Archive for the ‘Historic Events’ Category

Meet the Marines of Special Operation Task Force — 81 (SOTF-81)

Friday, June 11th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

It’s easy to think of our military as just another “department” of our government or to conjure of images of men and women in their fatigues serving in outposts that most of us couldn’t spell let alone find on a map. But these are “real people”—sons and daughters, moms and dads, brothers and sisters—serving us and our country. Let’s put some faces to some who are supporting our American efforts over in Afghanistan.

knock knockLast Christmas, Choclatique adopted the marines of SOTF-81 from Camp Pendleton, California, deployed to eastern Afghanistan near Herat. The good news is that they are all coming home in the next month or so. The bad news is they have to be extremely careful as the first and last month of deployment are the riskiest times to be “in country.”

Over the last several months, one of our marines (name withheld by request) has shared with us some insights (nothing of a secure nature, of course) that you never seem to hear about on the mainstream or cable news programs. I wonder how many of us could endure for a day what they must live with for months on end.

Base LifeEarly in their deployment their cots were replaced with some makeshift beds. The odd thing was the springs in the beds were positioned sideways. So, instead of getting an up-and-down motion when they sat on the bed, they’d get thrown out of bed when they rolled over in the middle of the night.

The food is pretty standard fare, but a lot of it is fried (maybe Mrs. Obama could focus some attention on military meals, too?). They miss the fresh fruit and all of California’s healthful foods such as avocados, which are a rarity.

The camp was built from the ground up in 2009. The base is small and their unit provides for all of their necessities, but not much in the way of luxuries. And believe me, what they have come to consider a “luxury”, we would consider a necessity. Occasionally, they get to travel to one of the other larger bases which have an actual Exchange with restaurants like Burger King or a Pizza Hut, along with other long missed American items.

Heavy PackThe weather in Afghanistan is about as dangerous as the bad guys. In late January, they were exposed to about 120 days of winds that blew every day like a bad nor’easter (not that there’s a good nor’easter). Most of the camp has heating and air conditioning, so even when it does snow or is 120º, they manage to keep relatively comfortable. Of course, all bets are off when they’re out on patrol and exposed to the natural elements of Afghanistan.

Soldier with KidsYoung Americans make friends easily and these Marines feel blessed that the locals have taken kindly to them. The locals are mostly friendly and the Marines see the waves from children as they pass by in the streets. This brings smiles to their faces. It’s described as a 100% experience—50% because they feel like they’re making a difference in Herat and 50% because it reminds them of their homes with neighbors waving as they drive by. Of course, there is a “bad” for every “good.” They must always remain vigilant because the enemy will also have a smiling face right up until they attack. It is very hard not to become complacent.

Our US Marines are serving in a country that is very dusty, rocky, and at high elevations. The water, even though clean and drinkable, has a taste that won’t be forgotten for years to come. They have been working side by side with Special Forces and have told us that as Marines, it has been a pleasure to work with them.

Raising the FlagOne thing for sure is that no matter what the news reports tell us here at home, these soldiers cover one another’s backs and always feel safe because of the Marines’ special bond. They have told us that the great training they received back in the states and the quality of men and women with whom they are serving gives them confidence to know that they’ll all come home to their loved ones safe and sound.

These volunteers really love their jobs, but one thing they have learned is “the most important thing you can do is to cling on to 3 or 4 memories which you are willing to die for to get back to the states safely. And thankfully, Choclatique Chocolates have become one of the 4 memories which we have that brings us back to what we know is waiting for us.” We are humbled to play a small part in supporting these brave Marines.

Please say a prayer for their safe return and thank them for their service.

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Join Choclatique in Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Friday, May 28th, 2010
— Joan Vieweger, Co-Founder of Choclatique

This weekend our nation “celebrates” Memorial Day… you know, the 3-day weekend that marks the unofficial start of summer. The weekend of baseball, barbecues and blockbuster movie debuts. The weekend of legendary mattress, car and stereo sales for those who venture out and Law & Order, and NCIS marathons for all you couch potatoes.

What seems to get lost in all of the eating, watching and shopping is the real significance of the holiday… a day of remembrance and respect for those who died in service to our country. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic; it was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1971, as part of the National Holiday Act, Congress made the holiday a three-day weekend, a move the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) believes has “contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

This spring, I re-watched HBO’s excellent Band of Brothers series as the lead-up to the new series The Pacific. Though the docudrama was very compelling on its own, the video vignette interviews of the actual servicemen from World War I and World War II were moving beyond words. Even all these decades later, the pain of their experiences was evident on their faces, yet they were proud of their service of their fellow soldiers so many of whom never made the trip back home.

Those of us who have never served in the military can never begin to fathom what thousands and thousands of brave soldiers have endured—and are enduring—to protect us and our allies in conflicts. We owe these brave men and women—and their families—a debt we can never repay.

In December 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in hopes of re-educating and reminding Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day. The resolution asks that at 3:00 PM local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’” It would seem that this is the very least we can do to pay deep respect to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live in freedom.

At Choclatique, we proudly support the men and women of the military—past, present and future—who defend our country. We have been very fortunate to become acquainted with many troops currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They and their families inspire us and help us put life’s little inconveniences into proper perspective.

If you find yourself compelled to watch a marathon this weekend, at least tune in to the AMC channel. Beginning at 9:00 AM, you can view 7 classic war films, including The Devil’s Brigade, The Enemy Below and To Hell and Back. But please… don’t forget to take a moment to stop and remember those who gave their lives defending ours.

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A Day of Remembrance

Friday, September 11th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Today is the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania. It is the first commemoration since President George W. Bush left office. But even while he was still President there had been a creeping complacency to the remembrance, a feeling of obligation bordering on inconvenience.

Our news networks only show the photo images of that fateful day on the anniversary date. It is as if America wants to move on, but can’t bring itself to ignore the hole that’s still at Ground Zero, the charred corner stone at the Pentagon, the memorial at Shanksville or the war that’s still going on against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and around the world.

9/11 has affected us as no other event in our life histories and we will never forget the carnage and death launched against the United States by these cowards. But what we should also remember and celebrate are the genuine acts of courage and service that have been on-going by our armed forces, law enforcement agencies and first responders who have dedicated their lives for the protection ours. On this day, all of us at Choclatique do remember and want to give a word of thanks to these men and women—American heroes all.

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Celebrating One Small Step

Friday, May 8th, 2009

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

moonIt came from John F. Kennedy’s lips to God’s ears, “We will land a man on the moon within the next 10 years.”

I remember it as if it were yesterday… both his speech and the actual event. It was 40 years ago this July when three adventuresome astronauts broke free of the earth’s gravitational pull on their way to the moon. I recall sitting in front of the TV set, glued to the somewhat fuzzy picture of Neil Armstrong descending from the Lunar Lander. We all cheered as he laid claim to the moon, not just for America, but for all mankind. The world instantly recognized that this was a seminal moment in history and one that only the United States was capable of achieving. I immediately knew that this was likely the “earth altering achievement” of my time in world history, on a par with Columbus’ discovery of the new world.

apollo_nasa_logoIt wasn’t just the singular achievement of the three “moon men” who, for a short time, occupied the seats on Apollo 11 that we celebrated back then, but the many thousands of unnamed scientists, technicians, craftsmen and laborers who were the backbone of the Apollo program and the creators of the final event. In the decades that followed, we also benefited as consumers from the many by-products of the inventions created specifically for Apollo with standard items in our homes, ranging from Tang and Teflon to Velcro and many others.

I don’t want to take anything away from Neil Armstrong, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin or Charles Conrad, as I still think they are the bravest of the brave. Those few good men allowed themselves to be strapped into a titanium cylinder (whose parts were manufactured by the lowest bidder) and launched toward the moon, when they could have easily been blasted into oblivion without ever having left earth’s atmosphere. After only six trips to the moon, the Apollo project, along with many of the astronauts and hundreds of those responsible were jettisoned like one of the booster rockets on the Space Shuttle. After all, Americans can have a short attention span, and back then they had other distractions like the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

Today, too, Americans have many serious and pressing issues to occupy our time and attention including two wars, the collapse of the auto industry and the shake-up of our financial institutions. People are concerned for their families and hold a general lack of confidence for the future. That’s why we believe it is so very important that we stop, acknowledge and celebrate one of man’s greatest achievements.

Late last summer, Joan and I and our dedicated artisans and chocolatier decided that in our own crazy, little way that Choclatique was not going to let this anniversary pass unnoticed. We wanted to honor the thousands of Americans who brought Project Apollo to life and the millions of citizens who funded these missions with our tax dollars. We created the Choclatique Moon Rocks Collection—vividly-colored, 24- karat gold-veined, crystal-shaped chocolate confections… our interpretation of what might have been found if chocolatier been the first to land on the moon instead of the Apollo astronauts.

Choclatique's Moon Rocks Collection

Choclatique's Moon Rocks Collection

Choclatique’s Moon Rocks Collection offers 15 out-of-this-world flavors which include “Tangy” Orange, Moon Rock Mousse, Apollo Almond, NASA Nuts, Cosmic Crunch Caramel, Rocket Raspberry, Stellar Strawberry Shortcake, Lift Off Lime, Extraterrestrial Mint, Mission Control Fig, Lunar Lemon Caramel, Solar Sesame, Basalt Boysenberry, Pluto Pomegranate Caramel and Galactic Grape all cast in our Private Reserve Dark (64%), Prestige Milk (32%) and Snowy White (33%) Chocolate. These are not only Chocolates Out of the Box, but chocolates out-of-this-world. So here’s the positive and patriotic take-away from this blog… after all, we are the Authentically American Chocolate Company. The United States of America—the greatest nation on earth—was the first to put men on the moon. In the forty years since that historic feat, no other country has even come close to matching our efforts and this technical achievement will probably not be repeated in the next 40 years by any other nation. So, take the time this summer (and all year long) to rejoice and celebrate all of the things that are grand about America; celebrate our achievements with a box of Choclatique Moon Rocks and don’t forget to say a prayer of thanks for all of our American astronauts, especially:

1. Neil Armstrong (1969)
2. Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin (1969)
3. Charles Conrad (1969)
4. Alan Bean (1969)
5. Alan Shepard (1971)
6. Edgar Mitchell (1971)
7. David Scott (1971)
8. James Irwin (1971)
9. John Young (1972)
10. Charles Duke (1972)
11. Eugene Cernan (1972)
12. Harrison Schmitt (1972)

“To the moon, Alice!”

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