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moo free


It all began in 2004 when husband and wife team Mike and Andrea Jessop decided to start retailing specialist chocolates online. Mike suffers from lactose intolerance and Andrea from gluten intolerance so, with the issue of food intolerances and allergies close to their hearts, dietary information for each product was included.

It wasn't long before parents were contacting them desperate to source dairy free Easter eggs and Advent calendars for their children. The pair searched around the world for chocolate manufacturers that were making these products, but found none. This revelation left them shocked and bemused. Their son, who was then in his 20s, could not have an Easter egg when he was younger due to a dairy intolerance and Mike and Andrea could not believe that still nobody was making a dairy free "milk" chocolate Easter egg.

So, in 2008 the pair remortgaged their house, purchased some small machinery and ingredients and began trying to learn how to make chocolate, and over the next two years they slowly began to work out how to create a dairy free chocolate that actually tasted like quality milk chocolate.

For years the couple experimented with different flavours, and "forced" hundreds of volunteers to eat samples of their experimental chocolates. They even drafted in their young grandson who also had a dairy intolerance. He loved it, but his mummy wasn't quite so happy because of the chocolatey mess that he made.

Finally, after two years of experimenting they had created the fantastic "milk" chocolate flavour that they were looking for, and at the end of 2010 the couple launched Moo Free.

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The main problem for Moo Free in the first few years was funding. The brand launched in the middle of a recession and at a time when banks had gone from throwing money at people to not lending to many people at all. But, to make chocolates cheaply and in large quantities they needed larger machines, bigger premises and more staff. As a result Mike and Andrea had to remortgaged their house again. Growing the business was a very slow, time consuming, exhausting and very expensive process for them. The couple quite literally had their house and lives invested in their dairy free chocolate.

But their hard work and efforts were worth it in the end, and in 2016 Moo Free was awarded with the Queen's Award For Enterprise, which is the most prestigious award that any business in the UK can receive. As a result, Mike and Andrea were invited to Buckingham Palace in London where they had the honour of meeting Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip.

So, what happened to the little chocolate covered grandson? Well, he grew up, and one day when he was 8 years old he asked:

"Pappi, you know how I helped with the chocolate tasting? And, you know how I often work in the factory getting people to push me around on trollies and bossing everyone around, which nanny calls organising by the way? Well, does that mean that I can have my own character like other members of staff who have been with Moo Free a long time?"

Now, this was a very good point. So Pappi decided to draw the little cheeky monkey a Moo Free friend of his very own.