On March 24th, Queens College hosted the Chocolate Festival in the Fitzgerald Gymnasium. I had the pleasure of attending and checking out the festival. The entire gymnasium was filled with people rushing to and fro, from one stand to the next. Despite the affair being called a chocolate festival, there were some savory-oriented stands that served pretzels, pickles, crackers and tapenades. There was even a dumpling stand! I was able to check the savory-stands out as well, but I was primarily there for the chocolate.
The whole gymnasium smelled like sweet chocolate; it was amazing! One really interesting stand I visited was the one sponsored by Roni Sue’s Chocolate Company. Sharon Hoahing, the representative who was there on behalf of Roni Sue Chocolates, shared a lot of her knowledge on chocolate. I was fascinated by her knowledge of chocolate, so I took the time to ask her some more questions about her job in the cacao industry. Sharon came into the cacao industry after working, and helping one of her friends who is a chocolatier. She had always loved chocolate, and eventually decided to go and work with her friend. Before this, she had been a social worker, who worked with victims of sexual assault. Sharon told me how she loves to make and sell chocolate because it always makes the customers happy, something that was hard to do with her previous job which was more serious.
Sharon had a wide array of chocolate flavors for everyone to try, from bittersweet dark chocolate to white chocolate. When the time came to try the white chocolate, Sharon shared a fun fact with the festival-goers. Sharon told us many people believe that dark chocolate is the most expensive type of chocolate because it contains the most cocoa, but white chocolate is actually more expensive. I found this quite surprising! The reason for white chocolate being more expensive, Sharon explained, was because white chocolate comes from cocoa butter, an item often used in beauty, skin care and the pharmaceutical industry. Additionally, because cocoa butter is so prized in other industries, commercialized white chocolate has less cocoa butter and more wax in it.
Another great station at the festival was Raw Chocolate Love, which serves vegan chocolate. I had the opportunity to speak with the creator behind the business, Shimon Pinhas. He informed me that because his chocolate was vegan, it was made with 100% cocoa. This in turn, made the chocolate products literally melt in your mouth. His chocolates are infused with essential oils and other natural products all of which makes eating chocolate healthier for you.
The Chocolate Festival was an absolutely amazing experience and well worth the visit! I got the chance to explore new forms of chocolate, all while being informed about chocolate in an in-depth way. Chocolate is definitely more than just a sweet treat. There is a lot of science behind the whole process of producing chocolate, and a lot more than meets the eye! Definitely something to stop and think about the next time you eat a Hershey’s bar!