United States of Chocolate

by in Food Network Magazine, February 7th, 2012

United States of Chocolate
Treat yourself to a road trip like no other: We found America’s best spots for chocolate lovers, from coast to coast.

South

south
CHOCOLATE BUFFET
Four Seasons Atlanta
On Fridays in March, the Four Seasons’ restaurant, Park 75, rolls out an over-the-top, all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet, and there’s usually a line out the door. The menu includes endless chocolate creations: brownies, chocolate-dipped macaroons and more. $30 for buffet; room rates start at $400 per night; 75 14th St. Northwest; fourseasons.com/atlanta

GIANT MILKSHAKE
Chick & Ruth’s Delly, Annapolis, MD
The 6-pound milkshake here was supposed to be a dessert for sharing, but customers started ordering one per person and trying to finish the shake alone. (It contains a half gallon of ice cream!) Now the milkshake challenge is official: Consume one in less than an hour and you’ll join hundreds of champions on the restaurant’s website. $18; 165 Main St.; chickandruths.com

CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST
Wagon Wheel, Greenbrier, AR
This is the place to try an unusual Arkansas specialty: biscuits with chocolate gravy. The dish is exactly as it sounds — two biscuits topped with a sweet gravy made of chocolate and cornstarch. Wagon Wheel is just off Highway 65 on the way to Branson, Mo., so lots of out-of-towners stop in to taste this quirky dish for the first time. $3 for a full order, $2 for a half order; 166 South Broadview St.; 501-679-5009

LOCAL FLAVOR – GOO GOO CLUSTERS
Goo Goo Clusters were invented in Nashville 100 years ago, and they’re still sold all over town. An iPhone app called “Goo Goo Finder” will help you track down the nearest location. googoo.com

CHOCOLATE HISTORY
Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA
In the 18th century, chocolate bars weren’t snacks — they were a delicacy, intended to be melted for drinking. Back then, turning raw cacao beans into one pound of chocolate could take all day. You can see a reenactment on the first Tuesday of the month from September through June. (Why no summer shows? Experts think colonists likely didn’t make chocolate in July and August.) Free admission with $19 to $38 tickets to Colonial Williamsburg; 101 Visitor Center Dr.; history.org

MONK-MADE FUDGE
Abbey of Gethsemani Homemade Fudge, Trappist, KY
When the Trappist monks settled in the hills of central Kentucky in 1848, they supported themselves by farming. Now they sell fruitcake, cheese and, best of all, homemade fudge. The monks make it daily in eight flavors, including Kentucky-themed chocolate bourbon and mint julep. It’s sold online, but we recommend stopping by in person and hiking the abbey’s trails. $22 per pound; 3642 Monks Rd.; gethsemanifarms.org

CHOCOLATE TASTING
Whetstone Chocolates Factory, St. Augustine, FL
This spot calls its hour-long factory tour a “tasting tour” because you get to try so many treats along the way. Among the samples: 72-percent cacao chocolate (it’s intense!), roasted cacao nibs and Whetstone’s famous chocolate seashells. $7 for adults, $5 for children; 139 King St.; whetstonechocolates.com

Northeast

northeast
CHOCOLATE MOOSE
Len Libby, Scarborough, ME
No trip to Maine would be complete without a moose sighting, and stopping at Len Libby guarantees you’ll see at least one: a 1,700-pound, life-sized moose named Lenny that’s made of milk chocolate. You can’t take a bite of his antlers (just about everyone asks), but you can eat as many of the one-pound versions as you’d like. $19 for a one-pound chocolate moose; 419 U.S. Route One; lenlibby.com

CHOCOLATE VILLAGE
Daffin’s Candies, Sharon, PA
The chocolate kingdom inside this supermarket-sized store is filled with castles, animals, even a moving Ferris wheel — all made of milk chocolate. Two Sundays before Easter (March 25), the factory is open for tours — and lots of free treats. Store located at 496 East State St., Sharon, PA; factory located at 7 Spearman Ave., Farrell, PA; daffins.com

CHOCOLATE SIGHTSEEING
Chocolate Trolley Tour, Boston
On this three-hour ride, tour conductors give a history lesson on Boston specialties like Toll House cookies and Boston Cream Pie as you travel from one chocolate tasting to the next. Guides ask chocolate-trivia questions along the way and award you with a diploma from the “Institute of Chocology” at the end. $80 per person; 3 Park Plaza; 617-269-7150

LOCAL FLAVOR – PEANUT CHEWS
These popular Philadelphia candy bars were originally created as military rations during World War I; today they’re sold at almost every pharmacy and supermarket in town. justborn.com/peanut-chews

MEGA CANDY STORE
Chutters, Littleton, NH
How much candy do you need to stock the world’s longest candy counter? Ask the folks at Chutters: Their 112-foot counter holds about 600 jars full of candies and chocolate bars — and that doesn’t even count the truffle and fudge selection. The milk chocolate fudge is a must-try. 43 Main St.; chutters.com

EDIBLE FACIAL
The Spa at the Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA
We’ve heard of chocolate spa treatments, but never edible ones. Here, customers can lick their lips after a chocolate mask is applied. Other chocolate services include a cocoa bath, a sugar scrub and a mud wrap. Chocolate services start at $50, room rates start at $259 per night; 100 Hotel Rd.; chocolatespa.com

GIANT COCOA POD
Jacques Torres Chocolate, New York City
Renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres is so obsessed with chocolate, he designed his West Village shop to be brown and oval-shaped, so you feel like you’re stepping into a cocoa pod. Sit in the café with a chocolate croissant and hot chocolate and watch the candy-making in action. 350 Hudson St.; mrchocolate.com

West

west
CHOCOLATE LOVER’S GARDEN
Chocolate Flower Farm, Langley, WA
Everything grown in this 8-acre garden is chocolate themed, including 6-foot brown sunflowers, chocolate-colored corn and cocoa-scented blossoms. The farm is open from April to September, but the store in town, stocked with fun chocolate gardening supplies, is open year-round. Free admission; garden located at 5040 Saratoga Rd.; chocolateflowerfarm.com

COLOSSAL CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN
Bellagio Resort, Las Vegas
The Bellagio’s chocolate fountain set a Guinness World Record when it was built in 2005: It’s more than 26 feet tall and circulates nearly two tons of melted chocolate. It’s enclosed in glass (sorry, no dipping!), but Jean-Philippe Pâtisserie is right next door to satisfy cravings. Rooms from $159 per night; 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South; bellagio.com

LOCAL FLAVOR – ROCKY ROAD
Try a Rocky Road candy bar when you’re in the area: The chocolate-covered cashew-and-marshmallow treats, invented in California in 1950, are still a West Coast favorite. annabelle-candy.com

CHOCOLATE BINGE
Oregon Chocolate Festival, Ashland, OR
The first weekend in March means one thing in Ashland: chocolate. A ticket to the town’s annual chocolate festival buys two days of chocolate-themed seminars and classes, and practically unlimited sampling. “People really leave in a chocolate coma,” says organizer Karolina Wyszynska. $20 per ticket; 212 East Main St.; ashlandspringshotel.com

TOP-SECRET CANDY BARS
Ethel M Chocolates, Henderson, NV
The candy-making execs at Mars are normally as tight-lipped as Willy Wonka about their upcoming products, but at this chocolate factory, about 20 minutes from the Vegas Strip, you can check out some products before they hit shelves. The Ethel M company store stocks small-batch items produced on-site before Mars decides whether to roll them out. You can also see chocolate-making in action on the factory tour. Free tour; 1 Sunset Way; ethelm.com

DECORATING MEGASTORE
Spun Sugar, Berkeley, CA
This candy-supply superstore has everything you need to turn your kitchen into a chocolate factory: thousands of molds, every shade of food coloring, plus garnishes like edible glitter. The main attraction is the Wall of Chocolate, which holds just part of the store’s 5,000-pound stash of chocolate. 1611 University Ave.; spunsugar.com

ALL-CHOCOLATE DINNER
The Grill at Hacienda del Sol, Tucson, AZ
Chefs at this Southwestern restaurant host a chocolate-themed dinner every few months, and they’re thinking way beyond molé. Past menus include scallops in a white chocolate sauce and dark chocolate-marinated beef. The next dinner is scheduled for March 17. $50 for a four-course meal; 5501 North Hacienda del Sol Rd.; haciendadelsol.com

Midwest

midwest
CHOCOLATE-COVERED EVERYTHING
Carol Widman’s Candy Company, Fargo, ND
You won’t believe what this place dips in chocolate: olives, jalapeños and, best of all, potato chips (aka Chippers). Ask for a sample! 4325 13th Ave. South; carolwidmanscandy.com

KOOKY CHOCOLATIER
Northern Chocolate Company, Milwaukee
Jim Fetzer is the real-life chocolate-shop version of Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi.” His mandates: no fur, no cell phones and no unaccompanied children. “It can be horrific or it can be fabulous coming here, depending on what mood I’m in,” Fetzer says. If he lets you in (you have to buzz and meet his standards to gain entry), try the mint meltaways. 2034 North Dr. Martin Luther King Dr.; 414-372-1885

HOTEL FUDGE SHOP
Murray Hotel, Mackinac Island, MI
Mackinac Island has seven fudge shops on its 4.4 square miles, earning it the unofficial title of fudge capital of the world. Stay at the historic Murray Hotel, home to the biggest fudge selection in town. Fudge, $13 per pound; rooms from $89 per night, mid-May through October; 7260 Main St.; mymurrayhotel.com

CULT COOKIES
Bradley Center, Milwaukee
When Frontier merged with Midwest in 2010, frequent fliers wondered what the name change would mean for Midwest Airlines’ beloved chocolate chip cookies. Frontier still offers them — but you can also get your fix on the ground at Milwaukee basketball and hockey games. Wisconsin’s Sendik’s Food Markets also sell the dough. $3.50 per cookie; 1001 North 4th St.; bradleycenter.com

DESSERT AS BOOZE
Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, St. Louis
In most bars you’re lucky to find one chocolate cocktail on the menu, but at Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, you can choose from dozens. In addition to chocolate beer, chocolate port and a Chocolate Stout Shake, Baileys’ has a separate chocolate martini menu with 15 options. 1915 Park Ave. (in Lafayette Square); baileyschocolatebar.com

SWEET ARTWORK
Long Grove Confectionery Co. Factory, Buffalo Grove, IL
This isn’t your average chocolate-factory tour: A 2,500-pound chocolate Statue of Liberty greets you in the lobby, a 500-pound chocolate Santa sits in the theater and the hallways are lined with art — eight Monets and one Seurat made of chocolate. $2 per person for a tour (free on weekends), weekday reservations required: 888-459-3100; 333 Lexington Dr.; longgrove.com

LOCAL FLAVOR – TWIN BING
Grab an Iowa-made Twin Bing from a local store. Each pack comes with two chocolate-and-peanut-coated cherry nougat treats. palmercandy.com

CHOCOLATE SLICE
Amore Chocolate Pizza Company, Leawood, KS
You won’t find any pepperoni or Parmesan in this pizza joint: Owner Annette Cook makes her pies out of chocolate. She opened the shop two years ago after friends raved about her fun twist on pizza — a puffed-rice cereal, marshmallow and chocolate base with coconut and white chocolate “cheese.” The shop sells several varieties. Chocolate pizzas starting at $3; 4821 West 117th St.; amorechocolatepizza.com

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Comments (32)

  1. Kristine says:

    TCHO in San Francisco! Bean-to-bar chocolate maker with free factory tours… and lots of chocolate to sample.

  2. Mel says:

    http://www.thechocolatefactory.net/ Hidden in the heart of Southern Illinois in the beautiful Shawnee National Forest

  3. KC Hebert says:

    What happened to See's Candy out of San Francisco?? I have eaten it all my life……Yummy!

  4. Ann says:

    What about O’Malley’s in Cleveland, OH. Chocolate covered strawberries are out of this world!

  5. Karen says:

    Chihuahua Chocolates! Small Mom & Pop shop in Woodbury, MN. The absolute best home made/hand made truffles anywhere! Salted Carmel's, oh my, I could go on and on! They have a website, they ship….
    chihuahuachocolates.com

    Give them a try, you won't reget it!

  6. Donna Winsted says:

    You didn't find one of the most wonderful chocolate places in the world!! It's the South Bend Chocolate Company on the southwest quadrant of Monument Circle in Indianapolis, Indiana!!! Everything they make is fantastic, but their hot chocolate is out of this world! :D

  7. Michele B. says:

    Baileys' Chocolate Bar in St. Louis, MO! Way to go Food Network for mentioning that gem! It's a grown up chocolate lover's paradise!

  8. Allison says:

    Vosges!!! Amazing, unique and delicious. They are in Chicago, Now York City, Vegas and LA–and of course, online.

  9. jeri says:

    How in the world could you not mention Ghiradelli in San Francisco??? World famous, and you missed it!

  10. Sue says:

    Melting Pot Candy in Dallas Oregon has amazing truffles and the most delicious Jalapeno toffee I have ever had.

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