Chocolate, Happiness & Other Musings

Filling Easter Baskets & Feeding Those Less Fortunate

acton. acton food pantryChocolate bunnies have been part of the Easter tradition for a very long time. This year, we at The Happy Chocolatier will again add another element to the Easter chocolate and candy tradition: feeding those less fortunate.

Parents fill Easter baskets with chocolate bunnies and other treats every year. Easter Sunday is a time of joy as Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is also a time of celebration and fun for children as they awake to find their Easter baskets brimming with treats like chocolate bunnies, buttercream eggs, foiled chocolate eggs, jelly beans and much more.

This year when people purchase Easter chocolates and candy from The Happy Chocolatier, they will be adding another element of joy to the season. The Happy Chocolatier is going to donate a portion of sales from Easter candy purchases to Acton Community Supper and Food Pantry.

So, while we are all enjoying the holiday with our families, we can also know that a part of our Easter celebration helped to feed those less fortunate. Jesus did ask us to feed the hungry, right? Acton Community Supper and Food Pantry distributes 291,275 pounds of food to an average of 754 individuals each month. That’s a lot of families and we’d love to help them out.

So why IS chocolate part of the Easter tradition?

milk chocolate bunnies, eggs and duck Every spring chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs arrive in shops announcing the coming of Easter. But why?

In pre-Christian pagan times, spring was celebrated by giving thanks to the ancient goddess of fertility Eostre—from which “Easter” derived its name. Since the rabbit was recognized as a symbol of fertility and new life, it became associated with the rituals of Easter and spring.

According to the National Confectioner’s Association, Whitman’s Chocolates was one of the first American manufacturers to produce chocolate bunnies in 1842, but the popularity of the bunny mold didn’t pick up speed until the turn of the 20th century. In 1916, Bortz chocolate factory began mass-producing the creamy confection, and over the decades many chocolate makers began making their own version of the chocolate bunny. Today, more than 90 million chocolate bunnies are produced each year!chocolate bunny, Easter

Many small chocolate shops like The Happy Chocolatier still make bunnies by hand. With the evolution of the chocolate bunny one will find many varieties to choose from – chocolate bunnies filled with everything from cookie pieces to jelly beans and M&Ms. However, the plain milk chocolate bunny remains the most popular version.

The method of biting into a chocolate bunny has become a tradition in itself. More than 75 percent of Americans go for the ears first. What do you do? Regardless of how you plan your first bite, one thing is for certain: Easter bunnies have become one of the sweetest parts of the springtime season.

Chocolate Easter Eggs

Eggs have been associated with the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, since the early days of the church. However, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colors with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many cultures continue to dye Easter eggs, often decorating them with flowers. The Victorians had cardboard, ‘plush’ and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates.

milk chocolate bunnies, eggs and pops being madeChocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new confection. milk chocolate bunnies, eggs and pops being made. Some early eggs were solid, as the technique for mass producing molded chocolate had not been devised. The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs was painstaking, as the molds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time. Well, this handmade tradition still exists in smaller chocolate shops like The Happy Chocolatier.milk chocolate egg and bunny with jelly beans and gummies - 1

Chocolate eggs are produced in milk, white and dark chocolate and available in solid and hollow versions. Many times the hollow versions are filled with assorted Easter candy. In our shop, we have created a milk chocolate hollow egg and filled it with assorted Easter candies.

With the arrival of chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs of many varieties, know that Easter and spring are not far behind!

What’s the Best Gift for Valentine’s Day? It’s Not Just Chocolate….

One might assume that, as chocolatiers, we would instantly propose our fine chocolates. While we think great chocolate – especially dark chocolate – is a close second for many reasons, the best gift may be to “give happiness.”

This Valentine’s Day consider giving your sweetie the simple gift of happiness. To do this, you must be happy. And to be happy, you must be joyful, appreciative and positive. Be thankful for your sweetheart, family and friends. Before you know it you’ll be happy and able to share that happiness. It sounds simple, but it takes a conscious effort.

Happiness is, indeed, contagious!Cubze, chocolate, Valentine

Back to chocolate. Chocolate can actually make you happy, according to numerous studies looking at the health benefits of chocolate. This article from The Washington Post provides a nice overview: “Why chocolate really is the secret to happiness.”

chocolate, heart, Valentine, Valentine's DayWe do think that chocolate is a nice addition to Valentine’s Day. Perhaps the chocolates from The Happy Chocolatier might be a great way to highlight your gift of happiness in a fun way. Our signature truffle Cubze each come with a statement about happiness. Now for Valentine’s Day, our gift collections will also include an inspirational statement about happiness: “Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

A Day of Merriment to Support Beacon Santa

As we do for many of The Happy Chocolatier major holidays, we support a local charity. Again this year we will be donating a portion of sales from Saturday December 9, to Beacon Santa. This is our 6th year of supporting the work of Beacon Santa. It is another way for The Happy Chocolatier to spread some happiness.

Come in to make your purchases for Christmas on December 9, and help us help those less fortunate this holiday season.

The Acton Boxborough High School Madrigal Singers and Santa will be at the plaza from 11:00 to 12:00 to add to the fun!

The Beacon Santa Fund is a nonprofit organization administered through GateHouse Media New England, the Beacon’s parent company. Since 1965, Beacon Santa has helped families having trouble making ends meet provide holiday gifts for their children. Originally started through The Beacon, the fund now helps families in Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Billerica, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, Tewksbury, Westford and Wilmington.

Special Early Bird Sale on November 18th from 6:30 to 10:00 AM

Many of the shops in Acton Woods Plaza on 340 Great Road, including The Happy Chocolatier, are hosting a fun early bird sale on Saturday November 18th. The participating shops are opening early at 6:30 and offering special discounts until 10:00. We call it PJ Day — it’s early, so just roll out of bed and come have some fun!

At The Happy Chocolatier, our special offer will work as follows: from 6:30 to 7:30 AM, get 20% discount, from 7:30 to 8:30 get 15% discount, from 9:30 to 10:00 get 10% discount. The offer applies to in stock items only and cannot be combined with other offers.

The Happy Chocolatier will be offering samples of some our special chocolates — it’s never to early in the day for a good piece of chocolate!

Corporate Gift Choices: Unique is better than Ubiquitous

Many times a well-known brand signifies quality. However, a nationally branded product is ubiquitous – available at all types of outlets from department stores to warehouse clubs. These products by virtue of their wide-spread availability aren’t particularly special. If you want a truly memorable gift that demonstrates how much you care about your relationship, then searching out a unique gift is something to think about.

There are many choices for local, hand-crafted or artisanal gifts. Food is a particularly fun way to present a unique gift that isn’t readily available on the mass market. Whether it is hand-crafted chocolates, or locally made wines or cheese, you can choose a special gift that will demonstrate the extra care you put into the selection and complement your message of “thanks.”artisanal

Going the extra step in choosing your corporate gift will remind your customers, clients and employees how important their relationship is to you. Instead of going online to the “gift basket” Web site or dropping by the local warehouse club, contact a local business.

Many small businesses, like The Happy Chocolatier, offer a complete corporate gift service creating a customized gift collection and shipping the gifts.

Holiday Business Gift Planning: 4 Easy Steps

It shouldn’t be a stressful experience…

Giving gifts is a perfect way to show appreciation to customers, clients, referral sources and employees. A quality business gift provides a memorable means of making contact or staying in touch. This is the time of year when many businesses start the “fire drill” of figuring out what the company’s corporate gift program will entail for year end. It can be a very simple process. Here are four steps to get you started:

  1. Determine the budget and gift recipient listcorporate gift, chocolate, holiday, gift box
    Start with the budget. When determining a budget, evaluate the size of your list of recipients and plan for quality. Sending a cheap gift tells the recipients you don’t really appreciate them. A budget will also help focus the types of gifts you consider. No sense looking at a particular item if it is beyond your budget. Some smaller companies will work with you to develop a spending plan and possibly segment the recipient list by size of client/customer and provide you a customized spending proposal.
  2. Research: look online AND poll your network
    The Internet is helpful and a great start. However, word of mouth is even better. Poll your network (business associates and family) and find out what company others may have used. Ask about their service experience. Ask about the feedback from recipients. Better yet, look around town and find a local supplier that isn’t just some anonymous online Web site. Like anything else, word of mouth is the most meaningful recommendation. If the gift you choose is a food product like chocolate or cheese, be sure to check out customer comments about the quality of the company’s offerings.corporate gift, chocolate, customized gift
  3. Choose a partner that provides value-added services
    Make your life easy by choosing a corporate gift partner that not only provides quality gifts, but also provides additional time-saving services for you:
    – Utilizing your recipient list in the way you wish to provide it (e.g. print or spreadsheet) vs. how it fits into their online system
    – Developing custom gift selections to meet varying budgets linked to different segments of your gift list
    – Personalizing your gifts through inclusion of your greeting card, business card or marketing materials
  4. Ask who will work on your order
    You want to be confident that your order will be handled professionally and with attention to detail. If you can’t get the name of a key contact (i.e. not customer service), then move on. If the contact name you are given is the business owner, then you should feel confident placing the order. It is critical to have a contact person who will be responsible for ensuring that your order is completed on time and that each gift is packaged with care.

Follow these four simple steps and you will choose a partner that will make you and your corporate gift program a success. In the holiday season, you want to hear kudos from your customers or clients, not complaints about the quality of the gifts.

Habits of Happy People – A Perspective

A recent column from INC. Magazine provided a “scientific” view of what made people happy. It is an entertaining read: “9 Daily Habits of the Happiest People You Know According to Science.” While we don’t necessarily concur or embrace all of them, several did resonate with us at The Happy Chocolatier:

#5 They give their time and money away.

We think volunteerism and donating to good causes does indeed make one happy. In our experience it is always a good feeling to help another. So, we try our best within our means to give back to our community.

#6 They are grateful.happy, Cubze, chocolate, happiness

Focusing on what we are thankful for – even the small things – does indeed make us happier. Starting a small business and growing it despite many challenges makes us happy. Instead of focusing on the challenging problems, we think about the things that have gone well. From that, we have the energy and focus to work through the problems that inevitably arise.

Nothing brings us a smile – and consequently some happiness – than a short anecdote from a customer about how our chocolates brought someone a little bit of happiness. We are indeed grateful for the comments.

#7 They are more physically active.

While we aren’t out there running any marathon, we do believe that activity is good for the mind, body and soul. There is definitely a link between activity and happiness. Activity can express itself in many ways…from a nice relaxing walk in the woods to running around the shop during the busy season!

One more for good measure.

We would add one more “habit.” A small treat – in our case a truffle Cubze perhaps – each day can be a little respite from a busy day and provide a small bit of happiness.

Why Do Businesses Only Give Gifts at Year-End?

chocolate, corporate gift, business giftBusinesses have reasons throughout the year to express thanks to business associates. Yet, generally businesses only send or give gifts at the end of the year. Why? This seems like a disconnect.

There are many reasons to give chocolates at various times during the year. Here are some ideas from our customers:

  • A professional services firm sends a box of chocolates along with a thank you note to clients who have recently completed a project.
  • A contractor sends a box of chocolates along with a hand-written note to customers at the completion of large jobs.
  • A designer/contractor personally presents our truffle Cubze to new customers at the initiation of a job.
  • A large corporation ordered chocolates to present a large chocolate buffet to employees. They chose a variety of chocolates and set them out on a buffet for employees during lunch. Employees were able to enjoy the chocolates and mingle with co-workers.

What we’ve heard from our business gift customers:

“My clients love your chocolates & so do I! I dropped off the chocolates at a few of my clients & received a call the same day saying how delicious they were!”

“Thank you – I’ve already received some great compliments.”

“Absolutely awesome … people loved them, as always!”  

“I know for sure your chocolates will bring smiles!”

corporate gift, business gift, chocolateWhy wouldn’t businesses want to have customers or employees feel this way throughout the year?

Here’s what we offer at The Happy Chocolatier:

  • Ongoing Mailing Program: Businesses provide us note cards which we keep on file. Once a week, we receive an email with a list of contacts to send the notes and chocolate selection. This is a very easy and affordable, yet memorable, way to say thanks to customers or a referral source.
  • Chocolate Buffets: Businesses work with us to develop a chocolate selection they think appeals to their employees. We provide the chocolates in bulk and they are set out in a common area for employees to enjoy. Or, we can take care of the whole process by bringing the chocolates and setting up the chocolate buffet.
  • Customized Chocolates and Packaging: To mark a milestone like a new product launch, company anniversary or sales achievement, businesses work with us to develop either a custom chocolate piece or a customized box of chocolates. These chocolates are presented to business associates at events or on a launch day.

So, if you really want to stand out and spread some chocolate happiness, give business gifts throughout the year.  We’re happy to chat with you about what you can do and create customized gifts to meet your needs. You can reach us at (978) 429-8485 or