Where Chocoholics Congregate; Sweet New Shops Now Open

They’re decadent, addictive, escape routes, and they are perfectly legal. Chocolate cafés are predicted to hit the country by storm, especially after making a serious splash this summer in downtown Chicago. Michigan Avenue is now home to three different chocolate “getaways,” much in the genre of Starbucks.
Moonstruck Chocolate Café boasts specialty chocolate and espresso drinks partnered with hand-crafted artisan chocolates “for an experience that can alter the course of your day for the better, in a setting that inspires you to linger,” according to the Moonstruck Chocolate Company, based in Portland, Ore. The café features Moonstruck’s full line of truffles, chocolates and blended drinks.
Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge has a posh-patterned interior with a pink and brown wall/signage color scheme, cushy red loveseats, striped lounge chairs, and on-trend signs such as “Chocolate is the new black,” and “Welcome to chocolate paradise, population you.”  As the closely held candy company behind Ethel’s, Mars Inc. named the lounge after its late matriarch. Delicacies include tea for two with truffle “sides” such as espresso, dark chocolate, ginger citrus and cinnamon, and chocolate fondue is available in milk or dark versions.
Hershey’s Chicago, a brand new addition, is a 3,600-square-foot interactive retail experience combining seating areas, a bakery, and a beverage bar with candy and gift retailing. This “themed” retail area allows visitors to become “official Hershey’s Factory Workers” and package Hershey’s products, operate a 20-foot-tall Magnificent Chocolate Works machine to customize their chocolate using different Hershey candies, such as Reese’s Pieces and Hershey’s Kisses—or just cozy up with a Hershey-Kiss-topped brownie and a café mocha.
Mars Starts up Nutrition Division
Who says confectionery companies and nutrition don’t mix? Mars Inc. has recently launched a new business unit, Mars Nutrition for Health & Well-Being, created to develop new foods, snacks, beverages and “lifestyle support” to better serve the nutritional and well-being needs of the consumer, according to the privately-held company, based in McLean, Va.
“We will bring great taste to products that are designed to provide real health benefits supported by sound nutrition science,” says Michael Mars, president of the new Mars business unit.
Traditionally known for its candy connection, Mars is actually much more diverse, expanding from its early roots in chocolate to savory snacks, pet food, main meals and beverages. Now it has just taken that diversity one step further—into foods in the nutrition and health category.
The Mars Nutrition for Health & Well-Being division has already launched its first snack—CocoaVia—an 80-calorie blend of heart-healthy ingredients, vitamins and minerals with premium chocolate, rich in flavanols. More will follow.
David Hawk Receives the Kettle Award
David Hawk, chairman of Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, a candy maker and specialty retailer, was honored by his peers for his contributions to the candy industry when he received Candy Industry magazine’s 2005 Kettle Award on June 15, during the All Candy Expo. Candy Industry is Confectioner’s sister publication.
Hawk’s selection recognized his leadership of Dunsmore, Pa.-based Gertrude Hawk and his dedication to building an operation noted for high product quality and a strong commitment to employees.
The family-owned company employs 600 people and manufactures about 24 million pounds of chocolates at its plant. An additional 450 people are employed in the company’s 74 retail shops.
In addition to Hawk, this year’s Kettle nominees included: Dr. Basil Atkinson, CEO/president, Judson-Atkinson Candies; James Buffardi, CFO, Ferrara Pan Candy Co.; and Spaulding Goetze, CEO/treasurer, Goetze’s Candy Co. All three were presented with awards recognizing them as 2005 Kettle Award nominees.
The award marks its 60th anniversary this year.
Hershey’s Growth by Acquisition to Continue
The Hershey Co. has ventured into some sweet, dark new territory with the potential acquisition of Berkeley, Calif.-based Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker Inc.
Scharffen Berger is a specialty maker of dark chocolate bars and baking products. The company owns and operates specialty stores in New York City, San Francisco, and Berkeley, Calif.
According to an Associated Press report, John Scharffenberger, co-founder of the company, said Hershey’s resources would enable the company to grow more quickly.
Meanwhile, Hershey’s own candy-making machine is moving farther along the dark path with the introduction of Hershey’s Extra Dark bars in three varieties. They include Pure Dark Chocolate, Pure Dark Chocolate with Cranberries, Blueberries and Almonds, and Pure Dark Chocolate with Macadamias and Cranberries.
In recent months, Hershey has acquired Mexico-based candy maker Grupo Loreno and Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp., based in Hawaii.