This month Lisa Part reprises her role as Mink’s guest blog contributor.
Make Someone Happy With Chocolate
It is surprising how many people think of chocolate as being a cheat’s gift, as something that they might buy without putting any real thought into it at all. It may surprise you even more to know that we think this notion is wronger than a wrong thing that studied at Wrong University. Chocolate as a gift is something that can be tailor made, created for someone with real passion and given for a variety of reasons. Not only that, it actually has a really strong history behind it that is very interesting and covers many different countries across the world
When did buying chocolate for someone become popular?
To discover the origins of chocolate as a gifting item, you have to go right back into the annals of history, when people had to make their own entertainment (and consequently ended up with rather large families). In fact, you have to go right back to The Aztecs, who had entirely the right notion about cocoa. They believed it was a gift from the Gods and therefore something that was suitable to give to noble people and royalty. They made their own versions of a cocoa type drink to give out and for years kept it as their own. If the Spaniards hadn’t invaded Aztec lands and demanded that they hand over their cocoa beans so that people across the world could enjoy them, Mink Chocolates might not exist today. That’s a sad thought…
Once cocoa beans had started to traverse the continents, other cultures started to pick up on this notion of it being something rich and spectacular to indulge in or give as a gift.
You know Casanova? He passed alcohol over for chocolate, believing that it was cocoa that gave him his legendary virility, rather than the quaffing of fine wines many others were known for. He didn’t seem to struggle much did he?
However, in relatively modern times, it’s the plucky sugar loving Brits we have to thank for really making the notion of chocolate as a gift take off – and believe it or not, it took a war for it to actually become a reality. It was Queen Victoria who took it upon herself to send troops who were fighting in the Boer War boxes of fancy chocolates, to cheer them up and give them a little taste of home as they battled in foreign climes and missed their loved ones. This idea caught on all across Europe so that by the mid 20th Century, chocolate was the gift to give to anyone you loved. In fact it was Edwin Starr who sang:
“War, huh yeah – what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, uh huh, War, huh yeah – what is it good for? Well I got a box of chocolates in the last one, uh huh”.
OK, might have made that last bit up…
Why give chocolate today?
A little history lesson is always good, but it’s the here and now that’s important and people need to get used to the idea that giving real, good quality chocolate is a thoughtful and kind gift with a lot of feeling behind it. You can:
Really make someone smile…
Harking back to good old Queen Victoria – a woman best known for not being amused, she might have done well to have a little bit of the old dark cocoa solids herself from time to time, (it might have made her laugh bit more, for one thing). See, the notion that chocolate can help with depression is not a new one. The signs and symptoms of depression in women are often such that they report a craving for sweet, carbohydrate based foods either generally or at certain times of the month. That’s why giving a box of good quality dark chocolate can not only be thoughtful, but actually help to improve someone’s mood. Two of the main minerals in chocolate and in particular dark chocolate are Magnesium and Chromium, known for being good at relaxing people and boosting serotonin in the brain. It really is worth a try for anyone who needs a little cheering up. In moderation, it’s a good thing to enjoy.
Tell someone you love them
Don’t say it with flowers. Flowers don’t taste nice with a cup of coffee. You know, our aforementioned Mr Casanova did actually have a point. It was believed that chocolate could not only help to increase libido if you were in a relationship – hence the rush on cocoa based comestibles on Valentines Day – but would also help your wilted ego pep up in the event that you got dumped, too. It is said in times gone by that French Doctors used to prescribe (or recommend at the very least) chocolate to anyone suffering from a broken heart as it would help them recover and improve their mood. Just don’t go into their surgery and ask them to write you a prescription for a bar of Certifiably Nutty…
Say thank you
It’s easy to say “thank you” to someone (though not enough people do these days generally) but you can really show you’re grateful to someone by giving them a gift box of chocolates – especially so if you tailor it to their own personal likes. Picking out someone’s favorite flavors, tastes and sensations and gifting them a box of really good chocolate is so much nicer than buying something off the shelf from the local grocery store.
Do it just because
Sometimes you don’t need a reason at all. Sometimes a surprise is the nicest thing. Hey, it’s Tuesday! It’s Happy Tuesday Chocolate Day! That could work, right? I like your shoes, I bought you a box of Mink Chocolates because they’re so nice…I think we’re the same size. I’ve got a party coming up next weekend, can I borrow them….? Oh well, it was worth a shot…
It’s tourist season. I can tell by all the folks in matching khaki’s and Tilley hats coming in to the café asking for directions to the Rockies. If they’re in flip flops, we send them to the Canada Line and the airport. If they’re in sensible shoes, we point them up Granville Street.
“When you get over the bridge, continue walking up to 12th Avenue and hang a left. That will eventually merge into Highway 1. You’ll recognize Banff by the moose.”
In either case, we don’t let them leave without appropriate provisions. Recommended chocolate for a journey of this magnitude? Open in Case of Emergency. If they make it to the shadow of Mt. Rundle, then the chocolate of choice is Celebracious. And if they and their RCMP musical ride snow globes and hand carved totem pole backscratchers make it home, they can serve their friends and family Greetings from Canada ~ wish you were here ~ during the slide show.
You can define tourist as someone who enjoys traveling. It’s not always synonymous with loud, obnoxious and insulting. For every foreign visitor pissing off the locals by standing in the middle of the street to photograph a building, there are those who are determined to try as much local cuisine as possible, meet as many locals as possible, and who have a genuine desire to experience something new.
Tourism is a pretty important industry in Vancouver. As long as pipelines and tankers and mining and forestry and fishing are verboten, we need to appreciate the visitors who come to learn about our culture, our history, and us as people.
Traveling extensively is an art, and you need a few essentials: a carry-on that fits into the overhead bin, a valid passport, all the required vaccinations, and a sense of humor. An obviously jet-lagged customer from Australia told me a while back how, when they arrived in Vancouver during the big wind that toppled all the trees in Stanley Park, he asked the flight attendant when he de-planed if they had landed or if they had been shot down.
For a homebody like me, I travel vicariously through others. Former Mink No.1 draft pick Jason B. is off to North Korea. He is a tourist because he likes traveling. Those who know and love him refer to him more as a global adventurer, a worldly wanderer, a true citizen of the earth. Armed with a Lonely Planet guidebook, a propensity for learning enough of a language to get by, and a proclivity for a good cup of coffee, he’s going to the DPRK because there’s really nowhere left on Earth he hasn’t been to.
His experience there will be tempered by the close company of round-the-clock hosts. It will be interesting to see if he’ll get to exercise his modus operandi and chill at a Pyongyang café, striking up conversation with the local citizenry, or if he’ll be fed a prescribed experience based on the inherited political ideology of Kim Jong-un. He’s taking chocolate as gifts for his handlers. I hope and pray it’s enough to keep him out of a North Korean gulag and back home safely, with the stories and pictures to prove it.
Mink Chocolates Inc.,
Mink A Chocolate Cafe Ltd.
Call toll free: 1.866.283.5181
Confidential to the splendidly aromatic woman in the ¾ length fuzzy green coat who sat down next to me at the sushi bar recently.
The place settings at each seat are there for territorial delineation as much as they are for eating convenience. You don’t have to sit so close. I can also suggest the narrow bar is no place to rest your oversized Birken bag. I appreciate that you can’t wear enough clothes to give you the requisite 45 pockets you need to haul all your stuff, but if you don’t know what’s in there, inventory would best be done somewhere else. I get the distinct feeling however, you’re not so much looking for your Moleskin yearly planner as you are pretending to look for your Moleskin yearly planner so you can read my text messages.
I’ll spare you the effort. Here’s the transcript of my digital conversation. Go ahead, knock yourself out.
Shecky: Do marriages end over clutter? My inner neat freak is heading for a nervous breakdown.
Me: All the time. That’s why the freebie section on Craigslist is so popular. Hubby goes fishing, wifey purges. Do you watch A&E? Did you see my wife on Hoarders?
Shecky: OMG, I need to send Mike to the lake. Or have a day off mid-week when he’s at work because HOLY SH*T he has too much crap. Maybe he and your wife are related? Funny they ended up with non-hoarding spouses.
Me: When I first met my bride she was driving a Mazda pickup truck. In the back was a milk crate with five bricks in it. After a year of hearing them slam into the side of the truck every time she turned, braked or accelerated, I finally asked her what she planned on doing with them. She said they used to hold up planks of wood that was a bookcase in an apartment she lived in two years previous. I immediately pulled over and left them on the side of the road.
Shecky: LOL!!! That’s a great story.
Shecky: Mike has an enormous collection of 4 x 4 magazines that he has to keep “for reference”. Like he can’t find all that on the internet.
Me: I’ve had to designate specific areas of the house off-limits. My wife has certain cupboards and closets she can fill to her heart’s content, but if I’m knocked unconscious by falling candlesticks / Christmas fruit cake tins of sewing notions and pinking shears / high school yearbooks / old VCR’s, while trying to extricate the vacuum cleaner, then it calls into question the very notion of till death or serious injury do us part.
Shecky: I tried that but just ended up being the crazy yelling lady. I’m pulling on the work gloves this weekend and loading the truck for a trip to the dump. I love him, but his crap has gotta go!
Me: My wife’s getting a pre-paid storage locker for her birthday.
Me: All kidding aside Shecky, as much as my wife may be predisposed to holding on to more stuff than we have room for, on any given day I can root through every cupboard and drawer, search every shelf and storage bin, rummage through every coat pocket in every closet, and come up empty looking for chocolate. But if I ask her on the odd chance she maybe has a morsel left of something I’ve brought home recently, she’ll smile tenderly, knowing full well she’s got me where she wants me. Of course she has something squirreled away. She’ll send me out into the yard for five minutes while she retrieves it from god-doesn’t-want-me-to-know-where, and revel in the satisfaction that comes with knowing she’ll eventually have purpose for everything she saves.
Confidential to you, my surreptitiously snooping yet ambrosial sashimi eating seatmate, If I were a gambling man, which I am, I’d bet a bag of Bacon in Eggs that I find teeth-whitening chewing gum, a pearl handled emery board, an unopened package of panty hose, half the lipstick aisle from Sephora and a ream of lottery tickets at the bottom of your bag, but nary a piece of what matters most.
Mink Chocolates Inc.,
Mink A Chocolate Cafe Ltd.
Call toll free: 1.866.283.5181
Watch: www.youtube.com search mink chocolates