Sweet tooth in hard times keeps chocolatiers going

Fri Feb 13, 2009 3:37pm EST
 
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Chocolatiers have been concerned about the impact the recession would have on their business but a sweet tooth, even in hard times, has kept them going.

Chef Laurent Richard, of The Ritz-Carlton hotel in lower Manhattan, feared the massive chocolate Valentine's Day sculptures he had created the past seven years would be canceled,

Other chocolate makers, big and small, were bracing for their business to worsen, yet clinging to the hope that sweets would provide easy comfort in uncertain times.

So far, the recession has not quashed Americans' chocolate appetite. U.S. chocolate giant Hershey Co posted stronger than expected earning and even small producers have managed to stay afloat.

"Like every other businesses in America, we may be in a fight for our very survival, but it's made us better at what we do," said Francis Schott, who recently launched "The Restaurant Guys Chocolate" with his partner Mark Pascal.

Schott and Pascal charge $36 for 16 pieces of hand-made chocolates with flavors that include elderflower and bergamot.

"It's an indulgence that a lot people can afford," said Schott, who serves the chocolates in one of his restaurants and ships up to 150 boxes of chocolates a week to online customers.

Most chocolate makers aim to evoke a sense of comfort or indulgence but Stephen McDonnell chose a different path.   Continued...

 
<p>A chocolate roller coaster made by chef Laurent Richard of the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park for his Valentine's Day "Chocolate Bar". REUTERS/Diana DeLucia/Handout</p>