Orlando's Chocolate Kingdom gives guests a mouthwatering experience
Factory tours are both delicious and educational
ORLANDO, Fla. – It's one of the most delicious sweet treats our taste buds enjoy on Valentine's Day, birthdays or pretty much any time we get a craving for it: chocolate.
But did you know chocolate actually comes from a fruit? In Orlando's Chocolate Kingdom factory, guests can take a tour and almost feel as if they're in the Willy Wonka movie, except they won't see Oompa-Loompas.
"It's been in the family since 1938. My grandfather started since he was 18 years old and ended up having one of the largest chocolate factories in Argentina," the owner of Chocolate Kingdom, Edgar Schaked said.
The Argentine native is the third generation of chocolatiers in his family. When he moved to the United States in search of the American dream, he also continued his grandfather's legacy.
"I ended up having one little store in Winter Park that we opened 25 years ago and now we have stores in seven different states," Schaked said.
The company's headquarters in Orlando, Chocolate Kingdom, not only serves as a place to buy some freshly made chocolate but it's also an attraction -- a unique place where tourists learn about the historical aspect of the sweet, such as how the Mayans used chocolate as a drink.
"Back then, they used to drink it and it would give them energy," Schaked said.
The drink eventually turned into the most liked sweet treat for millions around the world. But where does chocolate come from? It's actually a seed from the cacao tree.
"A fruit grows on the tree, it's called a cacao pod. Inside that fruit you have seeds," Schaked said.
The seeds are the cocoa beans, which are roasted and go through an agricultural process known as winnowing, where the skim, or chaff, is separated from the grain, producing a nib. The nibs are then placed in a grinder and turned into a paste that then gets smoothed out by huge rollers.
For Schaked, it was also important to make the tours family friendly and fun, so he created a storyline about a princess and a dragon that go on a quest to learn how to make chocolate. Through a brief video, tourists are introduced to Princess Chocolina.
The tour includes a custom-made chocolate bar prepared for each guest by a chocolatier. Guests choose up to three different add-ons such as cranberries, peanuts, marshmallows, pecans and M&M's. At the end of the tour, they're handed their custom-made candy.
Chocolate Kingdom is open seven days a week, except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The first tour starts at 11 a.m. Click here for more information.
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