Food & Drink

Hot cocoa bomb craze keeps these Marion Moms Droppin' Bombs

An assorted box of hot cocoa bombs. Ashley Riehl and Ashley Blegen started a home-based company making hot cocoa bombs,
An assorted box of hot cocoa bombs. Ashley Riehl and Ashley Blegen started a home-based company making hot cocoa bombs, Moms Droppin’ Bombs. (Liz Martin photos/The Gazette)
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Friends Ashley Riehl and Ashley Blegen didn’t mean to start a small business.

When they posted their first photo of their homemade cocoa bombs on Facebook in October, they thought they would just be something fun they could make for friends and family.

By mid-December, they were frantically making cocoa bombs by the hundreds — they had 1,300 to make by Christmas and had to cut off orders in the beginning of December just to keep up.

“It’s not like every waking minute you’re making bombs, but if you’re not making them, you’re packaging or taking orders,” Riehl said. “My basement is just containers and containers and containers filled with bombs. There’s just chocolate everywhere.”

The duo named their burgeoning business Moms Droppin’ Bombs. It’s a name that conveys both the treats they make and the way the trend, and their business, has exploded.

“It was like a bomb went off,” Blegen said.

What started as a hobby has become more than a full-time endeavor in just two months.

“I’m not kidding you, we get hundreds of messages a day,” Riehl said. “We just can’t physically do any more than we are ... It’s pure craziness.”

The duo tapped into the frenzy for the trendy dessert at just the right moment, and they’re just trying to ride the wave.

Hot cocoa bombs have become the must-have sweet treat of 2020. Videos of the chocolate spheres melting and bursting open to spill marshmallows into a mug as hot milk is poured over them have gone viral online, and consumers and retailers alike have responded. Customers are buying them as fast as businesses can make them. That’s where home businesses like Moms Droppin’ Bombs have stepped in, using online marketing and social media to get the word out about their products.

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So many people are now making them it can be hard to find supplies, Riehl said. The price of bulk hot chocolate on Amazon has tripled since they started, and they’ve had to discontinue some of their flavors because they can’t get the ingredients. They had a slight delay in getting going because the silicone molds they use to shape the chocolate spheres were back ordered. Worried after reading a prediction of a coming cookie shortage, they bought up as many Oreos as they could for their cookies and cream-flavored bombs.

The duo offer contactless porch pickups from Riehl’s house in Marion. Some days, she said, every inch of her porch is covered with packages.

“I need a bigger porch, it does not hold the orders,” she said. “It’s become crazy.”

She attributes the craze to people looking for something enjoyable in a pandemic year that has robbed many people of their simple pleasures.

“This year, with the pandemic, there has not been as much excitement and fun for everyone. It’s something that can bring fun and joy to people,” she said. “They’re very inexpensive, and they’re pretty. They’re unique and kids love them. Every time they open up and all the marshmallows come out, every single time, my kids are like, ‘Whoa!’”

She moved to Marion in February from Pennsylvania, and Blegen moved to Cedar Rapids from Florida just after the August derecho. Both stay-at-home moms, they said it was hard to meet people during the pandemic, and they became friends after connecting through an online moms group.

Riehl said starting the business has been life changing for her in a year when she felt especially isolated.

“I suffered postpartum depression, and this has completely take me out of my hole,” she said. “It has really changed both of our lives for the better ... We just want people to know we’re very grateful for their support and didn’t expect it to be this way.”

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They aren’t planning to slow down anytime soon. They’re taking orders for New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day and making plans for Easter. They’re also working on ideas to keep the business going in the summer with other homemade treats.

“I love being able to be creative with it and just knowing the joy and excitement people get to have when they enjoy the bombs,” Blegen said. “That’s the driving force behind it.”

Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

Get Some Bombs

• What: Moms Droppin’ Bombs

• Where: Contactless pickup in Marion

• Order: Search for Moms Droppin’ Bombs on Facebook, where they have an order form.

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