Review By Melissa Minners
On Sunday, March 13, 2022, I had an opportunity to visit an event I’ve wanted to check out for a few years now – The Chocolate Expo at the New Jersey Expo Center in Edison, NJ. I’d been hearing about this collection of chocolate, cheese and wine vendors for some time now and never had an opportunity to attend, but this year would be different. This year, I would buy my tickets in advance and get to the Expo Center early, ensured of a decent parking spot and a good place in line. Trust me, I was going to need it!
As we all waited in anticipation for the Expo to begin, we discussed the event with each other, mouths watering – the masked and unmasked, alike thinking of all of the wondrous chocolate creations hidden behind those double doors that we looked longingly toward. The Chocolate Expo had been created in 2006 by Marvin Baum of Woodstock 35th Anniversary Celebration fame. What had started out as a chocolate event to celebrate New York’s annual holiday celebration benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation turned into something more. To quote the website, “The Chocolate Expo has become the largest chocolate event in the United States with spectacular locations in the New York metro region, plus more great locations being planned.” I was just happy that I had tickets to the only day it would be appearing in my area this year.
When the doors opened, we all filed in, some of the line heading over to the VIP Ticket Holder section to get their free, zippered and insulated Chocolate Expo shopping bag. The rest of us began wandering the numerous aisles filled with vendors and their scrumptious samples. We checked out tables filled with chocolate covered everything imaginable, truffles, chocolate-infused coffees and teas, cakes, even chocolate fountains! We stopped at a number of tables and sampled quite a few different items, chocolate and non-chocolate.
I, for one, could not wait to hit the Baileys table, where the folks were handing out hot chocolate with shots of Baileys Irish Crème, topped with whipped cream and any other topping you chose. I asked for chocolate sprinkles, not wanting to hold up the line for additional toppings. And what a line there was! We made certain to pass the folks on line, sipping on our Baileys Hot Chocolate with delight on our faces…and a little whipped cream as well. There were other boozy creations there as well, such as spiked pudding shots and chocolate wine, but I was happy with my hot chocolate and decided to concentrate on the other delicious candies, cakes, and confections available.
We stopped at Emalyn Sweets for their chocolate covered pretzels and Oreos. We hit Barbara’s Kitchen for some homemade jams and jellies. We stopped at Laurel’s Butter for an assortment pack of delicious nut butters. We checked out 2 Chicks with Chocolate and were amazed at the hand painted truffles we found there. I couldn’t help but purchase a pack of the most beautifully decorated truffles I had ever seen. We even stopped at the Goodway Bakery table for one of the best banana rum cakes I have ever had – such a nice crunchy exterior and fluffy interior filled with a banana rum flavor. YUM!
There are so many other tables we stopped at that I lost count. All I know is that by the time we were ready to go home, we had sampled popcorn, nut butters, jams and chocolate creations, and purchased chocolate bars, truffles, peanut butter cups, nut butters, jellies, a rum cake, a specially decorated cupcake, chocolate covered pretzels, Bang Cookies (coming soon to a mall near you!) and more. Loaded down with our wares and having toured the room at least three times, we decided it was time to go. I only had two complaints about the event – it only took us 45 minutes to walk around the event area three times which tells me that there weren’t enough vendors. My other complaint was that many of the vendors had nothing to do with chocolate – in my opinion, the event should be filled with what was promised when I bought the tickets – chocolate, wine and cheese creations – not knife vendors, newspaper subscription salesmen, home improvement salespersons, etc.
That being said, we did have an awesome time at The Chocolate Expo and I wouldn’t mind going again the next time it makes it back to New Jersey. For those of you who missed it, The Chocolate Expo is coming to the Cradle of Aviation Museum, located in Garden City, New York on March 27, 2022. For more information regarding the event, locations, and ticket prices, visit The Chocolate Expo website at http://thechocolateexpo.com.