Archives for November 2009

Giving to Troops in Afghanistan

We recently heard about a program to support our troops in Afghanistan. This program came about when Kimberlee, who is deployed to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, had a chocolate craving but could not find any chocolate at the airbase. With over 21,000 troops deployed to Bagram Airfrield in Afghanistan she realized that she could not have been the only one to have a chocolate craving but not be able to find any chocolate. She decided to start a program through a private organization called the top three. She is trying to organize people to donate chocolate to troops in Afghanistan. As soon as we at Chocomize heard about this idea, we immediatly decided to donate some of our chocolate. Here are some pictures of Eric packing one of our boxes to send to Afghanistan:

 

customized chocolate bars

 

customized choclate bars2

 

If you want to donate chocolate as well, contact us at info@chocomize.com to get more details. We are always looking for new ways and ideas to give back, check out our charities that we support and make a donation through Chocomize today!

Nick at the Head of the Charles

A belated congratulations to Nick LaCava and the US Rowing Lightweight National Team on their stellar performance at the annual Head of the Charles Rowing Regatta in Boston Massachusetts. As many of you know Nick LaCava is one of the founding members of the Chocomize team. In addition to his job as a dedicated chocolatier Nick is a member of the United States National Rowing Team. Earlier this year Nick participated in the World Rowing Championships in Poland. Nick and the Lightweight Mens National team earned a well deserved victory in the Lightweight Eights category at the famed regatta. Each year thousands of rowers and party goers line the shores of the Charles river which divides Cambridge from Boston. Never one to miss an opportunity to expound upon the virtues of Chocomize chocolate Nick spent his free hours handing out Chocomize sample bars to regatta contestants and spectators alike. Nick says the chocolate was a huge success and word spread quickly at the regatta that there was delicious chocolate to be had! Congratulations again to Nick and the US Rowing National team from Chocomize staff and fans.


Check out the winning boat below:

hocr 2009 win

Street Fair, Part II

Street Fair, Part II


After less than five hours of sleep, we woke up to get ready for the street fair. Our first order of business was to drive uptown to pick up a tent that a friend of ours was lending us. Once we got the tent, we drove down to 53rd and Madison to drop off and set up our equipment.We had a ten by ten foot area right on the corner of the street. Our neighbor to our left sold hand knit gloves and hats, while the tent across the street sold Philippino barbeque, spelt barbikyu. They sold three dollar pork and beef kabob and spent the entire day yelling “free samples, free samples”.


Most of the setups were similar to ours. We had one large tent with a banner attached to the front displaying our logo and slogan. Inside the tent we had two tables, one in the front displaying all our chocolate, the other behind us which we used for storage.

Around ten o’clock a lot of people began to traffic the area. It being New York, we saw a lot of interesting characters. We saw a seventy year old woman with hair dyed bright purple, two middle aged men walking around with no shirts, and one typical New York road rage incident involving one woman driver screaming at the top of her lungs at another driver while almost running over two pedestrians innocently crossing the street.


We quickly began selling bars. We sold both our big bars as well as the small bars that we usually set aside for samples. The most popular bar was definitely the dark chocolate with strawberries. Other notable favorites included the milk chocolate bar with gummi bears and m & m’s, as well as the milk chocolate bar with almonds which we sold out of very quickly.


Overall, not only did we sell a lot of chocolate bars, but we had a great response from people who came by the tent. There were a lot of different types of chocolate lovers. Some were chocolate experts, who loved the taste of our dark chocolate. Some were candy fiends who couldn’t get enough of our milk chocolate with m & m and gummi bears. Others were simply blown away by how great the different ingredients looked on top of the different chocolate bars.


It was wonderful to see and hear the different responses people had to the ingredients we offered for their chocolate. A lot of people were amused when they saw chocolate with cherrios, were shocked when they bit into a chocolate bar with pop rocks and felt it explode in their mouths, and a few were a little grossed out by the idea of chocolate with bacon.


We spent the entire day selling chocolate and talking with people about our idea. The only break we had was when we grabbed some hot dogs from the local stand nearby, which Eric immediately regretted and proceeded to spend the rest of the day complaining about “how disgusting his water dog tasted”. It was also great running into our friends who lived in the city and were excited to see and taste our chocolate bars.


At the end of the day we packed up and said goodbye to our neighboring stands (we were never brave enough to try the barbikyu). It was really great not only being able to finally start selling actual chocolate bars, but also to hear the responses and advice people had to our chocolate. It was particularly nice whenever someone would return to our tent and say “I just had to come back to tell you how great your chocolate was”. If you did stop by our street fair, we appreciate you coming. We hope to see a lot of the same people not only at future street fairs, but also as customers to our online store where they can choose any ingredient they want for their chocolate!


Check out our pictures:

 

 

street fair 1

 

street fair 2

 

street fair 3

 

street fair 4

Street Fair, Part I

Preparations for NYC Street fair


There have been many stressful and hair raising situations regarding the start up of our business. As one can imagine things rarely go according to plan, but luckily they often times seem to work out. That was the story of our Saturday. Saturday before our big street fair in New York everything was set to go. Our machines had arrived, our equipment was in place, our production facility was spick and span, our ingredients were ready to be happily dunked into the chocolate bars they would call home. There was just one problem, electricity. Our electrician had a series of family emergencies and was not able to come out to our factory during the week. Our machines are fairly complicated electrically. They are European and need to be rewired for American standards. They also run on whats called 3 phase electricity. Three phase is a highly efficient way of powering larger equipment with motors etc. So everything was set up but we could not hook up our tempering machines which are obviously key to our ability to make chocolate. We were familiar with machines as we had used them before in Europe so we were confident once they were hooked up we would be well on our way to making lots and lots of excellent chocolate for New Yorkers to devour. We had 600 bars of chocolate to make before the street fair the next day, and as things stood our only machine we had hooked up was our small machine dedicated to production of white chocolate which could only produce four bars at a time. Sufficed to say if we didn’t get our large tempering machines hooked up we were in for an all nighter equal to those of our college days (Eric was a big paper procrastinator).


Our electrician arrived and began to start hooking up our “phase converter” which converts the local single phase electricity into the three phase which would efficiently power our large tempering machines. Things were plugging along nicely and then a new scare came up. The electrician feared that our machines may require too much energy and that our factory would turn off the lights of the other offices and facilities around us. This was not going to be a good option. We were told we might be able to run one machine but in order to run two we would have to sink thousands of additional dollars into increasing our power supply from the town, a process which would take weeks. Not exactly what you wanted to hear the night before our first big chocolate sale. Time was ticking and Nick was getting worried. After many back of the envelope calculations our electrician thought it could be done and we decided to give it a whirl. One machine worked… time to try the second. The breakers were switched on, the phase converter hummed and the tempering machines were switched on whilst an emotionally fragile Nick trembled with nervous anticipation. Eric stood stoically observing the situation with the cool confidence of a veteran of the custom chocolate industry. The LCD displays on the machines both came to life, illuminating our state of the art factory with their blue glow! Things were looking good.


“Thanks a lot” we said to the electrician “now its time to make some chocolate”! It was 1pm. As mentioned earlier we had worked with a version of these machines before so we were familiar with them and we thought we were ready to get right into things. However once all the equipment was set up the display was unresponsive. For whatever reason the machines were ignoring our commands. Was it because they did not respect Nick? Did they need an alpha male to tell them what to do? No such luck Eric had the same result. Hours passed, buttons pressed and pressed some more… nothing. Even Eric was starting to get worried. It was now 6pm and we still had 550 perfect chocolate bars to churn out with love for Sunday’s street fair. Getting the machine to work was complicated by the fact that the manual which came with it was  in Italian only. Not one member of the Chocomize staff speaks Italian. Some Spanish, German, Arabic, French maybe even a little English but no one speaks Italian. After trying every possible button combination etc Eric placed a small magnet that came with the machines by the side of the tempering basin. Open Sesame! The machine’s LCD display told us our wish was their command. Apparently the magnet was a safety device installed recently to prevent machines starting without proper protection. A new addition we were not familiar with. Perhaps a response to the recent death in Pennsauken New Jersey where a man fell into a vat of chocolate. Whatever the reason for the device it was critical for our machinery. We poured in our chocolate, heated it up and began the tempering process. Our factory was transformed rather quickly from a place of anxiety to Willy Wonka’s with the tempering machine’s fountains gushing veritable waterfalls of chocolate. Now we could get down to business. Earnestly we created chocolate, added ingredients, moulded the chocolate, cooled it down and then packaged the chocolate for the fair. By 1.30am we had finished and now we were packing the chocolate into the truck and heading off on the 2 hour drive from Philadelphia to New York!


To be continued…


 

Where our chocolate comes from


Although our business is based in New Jersey, we import all our chocolate from Barry Callebaut in Belgium. For those of you who have never heard of Barry Callebaut, they are the largest manufacturer of high quality cocoa and chocolate in the world. Most consider them to make the finest quality chocolate, and after trying chocolate from lots of different companies, we agreed that they were the best.


Barry Callebaut gets all their cocoa beans from small farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. Check out this link: http://www.barry-callebaut.com/1718 to learn more about how they are helping cocoa farmers.


Once the cocoa beans are harvested in Côte d’Ivoire, Barry Callebaut imports them into Belgium and then processes them further into actual chocolate.


The chocolate is then sent to our factory in the United States. Once the chocolate arrives, we temper and mold the chocolate, add the ingredients of your choosing, and then package and send the bar to you in the mail.


There are many steps that occur from when the cocoa bean is first grown to when you finally receive your Chocomize bar in the mail. We make sure that you get the best quality chocolate possible but not at the risk of ignoring important social issues. We chose Barry Callebaut not just for their great tasting chocolate, but because they are also a socially conscious company like ourselves. Check out this link to read more about how they help the environment: http://www.barry-callebaut.com/1722.


Hopefully this post has made it clearer where exactly our chocolate comes from, and we look forward to sending you your delicious Chocomize bar soon!