What's better than chocolate? More chocolate. And what's better than that? Three times the chocolate. Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company is just that: chocolate, chocolate and, yes, even more chocolate.
Since opening in 1981, this St. Louis-based candy shop has grown to nine locations throughout the metro area. Their treats appear on the shelves of local Dierbergs, as well as gourmet candy shops throughout the country. To keep up with growing demand and to centralize its candy production, the company moved into a 30,000-square-foot factory on The Hill in August 2012. Each day the new facility produces more than a thousand pounds of chocolate and gives hundreds of visitors a peek inside the world of a working chocolate factory.
Visitors will enjoy seeing the mechanics behind the company's signature creations, as well as the masterful blend of art, tradition and technology that goes into each piece. The building itself dates back to the 1930s, when it originally served as a post office. The company still uses copper pots from the 1890s, and an oven from the early 1900s. Two of the city's premier chocolatiers add the company's signature lettering to its fruit-filled dream chocolates by hand, sometimes decorating as many as 5,000 per day. And yet, though the second-generation family-owned factory feels like a step back in time, its equipment is powered by rooftop solar panels.
Tours are free and open to all ages. Guides are eager to answer questions throughout the tour — even from young super inquisitive guests, explaining complicated procedures in language that's easy to understand. Visitors receive a keepsake "Chocolatier for the Day" hat at the beginning of each tour, and each tour ends with — you guessed it — free chocolate samples.
If the tour leaves you hungry for more, visit the adjoining candy shop, which carries a full line of assorted chocolates, including the factory's sweet nod to its new location, the chocolate toasted ravioli. Splurge on a pomegranate fresh-fruit filled chocolate dream, if you'd like, or save a few bucks and check out the "Lucy and Ethel" section in the back, which contains mishaps, overruns and discontinued seasonal merchandise (a chocolate-dipped Christmas cookie is still delicious in January). For $5 the true chocoholic can visit the Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company's private tasting room, which includes samples of six different chocolates.
Tours are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To see the most activity, visit the factory on a weekday, when it's in full operation. Tours begin on the hour and half-hour, and last about 15 minutes. Note that nuts and other allergens are present throughout the factory and in the samples. Early morning tours appear to be the smallest; by 10 a.m. on Saturday, large numbers were gathering to participate, which can make the parking lot a little difficult to maneuver.
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company is located at 5025 Pattison Ave., St. Louis, Mo., 63110. Call 314-338-3501 or visit chocolatechocolate.com for a complete list of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company locations. For the latest news, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter at @chocolateSTL.