It’s Chocolate Season
Chocolate season started on November 1 for Joanne and Jerry Kryszek’s company, Chocosphere. This is the busiest time in their on-line chocolate wholesale and retail company which operates from a warehouse in a Portland suburb. I have known about the company for years and finally had the opportunity to meet the Kryszek’s and see their operation a couple of weeks ago.
Chocolate is a second career for both and a full time passion. Jerry had always liked chocolate. Joanne never liked chocolate as a child. As an adult, she became hooked on the Belgian Cote d’Or milk chocolate that Jerry’s best friend brought back from his business trips abroad. She loved it. She depended on those imports and was stuck when he lost his travel budget. In the late 90’s Joanne’s job at the IRS was reinvented. Mourning her lost supply of chocolate, she proposed to Jerry that they start a chocolate internet business arguing, “it will be easy and we will make money.” He reminded her, based on his experience in the clothing business, that she would sleep it, eat it, and live it, 24/7. Soon they were planning a trip to Sweden to pick up a car for chocolate shopping and meeting suppliers in Europe.
To keep overhead low Chocosphere started out of their home. They opened by retailing only 6 brands in the fall of 1998. Now shipments arrive from their major sources every week and as chocolate season warms up, trucks deliver every day. Today they sell over 50 brands and more than 50% of the business is wholesale. I had to force my hands together to keep from reaching out to sample from the neatly organized piles of bars, minis, truffles, nibs and spreads.
Though still driving that same Volvo, Joanne’s chocolate tastes have evolved to preferring very high cocoa content, even 100% Damori. She now appreciates more about the nuances of beans and the complexities that produce quality chocolate. Their customer profile includes women and men. They have also seen customer expectations change, with people generally looking for higher cocoa content and European more than American. Men are discerning and enjoy broad tastes. Women seem more committed to one item, such as the customer who orders her weekly 3 kilo bag of Valhrona Noir. In the Northwest, women chocolate makers outnumber men.
At the very least, Jerry and Joanne have a constant supply of the best chocolate from around the world for themselves. And, even better, we have access to their curated selections.
Book Optioned: Museum Exhibit
Excerpted from my remarks at Opening Night at Temple Emanu-El, NYC, October 20, 2017: Some people have books optioned for movies. I am so delighted that my book, On the Chocolate Trail (2nd Edition, 2017) has become a museum exhibit… Thank you, Warren Klein, for your professionalism, creativity and collegiality in creating Semite Sweet, which displays someRead more ›
Announcing Second Edition: On the Chocolate Trail
Media attention, popular culture, audience questions, growing consumer awareness, and changes in the chocolate world sparked the new material in this second edition of On the Chocolate Trail. I am happy to offer up a totally new chapter, “Gods in My Chocolate,” which explores twenty-first-century controversies about deities formed from chocolate. While chocolate generallyRead more ›
No End to Chocolate Exhibits Part III: Visits #3, 4 & 5
A stunning number of exhibits about chocolate, mostly on the East Coast, captured our attention in the last six months. Mark and I had the opportunity to visit three very different exhibits, what I call #3, 4 & 5. I reviewed the exhibit (#1) at Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), where I was honored toRead more ›
Of Chocolate Exhibits There is No End: Part 2
Just as the Detroit Institute of Arts closes its wonderful Bitter|Sweet display of chocolate, coffee and tea, no need to despair. New York offers three additional exhibits. Setting aside the wondrous and elegant chocolate shops, at least three local museums currently exhibit artifacts related to the history and consumption of chocolate. For now, the newRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- Adventures On the Chocolate Trail: Atlanta, Portland, Seattle
- Anschluss Launches Bartons Passover Favorites 77 Years Ago
- Bat Mitzvah Wants Fair Trade Israeli Chocolate
- Bringing Buckeye Candy to Experts
- Chocolate Expo
- Chocolate Made My Lunch: Nashville
- Chocolate, Coffee, Tea and Me
- Election 2016: Winning Fudge Brigadeiros
- Fathering Chocolate
- Hunting for Chocolate: Fancy Food Show, NYC, 2016
- Labor Day in our Chocolate
- Local Chocolate in the South
- Minding Our Chocolate
- No End to Chocolate Exhibits Part III: Visits #3, 4 & 5
- Of Chocolate Exhibits There is No End: Part 2
- On the Chocolate Trail in Brooklyn
- Seriously Tasting Chocolate
- Super Food Chocolate for Super Bowl Sunday: Three Recipes
- Ten Teaspoons of Sugar in My Chocolate?
- That Time Jews Smuggled Chocolate to France — and a Recipe for Basque Chocolate Cake