While NBN doesn’t like the taste of Joseph Schmidt chocolates—they’re too waxy—back in 1989, upon first moving to San Francisco, we fell in love with Schmidt’s small chocolate shop on 16th street in the Castro district. Before distribution grew big, his store was a destination for all my out of town friends, gawking at the displays stuffed with amazing truffles, creatures, people, toys, of all sizes and shapes, all of course made of chocolate.
I always hoped the weather back east around father’s day would be cool, so I would be able to send my father, the person I inherited my chocolate addiction from, some of Schmidt’s goofy golf balls or other beautiful chocolate creations. Schmidt wouldn’t ship product back east if they believed the weather would ruin it’s quality.
Soon however, upon meeting some chocolate aficionados, who introduced me to some finer stuff imported from Belgium (this was the early 90’s folks, our domestic pioneers hadn’t started up their candy making yet) I learned that size, color and shape really don’t matter. Not that every fancy caterer in town didn’t have them all over dessert tables from Nob Hill to Hillsborough because these were beautiful to look at and frankly taste buds hadn’t grown so sophisticated.
So Hershey’s latest acquisition in the premium chocolate market leaves me happy for Schmidt’s success and bittersweet, wondering how the largest candy maker in North American will manage a division called Artisan Confections Company.
While the opportunity for higher margins in the premium chocolate arena led Hershey to these deals don’t be surprised, if Hershey decides in a year or two to sell off these upscale cousins to Reese’s, Kit Kat and Almond Joy. After all $25 million in sales isn’t much when the streets of Hershey are paved with $4 billion dollars in sales of chocolate and other goodies.
With only 123 shopping days left til Christmas is Hershey designing something premium for the holidays? Time will tell, but likely nothing new will show up until Easter 2006 but in the meantime can we look forward to Scharffenberger chocolate being co-merchandised with some trendy independent movie?