In the window of Mondel’s, a tiny chocolate shop in Morningside Heights, lies a sign saying “Easter Sale.” While the chocolate bunnies and eggs are still fresh, the store’s manager said that few remain in stock – and he doubts that they will be around for much longer.
After every Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas, New Yorkers usually hunt through the city’s drug stores and candy shops for discounted chocolate. But, the more refined chocolate rabbits and eggs such as the ones at Mondel’s are few and far between on the shelves of New York’s higher end boutiques.
At specialty chocolate shops, business owners often make just enough to meet demand. It’s an intentional technique to maintain quality and not let any of their expensive candies go to waste. “It’s seasonal, so we don’t try to make much of it,” said a manager at Mondel’s, who could not give his name due to store policy, “We don’t want it to be wasted.”
Figuring out the right amount to make is fairly simple for the staff at Mondel’s. After all, they don’t like chocolate to sit in the store for longer than two or three weeks. The manager said that, after being in business for over 70 years, they can easily predict the amount of customers that will come to their store on Easter weekend. “In the last three days, we’ve seen about 200 to 300 customers a day,” he said. “Every year is about the same.”
Kee Ling Tong, who owns the Kee’s Chocolate franchise, believes that chocolate should sit around for even less than a few weeks. “All chocolates are handmade daily,” she said. Every day, she says, their stock sells out almost completely. In the rare case that it doesn’t, the chocolate gets handed out to customers as samples, ensuring that it’s all gone by the end of the day and a new fresh batch can be made.
On busy days like during Easter, she makes about two and a half times more than usual. Still, she said that most of her chocolates sell out completely by the end of the day. “We always anticipate more [customers] than what we sell,” she said. It’s a strategy that has kept customers coming out for Kee’s Chocolate over the past decade. By making a limited batch, Tong makes sure that customers are curious enough to come back to try their treats – and keep them in business. “There’s a little buzz once we sell out,” Tong said.
At other places, like Tumbador Chocolates in Brooklyn, where bars go for close to $20 a batch, it’s even easier to predict how many chocolates will be sold in advance. As a wholesaler, Tumbador’s executive chef and partner, Jean-Francois Bonnet, said that customers, such as Meridien Hotels, the Waldorf-Astoria and Trump International, place orders from their factory months in advance of holidays. “I presented Christmas candy [for next year] to Williams-Sonoma in January,” Bonnet said.
Still, some chocolate remains, either in the preliminary molds or already glazed and decorated, he said. In that case, Bonnet says he sends chocolate home with the employees or simply hands it out to the factory’s neighbors. “We always have a little more for last minute orders,” Bonnet said.
But, Bonnet isn’t worried about losing money from the leftovers. After all, making high-end chocolate is actually quite a lucrative business. “We haven’t tallied yet, but we probably made around $200,000 [this Easter,]” he said.