Chocolate and Valentine’s Day. When it comes to perfect couples, what can compare to the marriage of chocolate and romance?
Chocolate has been linked to Valentine’s Day since the Victorian age, when Richard Cadbury started filling fancy boxes with tasty tidbits. His ornate boxes, decorated with charming illustrations, lace and velvet, were cherished long after the candy was consumed. For over 100 years, a beautiful box of rich chocolates would almost certainly grant access to your beloved’s heart (the route apparently goes through the stomach).
Although romance and chocolate have been together for decades, the relationship is far from stale. One source predicts we’ll spend over $400 million dollars on 58 million pounds of chocolate during Valentine’s Day week. If you want to treat your beloved – or yourself – to a box of rich sweetness, we are fortunate to have not one but two successful chocolate makers in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
In Vienna, Holl’s Chocolates has been making authentic Swiss chocolate since 1986. Fritz Holl had been trained as a Conditor in Switzerland before emigrating to the U.S. (and landing in Marietta) in 1958. He spent the next 25 years working for Broughton’s dairy while making chocolate in his kitchen. When he retired in 1986, he continued working from his home, then from a small shop in Parkersburg. The current location opened in 1990, and Fritz’s son Dominique continues offering the fine chocolates and outstanding customer service that keeps people coming back for more.
What makes Holl’s Swiss chocolate different from ordinary chocolate? Swiss chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa and lower sugar than American chocolate, making it rich and smooth. After you’ve tasted a piece, you will instantly recognize the difference. Visit the Holl’s store and browse the beautiful showroom of candy, and a knowledgeable salesperson will answer questions and help with your choice. Make up your own assortment, or choose from the myriad of perfectly packaged boxed collections. If you really want to whet your appetite, the website has a page that shows all the available chocolates – click on any photo for a mouth watering description.
On the Ohio side of the river, nestled on Front Street, Putnam Chocolates is the classic small town candy shop. The owner Shane Danford has been making chocolates for over 30 years, and you can see him in action just feet from the display case. Shane grew up learning to make chocolates from his mother and grandmother, and spent 10 years in practicing the art in Columbus before moving to Marietta. Even a devastating flood in 2004 didn’t stop him from pursuing his passion, and the current location of Putnam Chocolates is a favorite stop for locals and visitors alike.
Stepping across the threshold, you will be greeted by the sight and smell of fresh hand crafted treats that were made just hours (or even minutes) before. No fancy mass production here—Shane mixes the chocolate, creates the variations and shapes the pieces on simple trays. If you stop by on a busy day, you may see a line of boxes waiting to be filled with their delicious assortments. You can choose a wrapped box, or make up your own collection from the seductive array in the display case.
If you’re waiting for me to recommend a favorite, I’m sorry—each time I bite into a piece of Putnam Chocolate, I think to myself “this is my favorite.” Even the smallest boxed assortment provides a selection that promises to please.
Yes, chocolate and romance are a long term couple, and lucky for us we have two chocolate makers in the MOV to keep the romance alive.