Archive for January, 2010

Valentine’s Day: Buy-A-Box—Borrow A Quote

Friday, January 29th, 2010
— Joan Vieweger, Co-Founder of Choclatique

When I was in elementary school, before the world became so politically correct, we were allowed to share Valentine’s Day cards and Necco Wafer candy hearts with the kids in our class. We made a lot of little girls very happy with the sugary hearts embossed with sayings like “Hot Stuff,” “I Love You” and “Be Mine.”

Nothing has really changed—both little girls and lovely ladies still love to get candy for Valentine’s Day. The big dark (chocolate) secret is that little boys and big guys love to get gourmet chocolate as well.

Love CollectionMany creative people have written such wonderful words about love and Valentines and I wanted to include them in our Choclatique Love gourmet chocolate assortments for Valentine’s Day. I tried for weeks to find some way to add words of love atop our beautifully tempered, hand-decorated and polished Valentine’s hearts, but the two goals were incompatible. It was either beautiful, luscious chocolate or some sayings that didn’t seem appropriate.

Even I am sometimes at a loss for words when it comes to Love… a lot of guys are. I did a little research to find out what others have said about Love to borrow a phase or two.

Here are some of the best I found…

Heart 1I am like a falling star who has finally found her place next to another in a lovely constellation, where we will sparkle in the heavens forever.

Amy Tan

Heart 2The love we give away is the only love we keep.

Elbert Hubbard

Heart 3Infantile love follows the principle: “I love because I am loved.”
Mature love follows the principle: “I am loved because I love.”
Immature love says: “I love you because I need you.”
Mature love says: “I need you because I love you.”

Erich Fromm

Heart 4Love doesn’t make the world go ’round; love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

Franklin P. Jones

Heart 5There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.

George Sand

Heart 6There is no remedy for love but to love more.

Henry David Thoreau

Heart 7A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.

Ingrid Bergman

Heart 8Love does not die easily. It is a living thing. It thrives in the face of all of life’s hazards, save one — neglect.

James D. Bryden

Heart 9Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear.

John Lennon

Heart 10Where there is love there is life.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Heart 11The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

Mother Teresa

Heart 12Do you love me because I’m beautiful, or am I am beautiful because you love me?

Oscar Hammerstein, II

Heart 13Each time that one loves is the only time one has ever loved. Difference of object does not alter singleness of passion. It merely intensifies it. We can have but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible.

From The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

Heart 14Earth’s the right place for love. I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

Robert Frost

Heart 15Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Robert Heinlein

Heart 16If I know what love is, it is because of you.

Herman Hesse

Heart 17I love you; Not only for what you are But for what I am when I am in love with you.

Robert Croft

Heart 18Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.

St. Augustine

Heart 19I could find a thousand words to tell you how wonderful you are, but I don’t need a thousand words to show you what’s in my heart… Choclatique.

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder Choclatique

If you’re looking for love in all the right places and seeking a little romance, here are the chocolate and the words.

The Choclatique Love Collection is a beautiful assortment of luscious, heart-shaped chocolates that will fulfill your dreams with that very special gal or guy. Each romantic flavor casts an aphrodisiac-like spell that is the envy of cupid himself. All of our delicious Love chocolates are hand-decorated, heart-shaped and encased in our rich, bitter-sweet, yet fruity dark chocolate, creamery milk chocolate or snowy white chocolate couverture.

Our passionate Choclatique cupids will hand-pack and ribbon tie your selections and deliver them to everyone on your list. Each box comes complete with a gift card with your words (or ours) of love.

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Fine Chocolate and Fancy Food

Monday, January 25th, 2010

— Joan Vieweger, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Twice a year the artisans and merchants of “fancy” foods gather in New York and San Francisco for the Summer and Winter Fancy Food Shows, sponsored by the NASFT—National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Some 45,000 buyers walk aisle after aisle after aisle perusing, sniffing, nibbling and evaluating a mind-boggling 250,000 products from all around the world, including gourmet chocolates, handmade chocolate, chocolate truffles and fine chocolate.

Fancy Food Show

Just prior to the start of the Fancy Food Show, our own talented group of artisans gathers for our semi-annual meeting of the FCIA—Fine Chocolate Industry Association. It’s a fun and fascinating group that includes professionals from all around the country involved in chocolate from blossom to bean to bonbon and bar: growers/producers, chocolatiers, chocolate makers, pastry chefs, chocolate manufacturers, marketers, writers, educators and specialty retailers.

Chicks CollectionThe winter confluence of these groups took place January 16th-19th in San Francisco, so I grabbed my umbrella, trench coat and Wellies (have you seen our California weather lately?) and hit the road (or the airport and train station anyway).

Our FCIA program this year included a new feature called the Gallery Showcase in which members were given a small presentation space to “showcase” some of their latest and greatest or soon-to-be-released products. This was the first time that our fun and flavorful new Easter Chicks made their public debut. Chicks officially “hatch” on March 1st; they make wonderful chocolate gifts. Chicks make an excellent companion chocolate to our 24-karat gold Spring assortments.

Sticky Almond ChickThe aww-factor was pretty high as my fellow association members considered the amount of painstaking detail involved in creating these hand-made chocolates. Each Chick is carefully hand-painted (eyes, beak, face/body, shell top and bottom), then cast in Private Reserve Premium Dark Chocolate (64% cacao), creamy Prestige Milk Chocolate (32%) or Snowy White Chocolate (33%), and filled with layers of flavors including Bumble Berry, Cherries Jubilee, Orange Orchard, Sticky Almond and Sweet Sesame Seed Crunch, among others.

The educational portion of the evening focused on an informative—and surprisingly entertaining—panel discussion focusing on the mystery, myths and facts around the health benefits of chocolate. An impressive panel of scientists and experts were assembled to explore the topic. They included: David Stuart, Director Natural Product Sciences for The Hershey Company; Catherine Kwik-Uribe, PhD Research Scientist for Mars; Joan Steuer, President of Chocolate Marketing and Founding Editor of Chocolatier (now Dessert Professional); and Clay Gordon, Founder of The Chocolate Life (online community).

The scientists presented data from research studies suggesting that chocolate does in fact yield beneficial effects from consumption including improvement in blood flow within 20 minutes of consumption and a reduction in blood pressure with daily consumption of small amounts (more studies are underway to further validate these findings). Clay discussed the benefits associated with cocoa and chocolate’s exceedingly high ORAC values (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity, one of the primary methods for measuring and comparing antioxidant properties in foods), and Joan Steuer reminded us all that even if chocolate is ultimately determined to be a “health food” by any scientific standard, we should all remember the primary reason to consume is for the pure pleasure of the chocolate-eating experience.

The following day I put on my walking shoes and traversed over 180,000 square feet of exhibits at Moscone Center. Pure Power BarI must admit to being a little myopic, focusing on the wonderful world of gourmet chocolate and our wonderful supporting vendors (packaging and specialty ingredients), but I did “slow my roll” a bit around the dozens of cheese booths (hey, I grew up in Wisconsin and now live in California… there’s whey in my blood) I encountered, not to mention artisan sausages and charcuterie producers. Of course, the What’s New/What’s Hot section is not to be missed, either. Lots of “green” offerings this year, and gluten-free was all the rage… none quite as good our gluten-free PurePower Peanut Bars.

Every style of specialty food is represented in a demonstration of America’s seemingly unlimited entrepreneurial spirit that drives artisans of every style to “take the plunge” and bring their craft to market. It’s only too bad that they don’t add a day for the public, allowing the vast community of foodies to come through to “try and buy.” It would definitely be a finger-lickin’ win/win for all concerned!

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Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 7th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

The year-end holidays are over and we are in a new year, 2010. So first of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Next, thanks to all of our loyal friends and coworkers who made 2009 a great year even with some severe financial challenges that have and continue to face our great nation.

So many of our great customers came back to support us by continuing to give Choclatique Chocolate to their friends and families and at the same time spread the gospel of Choclatique to many new customers who had never previously heard of us.

Our best selling assortment remains our Build-A-Box feature. This allows customers to enter the website and click and drag their favorite flavors into an 8-, 15- or 30-piece box.

I remember when I asked my partner to program this feature on our website. Joan and our web master worked for weeks to iron out all of the problems and have it properly interface with our shopping cart program. As difficult as that was the biggest challenge remains fulfilling the Build-A-Box orders that come in with over 150 flavors of chocolate from which to choose.

We now are finding that technology has advanced to the point that we will be able to make upgrades and changes to the site to make it even easier to use and more fun to play in. Budgets will be adjusted to allow Joan and our web consultants to spend most of the first quarter upgrading the website.

Dave did a great job keeping all the orders straight and making sure all of those special messages were correctly written and most importantly, put on the right box before they were finally packaged up to go. Dave also monitors the weather to make sure if a package is scheduled to go to a warmer climate it is properly insulated and cushioned with cold packs.

All of our heart-of-the-house co-workers (Wayne, Karen, Pedro, Victor, Joan and Calvin) scurry from 7am until 3pm daily making sure that every single order is logged, correctly pulled and sent out promptly at 5PM nightly as Manuel is driving up in his trademarked UPS truck.

Every one of our co-workers realizes that in many cases we are not just selling chocolate, but memories. What would Aunt Betty think if she didn’t get her favorite box of chocolate on her 70th birthday? Coming a day late just wouldn’t do. It was a bit challenging this year with all of the snow storms affecting the midwest and east coast. I only know of one order that didn’t make to its destination on time, and although we are not responsible for the weather (sometimes it’s challenging enough to be responsible for the chocolate), we bent over backwards to help make that customer feel a little better.

Our number one selling flavor remains Bubbly—Champagne Truffles made with Dom Perignon Champagne. It is followed closely by Blue Ribbon Cherry Pie, Hot, Hot Cocoa and Root Beer Float. The 4 top selling assortments for the holiday were Decadent Desserts, Box of Bubbly, Holidays and Elephant—Seriously Strong Chocolate.

We also developed 3 new products that garnered raves from both the media, and most importantly, our customers who bought them. These new confections included Peanut Brittle Bites (the only confection we make that doesn’t have chocolate), Chocolate-Covered Peanut Brittle Bites (Milk Chocolate) and Chocolate Almond Butter Toffee Bites (Dark Chocolate). Each are packed in a one pound ballotin box and priced to help those who are watching their budgets. One Monday alone we made, packaged and sent out over 200 boxes of these new products.

The week before Christmas I received an advance from my publisher, Running Press, for my new chocolate cookbook, Ed Engoron’s Choclatique. You will be hearing a lot more about it this year as we get ready to get it in print and out on bookshelves. But just for the moment, a special thanks to my New York literary agents, Jane and Miriam, who believed in the project and made it happen, as well as Mary and Joan, my writing buddies.

And now to all of you who have been reading and commenting on this blog since it began—thanks for making 2009 a great year for Choclatique.

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