BLOOMFIELD – Christmas brings joy and an invitation to worship. Chocolate brings joy, too, and that’s at least part of the message. At Fascia’s Chocolates Inc. you can get it all – joy and worship – wrapped in cellophane and tied with a ribbon.
And at Munson’s Chocolates, which has its international headquarters in Bolton and has 10 retail outlets in Connecticut, you can purchase Christmas-themed chocolates from stores and from their website. You can also special order a variety of religious-themed Christmas chocolates.
Both Connecticut-based chocolate companies offer a wide variety of specialty chocolates befitting the seasons of Christmas and Easter.
For almost 50 years, the family-owned Fascia’s Chocolates in Waterbury has crafted specially molded, religious-themed chocolates for Christmas, Easter and other religious occasions, in addition to molded pieces, truffles, caramels, creams and cordials for nonreligious purposes like watching “I Love Lucy” reruns.
“We can custom mold anything,” said Carmen Romeo, president. “We have an archangel, and that happens to sell very well. Our Nativity oval is definitely the most religious thing we have for Christmas.”
There are also molds for Santa Claus, but that’s probably more joy than worship. Still, 10 pounds of the jolly elf – modeled, after all, on the real Saint Nicholas – might induce you to give thanks to God, and isn’t that a form of worship?
Fascia’s was founded by John and Helen Fascia in 1964, and John, now in his 70’s, still works there, as do other family members. Mr. Romeo, a son-in-law of the founders, joined the company in 2009, drawing on years of experience in sales and management positions at General Electric and other companies.
“We have a very nice Christmas crèche and other religious-themed stuff,” Mr. Romeo said. “We do lots of Easter stuff, as well as stuff for baptisms and confirmations. We have doves and praying hands and chalices and things like that, as well.”
Mr. Romeo has a lot of respect for the larger, more well-known chocolate companies, but he is proud of the fact that, even after the company has grown over the last 50 years, Fascia’s still crafts its chocolates by hand.
“I made that business decision of where we want to be,” he said.
Whereas larger companies use stainless steel, water-cooled slabs to cool their chocolates quickly, Fascia’s uses naturally cooling marble slabs. “We just think that that’s part of the old time-honored tradition of handmade chocolate,” he said.
“We can pump out thousands of pounds of chocolate, but we are maintaining the small, mom-and-pop service and feel, and that’s why we want people to come in and look at it,” he said.
He was referring to Fascia’s expanded program of guided tours, which is possible now because the company just moved to a larger facility at 44 Chase River Rd., Waterbury.
“This new location is right off Route 8. We’re setting up as a tourist destination,” Mr. Romeo said. “We’re going from 7,000 square feet to 12,500 square feet. A lot of extra space is for tours.”
Tours will include a showing of the famous “I Love Lucy” segment in which Lucy and Ethel try to keep up with an ever-faster assembly line of chocolates. “That was pure Hollywood. We explain that no chocolate factory really speeds up the line, because chocolate must cool slowly,” he said.
He gave a brief tour for the Transcript, showing how truffles are rolled by hand.
“Everything starts in a copper kettle,” he said. “A lot of the ingredients are cooked. We use this really big wooden spoon. That’s an important piece. We have very simple recipes – sugar, butter, cream, things like that. It’s how we cook it that really makes a difference.”
One difference is in how Fascia’s makes cordial cherries. “Cordial cherries are made in a way where you take the maraschino cherries, coat them in sugar and then coat them in chocolate and the sugar breaks down into the liquid cordial juice,” he said. “A lot of mass-produced cherries, they’ll make a cup of chocolate and drop the cherry in, then drop the juice in and then cool it.”
Even the textured drizzle on top of a cordial or truffle is applied by hand, he said. “If you look at the drizzle on our truffles, they’re all different. We do it with a spoon by hand.”
Fascia’s Chocolates was named “Best Chocolates in Connecticut” by Connecticut magazine in 2012. Guided tours are $5 per person, or $10 if you want to make your own chocolate bar. For more information, go to www.fasciaschocolates.com or call 203-753-0515.
Munson’s Chocolates, which is headquartered in Bolton, has retails outlets throughout the archdiocese and beyond, including West Simsbury, Newington, Orange, Farmington, South Windsor and West Hartford.
Jim Florence, vice president of sales for Munson’s, said most of the company’s religious-themed chocolates are available during the Easter season. He said Munson’s has the widest selection of chocolates in the state and that many Christmas-themed items are available on their website, www.munsonschocolates.com. Munson’s does not carry a line of religious-themed Christmas chocolates, but special orders are available, he said.
“Many of our Christmas items are already in stores,” he said. They include Santas in milk, dark and white chocolate; toy soldiers; snowmen; and much more.
Munson’s headquarters in Bolton can be reached toll free at 1-888-687-7667.