This week holds a special place in my heart for a number reasons. First, it’s my all-time favorite holiday — Black Friday. My family and I have a tradition where we start at the mall at midnight and then literally shop until we drop onto the floor of Menards. (Menards randomly has amazing black Friday deals every year. Who knew?).
But it’s not just doorbusters that make this week special for me. It also marks the fifth anniversary of when I first got the job offer to work at Candy Industry Magazine. I can clearly remember talking about the new gig with family during our annual Thanksgiving festivities back in 2010.
I was nervous about taking the job because up until that point I had only ever worked in the newspaper industry. What if magazine work was too different? What if I missed the constant daily deadlines and the intense feuds with politicians? Was taking a job at a candy magazine selling out?
After going round and round about the decision, my brother finally took a deep breath and set me straight.
“So, let me see if I understand this situation. They want you to write about candy? AND you would get holidays off? What’s the problem?”
And he was right. There was no problem. And as it turns out, the job has been even sweeter than I could have ever imagined. In the last five years I’ve met so many amazing people, and had so many incredible experiences. I’ve gotten to travel to Brazil and Colombia, as well as all over the United States. And I’ve gotten so many candy samples, that I’ve seriously considered renting a storage area just to organize them all.
Plus, I’ve gotten to do what I truly love — write.
It’s been a great run in this industry, and I’m looking forward to many years to come.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to share some of the things I’m especially grateful for as I look back over the last year. Of course, what I’m really most grateful for though is that all of you allow me to be a part of this amazing confectionery industry. It’s been even more amazing than I could have hoped for.
1. Valrhona chocolates
It's very rare these days that I actually fall in love with a piece of chocolate. I just eat so much candy for work that it's hard for me to find things that stand out. But my editor-in-chief Bernie Pacyniak brought me back some Valrhona Chocolate after visiting the company in France when they won the European Kettle Award, and holy heck are these things amazing! I want to order everything on their website, and that’s saying something because I almost never pay for candy. Seriously. Every. Thing. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. And trust me, if I recommend a piece of candy, it's an insanely good piece of candy.
My favorite was the Carafruitti Abrico, which features milk chocolate ganache with caramelized apricot pulp. As the website describes, it’s “Coated in dark chocolate, features fruity and caramel notes has a creamy texture”
The Orangettes were also amazing. Basically, they’re sticks of candied orange zest coated in dark chocolate and they feature tart, fruity notes.
2. ECRM events
I look forward to the ECRM events all year long, because they combine alcohol, candy and some of the coolest people I know.
Aside from all that though, they’re also held at beautiful locations throughout the country. And that means I get to travel to those beautiful areas. So thanks ECRM, for giving me an excuse to go to Jacksonville, Fla., and Chandler, Ariz. this year!
3. The Sweets and Snacks Expo
This is another event that I look forward to all year long. I mean, it’s the literal embodiment of Willy Wonka’s factory. The candy, the parties, and hanging out in Chicago all week are among the highlights of my year. And I can’t wait to see how much more fun everything is next year now that they’re adding an additional hall!
4. Bernie Pacyniak (The best boss ever)
I often say that if I could have created a boss from scratch I still wouldn’t have come up with someone as incredible to work for as my editor-in-chief Bernie Pacyniak. And actually, because he’s so incredible I wouldn’t even say that I work for him as much as with him. He gives me the space to learn and grow and he’s always supportive of whatever my latest crazy idea is. He’s the kind of editor I truly hope to be one day, running the magazine with a zen attitude and a passion for the work we do. Now, about that raise?
5. Everyone who follows @CandyIndustry on Snapchat
You guys know who you are, and I love you so much for following along behind the scenes at shows and in the office!
And if you’re not following @CandyIndustry on Snapchat, well you should get on that. Seriously, all the cool kids are doing it.
6. All the strides the industry is making to combat child labor
On a serious note, I am so happy to see all the progress the confectionery industry is making to combat child labor and to increase sustainability efforts overall.
I feel like we literally get a press release from one chocolate company or another every week detailing what they’re doing to address these issues. And it’s especially gratifying to see, especially since so many consumers still don’t even really understand the situation to a point where it affects their shopping decisions. So I’d like to think it’s not even purely motivated by capitalism, but instead, maybe something a little more altruistic.
7. All the samples everyone sends
My family and my friends, and my family’s friends, and my friend’s families all say thank for those!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and a super successful Black Friday!