So how do you celebrate 100 hundred years of making chocolate and serving the retail confectionery community? Throwing a party certainly is one answer. Questions about where, when and whom do you invite, however, can complicate that scenario in a serous way.
Birnn Chocolates of Vermont, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, faced that pleasant, albeit profound, challenge in 2014. Keep in mind, however, that the company has thousands of customers. Consequently, throwing a party would involve a serious reception involving hundreds that would most likely only last five, maybe six hours.
Something else more permanent? A commemorative book, glassware, T-shirts? Been there, received that.
As you can imagine, the discussion of what to do as a fitting centennial anniversary celebration ebbed back and forth between Jeff and Bill Birnn, their wives Jane and Janet, as well as Julia Birnn Fields and her husband Mel Fields. (www.vimeo.com/Birnn/100)
In the end, the group decided on filming a commemorative video, one that reflected on “the past, present and future” of a company steeped in confectionery history.
“The idea was to send it out to all our customers as a way of announcing Jeff and Bill’s retirement and the handing over of the business to me and Mel,” Julia explains.
The six-and-a-half-minute long video does tug at the heart strings, with clips of Bill showing the desk that his grandfather and founder “Pop” Birnn purchased; Bill reminiscing about going to the candy factory where Pop would offer him and his brother freshly made sweets; and the two brothers packing up their momentos into those familiar cow-spot cartons and moving out of their offices.
There are also some cute moments, as when Bill shows off a matchbook (what’s that millennials may ask) with the slogan, “Best Candy in Town…Any Town.” And then there’s that personally autographed photo of Chubby Checker. One only catches a glimpse of it, but the dedication seemed to say, “Bill, Let’s twist again!”
The video also reveals the lengths that the company goes to ensuring that only the highest quality ingredients are used in producing the famed Birnn truffle. The scenic views of heavy cream supplier, Monument Farms, adds a particularly bucolic and local touch. And yes, cows have a cameo role in this.
There’s also a wonderful story of No. 1 customer Darlene Mumber recalling the experience of visiting the Birnn candy store in New Jersey when she was two and Pop Birnn giving her a free piece of chocolate.
And finally, there’s the new generation; both Julia and Mel announcing their excitement in taking over the reins of the company as well as their intent in continuing the tradition of unrivaled service and superior quality.
This critic gives the video five truffles, but you really only need to taste one to get the message.