If you were a child growing up in Colombia in the last sixty years you probably own a series of Jet Albums, created by the national chocolate company Compañía Nacional de Chocolates. The illustrated stickers that wrap the small chocolate bar have traditionally illustrated one theme, such as the collector’s edition of the country’s plant and animal wildlife.

While pasting the stickers in the Jet Album is a popular pastime for children, each image is also educational, presenting interesting facts compiled by botanists, biologists, astronomers and historians. So with every bite there’s a chance to learn something new…adults included.

This year, the Compañía Nacional de Chocolates is launching its latest album titled #ColombiaSorprendente (Surprising Colombia), focused on presenting the most representative symbols and regions of the country. The album – available in supermarkets and shops since February 8 – aims to rally Colombians around chocolate while at the same time awakening a sense of pride in the country, especially timely given the coronavirus pandemic. To present Colombia as a country that never ceases to surprise, the chocolate manufacturers put together a team of 100 talented youngsters to co-direct the editorial venue alongside artists, editors and entrepreneurs.

This “project by Colombians for Colombians,” is also rooted in sustainable cacao farming, as for the first time the proceeds from the sale of the album will go to support some 20,000 families linked to rural development programs of the Granja Yariguíes in Santander. The farm cultivates native species to preserve endangered habitats and forests. The edition was also printed on 100% reforested paper and packaged in a protective bag made from compostable cornstarch.

While taste buds get the first sensory experience of eating a chocolatine Jet, the stickers were selected with great attention to visuals, showing Colombia’s cultural diversity through music, gastronomy, its natural resources and emblematic sites. According to Diana González of the Compañía Nacional de Chocolates, “when we developed this project we realized the enormous affection that Colombians have for Jet albums. This is why we engaged both the public and privates sectors to help elaborate the final product, as well as representatives from the business community, artists, youngsters and leading researchers.”

Among the corporate allies of the project are ProColombia, Parques Nacionales, Grupo Sura, Artesanías de Colombia, USAID, Parque Explora, Ministry of Culture,Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History, Museum of Antioquia and ARC Gloria. Sixty of the country’s most recognized photographers also contributed by selecting their best images. “Only what is loved can be protected,” believes Colombia’s Vice-Minister of Tourism Julián Guerrero, adding that the album “will also inspire us to travel the country, and get to know each and every one of its corners. Travel that is responsible and sustainable.” Advice especially important to youngsters who during extended lockdowns could only dream of seeing their country, and of course, chocolate.

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