Children growing up with Willy Wonka all have the same eventual anguish by the end of the movie. The world of pure imagination will stay as pure imagination. There are no edible daffodils, no candy gardens, and there is definitely no chocolate river in reality. The Chocolate Room in Willy Wonka’s factory will remain sealed behind the fantastical doors of this 1971 classic (and the 2005 revamp). But as I stepped through the doors of the New York City Chocolate Show, my nostalgic deflated dreams seemed to take in a new chocolaty breath of air.
Before entering the room, I was unsure of how to react. With awe? Inconsolable enthusiasm? Happy tears? I was fulfilling one of those dreams that seemed forever impossible and now they were just beyond the bend. I stepped closer to the exhibition, the many different chocolate delicacies. This was not just the plain Hershey’s –- this was heaven.
There was chocolate everywhere. Chefs stood in front of exhibits full of stacked chocolate boxes asking each passerby if they would like a taste. They were perfume salesmen, wafting the aroma of the sweet bittery goodness of dark chocolate or the new spicy hot scent of chipotle chocolate. There were platters that usually hold turkeys for Thanksgiving, now used to serve thousands of people pounds and pounds of this velvety wonder. Booths contained original hot chocolate, dime-sized truffles, provocative cookies, multifarious cheesecakes, and anything to satisfy the sweet tooth. They offered cooking lessons and demonstrations for anyone who spared the time. The room was full of Epicurean opportunities – and I was there to claim happiness.
Sifting through the exhibitions and mesmerized chocoholics, I sampled from each booth, commenting on the texture and the sweetness with a dignified expression. On the inside, though, it was all my childhood dreams come true. I was jumping on my couch singing along with the Spice Girls. I was collecting Pokemon cards and trading with my sister. I was watching Willy Wonka dreaming about doing laps in the chocolate river. The Chocolate Show was not just 65 chocolate companies coming together as one — it was a world of pure imagination.