Monday, December 22, 2014

Writers and Chocolate, a Sweet Relationship, Chocolate Factory Tour

Last week we visited St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest European continuously occupied city in the USA. The city will celebrate it's 450th birthday in September 2015. What a celebration that will be!

Today I'm sharing the TASTES we visited when we toured the Whetstone Chocolate Factory. The story of the establishment of this chocolate company reads like the American dream. A hard-working, dedicated couple, Henry and Esther Whetstone, first opened their small ice cream store on St. George Street in the historic business district of St. Augustine in 1966. Henry and Esther entered the chocolate market when they created a home-made fudge recipe in the family’s small kitchen.The kitchen was the original Whetstone Chocolate factory and the production crew was two hard working people. You can read more about their amazing growth at the Whetstone Chocolate website.


The tour costs $8.00 and is worth every penny of it, especially when Ty was our guide. He was an elementary school teacher for 36 years!  He brings all the energy and enthusiasm he used to teach kids to the tour presentation. Kudos to Ty for his fun tour of the factory. (Of course, how can you NOT have fun when eating samples of delicious chocolate?? We were pretty wired by the end of the tour!!)

Ty begins the tour on the factory floor. Information on the fine ingredients in this artisanal chocolate and the method used to turn cocoa beans into heavenly flavors of chocolate were explained in an adjoining room.

The factory. Yes, I was expecting conveyor belts, clanging bells, a frenzy of machinery, and lots of workers. But no, only about three people working at quiet machines that you will see below.

Ty introduced us to Miss Nan (forgive me if I don't have her name correct). She is bagging their delicious foil-wrapped candy shells and placing them in the boxes.

The machine is making white chocolate. Stirring is an important aspect of making delicious candy. I learned white chocolate does not have cocoa powder as an ingredient, but does contain the cocoa butter.

Milk chocolate machine. The difference between Whetstone's fine chocolates and the Over the Counter kind, as Ty referred to the cheaper manufactured chocolate, is the amount of lecithin, an emulsifier. Cheaper chocolates use none or less lecithin in the product.

Dark chocolate.
Yes, they push the health benefits of eating DARK chocolate.

Ty demonstrates how the hollow chocolate football is made. A measured amount of chocolate is added to the plastic mold he is holding.
A worker continually turns the liquid chocolate leaving a thin layer on the mold. In order to make it evenly shaped, it takes 35 minutes of hand turning to do it right!

The mold and the finished product, a hollow football complete with white chocolate laces!
Beautiful! No,Ty did not make this one....

Miss Nan revs up the machine that wraps foil around the chocolate shells.

Miss Nan loads the shells into the machine. Ty explained the path the candy took through the gears and belts with a patter that a rap star couldn't have done better! 

Success! Look at the parade of red foil-wrapped candy which Miss Nan will bag later.

Yes, we re-enacted the candy wrapping scene from the I Love Lucy Show.
You can't tell I have the candy stuffed in my mouth and down my bra, just like Lucy. LOL!!

The real actors in I Love Lucy. Have you seen this episode? It's a classic.
The chocolate factory scene from the I Love Lucy Show
Hope you enjoyed the tour. Are you hungry for chocolate now? Do you like dark chocolate?
I bet with the holidays upon us, you'll get many chocolate treats whether candy or desserts. Take time to really taste them and feel the joy this small morsel can bring to us.

Wishing you joy, peace, hope, and love this Christmas season and for the Happy New Year 2015!

UPDATE: You're invited to come along for the video tour of St. Augustine. Watch Christmas in St. Augustine now.


Miss Mae said...

Oh my, I HAD to come over and learn more about this! I would have LOVED to tour this with you. The smells, tastes (yums!) and sights would have been pure chocolate heaven! :)

Thanks for the delightful post. I enjoyed all of it, although my tongue doesn't seem to be tasting chocolate!!!

And yes, I've watched that Lucy episode. One of her best! :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Miss Mae--glad you enjoyed the post. I know after writing this, I HAD to go dig up the Whetstone chocolate Gator Bites and gobble it down. So good. It's a mix of peanuts, crisps, flakes, pretzels, and milk chocolate. I bet the gators on Gum Drop Island would love it too!

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous factory, JQ. And the chocolate sounds to die for. Thanks for sharing your trip. It's made my mouth water!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks for stopping by, Helena. Nothing satisfies a craving for chocolate except, well, chocolate!

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