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All Great Stories Start with People

This is our story. Our founder, Mark Tarner, grew up in his family’s business. He helped his mom and dad any way he could. So did his brothers and sisters. It is something that everyone did in 1960’s America. His first memories are working in the family grocery store in Leesburg, Indiana.

I guess the Tarners have always been in food. Mark moonlighted delivering newspapers and went away to college. But all roads seemed to lead back to food service.

Mark is a maker and a manufacturer. He and his companies have won numerous awards. They embody Midwestern values of hard work, innovation, and outstanding food quality.

a little boy posing for a photo

Mark on his first birthday. Doesn’t that cute face just make you want to buy something?

a store in a brick building

The Tarner family grocery store in the 1970s. Mark's family lived in the apartment above their store.

Mark’s family also helps out with the business. Sam is involved both in chocolate sales and manufacturing. His sisters, Emily, Anna, and Elizabeth, help out in our stores. Julie, Mark’s wife, keeps the household running. Working together is a Tarner family tradition.

Mark is also blessed with an amazing work family. Sam Tarner and Kristina Tressler are looking to carry on the Tarner family tradition into the next century. Kristina and crew form an incredible team. Kristina and the staff at South Bend Chocolate Company look forward to opening another chapter in our history book.

a man in a suit and tie

Mark Tarner at Bar Fly in the South Bend International Airport.

Vera Menchik et al. posing for a photo

Left to Right: Mark, Don, Kathy, Ruth, Steve.

Mark is maturing into a young professional. Can’t you tell by the bowtie?

a close up of a man and a woman smiling for the camera

Sam Tarner and Kristina Tressler are just like brother and sister.

a group of people sitting at a table in front of water

Left to Right: Julie, Anna, Mark, Elizabeth, Sam, and Emily.

South Bend Chocolate Company: Its Founding and Growth

In 1991, Mark Tarner founded the South Bend Chocolate Company and operated it as a second business. In August of 1994, the South Bend Chocolate Company incorporated with Mr. and Mrs. Tarner as majority shareholders. We now have Mr. and Mrs. Tarner, Sam Tarner, and Kristina Tressler as company shareholders and 14 company-owned stores in Northern Indiana with 3 franchise locations throughout Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

The factory is currently located at 3300 W. Sample Street in South Bend, Indiana and occupies 60,000 square feet. The company got its start making chocolates under a license from the University of Notre Dame. It's first three products were the Domer, the Rockne and Nuts for ND. New confections roll out of the factory everyday. Twenty five years after our founding, we produce over 500 different chocolates and sweets. These products are available in stores nationwide and through our company owned stores.

Since its humble beginning the South Bend Chocolate company has successfully grown- one satisfied customer at a time.

“We’re expanding into more than just a chocolate company,” says Mark. “We’re more of a food company. We roast nuts and coffee, own a bakery, and operate exciting retail stores. We make almost every item in our stores. We are literally butchers, bakers, and chocolate makers.”

Honors and Awards:

Mark's awards and honors include:

1998Junior League President’s Award
1999Saint Joseph County Small Business Person of the Year
 Sam Walton Business Leader Award
2000Indiana Small Business Person of the Year
2001Ranked 17 in Inc. Magazine’s Inner City 100
 Blue Chip Community Award Finalist
2002Named in the top 30 franchises in Entrepreneur Magazine
 Ranked 45 in Inc. Magazine’s Inner City 100
2003Ranked 67 in Inc. Magazine’s Inner City 100
 Ranked in the Indiana Growth 100
 Corporate Award, South Bend Alumni Association
2004Ranked in the Indiana Growth 100
2005Received Sagamore of the Wabash Award (Highest Citizen Award in the State of IN)
 Received Ernst & Young Retail Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Great Lakes Region
2008Indiana Top 50 Companies to Watch Award
2009Tourism Award St. Joseph County
2010Outstanding Citizen and Entrepreneurship Award
2012Main Street Business of the Year (Indiana)
2016Vendor of the Year/South Bend International Airport