Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 01-13-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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6 ENTERTAINMENT JANUARY 13-19, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Locals melting over winter's sweetest treat Demand for hot chocolate bombs has makers working around the clock to keep up LINCOLN – Maybe it was TikTok, maybe it was Instagram, or maybe now is just a time when people are reaching for anything that brings a warm, cozy and sweet feel- ing to uncertain times – either way, hot chocolate bombs are having their moment. For those who haven't tried them, or haven't seen them exploding (quite literally) on social media, hot chocolate bombs are round chocolate spheres, filled with cocoa powder, mini marshmallows, and any number of other edible surprises, usually sell- ing for around $5. Place one in a mug, pour hot milk over the top, and watch as the shell melts, the cocoa dissolves and marshmallows and anything else inside pops out. The holiday season has seen demand for the treat sky- rocket, with local businesses saying it has been hard to keep hot chocolate bombs stocked as they are being purchased as fast as they are being made. Kayla Morris, owner of Gingersnaps Bakery in Lincoln, said her store has sold more than 2,500 hot chocolate bombs since just before Thanksgiving. "It's been a bit chaotic and overwhelming," she said. "We started around Thanksgiving and very quickly after that the demand was getting so high, we were selling out of the 50 or so that we would make in about an hour of being open. We tried to increase our demand, increasing our numbers to about 100 per day during the week and about 200 per day on the week- ends," she said. "I very quickly realized that cus- tomers were taking 10 or more at a time and it was very disappointing to the other customers who got here early to stand in line and wait as well. I figured, because we are offer- ing them to be pre-ordered in any quantity, the only way to make it fair for our walk-in customers would be to limit how many you could pur- chase from our store inventory. The limit has allowed us to keep up with our orders and be able to go home before 1 a.m.," Morris said. With all varieties selling out, Morris said it's been tough to tell which type is her best seller. She said the Double Chocolate has been a fast mover, along with the "boozy" flavors, infused with alcohol – Salted Caramel Kahlua and Red Velvet Baileys. With many businesses struggling in a pandemic year, Morris said, "We are one of the lucky ones hanging on during this very difficult time for small business." She credits her team and custom- ers for their support. "I'm incredibly grateful to the people who have come in to pur- chase from us and will quickly ask us, 'Are you guys going to be OK?' Our community really cares about our well-being and that means every- thing to me. I have found throughout this that people need to be com- forted. … These times are something we have never experienced and yet we're still trying to continue with our lives. Homemade treats really do feed the soul. It's comfort- ing to eat snacks, and we're happy to sup- ply them!" At Divas Dips and Gourmet Treats, a chocolatier business based in Woonsocket, mother Sandra Meekins and daughter Carissa Meekins have been experiencing the hot chocolate bomb craze in similar ways. "Exhausting is the best way to describe the experience of supplying the demand we have had. We had no idea that the demand would be so great, and that we would have such an outpouring of support during the last two months," said Sandra. At Divas they offer 15 varieties, with Milk Chocolate and Unicorn (think glitter and rainbow) being best sellers, and the shop has sold more than 2,000 hot chocolate bombs since the end of October. Carissa said the video-sharing TikTok app is how Divas got into the hot chocolate bomb business. "My 12-year-old daughter saw a video of one, and the rest is history. Social media plays a huge part of our success in selling them," she said. Carissa said she is grateful for that success during the current difficult business climate. "We have been completely blown away with the love and support from so many people – the majority being strangers. During such a dif- ficult time in our world today, we have stayed busy through the sup- port of those who want to uplift and give business to the small businesses throughout Rhode Island. It has truly been a blessing," she said. And she's noticed that sharing the treats lifts spirits and has a ripple effect, with "our customers continu- ing to come back and tell us that we have created memories and heart- warming moments with their families when they enjoy or gift our chocolate bombs." Home cooks have also been trying their hand at making hot chocolate bombs at home, with various tutorials and recipes available online for those with the patience/ambition to deal with melting chocolate and silicone molds. Some recipes offer straightforward filling options of cocoa and marsh- mallows, while others suggest getting creative with additional fillings such as crushed candy canes, sprinkles, toffee or crushed Butterfingers. Jessica Lamoureux, 15, of North Scituate, said she saw the hot choco- late bombs online and started trying to perfect her own. She said it was "kind of a trial and error thing. It took a little while, but I got there." She said she had been looking for a job, but found most places were not interested in hiring a 15-year-old. Instead, she started making hot choc- olate bombs for people she knows, through social media, and word of mouth, and has sold more than $900 worth. Lamoureux said she was surprised at the reaction of people, as someone who personally doesn't actually like hot chocolate, but said she thinks people are also attracted to the "decoration of them exploding in the milk." As someone who is saving up her chocolate money to buy a car, she said she is glad for the popularity of the bombs this year. With winter setting in and Valentine's Day just around the corner, it doesn't look like this con- fection will be going away anytime soon. And who couldn't use a fun little treat, with a reminder to slow down and soak up the simple pleasures – added bonus if they are in the form of chocolate. No matter how you get your hands on this warm cup of comfort, cheers to a sweeter 2021! By LAURA COLANTONIO Editorial & Design Team Coordinator laura@valleybreeze.com MORRIS SANDRA MEEKINS LAMOUREUX CARISSA MEEKINS A sampling of some of the hot choco- late bombs offered at GINGERSNAPS BAKERY in Lincoln. 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