Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Chocolate Politics

I could never run for office. As soon as I go on a rant, new information comes in and I have to reverse the rant. Well, kind of. I still don't like Dagoba Organic Chocolate bars (and that lavender taste still freaks me out). But some cause marketing is okay with me:

I love peanut M & M's and how cute are these? There's the sexy green M & M wearing a pink ribbon and saying "Here's a sweet way to show you care!" And the M & M's are in shades of pink! M & M's Brand is contributing $650,00 to the fight against breast cancer. This is great marketing, a great cause and a great product. It's fabulous!

And look at this:

Double Chocolate Milanos - another product I love. Any gourmands out there are thinking "What a loser! She chooses Peanut M & M's and Milanos over organic chocolate! How common! Heck yes, say I! I once talked a man out of his Milanos on an airplane and I would do it again if given the chance! These cookies rock! (Need I remind you that Pepperidge Farm makes those Chocolate Goldfish?) Now here's an even cooler thing - it says on the bag "The inspiration for Pepperidge Farm's efforts against breast cancer is our founder Margaret Rudkin. In her journey through life Margaret was also touched by breast cancer." Pepperidge Farms is donating $200,000 for the fight. Another great promotion and another great product.

So what lessons are here? (Besides that I should never run for office?) At the end of the day, M & M's and Pepperidge Farms are not only making more money, they are putting some of that money where their mouths are. We can talk about things all day, but in the end all that really matters is what we do. Is there anything you've been talking about but not doing? Some people have magnets on their cars for breast cancer, but they haven't written a check or volunteered or actually done anything for the fight. There are people who have Support the Troops magnets on their cars and walk right by those in uniform in the airport. Do you know how easy it is to say "Thank you"? Talking the talk is great, but walking the walk is better. Take action - it's the only thing that makes a difference. And it doesn't have to just be for a cause, maybe you're always talking about how you should lose weight or exercise or save money or travel more. Stop talking and start walking! Your life is what YOU make it.
And not through what you say, but what you do.

Let M & M's and Milanos inspire you! If a cartoon character can fight breast cancer, think what you can do! (And buy some while you're at it! They're damn good!)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Politics of Chocolate

I am definitely going to culinary hell. And now social/political hell as well.

I know everyone is screaming about organic this and organic that. But when I look at the giant, gorgeous, colorful non-organic apples and the puny, creepy-looking, dull organic apples - I say "Give me chemicals!"

But, hey, I try to keep an open mind - especially where chocolate is concerned. So today I'll review Dagoba Organic Chocolate (these are both organic and politically correct http://www.dagobachocolate.com/). Hershey bought this small Oregon chocolate company back in 2006. I bought four bars to check out:

Let's start with the Lavender bar - described as lavender, dark chocolate and blueberries. I just don't like to eat lavender - it tastes like a soap or a sachet to me. Bleech. Apparently my palate is just not that developed (heathen that I am!).

These bars may be too kumbaya for me. I don't need a social message with my chocolate. The wrapper has a Full Circle Sustainability Tip: Grow and share your own herbs and medicinal plants for extra health and happiness. (Yeah, it's all fun and games until someone is poisoned.)

Next we'll go to Xocolatl (named after a chocolate drink created by the Aztecs). Contains dark chocolate, chilies and nibs. Too bitter for me - one step above eating dirt. I like sweets and this is an anti-sweet. (We've come a long way from the Aztecs, baby.)

Kumbaya Sustainability Tip on this wrapper - Carpool, bike and use public transit to reduce carbon emissions and turn back the tide of global warming. (It never occurred to me to do any of those things! Thank God I bought this candy bar! I'm joining Greenpeace!)

And let's remember the Aztec's idea of sustainability was human sacrifice. Ah, sweet irony!

Next bar is Mon Cherri - dark chocolate, berries and vanilla. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. I had high hopes for this bar, but was let down. Chocolove has a Cherries and Almonds bar that blows this one away.

The final bar is Super Fruit containing the very trendy acai, goji berries and currants. This was my favorite of the bars. (That's really not saying much.) The fruit content seemed to make this one more flavorful. It also was the only bar that listed at the end of the ingredients list - and of course, love. So maybe it was the love I was tasting.

At the risk of being completely politically incorrect, I'm going to say that I prefer my chocolate to taste great and I don't care about it being organic or politically correct. I don't buy my candy to get tips on saving the world. Now, if you like that stuff - buy Dagoba!!! If you want really good chocolate, I think there are many better choices.

And if someone offers you medicinal plants, just say no.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Heathen Palate

I would like to be someone who can appreciate all the nuances of a fine wine or a Vosges Exotic Caramel. I just ate several different Vosges Exotic Caramels - here's the description of one: Mexican guajillo chillies + licorice root + dark chocolate + organic pumpkin seeds. Another: Aboriginal anise myrtle + dark chocolate (according to Vosges - from the bushlands of Australia emerges a unique leaf called anise myrtle, imparting a strong aniseed flavor).

Did caramels really need a trip to the Outback?

I could appreciate the awesome creaminess of these caramels, but I found myself wishing they just tasted like delicious creamy caramel - not anise myrtle or licorice root.

I am a candy commoner.

I like things food snobs would be horrified by - I like Mr. Goodbar, Reese's Eggs, Tootsie Rolls, Peanut M & M's. I like to eat peanut butter out of the jar. I've eaten frosting out of the can. I like my meat and my chocolate separate. And I am not ashamed.

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad chefs and other food masters are out there doing all this exciting stuff. And I will continue to try it. But I'm just a commoner at heart - I like my chocolate with nuts, caramel, peanut butter - and lots of it!

Sometimes common is good. Just because something is exotic doesn't mean it's better (although we often think so, don't we?). We want the things we don't have. We are intrigued by those we don't know. We take the people and things around us for granted. Oh - a Hershey's Kiss - how mundane. But Aboriginal anise myrtle? Stop the presses!

At the end of the day, what really matters is what works for you. Try it all and choose what YOU like. Critics and experts be damned! You know best when it comes to you.

And you know who to call if you want some frosting!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Putin Who Stole Halloween

In an effort to protect Russian youth from the evil influence of the West, the Russian parliament wants to ban Halloween and Valentine's Day. That evil Valentine's Day thing will really corrupt those young people! All those hearts and flowers - EVIL, EVIL!!

I say ban away, Putin! Tell your people they can't have it, and they will want it all the more. Go West, young Russians! Go West!

For those of us who love Halloween (and will be indulging in the evil celebration by eating candy - oh so subversive!), here are a few facts:

The average American household spends $44 on Halloween candy.

The favorite candy bar of Trick or Treaters is Snickers.

Chocolate is preferred by 50 percent of Trick or Treaters,
non-chocolate candy by 24 percent,
and gum by 10 percent (these are mutant children).

Kids' least favorite items to get in their trick-or-treat bags were fruit and salty snacks like chips and pretzels. (I always hated raisins - it's Halloween for God's sake!)

90% of parents admit to sneaking candy out of their kids trick or treat bags. (Now parents, that ain't sneaking, that's STEALING! Buy your own candy!)

Kids ages 6-11 years old say if they were given lots of candy, they would:
Share some with their family, 66 percent (if they didn't STEAL it all!)
Share the candy with their friends, 64 percent
Give some to their teacher, 26 percent (Who ARE these little suck-ups?)
Keep it all for themselves, 7 percent (I love these kids!)
Don't know what they would do, 2 percent (The mere thought of having lots of candy blows their little minds. Meanwhile their parents are "sneaking" all their candy.)

The whole thing about razors in apples and random poisonings of candy by madmen - urban legends! No lie! Research it if you don't believe me: http://www.snopes.com/horrors/poison/halloween.asp

(Probably something the Russians made up.)

Life is short - celebrate Halloween - all its fun and costumes and candy and traditions. And, maybe most of all, celebrate the fact that you are free to do it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nothing at All About Chocolate

I've always been a big Stephen King fan and I really enjoyed his latest book - Duma Key. King has such an imagination - he always draws me into his world. In Duma Key, there's a character named Wireman. I think everybody wishes they had a Wireman in their life - a laid-back, wise friend who would do anything for you and you would do anything for. Wireman has tons of great offbeat sayings and advice - he's just a truly wonderful, warm, imperfect character.

One thing about being single and being a speaker, is that I'm alone a lot. I'm okay with this - I love my freedom and independence. But there are times it would be great to have someone to share things with - both the triumphs and the challenges. It's so exciting when a speech really goes well and it's so demoralizing when one doesn't. It's especially lonely when it doesn't.

But I had Wireman. I was sitting in my hotel trying to figure out how I could have given a better speech, what mistakes I had made, when I thought of Wireman. This isn't an exact Wireman quote, but it's close: "Sometimes you do the day, and sometimes the day does you." And it's right - you can't be perfect everyday in every situation. Sometimes all the stars align and you get a standing ovation, sometimes you feel like you missed the mark. It's like the Olympics - sometimes you stick the landing, and sometimes the landing sticks you. All you can do is give it your very best.

I found Wireman's words comforting. I think we're all too hard on ourselves. And let's face it - the speech is over (the Olympics are past, the sales presentation is over - whatever it is you feel you messed up - it's over). I can keep beating myself up about it or I can try and learn from it and move on. So next time you have a bad day or something goes wrong, tell yourself "Sometimes you do the day, and sometimes the day does you." None of us is perfect and it's okay. And tomorrow will be another day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to Spark a New Idea

What is the difference between creativity and stealing? Is there really anything new under the sun? Snickers latest offering is Snickers Rockin' Nut Road:

I discussed Annabelle Candy's Rocky Road bar in an earlier blog - it's available only out West. Now I'm not saying that Mars STOLE Annabelle's candy bar - the Snickers are different, but..... They do have almonds instead of cashews, and not as much marshmallow, but....

It really is difficult to come up with a completely new idea. Hey, it's getting harder to even come up with a halfway creative idea! Why?

Well, a lot of great ideas have already been developed. We looked at the fact that the world's longest lasting and, in my humble opinion, best, candy bars were invented more than 70 years ago!

I also think we don't take much time to really think - we want new, fabulous ideas and we want them now! I don't think you can always produce a great idea on demand. But if you need a new idea, I might have some ideas for you.

1.) Take a vacation. Now this doesn't have to be long or expensive. It does need to be somewhere you have never been before. New settings get those creative juices flowing.

2.) Read a book or watch a TV show or see a movie - something outside the genre you usually like, that is critically acclaimed. I tend to watch the same type of shows, read the same authors, but when I branch WAY out, I always enjoy it. My favorite find - Mad Men - I watched it because of the reviews and I love it. Critics don't always get it right, but a lot of times they do. When you need new ideas, think about what makes great work great.

3.) Look at some art. You don't have to spend all day in a museum. Just pop in and check out something. Wander around a sculpture garden. I recently took a look at Raleigh's new Shimmer Wall - amazing. And you have to see it for yourself - see how the wind moves each tiny tile. See the wind made solid. Breathtaking. All art is this way - you need to see it for yourself, in person.

4.) Think of crazy new combinations. Things that you like, but that don't immediately seem to have any relationship. (My leadership and chocolate and motivation and chocolate seminars came from this tactic. But alas, so did bacon and chocolate.)

5.) Learn from the candy makers - make it bigger (King size bars), or smaller (M & M's minis), or cover it in chocolate (chocolate covered Oreos) or peanut butter (Whoppers). Can you tweak something you already have or are already doing? If something is working, just tweak it.

6.) And maybe stealing isn't that bad. If Annabelle's Rocky Road is only available out West, hasn't Mars done us a favor by bringing a version of it to us? Is originality overrated? I'd rather have one good Reese's cup than three Bacon Bars. Just because it's new or different doesn't mean it's better. But if people didn't keep making new things, we might never have gotten the Reese's Cup in the first place!!

7.) Change the format or the shape. A book becomes a TV show becomes a comic book, etc. A Reese's Cup becomes:

a regular candy bar. This is like anti-originality. I don't really get this one. I don't like it as much as the cups - not as much peanut butter - more chocolate. I would have fought this tooth and nail if I'd been in the product meeting. I would have said, "I'm okay with trees and hearts and pumpkins, but not bars! Reese's is not a bar, Reese's is a cup! It's all about the peanut butter!! The peanut butter!!" I would have had to be carried from the meeting, screaming "The peanut butter!!! The peanut butter!!" Sadly, I was not consulted.

They didn't ask me about the Bacon Bar either.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Took So Long?

Why didn't they think of this before?

I have to tell you, I'm no Whoppers fan. Too bland. Malted milk - ugh. My brother loved them (but he liked Pixie Sticks - poor candy judgement in my book.) When I saw these, I did a double take and thought - "Interesting, but probably gross. I must try them."

There are no actual candies in the picture because I ate them all. They are really good!

Once again, the old lesson. What you think you know is often wrong. Try to keep an open mind. Boldly go where no man has gone before!

I have another crazy week, but I just had to take a minute to stop and spread the peanut butter!

Friday, September 12, 2008

World Chocolate Premiere

AAIIEEE! It's been a wild week - I must apologize for the slackness in my blogging. This week was the world premiere of my seminar - Leadership Lessons from the Kings of Chocolate. I have two terrible tendencies that work in combination like Pepsi and Mentos. I tend to procrastinate and I am a perfectionist. So I delayed working on the "Kings" seminar until about two weeks before I had to deliver it. Luckily I had already read a book on Hershey and The Emperors of Chocolate, so I wasn't starting completely from scratch. But this is why I haven't been blogging - it was crunch time!

I spent several days researching on the Web. Now, if you are a perfectionist, this could be never ending. There is always another site, another link, something more. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing!! I'm proud to announce the resulting session was pretty darn good. We talked about Milton Hershey and Forrest Mars, two VERY different leaders. I told the attendees how they built their chocolate empires - and asked them to assess each man's strengths and weaknesses as I went. They did a great job! We then talked about what they could learn from these two men that would help them become better leaders.

There's something about discussing chocolate and the candy business that captures everyone's interest. And what a great way to learn! I had the group sample the limited edition Wildly Cherry M & M's (have you tried these?):

I think if you really like cherry, you might like these. But I was thrilled to find that my informal focus group agreed with me - not an improvement over regular M & M's. I liked one or two, but that was it. I much prefer regular M & M's. Let Skittles do fruit, M & M's should stick with chocolate (remember, just because you CAN do it, doesn't mean you should!).

It's mighty hard to come up with a really successful new candy bar. That's one of the things you find out when researching the American Big Chocolate business. (Like Big Oil and Big Tobacco, there's Big Chocolate - Hershey, Mars, Cadbury, and Nestle.) Most of our best candy bars were invented in the early days - check this out:

1900 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar was invented
1916 Clark bar invented
1921 Mounds bar invented
1923 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups invented
1923 Butterfinger invented
1923 Milky Way invented
1925 Mr. Goodbar invented
1925 Kandy Kake (the original name of the Baby Ruth) invented
1925 Oh Henry! invented
1930 Snickers Bar invented
1932 3 Musketeers Bar invented
1932 PayDay invented
1933 Kit Kat invented
1938 Nestle's Crunch invented
1941 M & M's first sold to the public
1946 Almond Joy invented

You can't blame Mars for trying! New candy can equal big profits - including better shelf position for existing candy. But wow - look how many of the best bars were invented over 50 years ago!! Think they'll be eating Chocolate Bacon Bars 50 years from now? Here's to the Kings of Chocolate - long may they reign!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What Could be Better than Chocolate Kisses?

One of my fondest memories of the Chocolate Spa at Hershey is of women stuffing the pockets of their fluffy white robes with Hershey's Kisses. There were bowls filled with them everywhere. I sat by one and just could not stop unwrapping and eating Kisses! It was like a beautiful dream....

Hershey's makes over 80 million Kisses EACH DAY! I'm not sure I can get my brain around that. But I am glad to know it's happening! Go Hershey, go!

I recently tried three new (at least to me) Kiss flavors - raspberry special dark, marshmallow filled, and pumpkin spice (the Halloween adventure continues!). All of these were good. Raspberry doesn't have a filling, it's just a nice flavor added to the Special Dark Kisses. Not too strong on the raspberry - subtle, very well done. Marshmallow was good too. The problem for me is just that I only want one or two of these, and then I'm done. This could be a good thing!! I recommend these, especially if you like raspberry and/or marshmallow.

But let's talk about the Pumpkin Spice Kisses:

The first thing you'll notice is the scary orange color. I was shocked when I unwrapped the first Kiss. But, if you like pumpkin, you'll get over that fast. These are AMAZING!!! I love them!!! I am biased because I adore pumpkin. But I must be honest - there is nothing chocolate about these. They are more like white chocolate or maybe orange white chocolate. All I know is, so far, these are my favorite new Halloween candy. (All they have to compete with at this point is Chocolate Candy Corn, but they are WAY out in front.) I say, get some as soon as you can - they ROCK!!! And they won't be around forever!

Since I was on a Kiss roll, I decided to revisit the Wilbur Bud. Wilbur Chocolates claims Hershey stole the idea for the Kiss from the Bud. Whatever.

Okay, the Buds are kind of the same shape, a little smaller than the Kisses. They have Wilbur and a spiral design on the bottom. They are lame. I was unimpressed by all the candy from Wilbur. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't especially good. I've never thought of chocolate as bland before, but most of their candy was bland.

The Lesson of the Kisses? I think Hershey knows what we love about Kisses - it's the shape. We love it and the size is perfect. Flavor experimentation is great here - it's a celebration of the shape. And I love the different color foil wrappers and the little white paper label popping out the top of the Kiss. The packaging makes each Kiss special (just like real kisses!). Remember - be the best YOU you can be.

Sorry, Wilbur, Buds just aren't Kisses. But they might be sour grapes!

Friday, September 5, 2008

This Ain't No Stinkin' Chocolate!

As I confessed in an earlier blog, I can definitely be wrong. But sometimes, Virginia, I am right! I've been venting from time to time about Chocolate Pez just on principle. I have stood on my electronic soapbox and proclaimed that Pez should not even try to be chocolate - weird fruit flavors are fine, but not chocolate. And let me say, having now tasted a Chocolate (and we must use that term loosely) Pez - I was right!

Do they look good to you? Now in defense of Pez, they are labeled as chocolate candy, not chocolate. These taste like sugar cubes with a few grains of hot chocolate mix tossed in. They smell more like chocolate than they taste like it. They are fairly heinous. It's all about the dispenser with Pez anyway. In fact, you might be better off eating the dispenser.

I'm going to stay with the - not everything that CAN be chocolate SHOULD be chocolate theme and move to something I just discovered today. I had to go to Target to get batteries since these hurricanes may cut me off from civilization, and I might actually have to listen to the RADIO for information. And burn candles! And worst of all - WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY CHOCOLATE???? The fridge and the AC will be off! Send in the National Guard! Airlift me and my chocolate to safety!

Okay, as usual, I digress. The batteries were really just an excuse to see if Target was putting out the Halloween Candy yet. And I am happy to say they were!!!! Yahoo!!! They only had a fraction of it out, but I scored some great stuff!!! I'm so excited!! Chocolate Peep cats, pumpkin spice Hershey's Kisses - does life get any better?

I sampled the first treat, which I must admit I had irrationally high hopes for: Brach's Chocolate Caramel Candy Corn.

In all fairness, I must confess that I'm not a big fan of candy corn. I love the way it looks - very festive. I even admire the way they've made red and green Christmas Candy Corn. Very colorful, even merry. But this chocolate candy corn tastes a lot like regular candy corn. The first two ingredients in both types of candy corn are identical - sugar and corn syrup - they must be 90% (or more) of the total. The third ingredient in the chocolate corn is cocoa powder, and this must be what gives the corn its lovely brown color - the ONLY thing it has in common with chocolate. If you really like candy corn, you'll probably like this. If you like brown. If you really like chocolate, buy something more, um, like chocolate.

Do what you are good at, don't try to be everybody else. Don't try to jump on the latest trend. Candy corn is good because of the color and shape and fun it brings to the fall. Candy corn is a great candy, but a horrible chocolate. You can probably be good at many , many things, but great at only one or two. Do those. Life is short - make the most of your time here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

North Carolina Chocolate

Isn't it terrible how we'll travel far away to see things and never notice what's in our own backyard? It's like when you go to New York and the resident New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Unlike the visitor, they take them for granted.

Well, on Labor Day, my friend Carole (she of the bacon flavored chocolate and chocolate Peeps gift) and I went on a mini local ChocoTour. The first place we stopped was Chocolaterie Stam located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Now get this - Stam has 10 stores, 6 in Holland, 3 in Iowa (Iowa - can you believe that?), and one here in North Carolina. The owner, Bob Droog, is from Holland and missed the company's chocolate when he relocated to the US. So he contacted them to see if he could open his own shop. And thank God he did! This place is terrific!!

So far it is hands down the most gorgeous chocolate shop I've been in. (Yes, even more beautiful than the Voges Haut-Chocolat shop in NY.) The color scheme is deep wine and gold. There are crystal chandeliers hanging over the rows of chocolates. And these are some gorgeous chocolates:

I broke the dark chocolate peacock, but look at these! There's a milk chocolate windmill, a dark chocolate butterfly, a milk chocolate frog, a white chocolate ear of corn (Iowa?), and a dark chocolate accordion and a hedgehog!!! I tried to get better pictures of the windmill, the accordion and the hedgehog:

Look at that detail! How amazing are those? And there were many more gorgeous chocolates - cute chocolate mice, peanut butter filled hearts (yum!), and on and on. I can't wait to go back at Easter - Bob said they would have tons of new shapes then. Also the cases were clean and filled - some shops just have that "we used to give a damn" look. Chocolaterie Stam is like a chocolate art gallery - absolutely beautiful.

But here's the best part - the chocolates are to die for! Like the best European chocolates, they are so smooth and creamy, they just melt in your mouth. And the fillings are also delicious - the praline centers were almost fluffy and the caramel - wonderful - the perfect mix of creamy and chewy. The coconut wasn't heavy and grainy, but smotth and subtle. I haven't tried them all yet, but so far they have been fantastic. And I like the classic flavors - some of the chocolatiers these days are trying so hard to come up with new weird stuff that they lose sight of some of the best tried and true flavors. (Do you want squid ink or peanut butter in your chocolate? Give me tradition!)

Their web site is http://www.stamchocolate.com/ and you can order online.

The lesson is the same as in the motivational classic "Acres of Diamonds" - so many times what you're looking for is right in your own backyard. But we tend to overlook or take those things for granted. Looking for a great new friend? Maybe there's someone who works in the very same office as you who you just haven't taken the time to get to know. Looking to get out of debt? Maybe you need to have a yard sale and sell some of those things you never use. See the incredible things already around you - there might be a chocolate hedgehog just next door!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fight the Blues - Let the Good Times Roll!

You ever have one of those days when you just felt blue? I had one of those today - didn't sleep well last night (a real rarity) and was just out of sorts+. Now, I know I'll feel better when I get a good night's sleep. And I got to see a friend at lunch (thanks, Don!) who always makes me feel good. Being around support people is good medicine.

I also used the chocolate trick!! I stopped in World Market to see what festive things were there. Now, Ghirardelli is trying to jump on the Halloween bandwagon by changing the packaging of some of its squares. Nice try, but I am SO not falling for that! I read last night about Pumpkin Spice and Candy Corn Hershey's Kisses. Now those I want to try!

It was a blast to walk around in there. All kinds of amazing chocolates and candies - wheee! I even found some chocolate-filled panda bears made by the Japanese company (Meiji) that bought Stauffer's Animals Crackers. You know I had to get those! How can a bad mood withstand such festivity?

Of course, it was hard to even give myself permission to go in World Market - I mean it was in the middle of the work day. Even though I work for myself, it's hard for me to just goof off. I think that's part of it - sometimes you have to give yourself permission to take care of yourself. There will always be more work I can do, but there won't always be more life I can live.

But I didn't stop there - I kept thinking of what I could do to keep myself motivated. I love travel, and I don't have any cool trips planned. I decided to to plan one. I love to head out West in the winter. And there are a lot of cool chocolate makers in California! I haven't spent much time in California. So I ordered a book on chocolate makers in the western part of the US. We'll see what I find out.

I think the secret to fighting the blues is having something to look forward to. Something that doesn't rely on someone else - too many times people tell me they can't do a certain thing because so and so won't do such and such. If you wait to make other people happy before you give yourself something to look forward to, you're going to be living their lives and not yours. Plan a great life, invite your loved ones along - if they want to come, great. If not, the Party Train is leaving without them! Let your good times roll!!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Here a Chick, There a Chick, Everywhere a Chick, Chick

Big thanks to my good friend Toby Page for sending me Chick Chocolates from Seattle Chocolates (http://www.seattlechocolates.com/). These were my first Seattle Chocolates and they are good, but it's the packaging that makes them amazing:

The chocolates are individually wrapped and come in these cool, colorful boxes. There are four Chicks:

Strong Chick - milk chocolate with extra calcium

Extreme Chick - dark chocolate with cocoa nibs (this one was really good!)

Nutty Chick - milk chocolate with almonds and toffee (also very good, although I would like more almonds - Nutty Chick wasn't that nutty.)

Survivor Chick - white chocolate and raspberries wrapped in dark chocolate -(this one has become my favorite). 100% of the profits go to fight breast cancer.

All Seattle Chocolates come in gorgeous packaging. The Chick Chocolates are terrific because they are so creative and would make fantastic gifts. However, they are not inexpensive (thank you, Toby!) - what you are really paying for here is the packaging - and it's worth it!!

Speaking of packaging, chocolate makers are pulling out all the stops. Choxie (Target's brand of chocolate) comes in fantastic packages, but it's below average chocolate. Vosges has fantastic packaging for its VERY expensive chocolates, and the chocolates are also fantastic. A home run! But you have to be careful when buying chocolates - pay attention to the sizes. Vosges has come out with some small (1/2 oz. bars) which I was delighted to see. I hate to buy a giant bar and then not like it. BUT these tiny bars are outrageously priced - they wind up being about three times as expensive (per ounce) as the larger bars.

You can already guess the lesson, right? Don't judge a chocolate by its wrapper! Some fabulous wrappers have awful chocolates inside and some boring or even ugly wrappers contain great chocolate. It's so easy to say this and so hard to do it. We think beautiful people have good attributes, and we often don't give unattractive people a chance. We judge people by how they dress and never get to know who they really are. Don't beat yourself up, just try to be more aware - try to see beyond people's wrappers. There might be a Nutty Chick in there you'd really like!