe and a great opportunity for these middle school students to get a hands-on learning experience and introduction into food science. We hope to make it an annual event.”

Martini said that the college’s printing department printed the label from Isaac’s submission. 

USU Aggie Chocolate Factory Manager Steve Bennet said that it was a great connection between the only academic chocolate learning and research facility in the United States and the academic institution of Butler Middle.

“These students are learning that they don’t have to wait until their grown up to make a positive impact in the world,” he said. “They have a chance to do amazing things and our students wanted to help these students in their vision.”

Principal Logan agreed: “When we work together, great things happen.”