Imagine if Riot Games asked you to present the main characters from their would-be hit Netflix series, “Arcane,” to a global audience. But not as art, or a poem or a TikTok dance — as a chocolate bar. Now imagine that instead of letting you watch the whole show to gather inspiration, you’re only given a few, short scenes.
That’s the exact situation Jonathan Grahm, owner, CEO and head chocolatier of Compartés Chocolate found himself in during mid-2021. But while he said it was a complicated ask, it mirrored the complexity of Jinx and Vi.
“Arcane” is a show about those two sisters and their home in the poor, forgotten part of Piltover. Jinx starts off sweet and innocent, but a tragic accident twists her into a complicated mess of chaotic rage. Vi is a bit of a troublemaker from the start, but has good intentions, grounding in keeping her family safe. Unfortunately, after losing years of her youth in a Piltover prison, she emerges in a changed world that leaves her a bit lost and confused. Capturing those personas on screen is hard enough, but turning them into tastes is a different kind of challenge entirely.
Given the tall task, Grahm was ready. He’s been making chocolate for Compartés since he was 15-years-old and bought the company from his family nine years later. Since then, he and Compartés have been growing together, essentially preparing for challenges just like this.
“The brand actually kind of matures and evolves and takes shape as I do,” Grahm explained.
In 2021, he evolved in an entirely new and unexpected way — bringing the animated characters of “Arcane” to life through chocolate.
Overachieving in the tastiest way
Riot announced the Compartés Jinx and Vi bars on Nov. 3, just days before the show’s release. And as Arcane began to brighten late-night living room backdrops across the world, Compartés came close to selling out its entire stock with their first foray into the gaming world.
“We’re basically on the verge of selling out,” Grahm said before the show’s release. “We’ve sold thousands of bars already in just 24 hours. I think it’s a record for our sales of Compartés bars for a limited edition, really.”
But selling out an entire limited edition set of bars in a day wasn’t just sheer dumb luck — it was a reflection of the work that went into the project. After Riot called Compartés and pitched them the concept, they spent months ideating, iterating and refining to arrive at the final strawberry and green tea “Flame Chompers!” bar and sea salt and gold-adorned “Vault Breaker” bar for Jinx and Vi, respectively.
That amount of effort is standard for Compartés, Grahm said, as the company is incredibly deliberate and purposeful with every decision they make — from flavor profiles, to ingredients, to packaging and more. Grahm described their chocolate as art and said Riot was excited to collaborate with them for that reason.
“We’re not just slapping a name on the product and saying, ‘This is an ‘Arcane’ bar, here’s a graphic,'” Grahm said. “We really created a chocolate bar that lives in that ‘Arcane’/League of Legends world.”
Compartés designed each bar with its respective “Arcane” character in mind to create chocolate that was multi-sensory and complex through a multifaceted approach to collaboration. Grahm also wanted to make sure the bars weren’t just fun and funky, but approachable.
“Maybe you’ve never eaten gold before, here’s your chance,” he said. “But dark chocolate and sea salt is a flavor that everyone understands. It’s not some weird flavor that we’re creating that we’re asking people to try.”
Even with their limited information, the team really nailed the characters. The Jinx bar tastes sweet from the strawberry but bitter and caffeinated from the matcha, and it’s all swirled together. The two flavors are each their own, but they’re also impossible to separate, perfectly representing Jinx’s internal struggles throughout the show.
Vi’s bar, on the other hand, is made with dark chocolate, reflecting her more dark and straightforward personality. It’s sprinkled with gold flakes across the bar which nods to her prestige and connection to Piltover’s finest. Of course, Vi is also known to be incredibly salty, she’s always upset about something.
Quality ingredients make quality chocolate
While conceptualizing the “Arcane” chocolate bars is one thing, the company could only realize these flavors because Grahm said he is meticulous in every aspect of his chocolate-making process. For him, it’s not just about finding flavor pairings, but the quality and sourcing of those ingredients and how they’re handled, too.
Grahm said he is obstinate about using only the most premium ingredients available, no matter the cost. He buys Compartés’ fruits from farmers’ markets when he can and tries to purchase organic spices whenever they’re available. And for the Jinx bar, he imported the highest quality matcha from Japan.
The chocolate itself, meanwhile, is all ethically sourced — another important requirement for the company. Grahm also hired a printer that uses harm-free inks in all of their packaging to be more environmentally friendly.
In as many ways as possible, Compartés is all-natural, avoiding everything from oils or other flavorings in their products to machines and conveyor belts that are so commonplace in 21st-century production.
“We have a team of 20 people who make everything from scratch by hand,” Grahm said.
Grahm himself is even involved in the most delicate and precious parts of their chocolate bars’ creation as their head chocolatier.
“I actually swirled every single bar, and we made thousands of bars — five-thousand bars,” he said “So I stood there for two days swirling just to make sure the bars were perfect and beautiful.”
All of this sincere dedication to perfection is a reflection of Grahm’s hope and goal for the company: to be everyone’s ideal destination for the best of the best chocolate. At the least, he said the “Arcane” chocolate bars make for a great gift.
“It’s the perfect Christmas gift and stocking stuffer for 10 bucks to get this really special League bar for people,” Grahm said.