Within an hour of the doors opening at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City on Sunday, March 4 a three-hour line stretching down to the children’s museum formed with chocolate lovers excitedly waiting to enter the Chocolate Expo’s first Long Island event.
Inside the museum, more than 50 vendors displayed a wide variety of products, mostly chocolate, some offering items that pair with chocolate, and some things were just a fun addition to the “farmer’s market” appeal of the expo.
The Chocolate Expo creator, Marvin Baum, of Baum Image Group, Inc. walked through the expo, greeting guests and accommodating vendors, ensuring a smooth experience for everyone in attendance.
“My first-ever chocolate show was in a museum and it’s something that I look forward to and I want to offer an interesting background; for the same price people come to the chocolate show, they get this [the event] plus the museum exhibition,” said Baum. “Needless to say, it’s an incredible value. We’ve got a really great line-up of participating vendors here today.”
This is the first time the Expo has been held on Long Island, but the show has been held regularly in New Jersey and in Westchester County.
People who had made it to the Expo and those still in line echoed similar sentiments such as, “What’s better than a Chocolate Expo,” and “Chocolate and wine samples, doesn’t get any better than that!”
Atendees were offered a chance to donate non-perishable food for the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Long Island Cares, Inc.
One booth drew a crowd of attendees, curios to taste “chocolate covered bacon.” Executive chef Lawrence Rosenberg of Bacon Bites made skeptics into believers of how delicious his chocolate covered bacon, and choco-covered turkey was. He explained how such a combination materialized. “I started out two years ago when my roommate and mascot “Smokey the Pig,” Kane was helping me clean up after a catering job. He thought I was done and accidentally put the bacon into the chocolate to throw away. I tasted it just out of curiosity and thought it was not bad,” Rosenberg said. He spent a year perfecting the process and thinks bacon and chocolate combos taste great.
Rosenberg said, “It’s been a home run!” Bacon Bites went to market in November 2010 and is now available in 32 states, and in over 700 stores.
He applauded Expo creator Marvin Baum for the event, saying, “Marvin does it right; he knows what people want and gives it to them.”
One customer approached his booth, squeezing his way through the crowd gathered for samples. He told Rosenberg, “You’re my hero; bacon and chocolate are the two greatest things. Can I give you a hug?” Rosenberg thinks that sums it up.
There were photos printed on chocolate, gelatos, wineries serving chocolate flavored wine, many farmer’s market vendors offering fruit compote. Lisa Sorbo, owner of Prima Dolce Company that sells Bella’s Berries Compote said, “Chocolate World Expo was a fun event this weekend. It was great to meet the people from the community and share our Bella’s Berries Compote. We look forward to participating in more events on Long Island.”
Expo guests could also sample freshly grilled Belgian waffles dipped in chocolate, coffees, an assortment of baked goods, and special diet products like vegan and sugar free.
Laura Siner, owner of Sweet Muse (www.sweetmuse.com) ‘inspirational indulgences’ said, “Participating in Chocolate World Expo is a wonderful way for Sweet Muse to meet thousands of chocolate lovers and let them experience many of our dozen gourmet fudge brownie flavors; it’s great to see all the smiles!”
Siner’s fudgy, gourmet brownies, baked from scratch are wrapped individually with an inspirational message tucked inside. Expo visitors were lined up to nibble on samples of the varieties, like double fudge, toffee bar crunch, and coconut almond.
In addition, some vendors were selling chocolate scented candles, bath soap, lotion and many health products.
“The Chocolate World Expo is a wonderful opportunity for craft food producers to meet the public and expand their fan base,” said founder and CEO of Canada Enterprises, LLC, Reuben Canada, who makes the Philadelphia-original Jin-Ja health drink. His product, Jin-Ja, is made from fresh ginger, lemon juice, green and mint teas, cayenne pepper, and cane sugar. Canada claims his product can reduce inflammation, and muscle soreness, lower appetite and reduce nausea, while increasing metabolism and giving the body a boost of antioxidants.
Canada, who was participating in the Chocolate Expo for a second year, reported that in the past year, the distribution of his product, Jin-Ja, also found at www.jinjadrink.com, has grown from being carried in six local gourmet markets to a wide-region distribution through Whole Foods stores.
In celebration of the Girl Scouts 100th year anniversary, some of the local Scouts were on-hand to sell their signature cookies, and take orders for cookies to be sent to troops overseas.
While visiting the Chocolate Expo, as Baum explained, guests could spend time viewing the Cradle of Aviation’s exhibits, view a feature on the giant IMAX theater, ride the X-Ride flight simulator and stop by the firefighters’ museum.
After the Expo, Baum told Anton Newspapers, “We had a great time on Long Island. Most people seemed to really like the show. The turnout was much bigger than expected, so next year we’ll offer tickets online, extend the show hours, add more vendors, use the second and third floors of the Museum and, possibly, add a second day for the show in order to reduce lines and wait times.”