Chocolate, quite literally, runs in my blood.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic. Yes, dark chocolate is part of nearly EVERY single one of my days and it is very high on my list of non-negotiables. Actually, my love of good chocolate runs generations deep within my family!
My great grandparents, my Yia Yia and Papou Faklaris, both came to Chicago from Greece in the early 1900s where they later met and married, before settling in Upstate New York where they built a home, and raised their family. By the 1930’s they had opened a soda fountain shop and candy store in the heart of Buffalo, New York: Clair’s Ice Cream. They made rich, decadent ice cream and ice cream novelties from scratch, and the most delicious chocolate confections you could find; from chocolate bars to molded chocolate, confectionary treats, candies, and more.
My grandparents later took over running the shop until it eventually closed in the early 60s, when they could no longer compete with the mass-produced, inexpensive ice cream being sold in grocery stores. They moved the chocolate-making equipment to my Great YiaYia’s home where they continued to use it to make gifts for the family for many years.
I still remember my Great YiaYia sneaking us into the basement to line our pockets with her homemade chocolate candies, saying: “shhh don’t tell your parents”.
After my father was laid off from his job in the early-1980s he and Great YiaYia brought back the family business as a side hustle, taking orders for, making, and selling their chocolate to folks in the community to earn some extra money and do something they loved so much. For years we continued to enjoy Easter basket treats and Valentine’s chocolates made by hand by my great-Yia Yia — and after Great-Yia Yia passed, by my Yia Yia– all using the family’s original recipes and equipment. Even as recently as a few years ago, on a trip home to be with family in NY, Dad and I made homemade chocolate candies following all the original family recipes.
For me, chocolate has always been the epitome of love and connection. I adore sharing chocolate with people I love, it’s a tradition I have carried on with my niece and nephews, sharing that joy and I am excited to now share that with you, too.
Beyond being filled with love, dark chocolate quite literally is “happy food”. This functional food provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and it has been shown to increase feelings of overall happiness, thanks to a variety of compounds and chemicals found in the cacao beans. Plus, the quality chocolate we source is a great source of healthy fats and minerals, too.
I hope my chocolate brings you love and happiness, thank you for letting me share it with you.
Beth Manos Brickey, FNTP. RWP
Beth Manos Brickey is a Certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Level 1 Restorative Wellness Practitioner, Mindfulness Coach, 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher and is currently completing a certification in Nutritional Psychology.