Chocolate eggs are not just for Easter as Charlotte Harding discovers in Southwater.
Chocolate, just the word can conjure up images of tasty bars to make the mouth water.
But imagine a chocolate egg that you can’t break into and instead of being filled with air is made up 42 bite sized pieces.
“I had the idea about 20 years ago,” explains Simon Allison, MD of the Solid Chocolate Company.
“It would annoy me that any other time of the year you would go to a shop and buy a bar for 50p or 60p but at Easter you would have pay almost 10 times more for the same amount of chocolate but the egg would be hollow.
“I always wondered why no-one ever did a solid egg.”
Eight years ago Simon made a silicone mould and created a prototype which he says he still has.
But it wasn’t until about four years ago that he made his first batch.
“I did about 100 eggs in my kitchen at home just to see if anyone would buy them,” he reveals.
“They were really popular and we sold out.
“Even now when people see the eggs they just say ‘I have always wanted a solid chocolate egg’ or ‘I wish I had thought of this’.”
Although happy with the final product Simon admits that there has been some tweaking along the way with the help and advice of engineers and designers.
“I think some people must have tried before to do a solid egg but it does get very technical,” he says.
“I guess most people gave up.
“You have to think beyond just filling up two halves and putting them together. With our pieces I had to ensure I had the right size that people could just pop in their mouth.
“Also with the packaging you have a lot of chocolate so I couldn’t use foil as it wouldn’t stay in place and the box has to hold the weight.”
Using high quality Belgian chocolate was important to Simon and his eggs contain 750g of it.
“People often walk past if I have a stall and assume it is hollow,” he explains.
“So I try and get them over and ask them to hold one and you just see the realisation on their face that they are holding three quarters of a kilo of chocolate.
“Each egg is also the size of a large Easter egg.”
The eggs come in four flavours - milk, dark, white and caramel and cost £24.99 each.
“Some people do say they are expensive but when you break it down to how much it is per 100gs it is actually 20 per cent cheaper than most Easter eggs but you get a lot more chocolate,” he reveals.
Understandably Simon’s busy time is the run up to Easter but his eggs are available throughout the year, and could even provide a welcome break from boxes of chocolates over Christmas.
It is for this reason that there is no mention of the word Easter on the packaging.
For next Easter, however, Simon is already planning ahead and is toying with the idea of a Fair Trade egg or a Colombian single origin egg.
“People like to know where their chocolate has come from,” he says.
“You can do it so that you know the estate the beans were grown, who picked them and fermented. People like that so it is an avenue I am considering.”
Due to the volume of orders, Simon’s eggs are now made in a factory but were previously made in a chocolate studio in Chichester.
2016 saw the company win the best confectionery innovation award at the World Food Innovation Awards held at the Excel in London.
For anyone that loves chocolate it may well be time to give the hollow eggs a miss and invest in something a bit more substantial.
For more information on the Solid Chocolate Company, visit www.solidchocolateco.com
This first appeared in the June edition of etc Magazine.