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Sweets, Chocolates, Candy, Cookies and Sweet Gifts

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Ice cream and chocolate are two types of sweet treats that are enjoyed around the world. Fine premium ice cream is associated with countries such as France and Italy, while chocolate is synonymous with Switzerland and Belgium.

Today, Venchi is offering Italian chocolate in a wide variety of flavors. These delectable chocolates come in a variety of styles, and yes some are even sugar free. The fine chocolate bars incorporate ingredients with some Italian traditional flavors and some tastes that you wouldn’t normally expect.

A combination of the unusual blend of absinthe and chocolate will surprise your taste buds. The chocolate partners up with a heavy taste of absinthe which is reminiscent of black licorice. The special mini chocolate bars are also offered in other creamy and zesty flavors such as Spicy Mint, Spicy Vanilla, Cinnamon Chocolate, and Chocolate Chili. The gift of chocolates is what Venchi targets with their line of Chocaviar and Chocolate Cigars. The Chocaviar consists of dark chocolate packaged in a decorative tin resembling caviar and Chocolate Cigars are packaged in a wooden gift boxes. The Italian chocolates offer an explosion of flavor, which breaks the common conception of imported chocolate.

When people think of American gourmet chocolate they often think that that the ingredients are only blended in the U.S. and the main cacao ingredient is imported. Consumers and retailers don’t frequently think of American grown chocolate and they most certainly don’t associate Hawaii with chocolate. One American producer of chocolate is challenging the way people perceive American chocolate. The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory produces Hawaiian grown, harvested, and processed chocolate.

The company started growing their orchards on the Kona coastline in 1997 and has been producing coffee and chocolate. The product lines are simple, huge bars weighing one pound offered in dark and milk chocolate. Smaller sizes of 4 oz bars and 6oz plumeria flower shapes are also offered. I asked one chocolate connoisseur, "What is the most expensive chocolate at the show? The answer was quickly given - Hawaiian Chocolate. While the Hawaiian chocolate is not priced within reach of most gourmet food retailers, most buyers gave it a big thumbs up.

Italy is known for the Italian ices and Mexico is known for their fried ice cream; however, the numbers of specialty food producers of frozen desserts are increasing in United States. Could these ice cream manufacturers change the way people view their frozen desserts? Could American produced ice creams beat the reputation of Italy and Mexico? No one knows for sure, but there are a number of companies that have targeted fans of these frozen desserts and they are going to find out. What is the cause of this trend? Simply answered: international cuisine! One frozen fruit bar company that I spoke with was Helados Mexico Premium Fruit Bars located in Chino, CA. The company was conceived about seven years by immigrants from Mexico. They brought with them their family tradition and recipes. In a matter of fact the very name and logo incorporates these family traditions.

The term Helados roughly translated means "everything frozen". The logo is an ice cream push cart; which represents the family trade of pushing carts through the streets of Mexico. The basic recipe has been handed down and it has not changed. They offer several traditional flavors and many savory unusual blends within the fruit bar product line. The company started out by introducing their product and targeting fans of the Paletas (frozen fruit bars). The challenge that they are overcoming is to change the way people perceive the fruit bars. That comparable or even better quality and taste can originate from the U.S. As I was nibbling on a creamy strawberry fruit bar, I asked them what their number one selling flavor was (I was guessing that it was the strawberry flavor that I was sampling) with a big smile they said Coconut! Now that is breaking through conventional conceptions!

Representatives from Bear Creek Fine Foods (a distributor for over a hundred different manufacturers) say that taste wins every time!