Yesterday I took a tour of the Sherm Edwards candy factory in Trafford, PA. It was the first time I had ever heard of the candy, let alone even eaten it, but let me tell you: it won’t be the last! The moment that we arrived outside the store on the sidewalk, we were greeted by our tour guide passing out chocolate and the oh-so-stylish hairnets. Free chocolate within the first minute? I liked this place already. Our guide told us a little about the company and took us inside. Now, this building was really tiny (used to be an old movie theater), and I was really wondering if this tour was going to be any good or not. My fears, however, were relieved as soon as we stepped through the basement door and I smelled it: the heavenly, sweet, uplifting aroma of chocolate.

There was a conveyor belt to our right, where four people were making raspberry cordials. The current owner (grandson of the original owner) was manning a machine that coats frozen raspberries in a raspberry-flavored sugar water and invert sugar. He explained that after being coated, the raspberries go on a conveyor belt where they are covered in chocolate three times. I guess the sugar somehow breaks down the fruit and leaves that juicy cordial filling inside the chocolate.

We moved over to the conveyor belt and watched berries being placed on dots of chocolate before passing through the chocolate curtain. It was at this moment that I kicked myself for forgetting my camera at home. Aargh! The chocolate curtain was so cool, and the berries all in a row were so cute. At the end of the conveyor belt, a worker was packaging the berries into a box. Beside her sat a box of chocolate-covered pretzels, which our guide encouraged us to take as many of as we wanted. I had a milk chocolate and dark chocolate one, and boy were they delicious!

The last few things we saw were molded chocolates being made. The company just recently opened a store in the Pentagon (yes, the one in D.C.!) so they had various patriotic molded chocolates being made, including a solid chocolate Capitol building, and Navy/Air Force themed chocolates.

The owner and employees were all really friendly, answering all of our annoying questions like, ‘how fast does the conveyor belt move?’ (~3 ft/min) and, ‘is your chocolate fair trade certified?’ (It is indeed fair trade, but not certified yet.)

After the tour we went up to the store, where more free samples awaited us: chocolate- covered caramels and peanut butter meltaways. I took one of each, and again, they were amazing. I am pretty picky about peanut butter-flavored things, but these were spot on.

I wandered around the store for a while, circling the long counter about ten times trying to make up my mind. They have a huge selection of molded chocolates: if you want your chocolate to have some sort of shape or message, chances are they have it. They even had chocolate cows that had white chocolate spots! Of course, they also have traditional chocolates like different-flavored cordials (raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, cherry), truffles, and meltaways. They have a display case with all of these that you can purchase by weight. I restrained myself, but I did buy a box of cherry cordials ($9 for 8 oz.), a peanut butter meltaway bar ($2.25), and two raspberry cordials ($1.75 for 2).

I must say, I think the best and most unique things they have are the cordials. I tried the strawberry, which was incredibly messy to eat, and the raspberry. The raspberry definitely won out. I think the smaller fruit was better because it broke down more, whereas the strawberry was pretty firm and seemed more just like a chocolate-covered strawberry than a cordial.

All in all, the prices are extremely reasonable and the tour is free as long as you buy at least $3 worth of chocolate. And if you can’t find $3 worth of chocolate that you like there is something wrong with you. I’m just glad this place is a decent drive away from where I live. Otherwise I would be making daily trips.

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