My first memorable chocolate experience was getting a gift of my own Whitman's Sampler box when I was six, from Tina, the Cuban exile who liked next door to my grandmother on the upper East Side of NYC. She was very exotic in my Michigan imagination -- therefore, so were the chocolates -- and I horaded them under my bed.
My favorite chocolate is:
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Mara- do you still like Whitmans all these years later? I actually have a Russel Stover/ Whitmand outlet store about an hour drive from here- i went once and was totally overwhelmed- half price boxes of choc up to the ceiling! I still love an old fashioned box of assorted surprises....
Great memory of Whitmans- how the "exotic" neighbor made the very American choc also seem exotic- love it! Also reminds me of enjoying Nestle semisweet choc chips my mom would buy for choc chip cookies -- that familiar smell and yellow bag always bring a smile to my face....
Welcome to The Chocolate Life. I totally get what you're saying about the box of Whitman's you got from Tina. It's no so much about the chocolate but the emotional tie to the experience. If your favorite chocolate is TCHO that probably means you're in the SF Bay Area somewhere. What are your favorite chocolatiers out there. Do you know about the Death by Chocolate festival at COPIA at the end of February? I will be there.