Thursday 20 Oct 2016

Chocolate Dreams
Matt Seinberg

About ten years ago, I managed a Godiva Chocolatier Store here on Long Island, and I still refer to it as the sweetest job I ever had. Sure, it’s a play on words, but it’s true. I really liked that job, not only for the candy, but for the people I worked with.

If you’ve never had a Godiva chocolate, you are definitely missing a treat. My favourite is still the Raspberry Carmel Cashew Cluster. Ten years ago, a pound of luscious delights was $33. Today, 14.6 ounces is $42. The customer has lost 1.4 ounces and is paying $9 a pound more. Why should Godiva be any different from every other company that shrunk the size of its products, but charges more?

The other day I was a bit bored, and wanted a quick snack. I got some strawberries out of the fridge, and had an idea, which was to dip them in some Nutella. For anyone that has not had Nutella, you are definitely missing another good thing. Nutella is a combination of cocoa, hazelnuts and skim milk. If you like peanut butter, you surely would like this.

I proceeded to dip the strawberries in the Nutella. Oh my gawd, I loved the taste. It was delicious and hard to stop eating. I had Melissa try it the next day, and she enjoyed it as well. I dreamt about Nutella strawberries that night.

When I was at Godiva, I was a Master Strawberry Dipper. Yes, I had my dipping degree, and was very good at it. When I was training in the Rockefeller Center store, the chocolate dipper was in the front window, and it was funny to see all the tourists walk by, do a double take and come back to the window.

I would wave them in, and entice them with fresh strawberries dipped in wonderful Godiva chocolate. Back then, the average price of a dipped strawberry was $7-9, based on $33 per pound. Today, depending on the size of the strawberry, the price must be around $10-13.

I had one customer ask for a free sample. I said that while we had samples of chocolate at the counter, there were no samples of dipped strawberries. He got huffy and walked out. Oh well, it was his loss.

One of the benefits of being a chocolatier was being able to write off the extra berries at the end of the night, and instead of throwing them out, getting to take them home. Please realize that everyone did it, so it wasn’t against the rules.

My daughter, Michelle, and I were very popular at daycare and elementary school. Since we couldn’t eat all the berries ourselves, we always brought some to the teachers. I was also able to bring damaged boxes home and give as gifts.

If there was damage to the main part of the box, for example, in shipping and say a crushed corner, we could not sell it or even repack it. We would write it off, put a big ribbon over the bad spot and take them home. So, during any of the big holidays, especially Easter, Hanukkah and Christmas I was able to write off damaged boxes and let the staff take some as well. Our friends and family were very happy to say the least.

Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy Hershey and Nestles, but they are not as good as Godiva. I can certainly afford Hershey and Nestle today, but not Godiva. I haven’t had any of that chocolate for quite a long time, and I do miss it.

You know the chocolates that are in the glass-refrigerated cases. All of those come in bulk boxes, which have a shelf life from 1-2 weeks. If the expiration date came before it was finished or even before we opened it, we had to write it off. There was no rule against taking them home, but that changed about a year after I joined the company.

Did we pay attention to it? Nope. We still wrote everything off, but didn’t throw anything out. That seemed like such a huge waste. We all continued to take chocolates home, and I put them in my freezer. I had bulk boxes in the freezer for at least two years after I left the company.

It lasted such a long time because we didn’t pig out on it, and because there had to be at least a dozen boxes in the freezer. Do me a favour; don’t tell anyone at Godiva we broke the rules.

You know how some people dream in color and surround sound? I dream that way, too, but add a splash of chocolate in there was well, so I have some great taste as well as sight and sound.

Nothing beats a chocolate dream. Well, almost nothing, but you can read about that in another column.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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