New chocolate bars fascinate me. The anticipation of the taste is a big part of the fascination, but there’s more to it than that. Many chocolate companies are outdoing themselves in the packaging department, so the wrappers are quite a treat to inspect. Part of the intrigue are the names that the different chocolate makers have chosen (both for their company and for their chocolate), and the stories behind those names.
The fascination does not end when the chocolate that comes home with me (or home to me) is carefully inspected from front to back, photographed from every angle (remind me to tell you about my 154 GIGS of chocolate photos sometime) and sampled. The packaging is never thrown away. Instead, it goes into my collection of wrappers to reference later, to use for other photo-ops, or to be re-purposed. (A plastic insert with shallow indentations that had originally held pralines in place makes a perfect mold for dark chocolate mint thins! And I really ought to look into decoupage. Only I’d need something big in order to use up the quantity of wrappers that just had to be rehoused because they were outgrowing their drawer. Anyone ever decoupaged an entire wall of their house with chocolate wrappers?) (Disclaimer: I don’t have enough wrappers for a whole wall…yet.)
Pictured: Andean Lemon Verbena by Pacari, SeriousMilk Cacao by TCHO, Smoked Chai by Raaka, and Maple Coconut by Dick Taylor. (I’m making them sound like perfumes. Come to think of it, all of those would likely make nice scents!)
The taste, the wrappers, the packaging, re-purposing the packing…even after all of that, there’s at least one more thing that is fascinating, and that is: What will other people think of each chocolate? There are usually a few squares leftover to share with this friend or that friend. I know, I know. Leftover chocolate; is that even possible? Trust me, it takes great restraint to keep my hands off the whole bar, box, or bag. Sometimes it’s impossible; there is almost never any milk chocolate left to share (my apologies to my milk-chocolate loving friends)!
Lately I’ve found myself turning the whole thing into a production. The wrappers come along for the ride. The chocolate goes on a little tray (or the lid gets popped off the container) so it can be easily viewed. The explanation goes something like this: “This intricate bar with the coconut flakes is Dick Taylor Maple Coconut – see how neat their packaging is – and this one is TCHO” …(no, wait, I don’t think anyone got to see the TCHO because it was milk chocolate and it didn’t make it past my house)… “and this smooth thin one is Raaka and see the design on their wrapper…” About this time, I may start to get dizzy looks and comments like “Am I supposed to be remembering all of these?” or “Just so you know, I don’t think I can memorize all of that”.
To which my sister has started replying: “There will be a test afterwards.” (Everyone generally starts laughing at that point. Laughing with me, not at me.) Gwen keeps doing that. I’ll automatically launch into my detailed spiel of names and flavors and designs and she’ll automatically follow-up with something along the lines of, “I hope you’re keeping track. There will be a test afterwards.”
I realized that I might be going a bit overboard. Maybe everyone isn’t as fascinated. Maybe some are. Maybe they all are. They like chocolate. But as far as every little detail? It’s chocolate! Either it is good or it isn’t, and they won’t know until I stop talking and let the tasting commence.
So, to everyone that I may have rattled off brands and flavors and packaging descriptions and tasting notes to: Well…I can’t help it. It’s too much fun. But I’ll make you a deal. You certainly do not have to memorize any of the things that you are humoring me by listening to. And there will be complementary chocolate at the end. Hopefully it’s worth it.
FYI: If you catch me at just the right moment, I might keep it short. Like the other night upon delivering the latest samples to my brother: “Do you want to know what this is, or do you just want to eat it? His reply: “I just want to eat it.” Okay then.