2,450 bunnies ready to hippy-hop
He used to sell live lobsters, a job that gave Dave Schaller a certain distinctive aroma. But that was more than 25 years ago and now it’s not uncommon when customers meet Dave and his wife, Marie, they exclaim “what a wonderful smell.”
That’s not surprising. After all Marie and Dave are the founders of The Chocolate Delicacy, which last summer moved from East Greenwich to Gilbane Street in Apponaug. Dave said it was Marie’s doing that led to the conversion from seafood to chocolate. She recommended he take a candy-making course at the Rhode Island School of Design.
On Saturday, Dave was putting that long-honed skill to work as the Chocolate Delicacy readied for one of the busiest seasons of the year - Easter, when jelly beans, candy eggs and chocolate bunnies are in demand. Marie did the numbers, calculating they were prepared with 2,450 bunnies of sweet, milk and white chocolate, some weighing in at more than two pounds - the super sweet bunny.
She said they never know for certain how many bunnies will sell. She fears running out, but then doesn’t want to be in the position of once the Easter rush is over of having to unwrap surplus bunnies and melt them down to make the wide variety of chocolates they make.
Marie worked the retail side of the shop Saturday, there to answer questions such as, “Is natural coloring really used on these jellybeans.” The answer is yes, the store carries jellybeans that are made in California only using all natural coloring. More frequently, it’s the sheer wonderment of shoppers who have come in thinking they’ll get a specific item to discover there is so much more to choose from. The shop does provide samples, so it’s not unusual to hear customers cooing their delight.
Marie is also attentive to the sun that on Saturday made a much welcome appearance. While the afternoon light brings cheeriness to the shop with tables of brightly colored Easter baskets, it also could mean a drippy end to the displays. Marie lowers blinds and has the displays pushed back from the sunlight.
Behind the counter and in the kitchen, Dave scoops chocolate the consistency of heavy syrup from a rotating cauldron with a ladle to fill a bag with a pointed nozzle. He looks ready to do some cake decorating, but that’s not on the agenda. Bunnies are in demand, and he has to make them. He sets a clear plastic mold with the shapes of bunnies on a vibrating plate. The mold jiggles, but Dave has a steady hand. He squeezes the liquid chocolate into the molds.
“The vibrating takes out the bubbles,” he explains. It will be another half-hour before the chocolate cools sufficiently and the bunnies can be removed from their cocoons. Dave doesn’t linger. He’s on to the next task, filling the baskets of chocolate bunnies with candy eggs.
“Chocolate is the candy maker’s glue,” he declares as he dabs the top of each basket with the hot chocolate and then carefully balances one egg, then another and a final third.
Marie pops in to get the status of things. It’s past 6, employees are leaving and it’s time to close. Dave barely pauses. It’s the bunny season and the rabbits must keep coming.