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Raising a bundle for Plunket: Coconut Ice Surprise

Plunket has a special place in our hearts. Fourth generation Whittakers, Matt and Holly were Plunket babies, and their young children are too!

This iconic charity sees more than 90% of newborn babies in New Zealand. So they’re an important part of many Kiwi’s first five years, providing services such as:

  • Parenting education
  • Home visits
  • Developmental assessments
  • Toy libraries
  • Plunketline 0800 933 922 (a 24-hour telephone advice line for parents)

As a family-owned company it made sense for us to support a charity whose purpose is to give young Kiwis and their families the best start in life.

Plunket and Whittaker’s join forces

Our relationship with Plunket began in 2017, when we heard about their ‘Raise a bundle’ campaign. The aim was to grow awareness around the first 1000 days of a child’s life. This period plays a big role in shaping the rest of your life, so it’s vital all children have a caring and nurturing environment.   

We wanted to help raise funds for ‘Raise a Bundle’ and set a goal of $80,000. To do so we knew we had to create something really special to cut through and make an impact. So we decided on a Limited Edition block of chocolate with 20 cents from each block sold donated to Plunket.

Introducing Coconut Ice Surprise (2019)

Plunket concentrates on early childhood, so we wanted to create a flavour that reminded Kiwis of their childhood.

Naturally, we took inspiration from school fairs! From home baking stalls to lucky dips. But what really inspired us were memories of baking stalls. Little paper bags full of treats and among those – coconut ice! A true Kiwi classic.

To add an element of surprise, we also thought about experiences and traditions around welcoming a newborn. From there, we integrated the idea of a gender reveal. The result? Coconut Ice Surprise!

What is a gender reveal?
A party where families traditionally share whether their baby will be a boy or girl. Usually in a surprising way, like popping a balloon with coloured confetti inside.

We made delicious blocks of Coconut Ice Surprise in both pink and blue, then wrapped them in the same packaging. But our Chocolate Lovers could only find what colour they had by opening it! This was a first for the chocolate category in New Zealand. 

(Yes, there were a naughty few who tried to peel back the foil in store to check which colour they were buying!)

Revealing the secret ingredients

Of course, there were many families who wanted to use our Coconut Ice Surprise for their own gender reveals. So we had to let them in on a little secret.

Although the packaging was the same, the ingredients list was not. We used natural colouring to create the pink and blue chocolate.

Pink = Beetroot
Blue = Spirulina  

 If you had a quick peek at the ingredients list, you would be able to tell which colour chocolate you were buying! 

Connecting with real Plunket families

We launched Coconut Ice Surprise on the 15th February 2019 with a series of 30 second ‘gender reveal’ videos. These featured four Plunket couples who were keen to be a part of the fundraiser.

We found out the gender of their babies and made sure we gave them the right colour block to open live on camera with their family and friends.

This was not set up in any way! We only had one chance to capture the magic of each reveal. You can imagine this made our camera operators a little nervous! But the families now have this moment caught on camera for the rest of their lives.

We recently caught up with each family after their young one was born, and checked if the gender reveal was right. It was!

Here is Deanna with her son and revealing a new baby daughter.

Returning with a sweet Mother's Day treat (2021)

Following on from our success with Coconut Ice, we wanted to see if we could make lightning strike twice. We gave our Whittaker's New Product Development team the following brief:

To create something:

  • nostalgic, 
  • that makes you smile.

They whipped up a shortlist of 10 flavours before we narrowed it down to Carrot Cake, and Strawberry and Waffles. 

(Sorry Chocolate Lovers, we can't share the others on the shortlist. They are top secret and stored safely in our flavour bank to surprise you in the future!)

Released in the run-up to Mother's Day, these blocks were a popular way to celebrate mums and caregivers across the country with a delicious, indulgent treat.

There was much debate on and offline about which one was the favourite. But whether you were a Carrot Cake or Strawberry and Waffles fan – our sales showed it was pretty neck and neck!

Here are some of our favourite quotes from Chocolate Lovers on Facebook:

  • "Enjoying these new flavours waaayyy tooooo much!"
  • "Just bought a block and it really tastes like a bite of carrot cake."
  • "This is just the yummiest chocolate I’ve had." 

Over $160,000 in the bank for Plunket! 

Our 2019 and 2021 partnership with Plunket has helped us to:

  • create further awareness for this unique organisation, and
  • raise over $160,000 to support the services they provide to New Zealanders.

As an added bonus, it's also allowed us to treat Chocolate Lovers to some rather delicious and delightfully nostalgic Limited Edition flavours. Thank you for buying them and being an important part of the success!