Chocolove Blog

  • Happy Sacher Torte Day

    Funny how life’s events move in orbits and return again at various times and ways. Today (December 5) is such a day, as it is Sacher Torte Day. Coincidentally, today our maître chocolatier Patrick Peeters was hand decorating Sacher Torte Petit Fours on the enrobing machine. When I told him today is National Sacher Torte Day, he chuckled in slight disbelief, asking, “is there such a day?” and checking my eyes for a twinkle.

    Many, many years ago as a young man, I traveled Europe in the typical knapsack-on-my-back fashion. Even then at the age of 21, I was reading guidebooks and planning itinerary around taste experiences. Having read that the world's best chocolate cake was made and served in Vienna, I found my way there. There in a very nice hotel and a very expensive café for my young man’s wallet, I sat and ate what was to be a great cake. It was great in that I was 100% present to experience it, for not only was it so expensive, and I wanted to remember in a way I could recall all its nuances years later. I also lingered because Vienna was bone cold that time of year, and especially that year, and the café was warm and had a wonderful aroma, din and feeling of life is grand.

    Years later as still a young man but a little older, living in California, and working as a tea-taster of sorts, I had spare time to pursue the making of this great cake and talked my way into the kitchen of the best eatery in town. Could I apprentice in the kitchen and learn the kitchen craft and focus on making one thing, Sacher Torte, I asked and the restaurateur accepted. Soon enough, I was making way more cakes than I thought possible and I was up to my elbows in pots and pans; some of the line cooks piled on and took delight in my arrangement. I of course vowed to make the best of it and made some good, but not very good, cakes; but not as good as I remember. I think this work as apprentice pastry chef served me well and was a formative experience in shaping what today is a substantial taste memory bank in chocolate flavor.

    Full circle, we have Sacher Torte made by Chef Patrick Peeters in Petit Fours. Yes, he made a limited edition box set of 16 exquisite petit four cakes. These will be internet-only sales, and they are available for purchase on the website now.

    I have eaten 8 so far today and still hungry for more. Under the influence of 8, I must say I have a feeling that life is grand and I am willing to believe Sacher Torte may be the best chocolate cake in the world.

  • Fifteen More Reasons To Give Thanks

    On the theme of being thankful, we are happy to announce that the Non-GMO Project has verified 15 of our flavors. We have added the Non-GMO Project seal to the wrappers of the verified products and will be using these wrappers soon. You will start seeing these Non-GMO Project verified bars in retail stores over the next few weeks and months.

    Chocolove is Non-GMO Project Verfied - 15 Flavors

    We enrolled in the Non-GMO Project over 16 months ago, and had no idea the Belgian-made products we use would take so long to get verified. The review periods were also lengthy and we didn't realize just how how much work was involved, which of our vendors would comply, and which would refuse to try. However, despite hundreds of emails and hundreds of hours of work, we are thankful to finally have 15 flavors verified. We will update the website with this new information and the list of 15 soon.

    Human nature is such that a question quickly follows: what about the other 10 flavors Chocolove makes?  And the answer is, we are diligently working on it and have some progress, but as of now, we are still in-process. We are committed to herding all the flavors into the corral and getting the branding iron on them, but some are a little more inclined to roam than others.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Metamorphosis

    For me, the change of packaging from horizontal to vertical was something so emotionally challenging that to now have it completed was on the scale of a metamorphosis. To be clear, Chocolove embarked upon yet another change over the last few months; a change that not only retains the vertical aspect so many retail stores demand, but brings back many of the graphic elements that you and I know and love.

    This includes the return of the embossed gold seal. In this revision, we tried to bring the best of all historical wrapper designs to each and every flavor. It was a challenge to harmonize the look and feel of all the various flavors while retaining the colors and elements you look for when you shop.

    The latest and greatest version of the packing began shipping September 1st and you should start seeing them in stores in early October. Thanks for your patience as we transitioned.

  • New Hazelnuts in Milk Chocolate Taste

    Hazelnut in milk chocolate is a classic European traditional flavor combination. Something funny happened last year, our usual Hazelnut vendor sold out and we were forced to search for alternate vendors. And in that search, we found several vendors who could sell us raw hazelnuts. Now that we have an innovation center and a classically trained master chocolatier, the task of roasting several varieties in several degrees of roast, is, well fun.

    Chef Patrick handled this possible problem as an opportunity to not only get hazelnuts, but upgrade our hazelnuts. Hazelnut flavor peaks a few days after roasting, like coffee. Fortunately we have a coffee roaster and so we now buy raw hazelnuts and roast to just the right temperature for maximum flavor and then seal that flavor into the milk chocolate.

    And while we were tuning up the flavor we tried several levels of salt and arrived at the better version of a European classics, fresh roasted hazelnuts in milk chocolate with a sprinkle of salt. Coming soon to a store near you.

  • Chocolove's Anniversary

    August 2016 marks the 21st anniversary of Chocolove selling chocolate bars. We started with the recognition that there were no US-based premium chocolate companies. Premium chocolate was a part of European daily life, so why not American daily life? Having traveled extensively through the years, I knew that premium chocolate would be something Americans would want. After extensive taste sessions, we were happy to learn that Americans could tell the difference in great chocolate and would pay a little more to get a lot more satisfaction.

    Chocolove went to market in 1995 with four chocolate bar flavors: Dark 55%, Dark with Cocoa Nibs, Milk 33%, and Milk with Cocoa Nibs. At that time, we were the first US-made chocolate bar to declare cocoa content, and the first to use cocoa nibs in bars. Our package was inspired by my father’s collection of postage stamps and envelopes, and also from a personal experience of receiving a package of chocolate from Switzerland. To bolster and compliment the package and love theme, we printed love poems inside the wrappers.

    We make our products with the awareness that people reach for Chocolove to share love, to reward themselves, and to pursue happiness. We know we are in the happiness business and we measure success by the number of people made happier each day.

    The Chocolove philosophy was, and still is, to make a great chocolate bar that everyone can enjoy; not only because of our great and fresh taste, but because of our truly great value in terms of price point for the quality that we deliver.

    As of January 2016, we have three new flavors: Extreme Dark 88%, and two filled bars, Salted Caramel in Dark, and Salted Almond Butter in Dark. The pillows of chocolate with filling inside these last two bars allow us to deliver more delightful flavors and more intense satisfaction.

    In 2015, we brought on board a master chocolatier/chef de chocolate, Patrick Peeters. He is a Belgian who is classically trained and worked his way up to master chocolatier over many years. He creates new taste treats for us daily and has some great new products for you in 2017.

  • Happy Father's Day

    While I may have learned to cook from my mother, it was my from my father that I learned about enterprise. Growing up in a family of five kids, I was his helper; perhaps because I was willing to listen, wanting to learn, or because I found it more interesting to be working than not. Frequently, my father would take me with him when he worked, which often translated into me working long hours with low pay, often for peanuts, literally.

    However, some of our endeavors were more classic-natured and make for good story telling. His father had owned a small soft-drink company in the late 1930s. So it was no surprise that my father knew how to make great lemonade. I can still recall (over 4 decades later) going to the SunMart  grocery store and watching my father negotiate with the Produce Manager to buy lugs of lemons. Then we would clear the shelf of bags of sugar, empty the Dixie Cup shelf, and finally make a major dent in the bagged ice freezer. It was one heavy grocery cart.

    My father's scale of doing a lemonade stand had me wide-eyed and oh-my-gosh-looking.  True to his and my dynamic natures, he put me to work in the sun and assured me I would sell more if he were in the shade, behind the scenes. I set up my stand of homemade fresh-squeezed lemonade on the edge of our property, which was the edge of the golf course next to the Number 4 tee. I learned the fine art of balancing sweet and sour and water and ice. I learned customer service first hand. I did so well at selling lemonade that I was shut down by the golf course club house because I was cutting into their revenue.  Even though technically I was on my property, I was forced to cease and desist. Ah, the early business lessons.

    While setting up an enterprise may not be in the cards this Father’s Day, perhaps a glass of lemonade, paired with a Chocolove Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate will be.

  • A Memorial Day Reflection

    On Memorial Day I remember my neighbor, Bill Johnston, who was like a father to me. Bill was a WWII veteran and was also a POW. He explained early on in our over-a-decade-long relationship that war was hell, and there would be no questions or stories on the matter. He did this with a slight Scottish accent and emphatically, like William Forester in the movie Finding Forester. Over the years he would, on his own, occasionally offer up anecdotes of early years of his life to help me understand him and the world, but never in a self-aggrandizing manner.

    He was a great story teller in the tradition and manner consistent with New Orleans storytelling and the 1930s. Bill, along with his wife Shirley, were English literature scholars and professors. Like parents, they provided encouragement in a general sense, helped me learn to read and write better, supported my love of poetry, and even made a personal loan to help Chocolove during the formative years. The loan has long since been repaid.

    On Memorial Day I reflect on my many years with Bill and ponder what other debts I owed and whether they have been paid. While it is not a repayment, per se, I give thanks to Bill and Shirley Johnston for their role in helping Chocolove grow.

  • Happy Mother's Day

    In the family I grew up in, one of our traditions was cooking breakfast for our mother on Mother’s Day. Reflecting back, even though as a boy I really didn't have the skills to cook, it was exciting that I was still given permission to try and make a breakfast for our mom. We would make a square meal breakfast and serve it on a tray along with coffee, cream, and sugar.

    Later in the day, we would give our mother some flowers (usually picked locally), a handmade card, and a box of chocolates. In retrospect, the chocolates were not that special. The kids all hovered around while Mom opened the box of chocolates and surveyed them. We waited as patiently as we could until she would pick one for herself and then hand out one chocolate for each of us.

    Over the years, as a child and a young man, I regularly helped my mother in the kitchen and in the process learned about cooking, tasting, and the joy of making food for others. One of my favorite things to make were chocolate chip cookies, because I got to sneak chocolate chips and eat cookie dough as I worked. I place Mother’s Day, and especially my mother, at the top of formative experiences that helped shape my ability to create and run a chocolate company.

    This Mother's Day, I hope you involve your children in cooking something for Mom. I am sure she will be quite happy.

  • New Wrapper Design, Same Great Chocolate!

    Chocolove has revised the wrapper design for all of our flavors. You may have seen some already.

    The impetus for the design change was that several leading retailers wanted Chocolove to continue being sold in their stores, but required that the wrapper display vertically. There were, however, a large number of reasons to retain a horizontal wrapper display, for those that wanted that option.  So to meet the needs of both vertical and horizontal displays, we designed a wrapper that is vertical on one side and horizontal on the other.

    The history of the wrapper design is that it evolved with various new product launches over the past 21 years. The original design was a collaboration between graphic designer Dave Shelton and myself.  Every 2 or 3 years, we rolled out a couple of new flavors and with them, a slightly different wrapper look each time.  The result was a line of 25 flavors with eight different looks.

    The current redesign attempts to gather the best elements of a number of previous design phases and standardize them into a more consistent look.  We will be making subtle adjustments over the course of the year.

    We are still a privately held, family run business.  The chocolate in most of our flavors are made from cocoa beans certified For Life.  We also continue to press forward with Non-GMO verification.

    A different look and more certifications, yet the same great tasting chocolate.

  • Website Under Construction

    Website. Construction zone.

    These two words or phrases seem out of place and disconnected, unless you work in customer service at Chocolove.

    I must say that we didn’t plan to build a website on the fly and have 20 things that needed fixing. We were forced to a new platform as our old license and software expired and was no longer supported with those all-important patches. Rest assured, we are in almost hourly dialogue with, and are gently bending, the website team to get it done and fix the bugs.

    If you have any need at all that is not being served by the website, call 1-888-246-2656, and we will do it the old fashioned way. Sort of like when the power goes out and you have to rely on candles and oil lamps--it can be kind of fun.

    We aim to "git 'er done" while we are all still having fun.

    Thanks for your understanding.

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