The whole community is invited to free classes, tours, samples, competitions and more at the first Aggie Chocolate Expo next week.
The expo will start at 11 a.m. and go until 8 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Aggie Chocolate Factory, located at 1111 N. 800 East in Blue Square.
“This is more of an informational community outreach event where you don’t have to pay to get in,” said Sheri Anderson, Marketing Manager for USU’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. “We’re hoping that this will be something that people will spend an hour or two with us and enjoy chocolate.”
Expo events will involve more than just tasting the Factory’s organic “bean to bar” chocolate, though. Attendees will be treated to free classes from industry professionals across the U.S., tour the chocolate factory and savor samples of the five new Aggie chocolate items making their debut.
Attendees can also get a jump-start on holiday shopping by pre-ordering new customizable cheese and chocolate boxes. Previously, the USU Creamery has offered holiday cheese gift boxes, but much more choice in cheese and chocolate combinations is being offered now.
Community members can also enter their own chocolate creations into a professionally-judged contest.
“You don’t have to be a professional to enter the competition,” Anderson said. “It’s for everyone.”
Anderson said there are only two divisions in the contest: creations using Aggie chocolate and ones using other chocolate, so there really is no limit to what can be entered. Anderson said the judges will consist of industry and USU professionals. Prizes, such as Aggie gift baskets, will be awarded to the winners.
“Basically, it just needs to be something edible with chocolate,” Anderson explained, so community members are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild.
Interested community members must decide quickly to enter, though, because participation requires registration through the Factory website and entries are being limited to 75 this first year.
The Chocolate Factory itself is debuting some of its new chocolate innovations such as cherry chocolate jam and chocolate meat seasoning.
For those with a more traditional taste, the Chocolate Factory is also debuting its new “Thistle and Rose Milk Chocolate Bar.” Up until now, the Factory has only produced dark chocolate. Estee Wilson, the Chocolate Factory’s Cafe pastry chef, will also be debuting a surprise new pastry — all of which will be sold hereafter in the cafe.
Community members will also get to taste — literally — a piece of history in the making. Though the Aggie Creamer has sold its ice cream to the public since 1888, it has always obtained its chocolate from other sources. At the Expo, participants will get to taste a brand new ice cream flavor called “The Scotchman” which features vanilla ice cream with ripples of butterscotch and fudge, speckled with cocoa nibs. All of the chocolate used in The Scotchman was made at the Chocolate Factory.
“If you think about this ice cream, it’s pretty amazing,” Anderson said. “All of the milk used in it is from students working at USU’s dairy farm straight to the Creamery. … Then we’re adding the chocolate produced in USU’s Chocolate Factory. From beginning to end, it’s made here. I don’t know where else in the country you would find a product like this.”
With USU being a land-grant school, Anderson said it is part of USU’s mission to educate the public and community through extension classes like the ones they will offer at the expo.
“This is a new facet of USU’s land-grant mission,” Anderson said. “Utah is a leading state for production of candy and chocolates. … So offering the Chocolate Factory as a place to learn and get support to companies and community members in our area and state is a great fit.”
The 20-30 minute classes will be offered throughout the day in the Blue Square Conference Room. The seminars are free of charge and will be presented by industry experts on subjects such as making ganache, the history of chocolate, tempering chocolate and baking with chocolate.
As for anticipated attendance, Anderson said: “We have no idea what to expect with this. I can only tell you that when we had our factory tour, we hardly advertised and we had people lined up around the corner.”
Based on the Chocolate Factory’s Grand Opening, Anderson said there could be a few thousand attendees.
Because public parking is limited at Aggie Blue Square, Anderson recommends people pay a few dollars to park at Aggie Terrace (600 North and 700 East) and ride the free Aggie shuttle to the Expo. Normal university and city parking regulations will be enforced.
More information and a complete itinerary can be found at aggiechocolate.com/expo.