The Chocolate Life

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Ok, I have this crazy idea that I'm throwing out there to see what you guys think. If it's feasible, I think it's be a really interesting and effective way to buy chocolate.

What if we started a list where we'd write in stores that we know carry a certain chocolate brands and types. Take for example, if I were to write about some shops in New York City, I'd list shopes that I've been in recently and what I've seen there. That way, if we were looking for a certain bar, we'd know exactly where to go get it.

For example:

Dean and Deluca (Prince St and Broadway): Bonnat (Chuao and 100% bars), Pralus, D&D Brand Bars, Christopher Norman Bonbons, etc.

Trump Palace Chocolate Shop (68th and 3rd Ave): Pralus (75% bars, Caramel Bar Pyramid), Amedei (Chuao, Procelana, Red, Blonde, White Pistachio, etc), Vosges (Wooloomooloo), Coppenuer, Chocolove, etc...

Whole Foods (14th st Union Square): Neuhaus 75%, Vosges line, Lake Champlain ( Bars, Truffles, 5 star bars), Valrhona (75%), etc.

This way, we'd have a resource to consult if we were looking for something specific.

So what do you all think? Do you think this would be useful? A waste of time?

Tags: bars, chocolate, city, dark, idea, milk, shop, shopping, stock, truffles, More…white

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I think this is a GREAT idea, I love it! Im all about lists, espec for diff cities and where to buy choc. What a cool resource to have. Hope more ppl participate- give it time. Only thing is that some shops carry so many brands, it would be really hard to list (like Choc Covered or Fog City News in San Fran) but in those cases, you could just refer ppl to their websites or ph. # to call. I will try to come up with a list soon- maybe Portland, OR (hometown) or Tampa, FL (current residence).
Sounds great. :)
Brady has suggested a very different idea that requires a similar database infrastructure in order to make it work. While I encourage any of you to do the research, you might want to wait a week or two to start entering the data here. I am working with a colleague to develop an application that will make it easy to create this database as well as the database that Brady is looking to do - and maybe even connect them somehow.

We are looking into making this a widget that any social network hosted on Ning can use!
I'm so happy to hear that something similar is already being organized Clay! I'll organize my research, and hold out on posted any of material like you suggest.

I think if this works out, it would be so extremely useful!
While you all are working on developing the app, here are some ideas. You might want to check out Dave's Garden, the web's largest gardening community. It has very successful user built databases of plants and plant suppliers with some very interesting features.

There is the Garden Watchdog, which is the database of the actual shops. Company info and website are listed along with categories of products they carry, and user reviews of the company as a business are included. This is then cross linked with the PlantScout, the database where you search to find a specific plant and see all vendors carrying it. This is then also cross linked witht the Plant database, where all known info about the plant, in this case the chocolate, is listed, along with user reviews, user uploaded photos, etc. So this would be where the info about the chocolate's origins, percentage, and possibly user comments/reviews, etc. So it's really several databases that can interact or function on their own. And all structured so that any user may contribute to them. These databases may be searched by location, keyword, or an alphabetized list may be viewed.
Casey:

Thanks for these suggestions. Although the design is really bad, I want to encourage you to go to http://openrecord.org/screencast.html and take a look at as many chapters as you can sit through. This is the sort of flexibility in a tool that I am looking for.

I am interested in everyone's comments on this.
Ooo, that looks like a good option Clay! I like how easily it is to format and edit, which is think it really important, since not only could we locate a brand of chocolate, but things like tasting notes, places to buy (also recommendations, because store x might have old or badly stored bars, etc).

I think user ease is a BIG component in making this work, and openrecord.org, albeit bad visual design, has that.

Is there any way to search for other applications similar to this?
Sera:

I spent a large part of my pre-chocolate career actually trying to build applications like this so I am fairly familiar with the field. This is one of the most promising I have seen. However, it's not visually sophisticated and it's missing some really important features (especially hierarchical categories).

I have worked with a really smart young developer who's got a great User Interface building tool and we are going to take the general idea of openrecord and fix its deficiencies rather than try to fix openrecord. I should know in the next week or so when it will be ready to play with. Hopefully by mid-April.
Ahh, I remember you mentioning that now in the video of the Google talk you gave. What a great area of knowledge to have! I admit that the more sophisticated the applications get, the most likely I am to get confused by them since I'm always trying to "think ahead" of the programming. :P

I understand the concerns you have for openrecord, and I do admit the lack of visual appeal really irks me as well. Ahh, the RISD curse, right?

Sounds like your developer friend might be our best bet. I look forward to hearing how you like this new interface!
Have y'all seen this map that will show you the chocolate stores near you?

http://chocomap.com/chocolate-map.php
Theo - that's a fun map. A little hard to use in big metros like LA (you have to search by Venice, and San Pedro, and Los Angeles, etc. to see everything. So many places missing (Artisan du Chocolat in Los Angeles is right next to Valerie Confections, yet not on the map). Some of the places aren't even retail establishments, just manufacturing facilities, candy kitchens or offices.

Maybe I'll pop Pam a note and see if we can get it updated.
Theo B:

Chocomap is a start, but usability is not the greatest. Try searching by a city in the US (arranging alphabetically so that the US is at the bottom of this list is just plain wrong). Takes forever, and NY, for example is broken down by borough so that's at least 5 searches - except there are three boroughs missing (Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx) and I know that there is at least one chocolate shop in each.

What Sera is asking for is the next level of this, which is to identify what chocolates are sold at those shops. This can get excruciatingly detailed with companies like Whole Foods which seems to carry a different selection for each store.

I think the way to tackle this is to get the data, figure out how to put it in a usable form, and then make it pretty.

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