Over the past few days we've been loading up the latest items that we've classed as chocolate stocking fillers and occasionally we would take a break with a cuppa and read the latest industry news and share anything interesting into Twitter. One of those items I whimsically shared was this item from the Metro newspaper about the demise of the Cadbury gold coins.
I didn't expect anything much of it but it has been favourited and re-tweeted about 250 times each. But what was interesting was that what could easily be described as poor quality chocolate was actually something that many people loved. This love affair with pretty 'naff' chocolate confused me. I know I still have (dare I say it) an affinity with Yorkie bars because they were a regular treat as I grew up and I feel that many people see the Cadbury Gold in the same way. Not having them would tarnish the Christmas experience, they just expect to have them - even as a young, or old adult. Along with stockings, mince pies, chocolate log and the rest, it just wouldn't be Christmas without them.
So the question becomes, do we have to have the same treats every year, or should we try something different? It also becomes is Christmas about giving anything or is it about giving something unusual and thought-provoking?
During November and December I will walk through department stores such as Debenhams, M&S, BHS and the like. They will pile up the same stuff every year and generally its stuff that will get forgotten about within hours of receiving. The supermarkets do the same thing. Aisle after aisle are filled with the same sort of chocolate gifts or toys, selection cases of beer or biscuits. Toys made from plastic which require all the tools in the garage to prize from their packaging will be stacked floor to ceiling. Next year and the year after it will just be the same. We'll nod a 'thank you' to the person that gave it to us, but we know that only a moment's thought would have gone into it.
Despite the internet being a magical place full of unusual items that are sourced from around the world, as a nation we're still intent on giving multinationals our money in exchange for meaningless tat.
It doesn't have to be like that. The supermarkets will still sell their own-brand chocolate gold coins, but if you want to give something this Christmas to actually raise a smile and reflect your affection for the recipient then you would do well looking at smaller companies that truly do need your custom.
We can't mention everyone, but there are many chocolatiers around, either on your High Street or online that create absolutely fantastic stuff - and it doesn't all make y your eyes water as if you've been planted on the top of the Christmas tree.
The internet, however, is great for people with specific needs. If you're buying for people with specific dietary requirements then we have a range of vegan chocolate, if you're looking to buy something for someone with diabetes then we have a large selection of 100% chocolate. For those people who like a bit of booze then there is a very large range of chocolate with alcohol in. If somebody likes a particular ingredient or style of chocolate, for example containing nuts then you can find chocolate not only with nuts in, but chocolate that a has a flavour profile similar to nuts, or even almonds in particular.
If you've got a friend from a particular country you can either buy chocolate made in that country or using cocoa from that place, such as Ecuador.
If you're buying for a wife, girlfriend, husband or boyfriend then you can even give them a chocolate heart such as the Peccati Di Cuore from Domori or the 100% heart from Bouga Cacao if they're into more intense flavours.
For people that love hot chocolate then the Boîte Métal from Favarger is great.
The point is, that niche online retailers offer you the ability to massively expand the range and quality of presents you give this Christmas. Supermarkets and department stores typically only offer a very small selection of items that many other people on your street will also be opening.
Be different, explore the internet and try independent retailers and makers. You won't regret it.