Early in my travel writing career, I was given the opportunity to write a column under the title of National Chocolate Examiner.
At the time, I had no idea how that column would blend with my travel writing, but I wanted to build up my bylines, so I agreed to take it on.
It wasn’t long before I realized that chocolate is indeed a fantastic addition to travel. Just think about all the things and places connected to chocolate: Black Forest Cake from Germany’s Black Forest, decadent Swiss chocolate, and the entire town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. The travel and chocolate connection deepens when you visit places like Belize, Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Africa where cacao (the source of chocolate) is grown.
I followed my chocolate passion all the way to Belize last year where I harvested cacao, drank cacao wine, and made my own chocolate bars at a small chocolate shop in Punta Gorda.
On a recent trip to Paris, I was treated to a chocolate class by one of Europe’s top chocolatiers.
Each country has its own chocolate story. In Trondheim, Norway, I toured the Nidars Chocolate Factory – Norway’s equivalent to Hershey.
In Switzerland I visited the Swiss Museum of Transport’s exhibit by Lindt Chocolate that traces the history of chocolate from the jungle to the chocolate shop.
In Heidelberg, Germany, I met a fifth-generation chocolatier continuing a family tradition creating the chocolate confection, Student Kiss. When the local college boys wanted to catch the eye of a young lady, they would give her a Student Kiss. Not even the watchful governesses could object to such a sweet exchange.
Back in the USA, my chocolate articles led to an invitation by Lindt Chocolate to preview its new float before it debuted in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility where all the parade’s floats are assembled.
I also received an invitation to visit the headquarters of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Vermont where I met the duo that brought us all that creamy goodness.
Another favorite experience was a tour of the M&Ms factory in Hackettstown, New Jersey. Gaining entrance into this facility is harder than getting into the Pentagon (which I’ve also done) but it was certainly worth the trouble. It was fascinating to watch the little M&Ms marching down the conveyor belts to get their paint jobs.
If I had to choose a favorite chocolate destination, I’d have to say the Chocolate Spa at the Hotel Hershey. I’ve visited many times and indulged in almost every decadent treatment on the spa menu: chocolate body scrub, chocolate massage, cocoa body wrap, and even an edible chocolate facial.
Are you hungry yet?
If you’re considering a travel writing career, chances are you’re passionate about travel. But you should also consider your other passions. Do you love to hike? Are you passionate about art? Or do you look for the best food in each location you visit? You can connect each of these passions with travel writing and use them to enhance your career.”
I’ve been travel writing for several years now, so obviously I have a passion for travel, but chocolate has enriched my writing career in a most delicious way.
By following my passion for chocolate I’ve not only had some incredible experiences around the world, I’ve also been able to expand my coverage of each destination to include stories of local chocolatiers, chocolate shops, and chocolate traditions. And, of course, I’ve sampled far more than my share of chocolate along the way. Wouldn’t you?