Vermont Chocolatiers Sell the Zany & Unusual
By Marcia Passos Duffy
Inside Tom & Sally’s
factory in Brattleboro,
Vermont, nine vats of
melted dark and milk
chocolate churn 24 hours a day. A machine with a long conveyer belt creates
luxurious European-style bonbons by coating creams, caramels and ganache
with Belgian and French chocolate.
Here, workers will place handmade designs on the round, square and heart-
shaped chocolates – everything from tiny golden sugar-based musical notes to
lavender sugar flowers. These confections will start at around $32 a pound in
their retail store around the corner.
But before a visitor can peg the chocolate factory as upscale and fussy, Sally
Fegley slides out a tray of chocolates in the shape of, well, cow dung.
From Droppings to Luxury Chocolate
“We offer everything from doo-doo to luxury chocolate and everything in
between,” she said. “Most companies pick a niche. We want to excel in every
While the Fegleys say they can go toe-to-toe with the best chocolatiers in the
world – they have won 14 national awards and have been featured on CNN,
“Good Morning America”and in food magazines such as Bon Appetit – their
true love is clearly the zany and unusual.
The couple, ex-urbanites from Manhattan, left their high-paying 70-hour-a-week
corporate real estate jobs 15 years ago to start their business. They took $250,000
from a 401(k) and house-sale profits and moved to Vermont to start their
business. Today the Fegleys sell about 30,000 pounds of chocolate a year; much
of that is sold wholesale to a variety of shops from the swanky Henri Bendel
and Saks Fifth Avenue Stores in Manhattan to Hallmark card shops.
Risque Chocolate Treats
However, the Fegleys have built their million-dollar retail, wholesale and mail-
order business out of not only European bonbons, but tongue-in-cheek, slightly
risqué, chocolate treats. Their best-selling product is chocolate body paint –
Belgian chocolate in a cream base with an instruction label that reads: “Heat the
jar to 98.6 degrees, apply liberally and let your imagination run free.”
Other chocolates that sell like hotcakes (excuse the pun!) are “cow pies” – two
ounces of milk or dark premium Belgium chocolate funneled on top of cashews
or almonds. These are marketed under 56 different labels which range from
“Monkey Muffins” labels they sell exclusively at zoos (with the tag line,
“Monkey see, monkey doo- doo”) to Gator Pies in Florida; in Vermont they
sell as “Meadow Muffins,” in New Hampshire its Holstein Hotcakes, in Maine,
they’re called “Moose Pies.”
“Sure some people will turn their noses up at us, but we’re having fun,” Sally
About the author: Marcia Passos Duffy is the publisher of The Heart of New
England online magazine & newsletter.