If you like a lot of culture with your chocolate, join my club. Or at the very least, read this post to discover the most cocoa-centric cultural experiences you can undertake all over our green and pleasant land.
York’s rich chocolate heritage isn’t the sole property of Terry’s. It’s also yours and mine – because we can get a fine flavour of how cocoa shaped the city by checking out the York Chocolate Story. Interactive guided tours at the attraction go right back to the bean, exploring global history and local trivia, manufacturing, tasting, and futurology. Equally exciting is a well-stocked shop and an on-site chocolate cafe.
All you need is a map and your own two feet to take this tasty tour. There’s so much chocolate in York one suspects the Grand Old Duke of the children’s song might have been made of the stuff, and the city’s Chocolate Trail will enlighten you on every aspect of the local industry from production place to point of sale. Incorporating cafes, museums and more, there’s food for appetite as well as thought.
Offering a little piece of chocolate heaven in Devon for over a decade, Walker’s Chocolate Emporium is much more than just a sweet shop. Visitors to the Ilfracombe store can watch the chocs being created, or have a muse in the museum as they contemplate retro marketing materials, packaging, a life-sized chocolate man, and even century-old chocolate – although one of Walker’s more modern hand-hewn slabs will taste far fresher.
There’s more to Wales than dragons and rugby – like South African siblings Michelle and Tony Wadley’s chocolate factory. Family-friendly tours take you physically through the facility and its operations, and theoretically through the history of cocoa and the production process it undergoes in order to become the various types of treats you can first taste on route and then further gorge on from the gift shop.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing about the existence of this South London secret – for it flies under the radar of even the capital city’s residents. Established by Melange Chocolate founder Isabelle Alaya in 2008, The Chocolate Museum hosts demos, workshops, monthly events, and serves fine food on a daily basis. The permanent collection covers both British and global chocolate history and production, with further displays on topical topics.
What Jennifer Earle and her terrifically-trained team don’t know about chocolate could collectively barely fill the tiniest truffle. The legendary tours currently cover several London neighbourhoods and Brighton, and shortly York, too; taking place at various times of day (or even, indeed, all day). You’ll ogle, you’ll eat, you’ll listen, and you’ll learn – but most importantly, you’ll have a jolly good laugh in the process.
No, it’s not all chocolate, but amongst consumer historian Robert Opie’s 12,000-strong collection of branded artifacts, you’re sure to find some edible items you’d love to nostalgically nosh afresh – although cracking into a less-than foi-fresh KitKat, Mars Bar or Rolo from the nineteen thirties is not advisable. Look out for evening talks on topics like food adulteration, and adults-only, cocktail-containing themed Friday lates.
Shropshire’s Land of Lost Content offers yet another delicious opportunity to take a trip down Memory Lane (or even Quality Street, should you spot an old-school tin of those very confections). The museum-cum-junkyard-of-British-pop-culture has an entire section crammed with chocolate – all watched over by a life-sized (albeit two-dimensional) cut-out of the Milk Tray Man. There’s beauty in the bounty; the more you look, the more you see.
Chaperoned and enlightened by Dr. Matthew Green, curious chocolate-lovers are led around a small, exclusive pocket of London; the latter’s experience and the former’s expertise enhanced by the input of actors and musicians along the way as all involved enter the world of the city’s Georgian chocolate houses. On-the-hoof helpings of Cocoa Hernando’s spicy jasmine hot chocolate means there’s more to drink up than just entertainment.
Given that the palace’s chocolate kitchen catered to William III, George I and George II, it’s a surprise that those three kings weren’t as humongous as Henry VIII, who also resided at Hampton Court. Once overseen by George I’s personal chocolatier Thomas Tosier, Britain’s only surviving royal chocolate kitchen is now commanded by a host of historic chefs, who regularly treat visitors to Georgian chocolate-making sessions.
- To read about nostalgic chocolate treats and gourmet alternatives, click here
- To read more about Cocoa Hernando, click here
- To read about where to find the best hot chocolate in London, click here