The Need for Nut-Free: What’s Going On?

When I was a kid, I didn’t know anyone with nut allergies. As an adult I hadn’t thought too much about it other than occasionally hearing that a friend’s child had an issue with nuts. Since I have opened The Happy Chocolatier I must admit that I am amazed by the number of customers who have come in looking for nut-free chocolates and candies. My own son was recently diagnosed with tree nut allergies – just about 6 weeks after The Happy Chocolatier opened (there is some irony there). As a result, I now think a lot about nut allergies and consequently, The Happy Chocolatier has nut-free offerings.

My wife and I have done quite a bit of research into nut allergies. And frankly, I am at a loss as to why this dramatic increase. Were our parents just ignorant of nut allergies when we were kids? Doubtful as many of us would have been going into anaphylactic shock. Has something changed the environment? I know there are many theories. I am inviting readers to chime in with thoughts and opinions as to why the spike in nut allergies.

So Why Do We Give Chocolate for Valentine’s Day?

Every Valentine’s Day, chocolate becomes part of the romantic holiday. Why? Is it because of all the health benefits of chocolate? Is it because it is simply satisfying? Or, is it just the tradition of it all….

I think the tradition angle wins out. Chocolate has been referred to as “the food of the gods” since the time of the Aztec Indians. In fact the Aztec ruler, Montezuma believed chocolate was an aphrodisiac. Christopher Columbus enjoyed the chocolate he discovered in the Americas. So, he brought it back as a tribute to Queen Isabella of Spain along with other treasures like gold! This new luxury, chocolate, and its legend as an aphrodisiac quickly made its way across the aristocracy of Europe.

In time though, chocolate made its way to the masses. By the 1800s, the Cadbury Brothers had set up shop in England making and selling chocolate to average citizens. In 1861, Richard Cadbury created the first ever heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day. Thus, began the common link between chocolate and Valentine’s Day. A new tradition had begun.

And a few fun supporting factoids:

1)       Modern science has linked the chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate to feelings of excitement, attraction and even pleasure.  Maybe Montezuma was indeed onto something. You can decide on that one for yourself.

Valentine’s Red Grand Gift Box from The Happy Chocolatier

2) According to, though women make most of the chocolate purchases during the year (75%), men make the most purchases for Valentine’s Day (75%).

3)  A survey and The Happy Chocolatier conducted with local women indicated that most wanted the chocolate Valentine’s Day gifts delivered to the home (not work). And, that they would share the treats with their loved ones (great news for the buyer).

So, my guess is that men buy chocolate because it IS part of the Valentine’s Day tradition. And, from what our recent survey found – part of that chocolate giving tradition is now to send the gifts home or to simply bring them home!

Guys: Send the Flowers and Chocolates to Your Sweetie at Home

The Happy Chocolatier and recently conducted a survey of women and found that:

– nearly 75 percent want to have flowers or chocolates delivered at home rather than at work
– more than 80 percent will share chocolates with loved ones (i.e. you and the kids) as opposed to hoarding the treats for themselves

So send those chocolates and flowers home and then you can enjoy them, too!

On Chocolate for Didrik’s Dinner Series

Our friends at Didriks, a high-end tableware, glassware and home furnishings store based in Cambridge, MA,  visited The Happy Chocolatier and took some great photos of our store and interviewed us for their blog, Dinner Series. Check out the high quality outdoor furniture, tableware and bamboo offerings on the Didrik’s site as well.  They also took some photos of our Fudge Cubze on the store’s great looking tableware.

Photo by Didriks taken at The Happy Chocolatier

An excerpt from the Dinner Series blog: “You probably can tell how much we love cooking, dining, and dinnerware…but the Dinner Series has one more love. Local business. We love small businesses and entrepreneurs doing new and interesting things, providing personal service and unique products to customers, and getting involved in their communities…Paul McMahon…recently retired from the corporate world and opened The Happy Chocolatier in Acton.”  Read on…


Fudge Cubze Art – Bringing a Whole New Meaning to Recycled Art!

One of our customers, a dear friend, shared these photos with us at The Happy Chocolatier. She brought a whole new meaning to recycling by using the colorful foil from our Fudge Cubze for some truly wonderful origami. It was especially satisfying to see what would normally be thrown into the trash transformed into artwork that has spread some happiness.


What would you do with the
foil or happiness statements
from Fudge Cubze to spread
the happiness? Share with us!

Our First Holiday Season

We are in the thick of our first holiday season at The Happy Chocolatier. On a good day, this is a crazy time for anyone in the chocolate retail business. Chocolates to box, mail orders to ship, corporate gifts to pack, baskets to make and much more. Several months ago, The Happy Chocolatier and Fudge Cubze were only ideas. We’ve created a business and a product in a very short period of time.

“The first time” is both a frightening and exciting time. For me, it is more exciting than not. I am very lucky to have built a great team at The Happy Chocolatier. Less than two months ago, most of us didn’t know each other. Most didn’t know much about chocolate or retailing. Yet, a very positive “can-do” attitude and commitment has enabled us to move through this season successfully. Oh, there have been challenges and we’ve made our “first-time” mistakes, but customers have told us we’ve created a memorable and delicious experience for them. And, that has made us quite happy.

Great Ideas from Customers

In the short time that we have been open for business, we’ve had some really creative ideas from our customers. Several times now we’ve had customers ask us to bundle certain items (e.g. a hand-pulled candy cane bowed onto a gift box or a chocolate foiled Nutcracker bowed to a tower of gift boxes) and the results were some really attractive gifts.

One customer had a particularly interesting idea. The customer was responsible for Human Resources and purchased a number of our two-piece boxes. She told us that the combination of the chocolate treat and the statements about happiness in each one were “a really fun – yet inexpensive way” to bring some happiness into the workplace where things had been difficult in recent months. Every employee was to find one on their desk one morning this month! I hope we hear back about the results.

And, from the little ones, we’ve had a few who put Fudge Cubze on their list for Santa!

Keep the great ideas coming!

Little Bits of Happiness Along One’s Journey in Life

The other day I Googled the word “happiness” and found numerous self-help sites. I didn’t realize there were so many people in search of happiness and, as a result, in need of some self-help. As I perused these sites, many pitched books, lifestyles, and ways of thinking, which would enable one to achieve a state of happiness.  I was frankly surprised to see the common theme of happiness being a state at which one hopes to arrive versus being an integral part of one’s journey in life.

I chose the name,The Happy Chocolatier, because starting a candy business is part of my life journey. I include statements about happiness in my signature chocolates, Fudge Cubze, specifically to bring a bit of happiness to others as they enjoy our confections.

In one direction or all around you?

As part of my view that happiness is part of everyday life, I invited people to provide us with their statements about happiness. One of the most profound came from a young teen and it speaks to happiness as a constant part of our lives, not a magical state to arrive at: “Happiness is a path you can choose on your journey in life.” I would venture to suggest that fewer people would be in need of self-help, if they simple recognized that happiness comes in various shapes and sizes in our daily journey…many of them small moments.

A recent moment of happiness for me resulted from a cute story that a friend shared. She said that after visiting our store, her little son was at home with his toy cash register and Halloween candy, playing “The Happy Chocolatier.” That really brought a smile to my face and is a moment of happiness to remember.