And the winner is… the Scottish chocolatier creating sweet treats for the Oscars – best news


It’s a long way from the windswept waterfront of Campbeltown to Hollywood: but for next month’s Oscar nominees a taste of this remote corner of Scotland awaits, after the owner of the town’s chocolate shop was chosen to produce the sweet treats for the famed $125,000 award ceremony goodie bags.

Fiona McArthur, who started creating her chocolates in her mother’s kitchen four-and-a-half years ago, says she’s still pinching herself at the coup. “It’s blowing my mind that my chocolates are going to be eaten by people like Bradley Cooper and Margot Robbie,” she says.

When she was contacted by a company scouting for items for the Academy Award goodie bags, whose luxury contents include vouchers for top-end holidays and the loan of leading sports cars, McArthur thought it was a scam. “When I Googled them I was amazed to see they were for real – but I still thought it was very unlikely my chocolates would actually be chosen,” she says. But her chocolate company, Fetcha, ticked all the boxes for the Oscar bags. “None of the chocolates contain dairy, egg, gluten, soy or palm oil,” she says. “They’re alcohol-free, and the packaging is plastic free.”

McArthur, 36, who is vegan herself, says she realised while working in a friend’s sweet shop how many people had allergies or intolerances. “I wanted to create boxes of chocolates that could be passed around so everyone could eat them,” she says. “And I also wanted to prove how delicious vegan chocolates could be, for those who might have doubted it.”

The Fetcha Chocolates awards collection – ‘Oscar Goodie Bag’. Photograph: Fiona McArthur/Fetcha Chocolates

But what the Oscars organisers didn’t realise, when they contacted McArthur, was that she’s a huge movie buff herself – and she decided to use her love of movies to create chocolates specially flavoured for the nominated movies. “Since I was a little girl I’ve loved going to the Picture House on the harbour front,” she says. As an adult she signed up to be an extra. “I drove my van in Fast & Furious, and I was in Hobbs & Shaw, Outlaw King, Outlander, and the new Indiana Jones,” she says.

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.

Margot Robbie in Barbie. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

Born and raised on a farm near Campbeltown, McArthur studied conservation at university and spent two years working on a ranch in Montana, not far from the home of 2024 Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone. After returning to Scotland, she worked as a shelf-stacker in Tesco and Lidl before setting up a small cake-baking business, and then working in a friend’s sweet shop in Inveraray – and it was while she was there that she realised there was a gap in the market for “free from” chocolates.

She did a three-day course in London in 2019 before experimenting with flavours in her mother’s kitchen. “I started with salted caramel, chocolate mousse and dark chocolate honeycomb – and soon I was selling them to my family and friends,” she says.

McArthur named her business Fetcha because it was an acronym for everything she wanted it to stand for: Free From/Ethical/Tasty/Chocolate/Handmade/Art. Two years ago she opened a small shop on Main Street in Campbeltown, which runs in conjunction with her website. “If it gets too busy, my mum comes in to help,” she says.

On 10 March, McArthur will be at home in Campbeltown watching the Oscars on the TV – she is planning to invite a few friends over, and they will tuck into the same chocolates that the celebrities will be enjoying.

So who does she hope will be taking home the gongs? “I loved Barbie – and I feel a real connection with Lily Gladstone,” she says.

Whatever happens in Hollywood, though, there’s definitely a happy ending in Campbeltown – McArthur’s little chocolate shop is a global winner.

And the (chocolate) Oscars go to

Poor Things: a twist on a custard tart, Bella’s culinary passion in the movie, this is a rich, cinnamon-flavoured cream inside a chocolate case

Maestro: A silky chocolate laced with salt and pepper to celebrate the different but complementary lives of Leonard Bernstein and his wife Felicia

Barbie: white ganache enclosed – naturally – in a pink heart, geometric because, says McArthur, “Barbie’s journey isn’t always plain sailing”

Oppenheimer: for this history of the atom bomb, McArthur’s rolled truffle creation has popping candy in the outer shell, so the chocolate explodes as it’s eaten

Killers of the Flower Moon: a dense, dark flavoured chocolate with a green, yellow and lilac-splattered shell to reflect the flowers of the Osage nation

The Holdovers: no one will be missing the alcohol amid this cherry and dark chocolate creation created for the main restaurant scene in the movie

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