Culinary secrets of Colombian cycling, part 5: Chocoramo

Quintana is welcomed to Tunja after the Tour de France last year

Last year, after Nairo Quintana was second at the Tour de France (while also winning a stage, the polka dot jersey and the white jerseys) he was welcomed by massive crowds in Bogota, who lined the route from the Airport to the presidential palace. The bus he traveled in was followed by countless cyclists who wanted to get a better look at their idol. Once at the presidential palace, he was greeted an honored by Colombia's president. The reception he received in his native Boyaca was similarly impressive.

When Quintana returns after winning the Giro, he'll no doubt be received in a similarly bombastic fashion, securing his status as a beloved Colombian to all, not just cycling fans. But a impressive as being honored by the president, or being welcomed by huge crowds may be, another honor is far more important, and its one that Quintana just received. One of Colombia's most iconic and long lasting products has just paid homage to the Giro winner. The almighty Chocoramo has temporarily changed it's packaging from orange to pink.

If you are from Colombia, you know how significant this is. It's akin to Coca-Cola cans being any color other than red for the first time in history, or a UPS truck suddenly being bright purple. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, it's kind of a big deal.

Founded in 1950 by Rafael Molano (who, the story goes, happened to be a big cycling fan from the early days of the Vuelta a Colombia) in the Los Alcazares neighborhood in Bogota, Ramo is one of Colombia's most enduring brands. Today, the company holds an absolute monopoly of the baked snacks market, primarily through its most beloved product. Their crown jewel: Chocoramo.

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Food stop during a group ride in Bogota. Note the primary food groups represented: bananas, bocadillos and Chocoramo. Photo: ciclobr.com

Chocoramo is, more or less, mass produced pound cake with a chocolate covering. It's a snack that every Colombian kid enjoyed countless times growing up. And for some of us, a diet built around this sugary treat started before birth. At least that was the case for me, since my mother's most severe craving during her pregnancy with me was Chocoramo with a bottle of Naranja Postobon (an orange flavored soda that tastes like slightly flat Sunkist). So insistent were my mother's cravings that she would sometimes devour two or three Chocoramos a day.

Chocoramo ad: "To honor our heroes, we've put on a pink jersey, thank you!"

Today, Chocoramo remains a privately owned operation, as the Molano family refuses to sell their huge company to the many international conglomerates that have tried to dethrone them, including Frito-Lay and Bimbo.

Despite the mass produced nature of Chocoramo, its worth noting that the company makes all its own ingredients. They grind their own flour, make their own chocolate, and raise the chickens that lay the eggs they use in producing cakes. Ramo has several bakeries throughout the country, and their products are available in just about every single corner store in Colombia. Their reach is absolutely massive. And despite the sheer magnitude of their empire (and as an example of how lovingly unusual the company is), their products are still delivered to corner stores as they were back when the company started in 1950. By bicycle. Or tricycle to be more precise.

As far as ideal foods for cycling go, Chocoramo is certainly not perfect. In its full size, one of them would fill up your jersey pocket, and could possibly crumble during a long ride. A mini Chocoramo, however, is pretty ideal.