As the people of Lincolnshire prepare to delve into a chocolate feast this Easter weekend, Lincolnshire Reporter went out to speak to local chocolatiers who aim to make their products stand out the public.
Jan ‘Mr Chocolate’ Hansen, 60, owns Hansen’s Chocolate House in Folkingham, Sleaford and is a big advocate of his own homemade chocolate easter eggs.
“I love chocolate, I eat it most days and I believe it is good for you. I read an article the other day that coco butter is good for your arteries.”
He also describes his products as “proper chocolate” as he proudly shows off a photograph of him and his seven-foot chocolate egg from 2015.
“I’ve worked in places and the floor is full of chocolate, but you won’t find that here,” said Jan as he shows Lincolnshire Reporter around his immaculate kitchen.
Jan also admits that he’ll be in the kitchen making eggs to order on Saturday just to ensure that his customers are happy.
Back in Sleaford town centre, recently opened Henderson’s Cocoa House is close to full capacity of customers purchasing coffee and trying Alan Henderson’s freshly handmade chocolates.
As we prepare to take photos, his fiancé El, 26, says: “I wish the counters were full” before Alan quips, “well they were full this morning”.
The couple can’t quite believe how well their business has taken off in the two weeks it has been open with Alan admitting he has been working until 10pm every night to deal with the high demand for his chocolate.
“We’ve tried to make easter eggs, but we think our handmade chocolates are a good alternative for people,” said Alan as he takes us upstairs to where all of the treats are made.”
Alan opens a wine cooler fridge and pulls out a tray full of chocolate and laughs, “we have to use this, normal fridges vary between five and eight degrees, where as this one stays the same.”
When Cadburys decided to omit the word ‘Easter’ from their chocolate eggs it caused a national outrage, though Jan believes it’s just a publicity stunt while Alan thinks it’s “counter productive”.
Both entrepreneurs believe that their businesses do not compete with the major chocolate brands and hope that people choose their brands due to the higher percentage of chocolate that are in their products.
Jan describes to us how he likes to keep packaging costs down to ensure that his customers are paying just for the chocolate rather than the extra wrapping unlike some places that he does not wish to name.
Just before we leave he tells us about his dreams of moving to Lincoln to train up the next generation of chocolatiers before concluding that, “I don’t look at it as a job, it’s a hobby.”