Traveling from the breezy shore of Campbeltown to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood may seem like quite a distance. However, for the Oscar nominees next month, a sample of this secluded area in Scotland is in store. This is because the proprietor of the town’s chocolate store has been selected to create the delectable goodies for the highly sought-after $125,000 goodie bags at the renowned award ceremony.
Fiona McArthur began making her own chocolates in her mother’s kitchen four and a half years ago. She is still in disbelief about her recent success. She says, “I am amazed that my chocolates will be enjoyed by celebrities such as Bradley Cooper and Margot Robbie.”
When a company reached out to her to include her products in the goodie bags for the Academy Awards, which typically feature luxurious items like vouchers for high-end vacations and the use of top-of-the-line sports cars, McArthur was skeptical. However, after doing some research, she realized the offer was legitimate. Despite her doubts, she didn’t think her chocolates would actually be selected. However, her chocolate company, Fetcha, met all the criteria for the Oscars bags. “All of our chocolates are free of dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, and palm oil,” she explains. “They are also alcohol-free and packaged without plastic.”
At the age of 36, McArthur, a vegan, discovered the prevalence of allergies and intolerances while employed at a friend’s confectionery store. She was inspired to make boxes of chocolates that could cater to everyone’s dietary needs and to showcase the delectable taste of vegan chocolates to those who were skeptical.
The Oscars organizers were unaware that McArthur, who is a big fan of movies, was contacted for the task. She used her passion for movies to make custom-flavored chocolates for the nominated films. McArthur has been fond of going to the Picture House on the harbor since she was a child. As she grew up, she even became an extra in various films such as Fast & Furious, Hobbs & Shaw, Outlaw King, Outlander, and the upcoming Indiana Jones film.
And while Campbeltown, which is at the end of the Kintyre peninsula, a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Glasgow along roads licked by waves, doesn’t at first sight seem to have much in common with Hollywood, its cinema, designed by Glasgow architect Albert Gardner in 1913, was one of the first purpose-built movie houses in Scotland, built in Glasgow art nouveau style.
McArthur’s sustainable, vegan business is following another theme with a local link, too. The area’s previous brush with world-class celebrities centres on the McCartneys, Paul and Linda, for whom the far-flung peninsula was a retreat at the height of fame – as referenced in the Wings track Mull of Kintyre. Linda, who died in 1998 aged 56, is remembered with a statue in a memorial garden behind the Campbeltown Picture House, and as a champion of vegetarianism and sustainability she would surely be cheering McArthur on.
Raised on a farm near Campbeltown, McArthur grew up and studied conservation at university. She later spent two years working on a ranch in Montana, which is close to the hometown of 2024 Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone. Upon returning to Scotland, she held jobs as a shelf-stacker at Tesco and Lidl before starting her own cake-baking business. She then worked at a friend’s sweet shop in Inveraray, where she recognized a demand for “free from” chocolates.
In 2019, she attended a three-day course in London and then began experimenting with different flavors in her mother’s kitchen. She initially created salted caramel, chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate honeycomb, which she then started selling to her loved ones.
McArthur chose the name Fetcha for her business as it represented her desired values: Free From, Ethical, Tasty, Chocolate, Handmade, and Art. In 2018, she established a storefront on Main Street in Campbeltown, which operates alongside her online platform. She shares, “If things get too hectic, my mother lends a hand.”
On March 10th, McArthur will be watching the Oscars at home in Campbeltown, with plans to invite a small group of friends over. They will all indulge in the same chocolates that the celebrities will also be enjoying.
Who is she rooting for to win the awards? “I really admire Barbie, and I have a strong bond with Lily Gladstone,” she shares.
Regardless of what goes on in Hollywood, there is certainly a positive outcome in Campbeltown – McArthur’s small chocolate shop has achieved global success.
And the Oscars for chocolate go to…
Bella’s love for baking is showcased in the movie “Poor Things” with her unique twist on a traditional custard tart. Her version features a decadent chocolate crust and a creamy, cinnamon-infused filling.
Maestro: A silky chocolate laced with salt and pepper to celebrate the different but complementary lives of Leonard Bernstein and his wife Felicia
Barbie’s journey is represented by a geometric pink heart filled with white ganache, symbolizing the ups and downs she faces.
Oppenheimer: In regards to the historical development of the atomic bomb, McArthur’s truffle creation is filled with popping candy in the outer shell, causing the chocolate to burst upon consumption.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a rich and intense chocolate with a layered shell featuring shades of green, yellow, and lilac to represent the vibrant flowers of the Osage tribe.
This delicious cherry and dark chocolate creation was made for the main restaurant scene in the movie, ensuring that no one will go without alcohol.