Walking into Lake Champlain Chocolates is like entering the more sophisticated version of Willy Wonka’s candy factory, especially on Saturdays — free chocolate tasting day! Dozens flocked to the store to enjoy the delights offered by the company this weekend, nobody leaving without happily sampling the array of offerings.
While Lake Champlain Chocolates’ Pine Street location offers the tastings every week, they do not seem to have gotten old for either the staff or the tasters. The workers running the event were equally attentive with each new crowd of people, welcoming them with a smile and leading them through the offerings and activities of the day.
Instead of simply handing out free chocolate, Lake Champlain Chocolate has decided to make their tastings into an event by allowing guests to immerse themselves in the art of chocolate making. First, guests are invited to spoon four different types of chocolate chips onto their tasting plates, being reminded by colorful signs and supervising staff to notice the visual differences in each sample, including color, size, and even visual texture. The company then provided a small worksheet to fill out with educated guesses on which chocolate corresponded with each individual flavor profile. The flavor profiles were obviously simplified to allow for everyone to participate, but still included interesting tastes such as “lactic sour,” “earthy,” and “bitter”. The worksheet made sure to include a note that “A flavor profile consists of words used to describe how a sample tastes; not ingredients that are in the sample” to educate tasters on what, exactly, the word that was used so much actually meant.
Kyla, a first year Game Art & Animation Champlain College student who was attending the event, was “really excited for the free chocolate,” despite the fact that she didn’t “think [she] would be able to match the flavor profiles with the chocolates…. But it’s still fun!”. She continued to eat the chocolate, happy just to have free food.
Kyla might not have been able to accurately match up all of the chocolates with their correct flavor profiles, but she, and the other guests attending the event, definitely came out significantly more educated about what goes into the making of the food she enjoys every day. Lake Champlain Chocolates is making sure of that: in addition to their activities included in the weekly chocolate tasting events, they have small exhibits around the store that help customers educate themselves about where their chocolate comes from. Chocolate tasters from the event were encouraged to walk around the store and ask questions about each exhibit.
The staff of Lake Champlain Chocolates embodies their goal to educate consumers, as well. When asked what she thinks about chocolate, the employee running the tastings, Madeline, had to think for a few minutes since she wanted to do her favorite sweet justice. Her response perfectly summed up the opinions of most people leaving the chocolate tasting; “Chocolate is the most delicious of fruits”!