Today, Phillip and I toured the Theo Chocolate factory, in Fremont, with Christina and Paul. It was our third time taking the tour, and their first.
Seattle is known for its coffee. The first Starbucks is here, and there are other great (better?) neighborhood coffee shops everywhere. We are also a city known for its beer. There are many terrific microbrews here. But not many people know that Seattle is also home to North America’s first 100% organic, Fair Trade, chocolate factory. This summer, Theo Chocolate will celebrate its tenth anniversary.
(Phillip and I first took the tour shortly after it opened, when it was North America’s only 100% organic, Fair Trade, chocolate factory.)
I think this chocolate factory tour should be on more “Things to do in Seattle” lists. There is something so “Seattle” about an organic chocolate factory.
Theo Chocolate is located in the heart of the Fremont neighborhood, in a great old brick building. The building was built in 1905, as a streetcar barn. Later, it was home to Red Hook Brewery. Now, it’s a chocolate factory.
The tour costs $10, and includes free chocolate samples. It starts with a talk about how chocolate is grown, cultivated, and sold. Then comes the guided tour of the factory floor.
Interesting fact: All of Theo’s chocolate bars contain between 45 to 70% cocoa. In order for a candy to be called “chocolate” in the USA, it needs only a minimum of 10% cocoa.
My favorite line from the tour, right before we entered the factory: “‘Willy Wonka’ was not a documentary.”
(When Phillip and I first took the tour, ten years ago, we were told that all the factory equipment was from the 1950s, because that’s when North American chocolate factories stopped producing such small batches. Today, we were told that all the factory equipment came from Europe, because North America is still not producing chocolate is such small batches.)
The tour then led to the confectionery shop, where we got to sample some treats, and learned more about chocolate.
Then we were lead into the gift shop, where Phillip and I spent a combined total of $100 (seriously) on chocolate and chocolate-related products.
Before the chocolate factory tour, Phillip and I got to Fremont extra early, since we knew parking would be a challenge, because of the Fremont Fair. We found parking without too much trouble, and spent the extra time visiting the fair.
It was a fun day.