9 Royally Interesting Facts About King Cake

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iStock

It’s Carnival season, and that means bakeries throughout New Orleans are whipping up those colorful creations known as King Cakes. And while today it’s primarily associated with Big Easy revelry, the King Cake has a long and checkered history that reaches back through the centuries. Here are a few facts about its origins, its history in America, and how exactly that plastic baby got in there.

1. IT’S BELIEVED TO HAVE PAGAN ORIGINS.

The king cake is widely associated with the Christian festival of the Epiphany, which celebrates the three kings’ visit to the Christ child on January 6. Some historians, however, believe the cake dates back to Roman times, and specifically to the winter festival of Saturnalia. Bakers would put a fava bean—which back then was used for voting, and had spiritual significance—inside the cake, and whoever discovered it would be considered king for a day. Drinking and mayhem abounded. In the Middle Ages, Christian followers in France took up the ritual, replacing the fava bean with a porcelain replica engraved with a face.

2. IT STIRRED UP CONTROVERSY DURING THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

To bring the pastry into the Christian tradition, bakers got rid of the bean and replaced it with a crowned king’s head to symbolize the three kings who visited baby Jesus. Church officials approved of the change, though the issue became quite thorny in late 18th century France, when a disembodied king’s head was seen as provocation. In 1794, the mayor of Paris called on the “criminal patissiers” to end their “filthy orgies.” After they failed to comply, the mayor simply renamed the cake the “Gateau de Sans-Culottes,” after the lower-class sans-culottes revolutionaries.

3. IT DETERMINED THE EARLY KINGS AND QUEENS OF MARDI GRAS.


A Mardi Gras King in 1952.

Two of the oldest Mardi Gras krewes (NOLA-talk for "crew," or a group that hosts major Mardi Gras events, like parades or balls) brought about the current cake tradition. The Rex Organization gave the festival its colors (purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power) in 1872, but two years earlier, the Twelfth Night Revelers krewe brought out a King Cake with a gold bean hidden inside and served it up to the ladies in attendance. The finder was crowned queen of the ball. Other krewes adopted the practice as well, crowning the kings and queens by using a gold or silver bean. The practice soon expanded into households throughout New Orleans, where today the discovery of a coin, bean or baby trinket identifies the buyer of the next King Cake.

4. THE BABY TRINKETS WEREN'T ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO HAVE RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE.

Although today many view the baby trinkets found inside king cakes to symbolize the Christ child, that wasn’t what Donald Entringer—the owner of the renowned McKenzie’s Bakery in New Orleans, which started the tradition—had in mind. Entringer was instead looking for something a little bit different to put in his king cakes, which had become wildly popular in the city by the mid-1900s. One story has it that Entringer found the original figurines in a French Quarter shop. Another, courtesy of New Orleans food historian Poppy Tooker (via NPR’s The Salt), states that a traveling salesman with a surplus of figurines stopped by the bakery and suggested the idea. "He had a big overrun on them, and so he said to Entringer, 'How about using these in a king cake,'" said Tooker.

5. BAKERIES ARE AFRAID OF GETTING SUED.

What to many is an offbeat tradition is, to others, a choking hazard. It’s unclear how many consumers have sued bakeries over the plastic babies and other trinkets baked inside king cakes, but apparently it’s enough that numerous bakeries have stopped including them altogether, or at least offer it on the side. Still, some bakeries remain unfazed—like Gambino’s, whose cinnamon-infused king cake comes with the warning, "1 plastic baby baked inside."

6. THE FRENCH VERSION COMES WITH A PAPER CROWN.


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In France, where the flaky, less colorful (but still quite tasty) galette de rois predates its American counterpart by a few centuries, bakers often include a paper crown with their cake, just to make the “king for a day” feel extra special. The trinkets they put inside are also more varied and intricate, and include everything from cars to coins to religious figurines. Some bakeries even have their own lines of collectible trinkets.

7. THERE’S ALSO THE ROSCA DE REYES, THE BOLO REI AND THE DREIKÖNIGSKUCHEN.


"Roscón de Reyes" by Tamorlan - Self Made (Foto Propia).

Versions of the King Cake can be found throughout Europe and Latin America. The Spanish Rosca de Reyes and the Portugese Bolo Rei are usually topped with dried fruit and nuts, while the Swiss Dreikönigskuchen has balls of sweet dough surrounding the central cake. The Greek version, known as Vasilopita, resembles a coffee cake and is often served for breakfast.

8. IT’S NO LONGER JUST A NEW ORLEANS TRADITION.

From New York to California, bakeries are serving up King Cakes in the New Orleans fashion, as well as the traditional French style. On Long Island, Mara’s Homemade makes their tri-colored cakes year round, while in Los Angeles you can find a galette de rois (topped with a nifty crown, no less) at Maison Richard. There are also lots of bakeries that deliver throughout the country, many offering customizable fillings from cream cheese to chocolate to fruits and nuts.

9. THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS HAVE A KING CAKE BABY MASCOT—AND IT IS TERRIFYING.

Every winter you can find this monstrosity at games, local supermarkets, and in your worst nightmares.

McDonald's Shamrock Shake Is Back—Here's How to Find One

Todd Van Hoosear, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY SA 2.0
Todd Van Hoosear, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY SA 2.0

While most people were still thinking about Valentine's Day, McDonald's quietly added a seasonal favorite to its menu in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day on March 17. The Shamrock Shake, a pale green, whipped cream-topped milkshake that tastes like mint, returned to McDonald's the week of February 11, Business Insider reports.

As was the case in past years, the shake is only available at select locations, but 2019 marks the first time that McDonald's has added a Shamrock Shake locator to its app. If you log in to the McDonald's app and enter your zip code, you'll be shown a map of the restaurants in your area that are selling the item.

Since it first appeared at McDonald's in the 1970s, the Shamrock Shake has grown into one of the chain's most successful special offerings. It's been sold under different names (like the St. Patrick's Day Green Milkshake), and it's inspired different promotional gimmicks (from Uncle O'Grimacey to a straw designed by aerospace engineers), but the minty milkshake itself hasn't changed much over the decades.

The Shamrock Shake comes in small ($2.19), medium ($2.59), and large ($2.99) sizes. It's now available at select McDonald's restaurants while supplies last through March 24.

[h/t Business Insider]

The Best Chocolate Shop in All 50 States

iStock.com/TorriPhoto
iStock.com/TorriPhoto

Chocolate is one of life's sweet, simple pleasures. And luckily, there are plenty of chocolatiers across the country who are happy to help you indulge your chocolate cravings. Whether you have a hankering for truffles, handmade chocolate bars, or chocolate-covered marshmallows, here are the best chocolate shops in all 50 states.

1. Best Chocolate Shop in Alabama: Peterbrooke Chocolatier

chocolate-covered popcorn in a bowl
iStock.com/LauriPatterson

Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Take a bite out of one of the chocolate treats at Peterbrooke Chocolatier, and you'll quickly realize why this shop is a step above the rest. The most fun, decadent confections here are the chocolate-covered popcorn, pretzels, and Oreos.

2. Best Chocolate Shop in Alaska: The Alaskan Fudge Company

Location: Juneau, Alaska

Founded in 1980, The Alaskan Fudge Company makes killer fudge and chocolate treats ranging from Husky Paws (chocolate, pecans, and caramel) to cappuccino truffles. For something lighter, try the white chocolate-dipped apricots.

3. Best Chocolate Shop in Arizona: Chocofin Chocolatier

Location: Fountain Hills, Arizona

This bean-to-bar craft chocolate shop treats the humble cocoa bean with the utmost care and respect. Try their small-batch, handmade chocolate bars, nut barks, and banana macadamia chocolate, in which banana ganache is topped with a salted macadamia nut.

4. Best Chocolate Shop in Arkansas: Sweet's Fudge Kitchen

blocks of fudge on a plate
iStock.com/pamela_d_mcadams

Location: Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Established in 1969, Sweet's Fudge Kitchen focuses on fresh ingredients to make the absolute best chocolates. Besides almond and cashew turtles, the shop also sells a mouthwatering fudge, hard candies, and licorice.

5. Best Chocolate Shop in California: Edelweiss

Location: Beverly Hills, California

Since opening in 1942, Edelweiss has served Hollywood legends including Frank Sinatra and Katharine Hepburn. The shop's assembly line even inspired the famous chocolate factory scene in I Love Lucy's episode "Job Switching." Today, Edelweiss's chocolate-dipped marshmallows (available in flavors such as mocha, mint, and coconut) are super-popular.

6. Best Chocolate Shop in Colorado: Chocolate Lab

Location: Denver, Colorado

For anyone curious about the chemistry of food, Chocolate Lab might be the coolest place ever. Pick up an assortment of their hand-crafted chocolates and uniquely flavored truffles, or stay for lunch and dinner. The menu features soups, sandwiches, and salads that thoughtfully incorporate chocolate. Try the fantastic chocolate balsamic glaze and chocolate barbecue sauce.

7. Best Chocolate Shop in Connecticut: Deborah Ann's Sweet Shoppe

outside view of Deborah Ann's Sweet Shoppe

Frank Di Martino, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Ridgefield, Connecticut

Deborah Ann's Sweet Shoppe has plenty of homemade ice cream, candy, and fudge, but the chocolates are truly the star at this lovely store. Wondering what to get? Start with the chocolate-covered strawberries, then see where your taste buds take you.

8. Best Chocolate Shop in Delaware: Sweet Serenity Chocolates

Location: Seaford, Delaware

Owned by a husband and wife team, Sweet Serenity Chocolates is all about building community through chocolate. The store's most tasty items include the hand-dipped buttercream truffles and cookies and cream bark.

9. Best Chocolate Shop in Florida: Key Largo Chocolates

Location: Key Largo, Florida

This fun, bright shop in the Florida Keys serves truffles, bark, fudge, and cake pops enveloped in luscious chocolate. The handmade chocolate truffles are, appropriately, available in tropical flavors such as coconut rum, key lime, and banana daiquiri.

10. Best Chocolate Shop in Georgia: Chocolat by Adam Turoni

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Savannah's charming historic district has two Chocolat by Adam Turoni locations, to the delight of locals and visitors alike. The whimsical stores serve artisan truffles, caramelized chocolate covered hazelnuts, and an amazing Savannah honey chocolate bar, which is made with 72 percent dark chocolate, local wildflower honey, and 24k gold dust.

11. Best Chocolate Shop in Hawaii: Manoa

Location: Kailua, Hawaii

This bean-to-bar chocolate factory and retail store uses single origin cacao from around the world to make a variety of dark chocolate confections. The shop's most popular chocolate bar is made with roasted cacao nibs and coffee beans, but don't overlook the incredible lavender bar, which is made with 60 percent cacao and Ali'i Kula lavender.

12. Best Chocolate Shop in Idaho: The Chocolat Bar

Red and gold-flecked bonbon
iStock.com/TorriPhoto

Location: Boise, Idaho

Customers at The Chocolat Bar can find creative, artistic chocolate treats ranging from orange slices dipped in dark chocolate to hand-painted chocolate footwear. The exquisite chocolate shoes (for eating, not for wearing) include dark or milk chocolate high heels decorated with flowers, polka dots, leopard print, and more.

13. Best Chocolate Shop in Illinois: KC Chocolatier

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Fans of Belgian chocolate should stop what they're doing and head to KC Chocolatier, stat. This East Lincoln Park chocolate shop creates beautiful gift boxes containing all types of chocolate, from truffles and hazelnut creams to cordials and caramels.

14. Best Chocolate Shop in Indiana: The Sound Bend Chocolate Company

Location: Multiple locations, Indiana

This chocolate factory, museum, and retail store in South Bend (with chocolate cafes in multiple other locations) gives visitors a comprehensive overview of chocolate: its history, how it's made, and (most importantly) what it tastes like. The cashew caramel patty and chocolate peanut butter logs will no doubt tempt you, so don't put up a fight.

15. Best Chocolate Shop in Iowa: Chocolate Storybook

chocolate-covered bacon
iStock.com/dirkr

Location: West Des Moines, Iowa

Two words: chocolate bacon. At Chocolate Storybook, you'll find chocolate covered bacon strips, maple bacon chocolate caramels, and plenty of non-porcine chocolate treats. The shop's many holiday-themed gift options include elaborate Valentine's baskets, platters of fancy chocolate-covered strawberries, personalized chocolate Easter rabbits, and, for Christmas, a plate chock-full of chocolate-covered caramels, pretzels, animal crackers, and cookies.

16. Best Chocolate Shop in Kansas: Annedore's Fine Chocolates

Location: Westwood Hills, Kansas

This award-winning chocolate shop specializes in European truffles and holiday-themed chocolate treats. Some of their most delectable chocolates include the vanilla bean, the heart-shaped port wine, and the Irish creme.

17. Best Chocolate Shop in Kentucky: Cellar Door Chocolates

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

With two locations in Louisville, Cellar Door Chocolates makes a lot of amazing chocolate. You can't go wrong with any of the shop's truffles, but the absolute best might be the green chili coconut truffle. It's made with a smooth white chocolate ganache and spicy New Mexican green chili.

18. Best Chocolate Shop in Louisiana: Southern Candymakers

Sign for Southern Candymakers in New Orleans.
rosefirerising, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Southern Candymakers has been famous for its praline and toffee offerings for 27 years, but the shop's chocolate is also top-notch. Order the hand-dipped, chocolate-covered Queen Anne cherries or the chocolate pralines, which are made with jumbo pecans.

19. Best Chocolate Shop in Maine: Wilbur's Of Maine

Location: Multiple locations, Maine

Located in Freeport and Brunswick, Wilbur's of Maine is a welcome sight for anyone with a serious sweet tooth. The shop excels at making classic, simple treats, evidenced by the perfectly flavorful chocolate-covered blueberries.

20. Best Chocolate Shop in Maryland: SPAGnVOLA

Location: Gaithersburg, Maryland

The chocolatiers at SPAGnVOLA cultivate and process organic cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic to make small-batch chocolate bars, truffles, and bonbons. Dark chocolate lovers will absolutely relish the Dominican 75-percent chocolate bar for its nuanced flavors and rich depth.

21. Best Chocolate Shop in Massachusetts: Phillips Chocolates

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Established in 1925, Phillips Chocolates is Boston's oldest chocolatier, and the shop still makes small batches of chocolate treats by hand. Oprah Winfrey proclaimed the store's basket of turtles to be one of her "favorite things" in 2015. Even the basket itself is edible, and it's filled with milk, dark, and white chocolate turtles.

22. Best Chocolate Shop in Michigan: Alpine Chocolat Haus

Chocolate-covered apples
iStock.com/Imagesbybarbara

Location: Gaylord, Michigan

Gourmet hot chocolate, decorated candy apples, sea salt caramel corn, and chocolate covered potato chips are favorites at The Alpine Chocolat Haus, which has three other locations in Michigan. If you're feeling adventurous, try their ghost pepper caramel corn—it comes in three levels of heat.

23. Best Chocolate Shop in Minnesota: Mademoiselle Miel

Location: St. Paul, Minnesota

Mademoiselle Miel is famous for its terrific honey bon-bons. These treats are filled with local honey, enrobed in single-origin chocolate, and topped with 23-karat edible gold leaf. The shop also sells tantalizing housemade chocolate that is sweetened with local maple sugar.

24. Best Chocolate Shop in Mississippi: Margarete's Fine Chocolates

Location: Tupelo, Mississippi

It's hard to decide between the chocolate cremes, truffles, and nuts at Margarete's Fine Chocolates. Luckily, you can order a basket and fill it with a bit of everything. The triple-dipped chocolate covered strawberries—made with milk, white, and colored white chocolate—are one of their specialties.

25. Best Chocolate Shop in Missouri: Chip's Chocolate Factory

display case of hand-dipped chocolate treats
iStock.com/Luca_Daviddi

Location: Kansas City and Independence, Missouri

Chip's Chocolate Factory is the home of Kansas City Fudge, which is available in over 40 flavors. Visitors can watch chocolatiers make hundreds of chocolate treats in the shop's factory; some of the sweetest include Tiger butter (a combination of peanut butter and Swiss chocolate that melts in your mouth), vanilla caramel turtles, and cinnamon roasted nuts.

26. Best Chocolate Shop in Montana: La Châtelaine Chocolat

Location: Bozeman, Montana

La Châtelaine Chocolat is a whimsical shop inspired by French chocolatiers. The polka-dotted dark chocolate caramel brulé typifies the intricate, artistic designs you'll find on the chocolates. The flavors, including sea salt caramel espresso and strawberry balsamic, are also outstanding.

27. Best Chocolate Shop in Nebraska: Candy Wrappers

Box of cherry cordials.
iStock.com/alpaksoy

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Candy lovers will find plenty of delightful bulk candy, fudge, and caramel apples at Candy Wrappers, but the handmade chocolate is truly heavenly. Choose between chocolate turtles, cherry cordials, and the popular sea salted dark chocolate caramel swirl popcorn.

28. Best Chocolate Shop in Nevada: Sierra Nevada Chocolate Company

Location: Reno, Nevada

At Sierra Nevada Chocolate Company, you can order chocolate and wine that pair perfectly with each other. If wine isn't your thing, get a bunch of crazy truffles—they come in flavors as wild as watermelon and champagne.

29. Best Chocolate Shop in New Hampshire: Byrne & Carlson

Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Named after founders Ellen Byrne and Christopher Carlson, this sophisticated chocolate shop is what all artisanal chocolatiers should strive to emulate. The store's stunning, handcrafted sweets contain a range of unique ingredients and toppings, including dried fruits, milk chocolate "pearls," crystallized flowers, and dark Belgian chocolate seashells.

30. Best Chocolate Shop in New Jersey: Enjou Chocolat

Location: Morristown, New Jersey

This chocolate shop sells stuffed animals, ice cream, and plenty of chocolate gifts perfect for special occasions and holidays. Some of the best treats here are the pretzel platter—filled with chocolates, chocolate covered popcorn, and, of course, chocolate-covered pretzels—and the milk chocolate-covered potato chips.

31. Best Chocolate Shop in New Mexico: Theobroma Chocolatier

assorted molded chocolates
iStock.com/AnnaPustynnikova

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Theobroma Chocolatier makes an impressive variety of boxed and molded chocolates. Truffles are available in a variety of flavors, including cappuccino, black forest, champagne, Key lime, and butter pecan. You can also find molded chocolate in the shape of pandas, dinosaurs, business cards, dreidels, and cell phones.

32. Best Chocolate Shop in New York: Aigner Chocolates

Location: Forest Hills, New York

When it comes to chocolate, New York City is a competitive place. But Aigner Chocolates is a step above the rest, as evidenced by the shop's long history. Opened in 1930, Aigner sells (and ships) chocolate barks, cordials, and marshmallows that are made using the kitchen's original kettles and spoons.

33. Best Chocolate Shop in North Carolina: French Broad Chocolates

French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, North Carolina
confusedbee, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Location: Asheville, North Carolina

French Broad Chocolates makes and serves exquisite truffles, chocolate caramels, and hot sipping chocolate. Our menu recommendation: Knock back some dark sipping chocolate and munch on a strawberry balsamic chocolate truffle. Too much chocolate? No such thing.

34. Best Chocolate Shop in North Dakota: Carol Widman's Candy Co.

Location: Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota

Four generations of the Widman family have crafted handmade candy and chocolates, beginning with William Widman in 1885. Although Carol Widman's Candy Co. is well-known for its Chippers (chocolate covered potato chips), the turtles, truffles, and chocolate-covered sunflower seeds are among its many other stellar delicacies.

35. Best Chocolate Shop in Ohio: Wittich's Candy Shop

Location: Circleville, Ohio

Wittich's Candy Shop is one of America's oldest family-operated confectioners—and it shows in the vintage charm of the shop, which is home to an old-school soda fountain. Since 1840 the company has prided itself on creating handmade chocolates with high-quality ingredients and paying tribute to its home state with its Buckeyes, a local chocolate treat (available in milk, dark, or white chocolate) with a peanut butter center.

36. Best Chocolate Shop in Oklahoma: Omega Chocolate

Location: Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Omega Chocolate has been open for just over three years, but the exceptional shop has earned plenty of accolades for its gorgeous, hand-crafted offerings. Coffee lovers will adore the dark chocolate covered espresso beans, and fun creations like their milk chocolate cinnamon roll truffles can practically double as breakfast in bed.

37. Best Chocolate Shop in Oregon: Woodblock Chocolate

chocolate bark with various toppings
iStock.com/digihelion

Location: Portland, Oregon

Husband-and-wife duo Charley and Jessica Wheelock founded Woodblock Chocolate to transform simple cacao beans into delectable chocolate bars. The store sells single-origin bars that come from Peru, Madagascar, and Trinidad, but the most unique option here might be the Japanese-inspired toasted sesame bar.

38. Best Chocolate Shop in Pennsylvania: Pierre's Chocolates

Location: New Hope, Pennsylvania

All of the treats at this sweet chocolaterie are handmade in-house. Swiss chocolatier Jean Pierre Meyenberg opened his eponymous shop in 1970 and ran it with his family until 2011, when the shop was purchased by chocolatiers Tom Block and Justin Zaslow. They spent more than a year learning Meyenberg's techniques and recipes, and they've added their own spin, too, creating artisan chocolates that are made in small batches from single-origin cacao grown at family farms around the world. Try the Swiss truffle, the Mint Cookie—which features dark chocolate and crushed mint cookies—or the shop's New Hope Collection, four sweet treats that pay tribute to the town's history.

39. Best Chocolate Shop in Rhode Island: Sweenor's Chocolates

Location: Wakefield and Cranston, Rhode Island

Sweenor's Chocolates first opened in 1955, and the family owned and operated chocolate shop has stayed true to its origins by focusing on fresh ingredients and eschewing preservatives. And, they offer a number of sugar-free chocolates, which are often recommended for anyone with diabetes.

40. Best Chocolate Shop in South Carolina: Christophe Artisan Chocolatier

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Christophe Paume, a third-generation French chocolatier, founded this charming chocolate shop. Visitors to the shop's two locations in downtown Charleston and West Ashley can sample the brightly colored, hand-painted chocolates and truffles.

41. Best Chocolate Shop in South Dakota: Mostly Chocolates

Location: Rapid City, South Dakota

At Mostly Chocolates, you can sip on something strong from the espresso bar while you choose between truffles, fudge, and other gorgeous confections. You can't go wrong with the chocolate-dipped espresso creme or the Oreo cream truffle, but if you want some added fruit flavors, their truffles also come in peaches and cream, raspberry, and strawberry cheesecake.

42. Best Chocolate Shop in Tennessee: The Goo Goo Shop and Dessert Bar

The Goo Goo Cluster Shop in Nashville.
Brent Moore, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Since its debut in 1912, the Goo Goo Cluster candy bar has delighted kids and adults with its tantalizing combination of milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and marshmallow nougat. And you can celebrate all things Goo Goo Cluster at this shop and dessert bar, which serves chocolatey cheesecakes, sundaes, and shakes inspired by the candy bar.

43. Best Chocolate Shop in Texas: Cacao and Cardamom

box of decorated chocolates
iStock.com/digihelion

Location: Houston, Texas

Eating chocolate at Cacao and Cardamom feels like taking a food trip around the world. Stop to sample blends of flavors and spices like their Szechuan peppercorn milk chocolate ganache, garam masala pistachio, black sesame ginger, pineapple fennel caramel, lychee basil, or a caramelized cashew and Vietnamese cinnamon praline.

44. Best Chocolate Shop in Utah: Ritual Chocolate

Location: Park City, Utah

Before you come to Ritual Chocolate, you'll probably want to skip your morning cup of joe. The bean-to-bar chocolate shop serves espresso, sipping chocolate, and a 100 percent pure cacao bar that will jolt you awake with its bitter, nutty taste.

45. Best Chocolate Shop in Vermont: Daily Chocolate

Location: Vergennes, Vermont

The chocolatiers at Daily Chocolate excel at flavor experimentation. Besides the black rum caramel (house made caramel in 72 percent dark chocolate), the coconut and cherry clusters will satisfy even the strongest chocolate craving. Fans of white chocolate should try the lemon lavender almond bark, made with lavender buds and lemon oil.

46. Best Chocolate Shop in Virginia: Gearharts Fine Chocolates

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Launched by chefs Tim Gearhart and Bill Hamilton in 2001, Gearharts Fine Chocolates uses "the world's finest chocolate with local sweet cream and pure butter" to create its confections. The shop's signature chocolates include pistachio toffee orange, malted milk hazelnut, and mint julep (which is made with fresh mint Kentucky bourbon). The chocolates are available for purchase online.

47. Best Chocolate Shop in Washington: Oh! Chocolate

Lightly colored truffles in rows
iStock.com/kobeza

Location: Mercer Island, Washington

Since 1985, Oh! Chocolate has earned a reputation as the top chocolate destination in Washington. Chocolatiers make small batches of delightful truffles in flavors such as champagne, mango habanero, and Pacific NW blackberry.

48. Best Chocolate Shop in West Virginia: Holl's Chocolates

Location: Vienna and Charleston, West Virginia

Before immigrating to the United States in 1958, Fritz Holl worked as an apprentice to his uncle in a pastry and chocolate shop in Zurich, Switzerland. Today, Holl's Chocolates—the company he founded in 1986—is still family-owned (Fritz's son, Dominique, runs it with his wife, Michelle) and still sells authentic Swiss chocolate. The store's chocolate lollipops (which come in milk, dark, and white chocolate varieties) are melt-in-your-mouth spectacular.

49. Best Chocolate Shop in Wisconsin: Wilmar Chocolates

Location: Appleton, Wisconsin

Chocoholics rejoice in the staggering selection of chocolate covered caramels, truffles, and butter toffee at Wilmar Chocolates. The shop's confections, which are made with authentic Wisconsin butter and cream, regularly win awards at the Wisconsin State Fair.

50. Best Chocolate Shop in Wyoming: Donells Candies

Location: Casper, Wyoming

Donells Candies has been a Wyoming staple since 1956, selling handcrafted confections such as dark chocolate cherry cordials and milk chocolate coconut clusters. Nut lovers rave about the dark chocolate peanut and pecan clusters.

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