This year is shaping up to be even better! I'm heading up to see my friend Karen Friedman (who was with me in Hershey, PA when I became an official member of the Cult of Chocolate).
Before I was just a semi-normal person who liked chocolate. Now I'm eating Nutella (which is going to have to go the banned substances list with peanut butter. There was a late night eating incident.), blogging about chocolate and trying to get my hands on chocolate Peeps. Oh yes, baby - they exist! Two different flavors of chocolate no less! How have we all been able to live without this knowledge? Clearly I have lost my mind.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimension." My mind is now permanently in another dimension.
Back to the Cult. Karen lives in Pennsylvania, which has some great chocolate and confectionery history. In fact, the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Confectioners' Association lists as members about every big name in the chocolate business. According to the Governor of PA, "For decades, Pennsylvania's fresh dairy resources, transportation infrastructure, and quality workforce have enticed and retained candy manufacturers..." And don't forget the Amish! Clearly a good place for a pilgrimage.
I'm starting with Falling Water - one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous buildings. I've always wanted to see this architectural masterpiece, and it's in PA. From there I'm heading across the state - Karen lives outside of Philly. First stop - York, PA where I will get to see the home of Harley Davidson bikes, Snyder Pretzels, and Wolfgang Candy. HD isn't running when I'll be there, but I'm touring both the Snyder's Factory and Wolfgang Candy. According to the Wolfgang Candy web site, theirs was ranked as one of the "Top Five Tasty Tours" by the food network). www.wolfgangcandy.com The Snyder's people don't mess around - they told me not to be late - you can't join a tour in progress. There are only three tours a day and the one after mine is full. Be there at 11:00 am sharp - or you're out of luck! So much for summer fun at the ol' pretzel factory.
There are also a couple of small candy makers I want to check out - Anstine's Candy Box and Fitzkee's Candies. And a company that makes animal crackers - Stauffer's - no tour but a factory outlet. And they have more flavors of animal crackers than I knew existed. Take that, Pretzel Nazis!
The next day I'm heading to see Wilbur Chocolate in Lititz, PA where there is a candy Americana Museum. Wheee! And needless to say - one helluva lot of chocolate. Then I'm heading to Oxford, PA where there's a Neuchatel Chocolate Factory - no tour, but a big retail outlet. And the website looks delish! www.neuchatelchocolates.com This is a Swiss Company that markets the Swiss Chip (a chocolate covered potato chip). You gotta be kidding me - surely that's an American invention! It seems WAY too trailer trash for the Swiss. I am sooo going to interrogate their poor store clerk about that. Let's just hope the clerk doesn't start quoting Einstein. Finally, I'm heading to Asher's Chocolates in Souderton, PA. www.ashers.com Then I'll link up with Karen and who knows what might happen then. (Perhaps I'll go to the hospital in a diabetic coma?)
What about you? What are you doing this summer? Will it be different? Will it make you think? Will it take your mind to a new dimension? If not, why? You'll only have the Summer of 2008 once. Follow your passion, your curiosity - or just your taste buds. Carpe vita!!