Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, love, love, love.
Chocolate is love, love is chocolate.
(dedicated to my brother Joey Pinkney a self-professed Chocolate addict and writer from Memphis, TN.)
This weekend my wife asked me to take a tour. This tour takes place twice a year. Once in the Spring and once in the Fall. Usually I try to wiggle my way out of “tours”, but she explained that this was a tour of the Candy Kitchen at Dinstuhl’s. I had visited one of the store locations, but in all honesty I assumed Dinstuhl’s was basically a retail store that sold candy created by other companies. It really didn’t cross my mind that somewhere in Memphis there was this magical candy kitchen full of sugar and sweets operated by a family that has been making treats since 1902. I thought, “they must be getting this from another company.” When my wife asked me to escort my daughter on the tour, I immediately said yes!
The candy kitchen is located off of what was once Memphis’ Mile of Cars, Covington Pike on Pleasant Hill. As we pulled up, cars were parked all over the place. I thought we would be able to stroll right in. I immediately understood that a chocolate tour pulls everyone out of the woodworks and it helped that the weather was a perfect 75 degrees. My daughter and I walked up and joined others in the line. People from every culture peppered the parking lot, smiling talking and of course eating. We walked up to the line and this burly, old, bearded guy said, “the line moves purty quick.” I said I hope so and before I could finish the line moved forward about 5 people. My daughter was asking questions wondering what exactly would the tour be about. Kids with their parents all talked with an air of anticipation. “Is there going to be free chocolate? Will there be free candy?” I was thinking the same thing until a court jester rounded the corner telling everyone there is lemonade at the entrance. What was also at the entrance was a chocolate fountain with pictures of the Oompa Loompas (If you don’t know what an Oompa Loompa is, shame on you). While we are a few weeks beyond Easter, the color palette adorning the entrance and walk way as we entered was filled with stuffed, plush, rabbits and drawings of laminated animals hanging on the walls. The smell was… I can’t explain it, but Pavlov would have found me an interesting subject.
As we made it to the first part of the kitchen a palette of peanut brittle lay on the table waiting to be broken and packaged. The cooks moved around between the giant, metal pots with a comfortable precision. One of the cooks was carrying a tray of pecan brittle and was giving it to each member of our tour. I took note of one of the cooks standing over a white “fondant” which is basically a melted sugar. He was explaining how the size and flavor of the strawberries he was dipping in the fondant are chosen to help customers get the best deal. A large strawberry would increase the weight and decrease the number of strawberries in a bunch. The perfect strawberry allowed the customer to get as many of the chocolate covered treats at the best priced. The boiling fondant was mesmerizing. One of the tourists asked, “Have you ever lost a strawberry in their?” The cook answered, “No, the strawberry floats.” He then threw a berry in and in a second it floated back to the top covered with fondant and he used a circular spoon looking utensil to lift it out and place it on a tray.
Our next step was a station where chocolate mints were made. My daughter had her initial placed on her mint, I just ate mine. We walked along and there was a conveyor where one of the lady cooks was making chocolate covered grapes. At this next turn there were so many flavors of chocolate that my daughter and I were toasting with the little squares every five seconds. The machines and coolers grew in number as we continued moving forward. I was able to speak briefly with Stephanie Land, the Sales & Marketing Manager and she gave me an information packet as we exited the candy kitchen and entered the store. With an additional 20% off we joined the long line and bought a treasure of chocolates from Chocolate Covered Oranges, to Chocolate packed with Dinstuhl’s strawberry preserves. I grabbed some Orange Creme and Lime filled chocolate and my daughter got a giant fudge sucker.
Talk about a great tour.
Dinstuhl’s is definitely a Memphis Hi-Lite and you should take a minute to check out the website (which I think would be so much better if they turned into a blog and had videos of their tour days) and place an order.