Judging by the intensity of adults of all ages, and children too, one would have thought the products on display were the latest in electronics – iPhones or Android phones, iPads or Android tablets, and Kindle or Nook readers. Instead it was the Chocolate Show in New York City.
The show’s organizers must appeal to both trade (retail buyers) and consumers, who can enter for a fee. Shrewdly the show schedule, which ran in November at The Metropolitan Pavilion, included a school holiday which added to the number of children at the show.
The diversity of the exhibits was challenging in an extremely positive way. Among the exhibits we found chocolate wine, Organic, vegan and raw chocolates, truffles, macarons (the French cookie – and my personal all-time favorite snack), hot chocolate, tea, coffee, Gelato and more. Everything looked great and what we sampled was simply delicious.
There were two uniquely enjoyable aspects of the show. One was watching people, especially those not from the trade, as they checked out the exhibits and then enjoyed product samples. The second was my own show experience – especially the sampling. This was fun. By the way, it was highly educational too – a great place for learning – even if was not exactly part of my diet and exercise regime.
This was my second Chocolate Show. The first one I attended was in Paris in 2008. Again, the organizers shrewdly included a school holiday. That was November 1st – All Saints’ Day in France. Inside the exhibit hall in Paris, it was hectic, chaotic and exceptionally crowded. For the New York Show, my day was planned to arrive when the show opened, before the crowds got there. That decision, in hindsight, was a good one. As I departed, the New York event it was getting more and more crowded.
Now let me tell about the three things I learned that day.
First, and most important, is that the enjoyment of confections is an emotional and highly personal experience. People love confections – especially chocolates. Please include me on that list.
Second, and extremely critical for vending and onsite foodservice operations, there is an opportunity to bring a whole new array of confections and snacks to our sites.
Third, for your information, are some highlights about some of the most intriguing products encountered and enjoyed at the New York Chocolate Show.
- Mad-Mac: This is New Jersey-based baker of authentic French Madeleines and Macarons. Chef Florian Bellanger is a co-owner of the company. This is the real-deal, classic, French macaron. It is two crunchy, yet dainty, round cookies made from almond flour, sugar and egg whites. The ‘sandwich’ is made with a flavored “panache” between the layers. There are no preservatives and it is gluten-free. I really have been all over Paris tasting searching for the great macaron bakers. This is as good as anything I’ve had in Paris.
- Peanut Butter & Co.: This is a sandwich shop in New York City. It has grown to be a retail brand with a wide range of peanut butter varieties. This proves a very important point. Old favorites, the PBJ sandwich for one, are still popular. For those who grew up eating PBJ sandwiches, this is your childhood favorite now all grown-up.
- Jer’s Chocolates: Jerry Swain has created a line of packaged Bars, Brittle Bites and Squares. The products are kosher certified – no preservatives or fillers. Products are manufactured by hand in small batches.
- Screme Gelato Bar: This is a chain of gelato bars – Italian ice cream stores. They also sell wholesale to foodservice operations. Yona and Nicole Levy, the chain’s owners, have a created an imaginative array of tastes and textures. The combination of sweet and savory, even some spicy hot gelatos was a great taste treat. The products are certified kosher. Among their signature flavors are Mojito ( made with fresh mint leaves and fresh squeezed lime) and Chocolate Whiskey ( made from the finest chocolate and the fine whiskey).
- Chupon Chocolate: This is a Swiss chocolate infused with fruit and other exotic flavors. There are mocha, hot chocolate and tea varieties.
- Gnosis: “The world’s most nutritious chocolate” is how Vanessa Barg, founder and owner, describes her products. Start with raw chocolate, ethically-sourced. Add low-glycemic index sweetners, nutrient-dense superfoods and medicinal herbs. The ingredients are certified raw, vegan, organic and kosher. There are bars, truffles and more. The combinations are really interesting: Bali Chocolate with Tumeric & Salt; Grenada Chocolate with Nutmeg; and, Madagascar Chocolate with Pepercorn & Vanilla.
- Chocolate Shop Wine: Wine and chocolate, especially with truffles, is an amazing and highly indulgent treat. Try it, especially if you like wine and chocolate separately. Ryan Davis, of Precept Wine, said, “We have taken wine and infused it with chocolate. There are four wines, Chocolate Red Wine, Crème de Cocoa, Box of Chocolate and Chocolate Strawberry.
- NibMor: Their products are organic and vegan – with no refined sugar, dairy, gluten, or GMO (genetically modified foods). There are bars and drink mixes.
- Choco Bolo: This New York City Bakery has four locations. I have them on map for my next trip into Manhattan and will want to walk to the most distant location to burn calories in advance of entering the bakery.