Are you tired of reading about my recent travels? This is the last travel post for awhile, I promise. But I really want to tell you all about my visit to Mars Chocolate in Elizabethtown, PA for a Day of DOVE® tour! This trip was at the beginning of June but it took a bit longer than expected to get our photos. And here’s some exciting news; I recently signed on to be a summer Brand Ambassador for DOVE® Chocolates so I’ll have some fun recipes and contests to share with all of you over the next few months.
I knew it was going to be a really long day. My train left Union Station in DC at 6:00am, which basically meant waking up at 4:30 and being out the door by 5:00. I like mornings but that’s even ridiculous for me. It turned out that I was so excited about the trip that by 4:30 I was wide awake (relatively speaking) and ready to get on the road.
From Philadelphia I took another train to Elizabethtown. My initial adrenaline was beginning to wear off at this point but I loved looking at the countryside from the train’s window. We stopped for an extended period of time toward the end of the journey. Feeling absent-minded and in need of coffee, I looked on FourSquare to get an idea of where we were. “Between a corn field and a field.” I looked out the windows and this was indeed an accurate assessment of our location.
I finally stepped off the train in Elizabethtown after 4 hours of traveling. Immediately I was overwhelmed with the sweet fragrance of chocolate in the air. It turns out that Mars Chocolate is located right next to the train station! Heavenly.
I arrived at the plant with several other bloggers where we signed in and were given instructions for the day. We also had to watch a safety video. Chocolate is serious business!
We began by learning a bit about Mars Chocolate and its history in Elizabethtown. The Elizabethtown site contains a cocoa bean roasting facility (the source of the amazing smells, perhaps?) and production lines for DOVE® Chocolate, Milky Way Brand and 3 Musketeers Brand. Another cool fact – In the fall of 2011, Mars announced that DOVE® Chocolate would be the first mainstream chocolate brand in the US to be Rainforest Alliance Certified. I was pleased to learn that Mars has made a commitment to use certified sustainable cocoa on all of its products worldwide by 2020. That’s kind of a big deal. After the introduction we were given special safety outfits to wear inside the factory. Jackets, hard hats, goggles, hair nets and ear plugs. A good look for me, isn’t it?
We were introduced to Plant Director Carl Freeman who took us into the factory. I had no idea it was going to be so loud! The ear plugs suddenly made sense but it became very challenging to hear everything they were telling us about the factory. And I wanted to know everything. I wish I could make this post smell like chocolate. The factory smelled unbelievable. I hate to sound cliche but I really did feel like I was in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Come with me… and you’ll be… in a world of pure imagination….
We got to take chocolate bars directly from the line. Apparently you’re not supposed to eat them for at least 32 hours so the cocoa butter has a chance to settle and fully develop its flavor? No way, I’m stubborn. That chocolate was in my belly the second I hopped on the train ride home and it certainly tasted great to me!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. After our tour we sat down with Chocolate Expert Ed Seguine (I want that title) to learn a bit more about the Mars Cocoa Sustainability Initiative. He also treated us to a chocolate tasting session. We sampled an assortment of flavors including DOVE® Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate, Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate, Cookies & Crème and their newest product- Silky Smooth Mint and Dark Chocolate Swirl. I’m usually a dark chocolate loyalist so I was surprised by how much I loved the Cookies & Crème and Mint and Dark Chocolate Swirl. The way Ed had us slowly tasting the chocolate really made it an interesting experience. It was very similar to a wine tasting with slow and deliberate smelling and small bites. The Cookies & Crème had a white chocolate and vanilla flavor that was so smooth while the Mint and Dark Chocolate Swirl was incredibly rich and minty. I loved all four flavors and am honored to be representing the brand this summer. Thank you DOVE® Chocolate for an incredible day!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by DOVE® Chocolate. I was compensated for my time but all opinions are my own!