• Dan and the Chocolate Factory

    Ok so Dan doesn’t quite scan as well as Charlie, and as I actually visited the Chocolate Factory on National Doughnut Day perhaps I should have tried to find a Doughnut Factory to visit instead. That said given the amount of donuts, chocolate and pie that I ate that day, I have probably greatly increased the chance that I will one day be able to meet my alliterative needs in a Dan and the Diabetes Diagnosis blog post…

    Sprinkle donuts

    Mmmm sprinkly…

    Anyway, back to the Chocolate Factory. The presence of a chocolate factory in Seattle was not something I was aware of, it wasn’t mentioned in my guidebook and there was no mention of it in the various leaflets in the hostel, but it was recommended to me by a Seattle native I first met way back in Бишкек and met up with again for a bonfire on the beach. As an aside, having a bonfire whilst staying in a rather pokey dorm room in a hostel does have some drawbacks. There is no way of getting around the fact that when you return late at night to the dorm room from said fire your clothes are going to smell of smoke. A lot. The best you can do is hope that a random Canadian in your dorm will cause it to be overlooked by deciding that midnight in a small 6 bed dorm full of people trying to get to sleep is the best time to crack open a tin of canned fish and proceed to eat it…They are a weird people…

    Seattle beach at night

    I’m 99% certain the distant glow is from city lights, not a S’more making session that got out of hand…

    Anyway, back again to the chocolate factory, albeit by way of the bonfire. It was at this fire that Джесс introduced me to S’mores (chocolate and toasted marshmallow inside a biscuit sandwich) which gave me a sweet tooth and left me rather keen on her later suggestion that I should visit a chocolate factory. And given that after 15 months of touring the world, Seattle’s other attractions, (weird tower structure, awesome city views, cool aviation museums, great coffee shops) are, whilst still pretty awesome, not exactly unique, the chance to go see something different appealed.

    Space Needle tower

    Seattles unique space needle. Nothing else quite looks like it. Except perhaps the CN Tower in Toronto. And thd BT Tower in London isnt really too different. Or the TV tower in Berlin. Or Almaty for that matter. And that weird building in Shanghai…etc etc…

    So, having first sourced a Golden Ticket/paid $10, I joined the rest of the lucky winners/customers to see where the magic happens at the world famous Willy Wonker Chocolate Factory largely unknown factory of speciality organic chocolate makers, Theo, in the Fremont District of Seattle.

    welcome to the factory

    A rejected Guns and Roses lyric

    Our tour was given by an Oompa Loompa Ellen, who seemed to have a rather awesome job as she got to try all the samples that were handed out to each tour group as well. She did a good job of explaining the way Chocolate is made, which I have to be honest was something I didn’t know too much about despite eating quite a lot of it, especially in the form of Twix bars. Fun facts, chocolate doesn’t actually have any caffeine in, but it does have a similar substance called Theobromine. Its this substance that is actually rather poisonous to most animals except humans, apes and for some reason rats. It’s why dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, even if given the opportunity they will. Idiots. I also found out that the fruit of the Cocoa tree grows off the trunk directly, something that so amazed people back in Europe that when explorers first sent back drawings of it, the Europeans back home corrected them to show it growing off branches instead. Also, there is actually a fruit surrounding the Cocoa beans. I’ll have to add that to the list of things I want to eat sometime. Having been given fun facts like this, and an overview of the production process (and having sampled much chocolate), we moved on to the tour itself.

    Hairnets in place, you spend about 15 mins getting an overview of the process and eating free samples

    Hairnets in place, you spend about 15 mins getting an overview of the process and eating free samples

    Sacks of cocoa nuts

    How the beans are packed on the farms

    An unhealthy looking Cocoa Tree

    An unhealthy looking Cocoa Tree

    Mmmm free samples....

    Mmmm free samples…. (as an aside wow does my arm look weird in this shot)

    More free samples

    Mmmm need for Insulin rising….

    It’s not a massive factory and as the Television room, Inventing Room and Nut Room were closed/ didn’t exist, we had to skip them. But we did get to see the machines which sort and crack the cocoa beans, where they are roasted and crushed and where the mixing and later cooling take place. In short an overview of the entire production.

    The factory floor

    The factory floor

    Chocolate making machine

    Chocolate making machine

    We also got to see the kitchens where they prepare ganache and small chocolates that they sell on site as opposed to those sent out to retailers. Here, one of our group was accosted by a bounty hunter, and frozen in Chocolatite. I think he was in debt to Pizza Hut or something along those lines. I actually foolishly forgot to take a photo of this, luckily I found one of the incident on Theo’s Instagram page.

    Ganash spread over table cooling

    Preparing lemon ganache.  I think I learnt about this in religious studies…

    A chocolate factory is perhaps not surprisingly rather a hot place with all that roasting and molten chocolate action, a fact I can’t remember Roald Dahl ever mentioning. Why would he lie to kids like that? Upon the end of the tour, I was alas not given the keys to the factory, but to make up for it we were given a bar of chocolate and exited, of course, via the gift chocolate shop.

    More Chocolate with arrow

    Best. Sign. Ever

    Amongst the rather pricey chocolatey things on show here were Cocoa nibs… This is effectively raw chocolate, the stuff that is later crushed down to an extremely fine powder and mixed with all the other ingredients to make chocolate. It is apparently a super food, extremely high in antioxidants and other pretentious sounding words. They sell them at $28 a pound. $28! I can’t see them selling many of those unless the factory owners move to “fantasy land” and locate themselves in some weird place full of Trolls and old Soviet leaders…

    Lenin, about 5 mins from the factory...

    Lenin, about 5 mins from the factory…

    Hand has been covered in red paint

    Blood on his hands

    A troll.  Underneath a bridge naturally...

    A troll. Underneath a bridge naturally…

    36th and Troll

    Best address ever

    All in all, for your $10 you will learn quite a bit about chocolate and eat quite a bit of chocolate too. Something definitely worth finding the time to do even amongst Seattle’s other cool sites. (By the way you can also apparently take tours of Boeing’s factory buildings which would be pretty unique but Dan and the Giant Aircraft Assembly Factory doesn’t scan at all, so on this occasion I skipped it.)

    Elephant car wash sign

    This photo has nothing to do with anything. I just wanted to include it.

6 Responsesso far.

  1. jessica van gelder says:

    i love your blogging- you’re so funny
    I am very upset, after I took the tour, I did NOT receive a chocolate bar…
    also, did lenin’s leg still say “disgrace”?
    glad you love seattle

  2. Andy Holt says:

    Trans Canada and then crossing the Atlantic Ocean next? Not too long before you will be home – what a blast you have had!

    • noflytri says:

      Actually not doing trans-canada, although would def like to do Halifax to Vancouver some time. Going down the West Coast, eventually getting to San Diego. Then up to LA and South West Chief with a break or two back to Chicago, then DC for July 4 then down to the Carolinas for the voyage home. Well Belgium at anyrate…

      • Dave B says:

        You dropped off the planet, Dan? Nothing here for a month:-) Or are you on a tramp steamer across the Atlantic?
        (BTW, if you’ve not yet started across, you know you don’t need a full crossing of the Atlantic, you only have to get as far as Greenland? then there are ferries back to Europe via the Faeroes!)

        • noflytri says:

          Hey, still in the US, just over two weeks till I leave 🙁
          I have just been rushing around a lot recently but shall try to catch up with blogs!
          And I will be going direct to Belgium. There is alas no way of getting to Greenland by sea accept the occasional expensive . I don’t even think there is a passenger boat running between Greenland and the Faroes anymore.

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