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Do you know the Easter Bunny?

Posted on April 6, 2012 9:23 AM by Jordan

Here at Lake Champlain Chocolates, we know the Easter Bunny has many personalities. Everyone recognizes that big, white bunny that sneaks around hiding eggs – but why? And how?

It all started way back in the 13th Century in Germany, when people celebrated the beginning of spring by honoring the goddess Eostra. Eostra symbolized fertility, and soon became associated with rabbits (who are known for being very fertile). The first Easter Bunny legend, though, wasn’t published until 1680.  The tale about a rabbit carrying around eggs and hiding them in gardens really took off when it was brought to the United States in the 1700s, and the tradition of making nests (or baskets) for the rabbit to hide the eggs in became very popular, leading to the Easter traditions that we’re familiar with today!

At LCC, we have lots of different chocolate bunnies to help you hide eggs in the garden (or around the house) – and each one has a different way of doing it. If you believe that bunnies can deliver eggs, why not on a motorcycle? Or in a hot rod? Or on a tractor?

The Gardening Bunny likes to take her time and find all of the best egg-hiding spots among the tulips and daffodils.



Mr. Goodtime Bunny spends his morning searching for the biggest hiding spot (for his really big egg!).


Tractor Bunny doesn’t mind put-put-putting along slowly through the fields – he’s just excited that it’s springtime.


Crusin’ and Cycle Bunny go as quickly as they can and race to hide the most eggs.

No matter which bunny fits your style (and your imagination), they’re all delicious and they’re all available at our retail stores! In fact, Gardening Bunny, Tractor Bunny, and Cycle Bunny are ONLY available in our retail stores. Stop by and pick out your perfect bunny, and let our staff give you their hints for the perfect egg-hiding spot!

 

 

 


A (Valentine’s) Day in the Life of Retail

Posted on February 13, 2012 9:50 AM by Jordan

Valentine’s Day – a day of love, romance, roses, and (most importantly) chocolate. For the retail staff at Lake Champlain Chocolates, it’s also one of the busiest days of the year! Unlike many of the other “Chocolate Holidays” that have a long busy season (Halloween, Hanukkah, Christmas), most of our customers do their Valentine’s Day shopping on February 14. We’re happy to help you pretend it’s because you want your chocolate-dipped strawberries to be as fresh as possible, but don’t feel bad if Cupid forgot to remind you to get your gift-buying done early. For many of us, it’s our favorite holiday to work.

Here are five reasons why:

1.    We get to find out what everyone likes best.  It is a common sight on Valentine’s Day to have a customer order a pound of Almond Butter Crunch or 25 Raspberry Truffles. When you know what your Valentine loves, why take a risk?

2.    We get to make lots of recommendations. One of our favorite customers is the confused, overwhelmed, last-minute customer. You know, the one who says, “I need a gift that will make me look awesome.” Hand-packing a box of our favorites or helping you decide what kind of truffle your Valentine might like is a blast!

3.    We get to tie hundreds of bows. And we love to tie perfect, pretty bows. We always say, “Once you’ve worked a Valentine’s Day here, you can tie a bow on anything!”

4.    We get wonderful compliments from happy customers – because who isn’t happy when they have found a perfect gift for their Valentine? Thank you for making our day, and for telling us that we’re “not a Factory Second.”

5.    We get to go home at the end of the night and relax. After a long day of helping customers prepare for the perfect Valentine’s Day, we are thrilled to skip the busy restaurants and just take it easy. Besides, it’s easier to get a reservation on the 15th!

 


It’s sunny and there’s lots of honey!

Posted on February 1, 2012 9:59 AM by Jordan

Last Saturday, the LCC Pine Street Factory Store partnered with the Vermont Beekeepers’ Association and Slow Food Vermont to celebrate and educate – all about honey!

While most of us eat honey regularly (in our breakfast, tea, and even chocolate), very few people really know what it takes to bring it from the bees to the bear-shaped containers we buy it in. On Saturday, we set out to change that.

The store was buzzing from noon until 4 pm with people eager to learn – and taste – the whole process. The event was set up as a series of tasting tables, starting with the always-popular “Learn to Taste” table, run by Pam Chomsky-Higgings from Slow Food Vermont. A mysterious series of clear liquid solutions let everyone taste the differences in the five main tastes, and helped “train the palate” before moving on to the many forms and varieties of honey.

Next, attendees had the opportunity to pick the brains of two very experienced local beekeepers – Bill Mares and Scott Wilson. They answered a wide variety of questions about their work in honey making, and also provided equipment to look at and different forms of honey for tasting. Unfamiliar forms like honey straight from the comb, creamed honey, and even whipped honey were the most popular!

Mara Welton from Slow Food Vermont led the third station – a flight of honeys. Groups started by tasting bee pollen, which is the starting point for any honey production. Mara encouraged eating just one pellet at a time, because each piece of pollen originated on a different flower and would have a unique flavor and sweetness. After tasting the pollen, the tasting groups sampled four different honeys. Each was unidentified, and Mara asked participants to describe the flavors and sensations they noticed from each honey. Responses varied from “floral” and “delicate” to “dark and complex, like molasses.” Three of the honeys were local varieties and one was a commercial blend. Part of the tasting was trying to guess which was the commercial honey, and it wasn’t as easy as it seemed!

As with any event hosted at LCC, we didn’t want anyone leaving without trying lots of chocolate. Tying together the celebration of honey and the taste education, we provided a station for attendees to taste the gourmet chocolates we make every day that feature the unique sweetness of honey, and we encouraged everyone to slow down and really taste what a wonderful combination chocolate and honey can be. Honey Caramel Chocolates of Vermont, Organic Honey Fig truffles, and our best-selling Caramel Five Star Bar were all on offer, and all very much enjoyed.

To top off the event, we were featuring a brand-new drink in our café – a honey latte made with local wildflower honey from Waterbury. It received a warm, sweet welcome, and will be sticking around for a while!


What will chocolate look like in 2106?

Posted on December 8, 2011 11:26 AM by Jordan

When Burlington Parks & Recreation asked us if we’d like to put our gourmet chocolates in their Quad Time Capsule, we were both excited and concerned. Sure, we would love to have people in 2106 learn about what our chocolates were like in 2011, but we certainly wouldn’t want to eat 100 year-old chocolates! We were assured that all food items are preserved in glass containers inside the time capsule, so we said yes.
To go with the chocolates, we thought it would be fun to think about what chocolate might be like in 100 years. Keep reading to get a head start on the time capsule and learn a little about our Chocolates of Vermont and what we hope they’ll be like in 2106!


In 2011, we have already been crafting our signature Chocolates of Vermont for 28 years. Today they’re still made from the original recipes, blending our award-winning dark chocolate with all-natural Vermont ingredients – sweet butter, pure maple syrup, fresh cream, and honey from the hive. When you eat these chocolates, you taste the simple, pure flavors of Vermont that first inspired us to create them.

The idea of eating food that is locally produced is a very popular one in 2011. Consumers can go to Farmers’ Markets and talk to the people who raised the bees that produced their honey, or go to the grocery store and buy milk that comes from their neighbor’s cows. However, right now it is almost impossible to grow the cacao tree (that chocolate comes from) in Vermont. This tree requires a tropical, hot, humid environment and will only grow right around the Earth’s equator. That area of the world is known as the Cocoa belt, and most of the world’s cocoa beans come from places in Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia. In 2011, it would be very difficult to grow cacao trees and produce cocoa beans in Vermont. It is far too cold and snowy for most of the year to make the cacao tree happy!

In 2106, it is our hope that even cacao trees can be grown locally. Whether Vermont is much warmer and less snowy, or special greenhouse technology has been developed – we hope that there is a way to make all of the ingredients in our Chocolates of Vermont completely local. Not only will they really be chocolates of Vermont, they might taste even more delicious and remind us of our wonderful Vermont farmers with every bite. We also hope that, in 2106, our Chocolates of Vermont are still made with the same recipe, just like they were in 2011 and 26 years before that!

Most of all, we hope that you enjoy them – and that everyone still loves chocolate in 2106 as much as we do in 2011!

 


 

When you work in retail, especially in a chocolate shop, you answer lots of questions. They range from, “What’s your favorite chocolate?” to, “Where is the restroom?” In our Factory Store on Pine Street in Burlington, we’ve started to notice a few frequently asked trends (and have kept track of some of the questions that really make us giggle). We’ll share some here, but please keep on asking!

Do you still like chocolate? (Or, more often, a statement similar to, “You must be sick of chocolate”).
We do! Despite being surrounded by it every day, our entire staff still absolutely loves to eat chocolate (and smell it, and look at it…). You’ll probably even catch us snacking. We like to call eating on the job “Quality Control.” Someone has to make sure it tastes perfect!

Is it hard to work here and resist eating everything?
It definitely is. The key to resisting chocolate at 9 am is a good breakfast, but sometimes the Granola Five-Star Bar is the only breakfast we want. It has maple granola in it, so it’s justified – right? Fudge for lunch, milkshakes for dinner… it really is a struggle sometimes.

What’s your favorite snack?
Each one of us has a different favorite (or several constantly changing favorites), but there are some we all agree on. If you ask us for a suggestion, you’ll probably leave with Almond Butter Crunch, Dark Salted Caramels, and Grace Under Fire. We may not let you exit the store without trying a sample of our Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream. We find that everything washes down nicely with an Angry Aztec (our Aztec Hot Chocolate with Espresso), which is a favorite “staff creation.” Really, all you have to do to make a “staff creation” is add espresso. We’re a highly-caffeinated bunch.

Why are Factory Seconds considered ‘seconds?’
Our most frequent response is, “If you eat them with your eyes closed, you can’t tell the difference.” Seconds are chocolates with cosmetic imperfections, and it’s usually something as silly as a wrongly colored wrapper. We love seconds, and so do a lot of our regulars!

Finally, some of our favorite (less-frequently asked) questions:
Why does your bathroom smell like chocolate?
Where do you keep the Oompa Loompas?
Do the chocolate bunnies come alive at night?
Who gets to eat the chocolate that ends up on the floor?


The After-School Rush

Posted on June 28, 2011 10:29 AM by Jordan

Wouldn’t it be great to grow up going to school next to a chocolate factory?  The students of Champlain Elementary School on Pine Street in Burlington certainly think so!  Lake Champlain Chocolates’ Factory Store sits right next door to the elementary school, which is very evident at 2:45 every weekday when the students stop by for their afternoon snack.  Our all-natural gourmet truffles and Five Star Bars are always popular with the students (especially in milk chocolate), but the last few days of school and the beautiful early summer weather brought a big rush in the cafe.

 

The retail staff was rapidly scooping ice cream and making milkshakes to keep up with the orders, and smiles were definitely all around.  School’s out for summer now, but our after-school regulars know that there are plenty of perfect ice cream days still to come!