ORLANDO, Fla. – The Olmecs thought of it as medicine. The Aztecs saw it as a gift from the gods.
The chocolate those ancient Central American civilizations imbibed may be very different from the chocolate we know today, but for many chocoholics the sentiment probably remains the same.
A search for chocolate on the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed website shows more than 600 reports and studies looking at the health effects of chocolate. Johns Hopkins Medicine extols chocolate’s benefits on heart health, mental health, and even to help fight diabetes.
Some 60% of all candy sales in the U.S. is chocolate – it’s a $21.9 billion business, according to the National Confectioners Association.
While the big candy makers get the bulk of America’s chocolate business, about three in 10 U.S. chocolate consumers like to nibble on fine chocolates once in a while too.
So let’s take a look at some places in Central Florida to get some chocolate worthy of cheat days – or every day.
Chocolate Kingdom | 9901 Hawaiian Ct., Orlando
Learn how chocolate is made and customize your own chocolate bar. This attraction off International Drive bills itself as an adventure that includes a cacao tree greenhouse and a “Mystical River of Chocolate.”
Want to learn more about chocolate? Sign up for a chocolate-making experience that includes molding, dipping and decorating chocolate.
David Ramirez Chocolates | Two locations: 2154 Central Florida Pkwy., Orlando; and Plant Street Market in Winter Garden
David Ramirez is an award-winning pastry chef whose work is known all over the world. He creates European-style chocolates, along with macarons, brownies, cakes and other goodies, which he sells at his store at Plant Street Market in Winter Garden and at his corporate store on Central Florida Parkway.
Webb’s Candy Shop | 38217 U.S. 27, Davenport
Gourmet chocolate and goat’s milk fudge are just some of the treats you’ll find at this Davenport candy shop that’s been around since 1932. The family-run business makes all the traditional chocolate-dipped candies. They also make some historic Florida goodies too, like citrus candy and taffy.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park | 300 S. Park Ave., Winter Park
Peterbrooke is a franchise with locations all over the U.S. So why do we mention this Winter Park location? Because for local chocolate lovers it is legendary. They have a wide range of chocolates and chocolate-dipped goodies. They’re also one of the few places left that still host chocolate-making activities like camps and classes. And they deliver!
KKÔ Chocolate | 411 N. Donnelly St., Suite 104-105, Mount Dora
A relative newcomer to the local chocolate scene, KKO Chocolate specializes in colorful bonbons, chocolate bars, cakes and other goodies in downtown Mount Dora. Gabriel Maysonet and Eugene Colón came from Puerto Rico and saw an opportunity to pursue their dream. They are coming up on the store’s 1-year anniversary in August.
Ocala’s Chocolate and Confections | 104 E. Fort King St., Ocala
In downtown Ocala, you’ll find a shop with in-house-made European chocolates. Ocala’s Chocolate and Confections offers a wide range of treats, including truffles, marzipan, fudge, chocolate-dipped goodies and ice cream.
Angell and Phelps Chocolate Factory | 154 South Beach St., Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach’s chocolate factory has been around since 1925 and still sells traditional chocolate assortments, chocolate-covered treats like Twinkies and sponge candy, rocky road and fudge and more. Take the self-guided tour of the factory and get some free samples.
Grimaldi Candy Company | Two locations: 3006 U.S. 1, Rockledge, and 2270 Town Center Ave., Ste. 109, Viera
This Brevard County candy company has been around since 1969 with treats like citrus strips, seashells and milk and dark chocolate-covered potato chips, which they say are world-famous. They have locations in Rockledge and Viera.
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