Vendor Feature: Sted Foods is a Minnesota love story!

Well before Josh and Kirstin Mohagen started Sted Foods, a premium chocolate company based out of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, the two sat together through middle-school classes.

“I was loud and obnoxious. The teachers at the Fergus Falls middle school always put us together because it got me to be quiet,” said Josh. “It definitely worked.”

 After high school, Kirstin went on to a culinary school specializing in pastries. She took a chocolate class and her interest in the sweet treat and the process of producing it grew. She traveled across Europe looking for the best cacao beans and studied the process of producing world-class chocolate. She was very intrigued, but didn’t want to start producing unless there was some sort of health or wellness benefit. This is how Kirstin found the bean-to-bar movement.

Bean-to-Bar Movement

This movement is focused around the idea of making chocolate directly from cacao beans rather than from cacao mass. This is generally a more expensive, tedious process used by small-batch chocolate producers to create a more premium product with a different flavor than mass-produced chocolate.

Kirstin wanted to use this process to refine her chocolate and give it the flavor profile she was looking for, all while keeping it organic.

Enter Josh

After spending time abroad learning the ins and outs of the chocolate industry, Kirsten married the aforementioned loud and obnoxious kid from her middle school classes with a small ceremony in Napa, California. One might assume that Kirstin and Josh would be there for the fabulous wine tasting, but they decided to take a different route.

“We went to a chocolate tasting place,” said Josh. “Cacao beans actually have more of a flavor profile than a grape does with wine.” 

They tasted some incredible chocolates and finally decided it was time to share their love of the delicacy with the world.

Terroir Chocolate

Shortly after their marriage in 2013, Kirstin and Josh started Terroir Chocolate in their hometown of Fergus Falls. “We started with one employee, Kirstin’s mother, and worked out of my in-law’s basement for the first eight years,” said Josh. Soon, word got out about their delicious treat and demand grew.

“Kirstin’s mother started recruiting her friends to wrap chocolate bars. We now have over 20 people helping out,” said Josh. As Kirstin was perfecting her recipes and playing with different flavors, Josh would travel across the Midwest selling their bean-to-bar chocolates to shops and boutiques. 

As the popularity of Terroir Chocolate increased, so did the recognition. Josh and Kirstin sent some of their creations to a chocolate contest in France and received two silver medals in the milk chocolate division.

“It is really impressive,” said Josh, talking about the placement in international competitions. “To be one of the few chocolates recognized in a large international field is super cool.”

“People in Minnesota really notice things.”

-Josh Mohagen

Sted Foods

In 2023, Josh and Kirsten rebranded to Sted Foods. They wanted to honor their Norwegian heritage, with “sted” meaning “place” in the Scandinavian language. They wanted to show their commitment to honor place, create connection and celebrate taste in everything they make. 

The company now employs five full-time individuals and sells products across the nation, with a focus in Minnesota and the rest of the Midwest. Sted Foods is currently Minnesota’s lone bean-to-bar chocolatier.

“One of the things we value and what helps set us apart is the idea of everyone winning. From the farmers, to our staff, to our customers, we make sure everyone comes out on the winning end of things,” explained Josh. “A large portion of our cacao beans come from the Dominican Republic and all come from fair-trade farmers. We want to make sure everyone is getting paid what they deserve.”

People in the Midwest have taken notice.

“People in Minnesota really notice things,” said Josh. “There is such an appreciative spirit about them, and that can be in anything from our chocolates to their sports teams. They just really appreciate locally made products.”

The Love Story Lives On

Kirstin and Josh currently live in their hometown of Fergus Falls, Minnesota where they produce all their chocolate. National grocery stores, local boutiques and everything in between distribute their products to customers far and wide. They are excited for the coming years and are always playing with different ideas and flavor combinations. 

It sure seems like the middle school teachers in Fergus Falls were on to something.

Minnbox loves supporting Minnesota made products just like these chocolates. Find a variety pack of some of Sted Foods’ award-winning chocolate in our Minnesota Essentials box!