“When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.” – Regina Brett
Like many people, I have a weakness for chocolate. For a while, I had wanted to take a chocolate walking tour in Boston, enjoying the city while sampling delicacies from various specialty shops. This would be a tasty way to be a tourist in my own backyard, I figured.
So, like any diligent scholar of chocolate, I did my research. I soon found a very convenient option – a chocolate walking tour located right in the Back Bay. This sounded ideal, until I saw the tickets were $40-$50 each.
After this bit of sticker shock, I decided to plan my own Boston chocolate walking tour, putting my creativity and organizational skills to work. Via Google, I located several shops on Newbury and Boylston streets, and off my husband and I went for the weekend.
Our outing included The Melting Pot, where we indulged in chocolate fondue; L.A. Burdick’s, a delicious shop on Clarendon Street which sold its signature chocolate mice; and Max Brenner’s, both a chocolate bar and restaurant, where we sampled cocoa powder-dusted waffle fries.
By far, the most unusual chocolate we encountered (no, we didn’t sample) hailed from the Gourmet Boutique on Huntington Avenue. Camel milk chocolate from Dubai, anyone?? In total, we sampled sweets from 10 chocolatiers, learning more about chocolate than we ever had before.
My husband and I agreed that L.A. Burdick was our favorite. The chocolates were simply delicious and creamy, and the interior of each integrated flawlessly with the chocolate exterior. Based in Walpole, NH since 1992, owner Larry Burdick learned the chocolate-making craft in both France and Switzerland.
In visiting the shops, I noticed different attitudes among the storekeepers. Some held us spellbound, describing the origin of their business, how they learned the craft under master chocolatiers, and the features of their trademark candies. You could see and feel their passion for their craft. No matter how busy they were, they took the time to speak with us and share their love for chocolate.
At other stores, the owners did not tell us about their specialties, but rather complained about the hours they worked. Despite working to create and distribute a product that makes most people happy, these people didn’t seem content with their work.
In spite of a few overworked chocolatiers, we greatly enjoyed the tour. I also found parts of the outing that correlated to my work.
With a chocolate tour or with instructional design, choosing a theme concentrates the focus, adding to the enjoyment of the learning experience. For example, had I tried to intersperse portions of the Freedom Trail with our chocolate tour, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the experience as much. Part of the fun was knowing that these two days were devoted to chocolate.
I also saw that enthusiasm really makes a difference, whether it is training or chocolate-making. As a consumer, I found myself impressed by the storekeepers who showed excitement for their chocolate-making, and it positively influenced my opinion of the store. Similarly, learners absorb the material when the design—and instructor—is engaging; it is difficult for them to maintain interest in a dull class.
Finally, I was reminded that learners often rely on take-aways to master new material. In a corporate training class, this could be a job aid or cheat sheet to help translate classroom learning to on-the-job success. For our tour, of course, the takeaways were the chocolate samples we were unable to sample during the tour. We’re going through our take-aways, little by little, remembering the fun we had that weekend and what we learned.