A candy store in regional NSW has seen a boom in its sale of chocolate hampers during lockdown.
Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory in the NSW Riverina has experienced a 150 per cent increase in online orders, with its chocolate care packages being particularly popular.
General manager Rhiannon Druce believes that people turn to their comforts when uncertainty happens.
“One of the biggest comfort foods is chocolate, with all the serotonin levels and all those kind of things, it’s just something that makes you feel good,” she told Hope 103.2.
The company said they were filling hundreds of orders a day for both its chocolate and licorice care packages.
“I think it’s just one of those things that if you can’t physically be with one of your loved ones or someone that you care for, [it’s] showing that… you are thinking of them,” Ms Druce said.
“It’s just a nice gesture and it seems to bring a bring a big smile to their face when they receive it.”
“One of the biggest comfort foods is chocolate.” – Rhiannon Druce, general manager of Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
Care packages of love
Senior pastor Melissa McMartin from Inspire Church in Wagga Wagga has been sending the store’s chocolate care packages to her 30 staff in lockdown.
Although she is based in Wagga Wagga, Inspire Church also has locations in Liverpool, Wollongong and Ingleburn.
“We just wanted to do something to brighten their day. and also it was very small; it wasn’t much but it did actually really bless them,” Ms McMartin told Hope 103.2.
She chose to send chocolates because it’s a “universally loved gift” and provided an opportunity to support a local business.
Ms McMartin said the care packages were well received by staff, with many expressing their gratitude through text messages.
“They were texting us saying that it made them feel special [and] brightened their day,” she said.
“They were really small but I think it was just a token of us saying ‘hey we’re thinking of you guys, praying for you and wishing you the best’.”
“I think it was just a token of us saying ‘hey we’re thinking of you guys, praying for you and wishing you the best’,” – Melissa McMartin, senior pastor at Inspire Church
Benefits of chocolate
Nutritional medicine practitioner and A Healthy View founder Michele Chevalley Hedge said she had seen an increase in chocolate consumption among her clients and even other nutritionists.
“In times of stress, we reach for sugary foods or foods we want to comfort us, hence the increase in chocolate sales,” she told Hope 103.2.
And chocolate can actually be good for boosting moods, Ms Chevalley Hedge said.
“Cacao contains an amino acid called trytophan and this is a precursor to serotonin.
“[It] helps you relax, sleep, reduce feelings of hunger, and elevates our mood.”
Other benefits of chocolate include improved heart health, providing a source of iron, and even skin protection from UV damage.
However, Ms Chevalley Hedge recommended only two squares of chocolate a day.
“Some of you may think that’s so little. Try this, pop one square in your mouth and do not chew it; let it melt,” she said.
“This will take time and add abundant enjoyment to each square. Enjoy mindfully.”
Unsurprisingly, she also said dark chocolate was best, one that contained 70 per cent or more cocoa.
“Buy quality, not quantity. Share your chocolate; buy in controlled packs,” Ms Chevalley Hedge said.
“In times of stress, we reach for sugary foods or foods we want to comfort us,” – Michele Chevalley Hedge, nutritionist
Setting sights on breaking another record
When restrictions ease, Ms Druce said they will be looking for Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory to break the world record for the largest chocolate freckle.
“We don’t see the point in breaking a record behind a closed door when no one else can be a part of it,” she said.
“When it’s all safe, we will look to do the Guinness Book of Records world attempt for the largest chocolate freckle.”
Have you thought of a way to show care for someone else in lockdown?
Suggestion include writing an old-fashioned letter or sending one of our Take Care Cards, maybe a phone or video call to play some online trivia together – especially if you know someone living alone. Some homes have been putting encouraging signs in their front windows for people passing by, and there have been some creative ways of sharing books and toys with those in your street or neighbourhood (contactless, of course).