Could chocolate be the perfect gift?
Where did your love for chocolate begin?
It began in the Eden Project in Cornwall. After a day of walking around a rain-forest biome and marveling at the beauty of cocoa plants, I sat down to snap into a bar of dark – very dark – mint chocolate. The connection between place and food felt very real, very tangible. I may have had a sweet tooth as a kid – but this, this was the start of a true love story.
So, you can image how thrilled I was to get the chance to talk to a true chocolatier on behalf of the The Sussex Hamper Company…
For Annys, one third of the power-force behind Rowdy and Fancys, a love of chocolate started with her grandfather.
“He was the most generous Grandpa,” she tells me, as we sit in a cafe nestled in the heart of the gloriously autumnal Victoria Park (Sussex). “I spend my whole childhood getting snuck chocolate from a box of Quality Street. We always had chocolate in the house. There was no escaping it – and I’m not sure I’d want to!” she laughs.
“But, I never saw it as a naughty food”, she continues, “it was just something I grew up with. Some people think of chocolate as a naughty treat. I think it’s good for your soul. Really, quality chocolate has a lot of benefits, like releasing endorphins and oxytocin in your body [feel good hormones]. And, essentially, good quality chocolate comes from a plant – it’s literally just cocoa beans ground up. As long as it’s not over processed, it’s a wonderful thing”.
Of course, after my trip to the lush rain-forests of Cornwall, I couldn’t agree more. And, as a graduate of health sciences research, I’m eager to swap tales of the benefits of cocoa consumption.
“Food is to be enjoyed in life, and to limit that in anyway is to limit your enjoyment of life. You should know what you’re eating and source it well.”
Chocolate making is deeply romantic sounding. Surely making chocolate is a dream…
And, speaking of dreams, Rowdy and Fancys packaging hints at the mysticism surrounding cocoa itself. Rowdy and Fancys itself may be a recent creation in the scheme of things, but cocoa is interwoven human history. It’s captivated humans for a long time, and acquired many tales to tell…
For Rowdy and Fancys, the design is a play on Adam and Eve in the garden of paradise:
“If Eve had had chocolate in the garden, she never would have bothered with the apple!”
So the Rowdy and Fancys tale goes!
“It would have solved a lot of problems for everyone else!” Annys laughs. It’s not a serious depiction, she assures me, but a fun twist with the aim to evoke our love – as humanity – for this powerful and delicious bean.
Ever analysed the gorgeous artwork gracing Rowdy and Fancys’ chocolate?
Naked among the fauna, Adam’s modesty is kept in place not by a fig leaf – but with a cocoa pod. Meanwhile, Eve’s temptation for Adam is – this time – not an apple but a mug of cocoa. Adam offers Eve the apple, but she has no need for it. Eve has chocolate.
“There’s a lot of mysticism surrounding chocolate,” Annys tells me. “The more I learn about it, the more I enjoy it. A lot of people claim that it’s a natural aphrodisiac as the antioxidants of cocoa beans help increase blood flow. It’s got iron and theobromine – so it gives you energy. Across history, it’s really no wonder it’s attributed a lot of mystical properties.”
“So, what’s your favourite story surrounding cocoa?” I ask.
“The Aztecs!” she begins, “They didn’t use gold as currency, like in Europe – they used chocolate. When the conquistadors went in search of the fabled gold of the Aztecs, they discovered – to their horror – that it wasn’t their precious gold, but was, in fact, chocolate!” She laughs, “they didn’t know what to do with the cocoa beans they found. To them it was worthless, but for the people where it was from, it was gold.”
The Aztecs and I, it appears, are of similar minds…
Chocolate is, undoubtedly, earthy and mysterious.
And, in line with this, the flavours of Rowdy and Fancys are certainly something special.
Juicy stem ginger and black pepper, sweet coffee and cardamom, fragrant rose, mint and gold…
I have to enquire. These aren’t your average chocolate bar flavours – they’re divine! “Your flavours are amazingly botanical. How do you come up with them?”
“Most came from the founders of Rowdy and Fancys (two best friends who started a chocolate business one snowy night in Sussex…), although I was there for most of the invention of the flavours.” (Annys took over the business with her sisters, having worked with the founders since their early days of chocolate making).
“For me, the creativity is my favourite part of the chocolate making process. Taking ingredients and turning them into better versions of themselves is simply amazing. And, when it comes to flavours, I’ve had a lot of different influences. From my love of baking as a child, to growing up surrounded by plants and nature, to my travels across India and introduction to a world of spices… The whole world around me,” she ponders, “is an influence”.
And, crucially, the flavours are always natural. Artifical flavours are no-go at Rowdy and Fancys.
“I’ll use real cinnamon, or rose oil, or mint oil”, she exclaims passionately. “Never a synthetic flavour or essence. It has to be the real thing”.
“If you want to make someone happy, give them chocolate”
I’ve never heard a truer quote. Annys knows the power of chocolate. It’s a pick me up; it’s a calm me down. It’s sweet, delicious perfection.
So what makes the act of giving chocolate so special?
“When you give someone chocolate, you always make them smile! When someone finds chocolate that they really love, their face lights up. It’s my favourite thing to see. It’s a simple kind of happiness – but it can brighten up someone’s day to give them chocolate, and I think that’s just magical. It’s like how a simple smile can make your day better – receiving some chocolate can make your day better. And to give people that, and to be able to help people give others that, is beautiful.”
So, could chocolate actually be the perfect gift?
She laughs, “I’m usually at markets, and if someone’s grumpy, I give them some chocolate! They’re always smiling at the end. That’s my favourite thing to do at markets – cheer people up! It’s perfect.”
Chocolate never fails to delight.
Dig in! Delicious dark mint and gold chocolate…
Tempted to try some Rowdy and Fancys chocolate now? Know someone who would adore the heavenly flavours of this luxury, artisan cocoa?
Our suggestion: The Sweet Sussex
Sumptuous regional sweet Sussex delights. Rowdy and Fancys chocolate, hand-made delectable biscuits to traditional Sussex recipes, beautifully hand-crafted Sussex artisan truffles, totally moreish salted caramel and mouth-watering Turkish delight. Oh my. This hamper is a true sweet tooth’s dream…
See our range of Hampers for more unbelievably good Sussex made foods…