ATHENS – Ioannis Kotsiopoulos is the most familiar stranger, whose name you will remember forever, if I tell you who he is. He has never been a fan of publicity, nor will you see photos of him, no matter how much you search, nor will you find interviews, to which he was completely indifferent. He was once asked for an interview. His answer was negative, but he made a counter-proposal: “if you want we can publish our balance sheet in your newspaper.” On the occasion of the arrival of the month of November, the month in which Ioannis Kotsiopoulos passed away, specifically on November 23, 2015 at the age of 93, we recall the man who has contributed countless moments of joy, gratification, and fulfilment with ION chocolates, whose role in our lives to date ranges from amusing to comforting. Think how many times, along with tears over disappointment in love, or the stress of exams, or an agonizing job interview, ION chocolates were always there. In memory of Kotsiopoulos, we will tell you a few words about him and the ION chocolate factory, which is a symbol of national unity and Greekness, since to the present day it has not been acquired by any foreign monopoly.
Ninety-one years have passed since 1930, when on Piraeus Street in Neo Faliro a group of well-to-do citizens of the time who loved chocolate took the initiative to create a workshop. They wanted to become chocolate makers. But in 1934 they sold it. It was then that the Nasiopoulos brothers were found, and then the Kotsiopoulos brothers, whose descendants now run the company, and they bought the business.
The Kotsiopoulos brothers became the sole owners of the chocolate factory, giving the Nasiopoulos brothers the candy factory that had been added in the meantime. The Kotsiopoulos family soon became stronger and more capable in all confectionery products. Thus, they also gained control of the candy factory that was then merged with the chocolate factory.
Ioannis Kotsiopoulos, who was especially dear to the workers in the factory, made sure that they had the best working conditions, decent wages – even in times of crisis – and benefits for themselves and their families, so that they could work and be happy. Even at the age of 93, until the beginning of 2015, he was active and regularly visited the factory that launched, for the Greek market, milk chocolate with almonds, which to this day is the most beloved product. ION Amygdalou remains the market leader after more than five decades. Find out its history and then you will understand the methods of the Kotsiopoulos family: “At ION people do not talk, they let the products speak for themselves.”
1930: In Neo Faliro, on Piraeus Street. That’s where the sweetest story begins, from a group of shareholders who dreamed of becoming chocolate makers. With the fragrant sweet violet, whose ancient Greek name is ion, as logo and with a great appetite for hard work. The company’s initial charter is published in the Official Gazette of the State of Greece on September 23, 1930 and ION sets sail on a journey for taste. The company maintains its headquarters in the same place where it all began up to this day.
ION acquires a sibling in the company NASKO SA, which will later create the characteristic ION candies – who does not remember the beloved ION Ygeias and the filled center NASKO candies!
1947: The most recognized almond branch of Greece… blooms!
The ION Amygdalou is created, which is a reference point in the history of ION, but also for all of us, because this branch has adorned our childhood with the sweetest taste!
1956: The formation of the I. Kotsiopouloi Bros company lays the foundations for developing ION’s sales and distribution network.
The first store opens in downtown Athens and the fame of ION spreads by word of mouth, literally! ION grows, assimilates NASKO SA and gradually begins to implement the most delicious ideas, with new chocolates, candies, chewing gum, wafers, and other delights!
1960-1970 Zenith of intensity! A superior taste!
ION advertising slogans are part of a vintage heritage today, but then it was another example of ION’s spirit of innovation. ION’s print ads make history and elevate it to the top in advertising.
A new page opens, with the inauguration of the ION facilities in Arta. That’s where the wafer line starts – and a great idea comes to fruition.
1976: The favorite green-wrapped Noisetta!
Delicious ION chocolate embraces a whole hazelnut and all together enclosed in the classic and beloved green wrapping – Noisetta! And from then until today, her presence accompanies every small and significant moment for the Greek family!
Two years after the creation of the wafer production factory in Arta, the one and only ION combines chocolate and wafer to create its groundbreaking Chocofreta and Greece acquires its favorite sweet snack!
1986: ION squares… enjoyment!
Break is created, the first square chocolate bar produced in Greece, and the variety of flavors and its rich texture break the record for enjoyment.
1998: Taste knows no bounds.
ION decides to expand its business activities abroad and become a Greek chocolate manufacturer with international status.
Mabel joins the family of ION one year later with its holiday delicacies for both the Christmas and Easter seasons.
2003: United they stand!
ION Almond meets ION Ygeias and together they create a chocolate that combines the adored taste of roasted almond with the pure and intense enjoyment of dark chocolate.
2006: Finally, ice cream!
In collaboration with the dairy company KRI-KRI, ION Almond and ION Milk acquire an ice cream dimension and the ION enjoyment becomes more summery!
2015: ION Dark!
From the other side of dark chocolate comes… ION Dark. ION’s delicious dark chocolate in imaginative combinations that satisfy even the most demanding palates!
2015 ION… is green!
Stevia, a natural sweetener, meets chocolate to create the ION Stevia line with ION’s famous flavor, without the sugar!
Today, ION, a 100% Greek company, grows, evolves, respects its values and creates new opportunities, proving that entrepreneurship in Greece has a history, but also a future! With three state-of-the-art production plants in Greece, with approximately 950 employees, and a turnover of over 110 million euros per year, ION is ranked among the 60 largest industrial companies in Greece. Having faith in its values, ION makes sure that every single innovation will be developed through its products and through its responsible stance towards the environment, the workers and society.
ION AROUND THE WORLD
Taste knows no borders, which is why ION is constantly and successfully developing its export activity from East to West. In its continuous effort to introduce its products to new markets, ION participates in international exhibitions each year with the aim of broadening its horizons, establishing its presence in the ever-evolving chocolate-making world, and creating new collaborations on a global level.