So, two months ago (was it that long ago!?) I was in Seattle and I had all kinds of fun adventures…and then I got home and didn’t get to blog it all! Luckily enough, I was reminded by Alex that I had not yet published a post about this magical day…and so we begin!
You see, visiting the Theo’s Factory in Seattle was a bucket list item that my sister had let me know about months ago – I think it came up in conversation when she told me about a local run (it always leads back to running, right?!) that hands out full-size chocolate bars at the finish – anyway, she asked me if I had heard of the chocolate before. Although I hadn’t had a LOT of experience with it (maybe a bar or two as splurges at WholeFoods) I did know one thing: it was delicious.
Unfortunately, my sister had to work most of the time that I was in town (besides this epic weekend: Bainbridge Island adventures, and yet-to-be published Pike Place Market Walking Tour post) but fortunately, my mom was visiting too, so we decided to stop on by and check out the chocolatey fun! Signing up for the tour was really easy – we just registered online the night before (check out the other options for registering on the site) and paid ($7) upon arrival at the location.
Once we checked in, mom and I were handed stylish hairnets, and since we slid in right before the hour, we were quickly led into the first room of the tour, where our guide, Rich, gave us a brief history of chocolate.
Our group was comprised of about 12 people and was definitely a mixed bunch! About 6 were visiting from Belgium, if I recall correctly, and Rich made a few quips about why Beglians would come to all the way to America to try the second-rate chocolate 😉
In all seriousness, Rich’s spiel was definitely part history lesson / part lighthearted explanation. His delivery was entertaining and interesting, and soon after he gave us background on Theo’s commitment to Fair Trade and Sustainability – all notes led back to one thing: that Theo is fiercely passionate about two things: chocolate, and its people.
Since 2006, Theos has been creating incredible chocolates from its Seattle factory – from cocoa beans that travel from halfway around the world (they regularly update where beans are coming from here) to not only create delicious treats, but to positively touch each person (farmer, worker, truck driver, customer) in the process.
So, what about that chocolate, huh?
Yum-o! Rich passed around a variety of chocolates – he explains the different mix-ins (cherry and chili was my favorite) and the varying degrees of darkness. My mom liked the milk chocolate the best, but we also sampled a hazelnut crunch, a sea salt and orange/dark. It was interesting to see how each tour participant reacted to each sample! Bonus: after all the chocolates were passed around, we could nibble on our favorites before we moved to the next stop on the tour: the factory floor!
The volume instantly went up…and so did the temperature! The factory area was surprisingly small, and the machinery took up a lot of space. Still, we listened on to Rich as he pointed out processes – thankfully, he also handed out sheets so we could follow along!
Before we moved on, I had to get a pic in all my hairnetted glory – with that cool cocoa bean bag backdrop, of course:
Next step: passing by the buckets of beans!
And on to the confectionary!
Now, this was probably my favorite stop of the tour…not only because we got to try some more chocolate (which we did) but we got to see a bit of what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to creating the crazy concoctions that Theo’s is known for – and yes, those are chocolate versions of Santa, Buddha, and the Easter Bunny…and all the yummy fillings are made in house!
Yes, Alex!! They were JUST starting to make that batch when we were there! *freshness*
Anywhoz, before too long, it was unfortunately the end of the tour – but just like a wonderful Disney theme park attraction, the fun ended…in a gift shop 🙂 Since little J missed the tour, I decided to pick up a fun souvenir of miniature truffles for her, with our tour discount!
My mom and I had fun picking out a mix of fun chocolates for J, but if we had not been in the mood to make those complicated decisions, there were cool little gift boxes you could buy, too. This “Taste of Washington” one sounded pretty awesome:
All in all, we found the tour to DEFINITELY be worth the $7 – and at right under an hour, it was just the right length, too. We learned a lot about the brand, and knowing more about all the wonderful things that Theo does for its community – both locally, and globally – it made it taste that much sweeter, you know?
So next time you’re in Seattle, check out Theo’s…and say HI to Rich for us! I know that I’ll be back again!
What’s the coolest/quirkiest place you’ve ever toured while on vacation?