Meet the Scottish chocolatier making vegan film-themed chocolates for the Oscars

Fiona McArthur, owner of Fetcha Chocolates, with her Oscars film-themed chocolate box.
Fiona McArthur, owner of Fetcha Chocolates, with her Oscars film-themed chocolate box. Copyright Courtesy: Fetcha Chocolates
By Anca Ulea
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The Oscars are like a box of chocolates for Scottish chocolatier Fiona McArthur, who was chosen to make film-themed chocolates for this year's Academy Awards.

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For the past year, Fiona McArthur has been carefully studying every film that comes out in theatres – jotting down notes as she watched each of them in the dark art deco cinema in Campbeltown, Scotland.

“I looked like the pretentious person in the cinema with my notebook and pen,” she joked.

But McArthur had a mission, and she took it very seriously – to come up with a creative way to represent the next year’s Oscars’ Best Picture nominees in her handmade, luxury chocolates.

Last February, McArthur and her artisanal chocolate shop Fetcha Chocolates were approached to make chocolates for the Academy Awards’ gift bags, which are given out to nominees of the top prizes.

It was an unlikely request for a small chocolate shop located in a Scottish town of around 4,500 people. Initially, McArthur said she thought it was a scam.

“I received a message on LinkedIn out of the blue,” she told Euronews Culture. “I don’t even really use LinkedIn, so I was really surprised. I thought this must be fake, it must be spam. But no, it was real.”

Fiona McArthur, owner of Fetcha Chocolates in Campbeltown, Scotland, filling chocolates.
Fiona McArthur, owner of Fetcha Chocolates in Campbeltown, Scotland, filling chocolates.Courtesy: Fetcha Chocolates

Since then, she’s been doing her homework, watching dozens of films and trying to guess which ones might make the cut.

“I’ve been tracking all the films all year long, to determine which were most likely to be nominated,” the chocolatier said. “I took notes on whether they mentioned any foods in the movie or if there was a colour theme or anything like that the whole way through.”

McArthur narrowed her selection down to six films, for which she designed six unique vegan, alcohol-free and gluten-free chocolates that spoke to themes or scenes from each film.

Barbie hearts and custard tarts

Fetcha Chocolates' Oscars collection, featuring custom luxury chocolates designed for six of the Best Picture nominees.
Fetcha Chocolates' Oscars collection, featuring custom luxury chocolates designed for six of the Best Picture nominees.Courtesy: Fetcha Chocolates

The selection of chocolates is filled with variety, with something that will satisfy every chocolate lover - and film buff. 

For Barbie, McArthur made a geometric pink heart-shaped chocolate, to represent Barbie’s journey in the film, which “wasn’t always smooth sailing.”

“The white chocolate ganache centre with flavours of strawberry and rose pays homage to some of the fashions Margot Robbie wore during the press tour,” McArthur described.

The chocolate inspired by Barbie ’s explosive counterpart, Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb drama Oppenheimer, is made to look like a fireball.

“Fiona has chosen a dark chocolate chilli ganache, combined with pop-rocks in the outer shell, so the chocolate explodes and warms your mouth as you eat it," the pamphlet inside the box reads.

For Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, McArthur was inspired by the custard tarts that main character Bella devours in the film. The chocolate is dusted with finely ground cinnamon and filled with a creamy white chocolate centre.

The Awards Collection chocolate box will be given to the nominees for best director, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.
The Awards Collection chocolate box will be given to the nominees for best director, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.Courtesy: Fetcha Chocolates

Killers of the Flower Moon got a speckled dark chocolate truffle, filled with organic 65% cocoa caramel ganache, representing the Osage nation’s land and the dark riches of the oil that lies beneath it.

Bradley Cooper’s Maestro has an unconventional salt and pepper flavour, reflecting the unconventional life of Leonard Bernstein, with a pretty musical print stamped on its surface.

“Salt and pepper are combined here to celebrate the different but complementary lives of Leonard and Felicia.”

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Finally, the chocolate McArthur made for The Holdovers refers to the film’s touching restaurant scene. No alcohol was used in the making of this chocolate, which mimics cherry jubilee with a cherry and ice cream flavoured bonbon.

There was one film that McArthur says she loved, which didn’t end up making her Top 6 – Celine Song’s Past Lives.

The film that *almost* made the cut for Fetcha's Oscars chocolate box? Celine Song's 'Past Lives'.
The film that *almost* made the cut for Fetcha's Oscars chocolate box? Celine Song's 'Past Lives'.Copyright: A24

“I had planned out the flavours I was going to do for that and I even started buying ingredients and everything,” she said. “I was tracking it and it looked like Poor Things was going to overtake them.”

Her Past Lives chocolate was actually going to be two different chocolates, symbolising the two main characters diverging paths.

“One of them was going to be yuzu caramel for the South Korean aspect,” she said. “The other one was going to be a maple cheesecake, because cheesecake is kind of American and maple is kind of Canadian, and that matched with her.”

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Fetcha Goes to Hollywood

McArthur said she wasn’t ready for the overwhelming response she received when it finally became public that she was making chocolates for the Oscars.

“It’s been crazy,” she said. “I did not expect this at all. Last week I thought I would be super productive and get lots done, but I was basically just answering emails and phone calls.”

McArthur first opened her chocolate shop in 2019 because she wanted to make luxury chocolates that were eco-friendly and suited different dietary restrictions.

“I had lots of customers come in and they were looking for specific things that were dairy-free or gluten-free, and nobody was making them,” she said. “Then because I have a degree in environmental science, it annoyed me that all the other boxes were full of plastic.”

Fiona McArthur with her Oscars-themed chocolate box, which will be given to nominees at the Academy Awards on 10 March.
Fiona McArthur with her Oscars-themed chocolate box, which will be given to nominees at the Academy Awards on 10 March.Courtesy: Fetcha Chocolates

Fetcha is an acronym for the values McArthur instils in her chocolate-making: F stands for “free from,” E for “ethical,” T for “tasty,” C for “chocolate,” H for “handmade” and A for “art.”

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All of Fetcha’s packaging is plastic-free, trees are planted with every order and organic and fair trade ingredients are used as much as possible.

The shop found almost immediate success, even before the Oscars. But now the demand for McArthur’s chocolates is huge. Her Oscars collection is available on her website, but every time she restocks, the boxes sell out within hours.

She says her small town has also been wildly supportive, which has been "great fun" as people constantly stop by to congratulate her.

“Every time I calm down about it, and I think, ‘Oh you know this is something lots of people do,’ I bump into someone in the street and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, this is so cool!’ And I get excited again,” she said.

When 10 March rolls around, McArthur says she’ll be watching the Oscars at home, probably with a glass of champagne.

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Until then, the sign in Fetcha’s window reads: “Fetcha goes to Hollywood.”

This year’s Academy Awards take place on Sunday 10 March. Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for news, updates and live coverage next weekend.

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