MILWAUKEE — The history of chocolate goes back some 2,000 years and there's a local chocolate company that has some pretty strong roots right here in Milwaukee. Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate Company supplies some of the biggest chocolate confectionery and food businesses in the world.
"We make these 10-pound blocks that go into making little chocolate candies and then we also have larger chocolate chips that go into cookies, and then we have the smaller chocolate chips that go into cereal bars and granola bars," said John Schmid, Facility Manager at Cargill.
Not only do they employ over 200 people at the facility, but the staff at Cargill also gives back to the community through their Cargill Cares program.
"Some of the recent events that we've had are with Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin, where we did sorting and stocking. On International Women's Day, we bought chocolate chip cookies from a woman-owned bakery," said Schmid.
The Ambrosia Chocolate Company started in what's now known as the Deer District in 1894. In 1992, it moved to the current facility on the northwest side of Milwaukee, and in 2015 they were acquired by the Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate Company.
The day-to-day operations produce enough chocolate each day to make over 8 million chocolate chip cookies. According to a survey from Cargill's North American Cocoa and Chocolate team, chocolate, which is viewed as the antidote to a tough day, has been the indulgence of choice for one-third of U.S. grocery store shoppers during the pandemic.
Speaking of indulging, Julie Waterman is the owner of Indulgence Chocolatiers. She's been in business for 15 years and followed a somewhat untraditional path into the world of chocolate.
"I had joined the Army when I was in high school to put myself through college, I got back from a deployment, I had missed a semester, so I backpacked through Europe and I just fell in love with their approach to food, but chocolate I thought was extraordinary," said Waterman.
It was during her senior year at UWM that she decided to make chocolate her business. Indulgence specializes in handcrafted chocolate truffles, gourmet bars and other fine confections - made right before your eyes. Chocolatier Aimee Tenuta adds her own special touch to the product each day.
"Yea, there's lots of creativity. There's the brush strokes, it is definitely an aspect of the job that appeals to me a lot," said Tenuta.
Indulgence even does pairings that would make any Wisconsinite smile!
"We have a small menu of wine, beer and cheeses and then we've paired each of them with one of our confections," said Waterman.
The Journal of Nutrition suggests that chocolate can help reduce cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure and of course the darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidants. So as we celebrate World Chocolate Day keep in mind it makes a great gift - and just a little chocolate a day, keeps the doctor at bay!