By Lynn Armitage
“We were familiar with the product and we liked the idea of having a Native-owned chocolate company,” explains Patrick Neeley, the chief business officer for the Chickasaw Nation Division of Commerce. Neeley says the tribe bought Bedré—a Norwegian word meaning “better”—back in 2000 from a local entrepreneur who started the company many moons ago and wanted to retire.
“Acquiring Bedré had less to do with the business and more to do with being a good community citizen,” says Neeley, who added the tribe was keenly interested in keeping the business locally owned and operated, because it was located within Chickasaw territory.
What made the deal even more delectable is that the Chickasaws inherited all Bedré’s original, tried-and-true recipes. “But since then, we’ve added some things to the product mix and taken some out based on taste tests and things we wanted to do,” Neely says. He is quick to add that they do not use any wax, paraffin or additives in the chocolate.