Frederick Lee Schilling was born in 1971. As a child, he was raised in Minnesota. His family then spent time in both Colorado and Connecticut. Frederick had no intention of ever working with chocolate when he was young. In fact, the boy didn’t even like chocolate the entire time he was growing up. Schilling spent most of his youth and young adulthood living the life of a drifter. He spent some time at Ohio Wesleyan and either applied to or was accepted at several other schools, though he didn’t end up attending. Frederick was deeply interested in outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking and also loved music, playing in several bands. At one point, Frederick Schilling was convinced that music was his life calling. He fully intended to become a renowned songwriter, but couldn’t get the music industry to buy into his style. He did, however, work in a high end restaurant to help make ends meet and here first tasted a chocolate that he could sink his teeth into. This, and his continued waffling about what he was going to do with his life, prompted Frederick to look into chocolate.
When chocolate entered Frederick’s life, his life took a serious and focused direction for the first time. Frederick started playing with chocolate and experimenting. By 2001 he felt skilled enough to officially foundDagoba Organic Chocolate. Frederick never bothered with conventionally grown beans as his religious and political views solely supported sustainable food sources. Even before Schilling was ever interested in cacao, he supported a sustainable living model and favored organic items. For the first year and half that Dagoba products were being made, Frederick hand crafted each chocolate bar in his own kitchen. This was definitely a small operation and very grass-roots.
After the initial start-up period, Frederick Schilling knew that he needed a more usable facility to continue the growth of Dagoba Organic Chocolate. Frederick and the company moved to Ashland, Oregon, a small town just beyond California’s border. The location was selected solely on Frederick’s preferences for living in a culturally rich area with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Schilling could make his chocolate while still enjoying hiking, skiing, kayaking and biking. He was also drawn to the renowned Shakespearean festival hosted in the town annually. I-5, the major highway through Ashland, provided a shipping route that could move raw materials and finished products in and out of the Dagoba facility. By 2007, a 3 and a half acre facility in the city limits was obtained and a new factory floor opened to production.
While Daboga Organic Chocolate was growing quickly, creating a firm presence in the organic chocolate niche market, Frederick has always had other priorities. His environmental causes and the relationships with cacao growers was increasingly important. This is just one possible reason why Frederick made the very controversial decision to sell Dagoba Organic Chocolate to the Hershey corporation in 2006. While ownership changed hands, the day-to-day operations remained the same for the 18 month period when Schilling remained at the helm. However, by 2009, Frederick Schilling broke all professional and legal ties with Dagoba Organic Chocolate and moved on to other ventures.
Frederick didn’t completely leave chocolate in the dust, however. With the sale of Dagoba, he moved on to found another company, AMMA Chocolate with Brazilian business partner Diego Badaro. He also serves as a partner in the Big Tree Farms venture, which offers access to several tree-grown commodities native to South America, including the cacao beans he loves so much. Another company Schilling puts his name on, Sweet Tree Sustainable Sweeteners, offers sustainably grown sugars for chocolate production. Finally, the social causes Frederick Schilling espouses came full circle with the founding of the Big Tree Climate Fund. This company plants trees in South America to offset carbon emissions from other areas and industries. Obviously, while Dagoba is no longer a part of his daily life, the principles that made that company a success live on in Frederick’s many new ventures.
Video: Frederick Schilling & AMMA Chocolates at Salon du Chocolat
Dagoba: another type of organic chocolate