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the innocent agm 2015

A long time ago we held our first AGM*. It went well. People came to see us, they had some free smoothies and we all became friends. So we held another one, and another after that. Things went on like this until our last AGM in 2011. Then, for a few years, we were too busy (we could hardly invite people round when we didn’t have time to tidy up beforehand). This year however we decided it was time to do our best Moloko impression and bring it back.

So, on 10th October, we invited loads of you into fruit towers to find out what we look like, who we are and why we do what we do. We were scared. It had been so long since the last one. Would anyone actually turn up? If they did, would the enjoy themselves? How were we going to hide the three years of accumulative mess inside fruit towers? Turns out the answers were yes, yes and ‘with a LOT of help’.

There were talks from Dan (who’s ultimately responsible for all the important stuff like how we look and sound), one of our original founders, Rich, explained how we got started way back in 1999 (from a hangover, apparently. Makes sense) and our CEO Douglas told everybody about the amazing work of the innocent foundation.

We had tasting sessions (including a couple of brand new recipes) and, in an idea that definitely wasn’t based on a popular BBC TV series, we held a Great British Blend Off. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry were judges and we even have pictures to prove it. It’s definitely not just Emma and Nick dressed up in frighteningly realistic costumes. 

Even the fourth floor stapler was there although, obviously, not actually on the fourth floor.

We had a great day, everybody who came along seemed to enjoy themselves too (or they were just being polite when they told us they had a nice time) and we very much doubt there’ll be another three year gap. We’ll see you next year. 

 

*annual grown-up meeting

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battling each other for a greater good

We like to think we’re already pretty responsible but we know we can always do better. That’s why we’ve teamed up with DoNation to find out how we can make more of a difference here in fruit towers and in our not-fruit towers homes too.

DoNation know that it’s difficult to get people to change their behaviour. If it was simple then we probably wouldn’t have to worry about climate change. So, to help make it easier, they’ve appealed to something that’s definitely going to get to us. Our sense of competition.

They’ve challenged us to lower our C02 rates by splitting us up into floors and seeing who can save the most. It’s the sort of thing we live for, to be honest. Floors, 2, 3, 4, and 5, as well as our international offices, all locked in an eternal battle to claim the crown of sustainability. Allegiances will be formed, inter-floor friendships will be tested. There can be only one winner (besides the overall well-being of the planet).

We’ve all made pledges to lower our own personal C02 contributions. Some of us are going to start cycling to work, others will cut their shower time to just four minutes. Pledges have been made to cut back on the amount of meat eaten or to change entirely to LED lights at home. Even taking the stairs rather than the lift can help. All small things that on their own wouldn’t do much good but, when combined, add up to something really significant.

On our first day we’d made 441 pledges, amounting to a massive 17,792kg of C02 saved over the course of a year. Or, to put it in fruit terms, 230,450.9 bananas worth of carbon. According to DoNation, this is the most pledges any company they’ve worked with has made on their first day. We’ve been unbearably smug about that all morning.

Over the next few months we’ll be doing our best to do what’s good for the planet and, at the same time, get the added joy of trying to beat our colleagues. It’s win-win, really. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

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Mango go go

Our Catherine and Marta recently travelled to India to visit the people who supply our mangoes. As well as tasting the new season mangoes, this trip gave them the opportunity to see how our suppliers are getting on with our five point sustainability plan. The farmers in the region were struggling with lower mango yields so we started a project in partnership with the University of Konkan to address some of the challenges they were facing. We wanted to find sustainable ways to make the mango trees as strong and resilient as possible, so that they could still produce high mango yields despite the changing climate.

While they were out there, Catherine kept a travel log of some of things she and Marta got up to, and what they learned about our mangoes along the way:


Catherine's Log

As I’m quite new to the team, this was my first time going over to India and I was very excited to see the mango farms for myself and find out how everything worked. After an overnight flight, we landed in a very sticky but stunning Mumbai and started the long car journey to our first supplier (easily the bumpiest car ride I've ever been on). It was fascinating to drive into the country, away from the big cities, and see the real India. It was hot, hectic and just as colourful as I’d hoped it would be and the views from the window definitely made up for the bumps in the road.

When we arrived at our first supplier, we started learning about all the work they do with the farmers to improve yields and the new planting techniques they have been trying out, which they needed to implement in order to adapt to the changing climate affecting their fruit. The farms have now started experimenting with different planting, pruning and irrigation techniques. By keeping the trees smaller, the mangoes are easier to pluck and, therefore, the trees yield much more fruit.

 

The scenery was stunning as we drove to our next supplier – filled with lush tropical trees and greenery. When we arrived, we had a go at picking some mangoes ourselves as all of the mangoes on the farms are hand-plucked using a basket on the end of a stick. The equipment looks very simple, but is excellent at getting the job done. Here’s one of our pickers in action:

 

Once they've been picked, the mangoes are washed, placed into bowls, sorted, sent to be ripened and then turned into puree.

One of the most exciting moments of the trip was when we met the king of mangoes himself – the lovely Badrul, who stars in our British TV ads. He doesn’t speak English but we used a translator to tell him that we were really happy to meet him and that he was famous in the UK.

 

We reckon he should've been wearing this shirt when we made the ad (maybe one to consider for next time).

After visiting the suppliers, we’re chuffed to see that our sustainability plan is starting to make a real difference to the way the farmers in the region grow their fruit. We use mango in lots of our recipes (including this and this) and we really hope you think they’re as tasty as we do. 

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the history of halloween

With Halloween around the corner, a lot of people are asking us 'just what is Halloween?' or 'is there some sort of comprehensive history of Halloween which will allow us to get up to speed both quickly and easily?' We completely understand. The origins of Halloween, and the traditions that go with it, have always been a bit murky. So, we’ve come up with a definitive timeline of Halloween’s most popular events:

1977 - Halloween is invented when a man gets lost in the woods and thinks he sees something in the dark. He is the first man to ever feel fear. He returns to his village and tells the others about the new emotion and they invent ways for other people to feel it.

1978 - 12 months later everybody in the world has felt and understood fear. It is locked away and everyone decides to only let it out one night each year. This night is called Christmas Day until somebody points out that Christmas already exists. ‘Halloween’ is chosen instead after the word is found inside a book of nonsense verse for children.

1979 - Trick or treating is invented by Derren Brown to advertise his new magic show where he treats or tricks people into having dinner with him.

1980 - Halloween is cancelled because there aren’t enough novelty skeleton costumes for everyone’s dogs to dress up in.

1981 - Halloween 2: The Halloweening is released in four cinemas across the United Kingdom. By now, the national holiday has outgrown its humble beginnings and only a young Jonathan Ross watches the film. He gives it five popcorn bags out of five.

1982 - Halloween 3: Season of the Witch happens. More people watch it than have watched anything else that’s ever been at the cinemas. The film immediately gets a 100% on rottentomatoes.com

1983 - The first ever sighting of a werewolf is recorded in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. A lot of people are killed but it’s still a very popular video.

1984 - Lots of ghosts turn up but they are chased away by humans. “Go away, ghosts,” they say. “This holiday is not for you.” It will be many years before ghosts are allowed to Halloween.

1985 - 87 - Halloween is banned by Thomas Cromwell, the Demon King.

1988 - Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers as Austin Powers suddenly appears from behind a door. Everybody is scared for a moment but it’s okay because nothing is real.

1989 - The clocks go back for the first time and Halloween is celebrated an hour earlier. When everybody realises they laugh for a little bit too long.

1990 - The ‘sexy cat’ costume is invented for a joke but is accidentally taken seriously. Nobody ever takes credit for coming up with the idea.

1991 – Pumpkins aren’t selling very well so the PR Team of the film Halloween are called in. Pumpkin becomes everyone’s 61st favourite vegetable.

1992 - Cereal with milk is voted the favourite food of people on Halloween morning.

1993 - TV personality Kriss Akabusi goes on Live and Kicking to shout that ‘Halloween is dead’ but nobody pays attention because they are too busy preparing their questions about the Guinness World Records TV show, Record Breakers.

1994 - A man is arrested for dressing up as a policeman for Halloween. Impersonating a police officer is a serious crime no matter what the holiday spirited context might be.

1995 - This year the film Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers as The Love Guru turns up in a pile of DVDs that somebody left at a charity shop. It is immediately lost amongst a pile of James Last LPs and never seen again.

1996 - The film Ghost comes out and is voted the scariest film of all time for its terrifying depiction of a couple using a pottery wheel.

1997 - Because of the film Ghost, ghosts are allowed into Halloween for the first time. They spend most of it too self-conscious to scare people and end up going home early.

1998 - Halloween H20, a new bottled water, starts to appear in the shops. It is not as nice as other bottles of water that you can find under your tap and is quietly removed from the shelves.

1999 - A giant man is found with the word ‘Halloween’ written onto his leg but it washes off and everybody relaxes.

2000 - The ghost of Guy Fawkes turns up a couple of weeks early. He’s embarrassed but the majority of people can laugh about it now.

2001 - Someone writes a book about the history of the holiday and everybody forgets to celebrate because they are too busy reading the reviews.

2002 - Halloween overtakes birthdays as the day when people accumulate the most unwanted clutter in their homes.

2003 - Ghosts. So many ghosts. They’re everywhere. Everyone paralysed by fear and unable to celebrate Halloween.

2004 – The ghosts are exterminated by the ‘Ghost Busters’ who are then made the subject of a very popular documentary. Everyone pretends to be happy about it but they all secretly miss the ghosts.

2005 - Plastic spiders seen out of the corner of people’s eyes are voted as The Most Enjoyable Unexpected Scare of 2005.

2006 - Somebody forgets to end Halloween. It doesn’t stop happening until somebody rings the bell.

2007 - Apple bobbing is banned after everyone realises it isn’t fun and they don’t like it.

2008 - Everybody looks for Halloween but nobody can find it. “I’m sure it was here a second ago,” says the person who everybody suspects lost it.

2009 - A group of teenagers spend the weekend in a deserted cabin in the woods and make a series of questionable decisions. Nothing bad happens because the only scary thing you’ll find in British woodlands are slightly aggressive badgers.

2010 - For the first time, children are allowed to knock on people’s doors and ask for sweets. It is a big success.

2011 - The official slogan for Halloween is launched. ‘Halloween - it’ll tide you over until Bonfire Night'.

2012 - A scary book is found in an ancient Egyptian tomb. It is thought to be a magical book of pure evil but it turns out it’s just a John Grisham thriller that someone left there.

2013 - The Queen dresses up as Merlin for her annual Halloween speech. Everyone votes it her best impression of a wizard of all time.

2014 - Halloween is renamed ‘Scary Day’ but everyone thinks it’s too scary so it’s changed back.

2015 - A black cat wearing a collar wins the fancy dress costume parade as it is mistaken for two people dressed up in a realistic black cat wearing a collar costume.

2016 - Everyone is too afraid of the actual world to pretend they are scared of Halloween.

We're already looking forward to next Halloween. Rumour has it that it may involve leprechauns. Or a massive pie. Or Matt Cardle performing a spooky mash-up of Top 40 hits on his famous silver pan pipes. It's going to be great.

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the 4th floor stapler - the story so far

As these things often do, it started with a minor act of rebellion. A person pushed by circumstance into an act they never thought they’d be capable of. One morning, driven over the edge by one label too many, they grabbed the fourth floor stapler and took it to the second floor. The world would never be the same again.

It gave them an adrenaline rush. The kind they hadn’t had since they went scrumping for apples as a teenager, clearing the fences at Old Man McCarthy’s farm with a single vault. They quickly put the stapler back, panting for breath. The week went on, they couldn’t get it out of their mind. Nothing else compared. Everyone in fruit towers was talking about it. Who was the daring renegade who’d taken the fourth floor stapler to the second floor?

So they did it again but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t new. It wasn’t exciting. There was only one thing for it. They took the stapler to Cambridge. 

Then they too it to see a donkey. They were out of control.

And then, in a day of madness which will go down in history, they took it to The Ritz.

Meanwhile, the fourth floor was slowly falling apart. Their stapler was missing, nobody knew what to do. Vital documents that needed to be kept together were drifting apart. Desks were filling up with loose documents. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

But the stapler stealer didn’t care. They barely even noticed. But the UK wasn’t enough for them anymore. Oh no. They needed to go further. They needed to go European. And then one day, while thinking about some of their favourite things, inspiration hit them. The answer was obvious. The Sound of Music museum in Salzburg.

But then even Europe wasn’t enough. Almost as if the stapler was being passed from colleague to colleague, America came calling. What better place for someone on the run with a stapler than the land of freedom, opportunity, baseball, tall buildings and Disney World?

Back in England, a hole punch tried to get involved. It didn’t work out. Nobody paid much attention.

Back on the fourth floor, paper was everywhere. With no way of properly filing their work, the staff had descended into chaos. They lost track of time, they forgot to go home, they broke off into two warring factions. One defending the photocopier, the other prized the nice big corner window overlooking the canal.

It was hard for the stapler thief to care about all this from their sauna in Helsinki.

And One Direction helped them remain oblivious to the trouble they’d caused back in the office.

They even took the stapler scuba-diving. Their constant need for adrenaline making them risk the life of the stapler itself* by exposing it to elements that could rust it so easily.

By this point the two tribes of the fourth floor had started to invade the other level of the building. Some say they’re searching for the stapler, others claim they’ve simply gone delirious and would take any stationery in the hope that it would restore order.

As for the stapler? It’s still out there somewhere. Seeing the world in ways many of us can only dream of. We hope it comes back soon, if only for the sake of the fourth floor.

*of course, being a stapler it has no life to put at risk. But still.

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