Rey's Chocolate Page

When I was growing up in San Francisco, there were three candy stores that I would visit on a regular basis. I'm not sure if they are still in business, but Blums was the best. They made chocolate almonettes which I remember came in a pink tin. They also made something called a beehive that was shaped like a pyramid, filled with a kind of rich, smooth creamy filling on the top two-thirds, had a chocolate cake bottom and the whole concoction was dipped in chocolate.

Another candy store I visited frequently was See's Candy. This is the traditional candy store all decorated in white the better to highlight the various chocolates. They had a policy, which they still maintain, of providing free samples of virtually any chocolate you wanted to taste. And they never said, "you and your friends have had enough!"

One day while my friends and I were on our way home from playing baseball, we stopped at a See's store near our bus stop. One of the customers shopping inside was Frankie Albert. He was the Stanford All-Star who was now the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers football team. We looked through the window to spy on what he was buying. We must have looked like ragamuffins since we had just finished playing and were pretty dirty. But we kept our noses pressed to the window. He saw us looking in and motioned for us to come inside. He said that he was buying some candy for his nephew who was about our age and he wanted to know what we thought his nephew might like. Without skipping a beat, my friends and I went into our usual routine that we used to solicit free samples. Basically (without giving away our secret) we would start a debate about light chocolate versus dark chocolate.

I'm not sure that Frankie Albert was really buying candy for his nephew, but he did give each of us a small box of See's Candy and he autographed each one. He took several boxes of candy with him and we became fans of his forever. I was fortunate to meet up with him again, but that is a different story.

Whenever I go back to San Francisco, there is one tradition I really look forward to: a trip to Ghiradelli Square for a hot fudge sundae. The Ghiradelli Chocolate Company has preserved the aromas and chocolate making process right in the old Mustard Building. Although the chocolate making is just for show, when I was a kid in San Francisco we would often visit the factory on our way to Fisherman's Wharf. Usually we would do this before we spent the day fishing for cat food off the piers.

Another common early chocolate experience was completely tied to Hershey Foods. Whenever we would go to the movies on Saturdays when I was younger, the nickel Hershey bar was a great favorite to watch the cartoons, serials, newsreels and double feature and sometimes the yo-yo contest at intermission. On Friday nights at the movies when girls became part of the picture (actually part of the audience), the fun was asking a girl whether she wanted a bite of this candy bar. If she said yes, you knew there could be make-out potential. We also used to love the Hershey Kisses partly because you could throw them at your friends who were already making out a few seats in front or back. I don't think kids do this anymore in movies. Thank goodness! (I mean both throw the candy and make-out.)

It wouldn't be right to leave this trip down memory lane without paying homage to the best chocolate cake maker ever. My mother's chocolate cakes were probably the treats that made me a chocolate lover forever. Although I have her receipes, I have never been able to duplicate the combination of richness and lightness that she could put into a cake. Both my soulmate, Sarah and my sister-in-law, Gittle, have been able to duplicate this spirit-enriching cake which my brother Alan and I refer to with great historical affection as Dubestorte.

My mom also had a Mahjong group that would gather at our house once a week. One of the participants, Aunt Ida, would always bring a homemade bread loaf she called a babka. It was a sweet treat with nuts and chocolate, and there was always enough left over for me and my friends when we came home from school. (Jen Reviews included a wonderful recipe for a chocolate babka with mixed nuts.)

One of the best places to visit in Victoria is Rogers Chocolates. The aromas and the ambiance of this downtown shop are an absolute delight. The shop has maintained all of its old world atmosphere with beautiful showcases and leaded glass windows. If you come to Victoria, this is a must-see place, not just for the chocolate. They also deliver and they know my address (for your convenience).

In 2014 the dream of every chocolate lover opened in Victoria. As part of the Hudson Public Market, the Preservation Foods Chocolate Project opened a stall that stocks a retail line-up of artisan chocolate bars and bulk chocolate from around the world. The duo who run this chocolate nirvana are the founders of a very popular local restaurant, and they have become the experts on chocolate in our city. The selection is immense, and they offer expert consultation AND samples. You can contact them by email here. They are typically at the Hudson Public Market on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and if you can't make it during those days, a selection of the bars they import are carried at some great artisan shops around the city.

For several years we have provided various search tools on our site such as the one to find a coach which includes a few sources to use to send us chocolates if the search was successful. Most researchers or searchers think it is a joke. However, we mean it. Send those chocolates! Here are some additional options:

If you'd like to take the fun out of chocolate then read the following scientific abstract:

"Although addictive behavior is generally associated with drug and alcohol abuse or compulsive sexual activity, chocolate may evoke similar psychopharmacologic and behavioral reactions in susceptible persons. A review of the literature on chocolate cravings indicates that the hedonic appeal of chocolate (fat, sugar, texture, and aroma) is likely to be a predominant factor in such cravings. Other characteristics of chocolate, however, may be equally as important contributors to the phenomena of chocolate cravings. Chocolate may be used by some as a form of self-medication for dietary deficiencies (eg, magnesium) or to balance low levels of neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of mood, food intake, and compulsive behaviors (eg, serotonin and dopamine). Chocolate cravings are often episodic and fluctuate with hormonal changes just before and during the menses, which suggests a hormonal link and confirms the assumed gender-specific nature of chocolate cravings. Chocolate contains several biologically active constituents (methylxanthines, biogenic amines, and cannabinoid-like fatty acids), all of which potentially cause abnormal behaviors and psychological sensations that parallel those of other addictive substances. Most likely, a combination of chocolate's sensory characteristics, nutrient composition, and psychoactive ingredients, compounded with monthly hormonal fluctuations and mood swings among women, will ultimately form the model of chocolate cravings. Dietetics professionals must be aware that chocolate cravings are real. The psychopharmacologic and chemosensory effects of chocolate must be considered when formulating recommendations for overall healthful eating and for treatment of nutritionally related health issues." (Source: Bruinsma, K. and Taren, D.L. (October, 1999). Chocolate: Food or drug? Journal of the American Dietician Association, 10, 1249-56.)

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