Do you have to choose between healthy snacks and tasty snacks? NO! That’s what Carolina von Rosen discovered over a decade ago and what fueled her to create DIG—snacks that taste flipping fantastic and leave you feeling on top of the world. (Well, we almost swooned; they tasted so good, but we soon recovered. No CPR needed.)
Healthy Snacks That Taste Like (Bad) Candy—Too Good to Be True?
“Treats can be healthy and good for you,” Carolina insists, and as Swedishness has tried her raw vegan treats, we have to agree. DIG Snacks taste like a dream. And yet they contain none of the “bad stuff.”
No refined sugar.
No weird additives (actually, no additives at all).
No pesticides, all ingredients in this product were cultivated without the use of pesticides (it’s all organic down to the last crumb).
Even the packaging is as sustainable as is humanly possible at this point and it gets upgraded every time it can become more sustainable.
The transport? 100% climate-compensated.
So no, these little treats, or snacks, aren’t too good to be true. And that’s exactly what fired Carolina up and made her start the business. “When I started out, consumers thought you had to choose between healthy and tasty. Heck, the entire food industry seemed to think so. I wanted to educate them. You don’t have to choose—you can have your cake and eat it.”
And, after over a decade in the business, it’s clear Carolina got it right—people love her products. It’s not just us that swooned after having a bite.
The taste has always been in the forefront of Carolina’s mind. “I wanted to create something everyone would love; using flavors people already know and adore. Like chocolate and cinnamon buns. I never had a sweet tooth myself, but those were the two treats I really liked. Only, when I ate them, I didn’t feel good afterwards. With DIG Snacks I wanted to create treats that tasted great and made you feel great.”
Carolina believes the taste is the only thing that makes people keep coming back. “Sure, you can say you want to eat healthy, but if it tastes bad, you give up. It has to taste good for you to keep eating it.” And she adds, “If I have to eat something healthy that doesn’t taste nice, then I’d rather swallow some powder or something and be done with it. I wouldn’t eat it as a snack. I tend to live by 80/20—80% healthy and 20% of whatever takes my fancy.”
But how did all this start? As it turns out, a trip to Costa Rica was what fueled the original DIG treat.
The Dream Comes Alive: The Story Behind DIG (Short for: Damn It’s Good!)
Some people follow their dreams, some don’t. Carolina von Rosen falls in the latter category, though according to herself it wasn’t so much bravery as simply acting on an idea without thinking too much about the potential consequences that led her to where she is today: with a company that’s been going strong for over a decade.
Carolina took a gap year after finishing school and headed to Costa Rica. During a retreat she had the epiphany that she wanted to start her own business, though it didn’t come as a surprise to her. “Both my parents are entrepreneurs. I think I’ve always somehow known that I wanted to run my own business. Tasting a raw chocolate cake, I suddenly knew what I wanted to do.” (Raw foods are foods that haven’t been heated over 42 degrees Celsius and therefore still contain enzymes and nutrients that would be destroyed when heated.)
That was only the beginning of the journey. “I then trained as a raw food chef, went back to Sweden and worked at Malmö’s first raw food restaurant. Mom and I kept experimenting with treats in her kitchen until I came up with a recipe that tasted right. We even ordered every health food snack from America we could get our hands on—we had a whole mountain on the kitchen table. Just so we could experience the flavors already out there.”
And Carolina’s mom didn’t just lend her kitchen—she became a partner in the business. “She liked the idea right off the bat and came on board. But she wasn’t as quick to “rush in” as I was. She thought I needed more work experience in the real world.” But for Carolina it was different. “I thought it was the perfect time to start a business as I didn’t have a family or any other big responsibilities. I didn’t think of myself as being brave, I just did it. And having been a student up until almost when I started the brand, I was used to living on very little money. We got a startup grant from the government so it was full speed for me after that—developing a solid brand and product. Mom left her job a year later when we launched the first products.”
One thing that made the journey easier, in some ways, is that they were self-funded. “We paid for product development and branding, as well as the first batch of products. That’s it. As we didn’t have a big budget, the branding was crucial—it needed to sell the product. Using Swedish design—i.e. clean design—was important. We needed to build trust and convey that it was a great product.” Carolina had and still has three words to guide her: “Trust, quality, and taste. That’s what consumers want.”
Till this day, DIG doesn’t do big marketing campaigns. “A lot of micro influencers reach out to us and ask to taste the product. It’s been nice to see how word of mouth has sold it that way. We have, however, sponsored many events that suit our profile. It’s been important for us that people get to taste the product to see for themselves how great it is.” And that says a lot about DIG’s snacks—one bite and you become a customer!
The Ingredients and Manufacturing That Turned a Dream into Reality
Having an idea for a company is all well and good, but how do you execute it?
Even after developing the tastiest chocolate snack in the world, you have a long way to go.
Carolina hired branding experts to develop the brand—as mentioned above, it was crucial to get that side right to be able to sell it with minimal marketing.
But what about production? How do you find the right manufacturer and suppliers? Because unless you grow your own ingredients and make your own product, you have to do that.
“It took a while to find a manufacturer that ticked all the boxes. Finding someone offering gluten free (GF) production was simple enough. So was someone offering organic production. But finding someone who offered both and promised to keep it entirely vegan was a different story.”
So how did Carolina find her manufacturer? Google. “I simply used different search terms. This was back in the day, so it wasn’t as popular with things like organic, vegan, and gluten free and it took me quite a while. Eventually, I asked a guy who used to work for Coca-Cola and he helped me with better search terms. That’s when I found someone we have used ever since. Back then, everything had to be hand made and most of the elements still are, but we’ve managed now to get some machines to make the process easier for certain aspects of production. We still make the chocolate balls completely by hand.”
As for suppliers, “As we have a manufacturer, they pick the suppliers. However, we’re picky about the picking! We ensure they all have various certificates. If it’s a farmer, they need certificates for the land, their growing processes, and their final product. Transport also needs to be documented. And so forth. There are products, such as cashew nuts, that you have to be extra careful with due to slave labor. Plus, we do a lot of random lab testing when we receive the products. We ensure they truly are organic and gluten free.”
The Sad Chocolate Ball That Became a Success Story
As mentioned, Carolina experimented a lot in her mom’s kitchen to come up with various recipes, but looking back one of the funniest stories was how the chocolate ball was born.
Chocolate balls, for those not in the know, are a beloved Swedish treat traditionally made with oats, butter, cacao, and sugar. Some recipes also include coffee and wheat flour. Of course, the ingredients in DIG’s chocolate balls are a lot healthier—the oats are still there, but they use coconut oil instead of butter, and coconut nectar instead of sugar. The result is amazingly tasty!
Carolina invented the recipe for DIG’s chocolate balls on a day when she was in desperate need of a sweet treat to bring a smile to her face. “My boyfriend had dumped me and my brother came over to my apartment to perk me up. I went to the kitchen to whip something up. The result was the chocolate balls we sell today. But we couldn’t start with selling them, because no one could produce them right away due to their shape. The traditional bar shaped snacks we sell therefore became the starting point.”
Carolina believes life has its highs and lows and sometimes the lows are needed to create something great—like a very tasty chocolate ball!
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Of course, with the years as the company grew, so did the team. When asked what’s important when picking your team, Carolina says that, “I was always aware of what I was good at and wasn’t. I picked team members to complement my skills. Plus, I picked people with the right mindset and drive. We’re a small operation. They have to appreciate that. Mom is no longer working with us and we’re three people in the office and two in the field. That’s all.”
Sustainable Sustainability Tips
One of the things we love about DIG is that it’s super sustainable—the product, packaging, and transportation have all been examined and re-examined to find the best options.
When asked what other businesses can do, Carolina suggested they, “Go through the entire supply chain to figure out the best solutions. Make it a continuous process. Don’t stop. A lot of suppliers do their own thing, so learn from them and join them where possible. In Sweden, FTI holds a lot of free seminars so even small organizations can learn and it’s important to stay up to date with the best practices.”
How to Eat a DIG Snack
The most important question remains: how do you best eat a DIG treat?
Yeah, we know—you pop it in your mouth and chew. Doh.
But how do you serve it?
Carolina suggests having it with your next “fika.” In Sweden the concept of fika is a big thing—a cup of coffee or tea with something sweet and, possibly, some sweet company, too. “If you just eat a cake, you might get a hit of energy, but it’s not enough to get you through a session at the gym. Our snacks are delicious with a cup of coffee or tea, but they also give you enough energy to go to the gym or do whatever else it is you want to do—get through your to do list, pick up a crying toddler, or dance the tango.” (Okay, Carloina didn’t say the bit about toddlers and tango, we added that for effect…you have to take some liberties in life…). “The cookies are particularly good with a cup of coffee.”
So there you have it—have a break, have a fika, have a DIG.
What we at Swedishness Has to Say...
We only sell products we love or that our customers love and we have a particular obsession with companies that do “the right thing” down to the smallest detail. DIG does that.
Of course, we still wouldn’t sell DIG Snacks unless the taste was so incredible we immediately told all our friends they had to have a bite to see for themselves.
And the taste truly is that amazing. (Insert: fireworks going off on our taste buds.)
What’s more, we don’t feel guilty when indulging. Which is particularly good when the temperature drops to below zero and we all want to snuggle up with hot drinks and sweet treats.
Mind you, we like sweet treats in summer, too. We just like them a little bit extra in winter.