A place where Minnesota's design community can blow its collective mind about creative expression in every medium from websites to landscapes, chocolate to bicycles.

Bloomsberry & Co Chocolate

Posted: November 24th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, design | Tags: , | Comments Off

Chocolate
Bloomsberry and Co. chocolate only comes in two varieties; Milk (for beginners) and Dark (which at 55% cocoa content isn’t particularly advanced). This means it will probably not satisfy those who generally consider dark to mean over 70%. Neither are there hints of fruit or citrus or bark if you are seeking subtleties. The chocolate is smooth and tastes a lot like chocolate chips. There’s no bitter after-taste, it’s very easy to eat and reminds me a bit of brownies actually. This can’t really be considered a sophisticated chocolate flavor but is perfect for kids and helping friends make the sea change from the bay of milk to the wide ocean of dark chocolate bliss. The bar itself is also a nice simple design. I found myself breaking it into smaller chunks than indicated.

Design
Bloomsberry clearly recognizes that design is an important part of the experience. In fact there is significantly more variety in the packaging than in the chocolate and consumers are encouraged to collect all the designs. Similar to the chocolate the packaging can better be described as whimsical, fun and spunky than sophisticated. It’s accessibility makes it a good gift for anyone who is not a chocolate snob and is sure to bring a smile. I know because I received this bar as a gift and even though it confirmed what I’ve known all along (that chocolate will not cause weight gain) I had a good chuckle. Actually since laughter burns calories this chocolate is the perfect weight loss strategy. Click on the photo for an enlargement if you want to read the small print.

Online
bloomsberryusa.com

Location
92 Jackson Street
Salem, MA 01970


Savory Creations

Posted: March 5th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, food | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

photography-studio-cocoa

Three different kinds of chocolate (regular, Mexican and Dutch processed), two different kinds of milk with a dash of vanilla and cinnamon. Topped with fresh whipped cream and shavings of Sharffen Berger Asante 65% from the chocolate maker’s series. Of all the stuff that we make at BrainstormOverload the signature studio hot cocoa is possibly my favorite creation.

Too bad there’s not an award category for that. Cheers.


Yummy Dummy Chocolate

Posted: October 13th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, packaging | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

chocolate_yummy-dummy

Chocolate
Why would seven girls from Davis, California start a chocolate company? Because it’s yummy dummy. In other words, for the sheer pleasure of it. That’s probably why they donate 100% of their profits to charities benefiting children and the environment. Who can resist that combination? 71% Cocoa is an unusual rating but I dig that they threw in the extra 1% for good measure. It’s kind of like an old-school baker’s dozen. The plain bar I sampled (actually I ate the entire thing… does that still count as sampling?) was nice, smooth and enjoyably crisp at room temperature. It’s a pretty straightforward flavor that provides balanced sweetness and a little bitterness but not the strong after taste characteristic of many single source bars. Still it’s strong enough to engage neurons in your milk proximity detection lobe so make sure you’ve got a cold glass close at hand.

Design
Yummy Dummy chocolate isn’t fancy. In fact the wrapping job is reminiscent of my little brother’s approach to Christmas gift preparation. Sort of loose around the middle with an assiduous avoidance of square corners. But it is precisely this distinctly hand-crafted quality that makes the design so charming – particularly in conjunction with the “girl owned and operated” slogan. It’s not that my expectations are lower. More that the home spun design and production fit so nicely with the overall story (what we have somewhat cynically come to call the “brand”). Many big chocolate companies hire agencies and buy fancy folding equipment and only manage to produce a lifeless and uninspiring container the only redeeming qualities of which are the squareness of the corners (I’m looking at you NestlĂ©). Not Risa (who does much of the design work), Sara, Bay, Rowan, Rachel, Stream and Sedona. They are content to revel in the simple secret revealed when you first unfold the wrapper and are greeted with this simple phrase: “Oh sweet mystery of life at last I found you.”

Yummy-Dummy’s website proceeds in the same spirit as their packaging – including the self-styled proverb: “Man can not live by chocolate alone, but girls can…” It’s a fun read actually and you’ll learn about things like their Nut-O-Matic machine. To get the full experience you should purchase a bar the next time you are at the Davis Farmer’s Market. If that isn’t going to be any time soon you can order bars online.

Online
Yummy Dummy Chocolates

Location
Davis, CA 95618
email: info@yummy-dummy.com


TCHO Chocolate

Posted: October 5th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, design, packaging | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

chocolate-tcho

Chocolate
TCHO chocolates come in four 70% cacao flavors made from organic, fair trade beans. Chocolatey, Fruity, Nutty and Citrus. These flavors are derived from chocolates inherent nuances and not from additional ingredients so the affects are subtle but quite distinct from one another. Citrus has a sharper almost malty impact at the back of the mouth and an after taste that lingers like wine. Fruity is a rounder, richer flavor that seems to happen more on the sides of the tongue and is my preference. I’m looking forward to trying chocolatey and nutty next.

Design
I discovered these little squares of chocolate in a small grocery store in the tiny town of Point Reyes Station, California and couldn’t resist the simple pleasure of the foiled, geometric designs on bright colored wrappers. I was delighted to discover the chocolates themselves also have a complementary geometric design engraved into them. TCHO’s is definitely a design friendly company. The identity and packaging were designed by Spiekermann Partners in Berlin and you can even read about the design from Susanna Dulkinys’ perspective on the site.

The TCHO website is nice and clean, full of fun information and the only site I’ve seen that boasts a colophon. They also have an ongoing blog.

Interactive types will appreciate that TCHO went through a beta phase and has now fully launched version 1.0. I would recommend you find some of this great chocolate. You’ll enjoy the experience while rewarding a company that values design as a partner in its business. If there is not a location near you try ordering online. As an interesting side note the first web based order was placed by Herbie Hancock.

Online
TCHO Chocolates

Location
Pier 17 (on the Embarcadero)
San Francisco, CA 94111
phone: 415.981.0189

Available in Minnesota at Product Exchange on Lake Street. Find other locations.

Update (11.13.09)
It looks like I’m not the only one to notice TCHO. Scott Hansen has a nice post on his iso50 blog worth checking out. If you can forgive him for the fact that he does “not really enjoy chocolate on it’s own” it is worth taking a gander at his fantastic poster designs while you’re at it (I already have three so try not to look as a poor substitute for self-control).