Chocolate Reality

February 21, 2012

By Rachel Sokol

I blame my sweet tooth on my family, for I’m a firm believer that I literally was raised on chocolate. There were always about three varieties of chocolate cake at every single family gathering. My mom was a frequent Tootsie-Pop buyer. The local Rockbottom drug store sold all sorts of chocolate bars-three for 99 cents–and mom would stock up on Kit-Kats, Mounds Bar and Nestle Crunch, most of which she ate herself. I have a hereditary weakness for anything gooey and chocolate. Who needs flowers from a man? What women really want is a hunk of Hershey. Really. We do. (Okay fine, we’ll take a diamond, too–but oh, yes! chocolate!) Talk, dark and handsome, I often find myself falling into that joke that chocolate is better than men…although, on few occasions, I beg to differ.

It may come as no surprise to some, that as a child, my favorite board game was Candy Land, my favorite book was The Chocolate Touch and film my parents immediately grew tired of was, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which the VCR eventually ate. (Luckily, I snagged a new copy when the classic Gene Wilder film was re-released a few years ago.) Call me a dreamer, but I wanted to live in the make-believer world of chocolateland, and a trip to Hershey Park when I was eleven just wouldn’t suffice. I wanted to live the Candy Land fantasy. Heck, I’ve got no shame; I STILL do!

Because chocolate is such a delicacy, it will never go out of style–thank goodness–but lately I am noticing chocolate is making a yummy splash in Manhattan. Its popularity has surged!

Before Mother’s Day, I stumbled into Macy’s on 34th Street in desperate search of something for ma, the woman who graciously poured just the right amount of Quik into my milk and let me lick the stirring spoon. In the placewares section, my cocoa radar immediately zoned in on bars of “the hunk.” Mmmm. Chocolate goodies all wrapped up in pretty cellophane. After I found mom the perfect perfume and beach bag, I decided no present would be complete without some type of chocolate goodie–besides, mom always joked that chocolate should be named PMS Crunch. After sifting through racks of truffles and caramel-goo squares, I settled on Macy’s own brand of dark chocolate. So, I bought two Macy’s candy bars in the shape of a Taxi Cab and skipped away with my purchase. I mean really, how was I expected to hand mom a chocolate-less present? What woman could resist a candy bar, except for the lactose intolerant? (I feel so bad for those people. My sister is one of ’em.)

Days later, I found myself browsing through Macy’s yet again, when my friendly self struck up conversation with an employee in placewares named, “Keisha.”

“Must have been so packed in here for Mother’s Day,” I said.

Keisha widened her eyes and nodded, expressing her agreement. “Yeah, and the first thing to sell like a hotcakes were those little Taxi Cab chocolate bars. EVERYONE bought a few!”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I think it’s so stupid. What kind of person buys their mom chocolate for Mother’s Day? It’s so clichéd and shows you don’t really care about your mom.”

“Yeah, but I’m sure they bought other stuff as well…like a beach bag?…and not just the chocolate.”

Keisha shrugged. “It’s still stupid to blow three dollars on a dumb Macy’s chocolate bar.”

I made some lame excuse and avoided Keisha for the rest of the afternoon. (FYI, mom ate the chocolates.) Okay, I could take taken three subway trips with the cost of mom’s Macy’s Chocolate…or even just picked up some Price-Club Mounds Bars instead…but the little Taxi-Cab chocolate was too cute to resist. Besides, I blew the rest of my invisible money on the perfume and bag! Huh! What did Keisha know.

New Yorkers love chocolate. My office is proof! I work full-time for a small magazine and we have a giant jar of chocolates sitting in the lobby. I think the secretary fills it up every morning. Almost every employee fishes a mini Krackel Bar or mini Milky-Way out of the jar. By 10am, the jar is empty. So, someone fills it up again (Because, “A sweet office is a happy office!) and twenty minutes later, the jar is once again empty. This goes on all day.

To add frosting to my Manhattan chocolate fixations, fashion guru Ralph Lauren’s daughter, Dylan, opened up her own candy store. “Dylan’s Candy Bar” on 3rd Avenue. I keep making a mental note to myself to go there. I see everyone with hip little, “Dylan’s Candy Bar,” bags all over NYC. I want one of those bags. I want a Dylan chocolate!

Also, if that wasn’t fabulous enough, a new bar called, “The Chocolate Bar” has opened on Eighth Ave. I’m awful! I know! I haven’t gone there yet, either, but I will. I’m scared, though, because it’s a chocoholic’s dream come true. Calling itself a “candy store for grown-ups,” The Chocolate Bar features sweets by New York’s Jacques Torres, Sweet Bliss, Garrison Confections and Lunch Box along with a signature line of nostalgia-influenced chocolate bars. The owners of Chocolate Bar, named Allison and Matt, hosted a launch party at the upscale bar, “SPA” a few weeks ago, complete with chocolate tastings. Let me just tell you–the cinnamon-flavored chocolate was incredible. I hope no one minded that I took large handfuls of chocolate samples. (I was a member of the press, after all!) “SPA” was packed with guests craving chocolate. In fact, latecomers received nothing–The place was almost completely wiped out of chocolate after just an hour of opening its door to cocoa-raging partygoers. I noticed many guests grabbing at chocolate freebies like it was the first time they’ve ever tasted it. Damn, I love New York. Now, where’s that Mr. Softee truck go? I just saw it heading down Broadway. My work day is not complete without the original soft chocolate ice-cream from the ice-cream truck!

Well, that’s my chocolate round-up for now. Till next time folks!

Rachel Sokol is a native New Yorker with a weakness for anything that alleviates her sweet tooth. She’ll take chocolate cake over flowers any day (Hint, hint men!) If she had to choose a favorite candy, it would be Reese’s Pieces…or Kit-Kats…or M&Ms…or maybe Three Musketeers….Amazingly, she’s only had one cavity and absolutely loves going to the dentist.

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