By Jennifer Audette
Peanuts and chocolate are so Twentieth Century.
Those in the know are adding bacon, cayenne pepper, cocoa nibs and coffee.
At Chocolate Kingdom, guests are treated to a 45-minute tour that offers several samples along the way. The chocolate bar is $6 extra but a worthwhile souvenir.
“People love chocolate,” said owner Edgar Schaked.
That’s the biggest reason he opened his first Chocolate Kingdom in Kissimmee two and a half years ago.
The fascination with chocolate is so great that Schaked opened a second site in June 2015 on International Drive in Orlando.
“People stay around town, hang out on I-Drive. There are so many things to do here. We felt we were missing a lot of potential guests,” Schaked said.
Admission is reasonable at $16.95 for adults and $12.95 for ages 4 to 12.
The third-generation chocolatier (his family owns 25 chocolate stores around the U.S.) is serious about the dark brown confection.
“Chocolate is one of those things that makes people happy,” Schaked said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 4 years old or 84 years old. We get lots of people who say, ‘Oh my God, I never knew how chocolate was made.”
That Central Florida has this unique chocolate attraction puts it on the chocolate map, drawing 100 to 150 guests a day at each store.
“You have Godiva and you have Ghirardelli, and you need someone to tell the story. Chocolate Kingdom does that. It’s a sweet story. Small children and adults will enjoy it,” said Heather McPherson, food editor at the Orlando Sentinel and The Dish blogger.
Guests to Chocolate Kingdom participate on a walk-along tour, facilitated by a knowledgeable and exuberant host.
You’ll learn what plants cocoa comes from, where it can be grown (Hawaii is the only U.S. state that stays warm enough for cacao plants to survive), how it made its way to the United States, and what cocoa futures are.
Along the tour, you’ll view a gooey animated story about a prince trying to woo a princess with chocolate with the help of a dragon.
You’ll get to sample dark chocolate water with a hint of chili pepper and cocoa nibs.
You’ll also learn the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate and have a chance to catapult marshmallows into a dragon’s mouth, with chocolate-dipped marshmallows as your reward.
The final stop is where Chocolate Kingdom’s sweet treats are made, a factory filled with a roasting machine, winnowing machine and melanguer.
Watching her chocolate bar being made, Lorraine Thiboult of Orlando said she was glad friends recommended Chocolate Kingdom as a way to spend the day with her 14-year-old son Game Thiboult.
“I love it,” said Lorraine Thiboult. “I will definitely recommend it to a lot of people.”
If you go…
What: Chocolate Kingdom
When: Open daily 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: 2858 Florida Plaza Blvd., Kissimmee; and 9901 Hawaiian Court, Orlando.
Contact: 407-705-3475 or chocolatekingdom.com.
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