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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.)