Chocolate Cremè de la Cremè

Godiva, the incomparable Belgian chocolate maker, is closing every one of its retail shops in North America.  Maybe you’re blaming the pandemic but Godiva claims foot traffic at shopping malls – where most of its boutiques are located – “plummeted” over the last few years.  I’m sorry to see Godiva go.  Mind you, it’s not that I make a habit of buying $3 truffles.  It’s more the idea that I could if I wanted to.

Godiva is the cremè de la cremè of chocolate.  Their products are born of a family business dating back to 1926.  Their Truffe Originale, “an intense dark chocolate mousse in fine dark chocolate, rolled in pure cocoa powder”, is the standard by which most Belgian truffles are measured.  Godiva’s three chefs are profiled on its website (I discuss one of them in my post Confection Perfection), and endeavor to maintain the very high standards of Godiva while churning out new and different creations.  It’s no wonder Godiva isn’t considered a “candy store” or a “chocolate shop” but rather a chocolatier.  Only the very best get a label like that.

Godiva’s handcrafted “gold box” assortment

To me, Godiva chocolate is a taste of heaven on earth.  But it’s also a taste of a lifestyle – one most of us will never afford.  Godiva has me picturing mansions (not houses), yachts (not boats), private planes (not the middle seat in coach).  Godiva is a brief, delicious dip into the behind-the-gates world of the uber-wealthy.

I’ve stepped into a Godiva chocolatier exactly twice in my life.  The first was in college, after a visit to the Rizzoli bookstore at exclusive Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago.  After spending too much money at Rizzoli I was in the perfect mindset for Godiva (which was right next door).  I still remember selecting a single truffle from the glass display case.  The petit woman behind the counter wrapped up my tiny purchase in box, bow, and bag, as if I’d just purchased a fine piece of jewelry. She bid me a fond farewell.  I walked out of there feeling, well, special.

Would you pay $20 for six truffles?

My only other visit to Godiva was more recently with my wife and daughter, on a Saturday at one of Denver’s nicer shopping malls.  We’d just come out of Starbucks, coffees in hand, and there beckoned Godiva.  After much deliberation, we spent the better part of $10 and walked away with three truffles.  I’m sure they were elegantly wrapped.  I’m also sure they were delicious.  But with Godiva, it’s more about the taste of something beyond your means.  That taste may be more satisfying than Godiva chocolate itself.

Tiffany & Co, NYC

Tiffany is a comparable experience (as I wrote about in my post All That Glitters).  Walk past the front-door security guard into their multi-level department store in downtown Manhattan.  Your first thought will be either, “I don’t belong here”, or, “I’m underdressed”.  Ooh and ahh at their lavish necklaces, bracelets and rings, but don’t expect to see price tags.  Like Godiva, Tiffany’s best is behind glass and you have to ask a staff member about the cost.  My wife and I made it to Tiffany’s fifth floor before we found something we could afford – a pair of ceramic coffee mugs.  At least we also walked away with their signature blue gift boxes.

Think twice before entering!

Then there’s Prada, the Italian fashion house famous for its luxurious leather handbags and shoes.  My twelve-year-old daughter dragged me into their Madison Avenue boutique once (past the requisite security guard) but I realized our mistake as soon as we entered.  Prada displays maybe a dozen items in a single museum-like showroom, each carefully positioned on an individually lit shelf.  You are invited to sit on the central couch and offered a choice of beverage.  Then a person brings you items of your choosing (but don’t touch!).  Once I realized Prada purses start at $1,000, I asked my very disappointed daughter if maybe she’d like to go for ice cream instead.

Godiva’s tiny “biscuits”… $0.75 ea.

Godiva’s North America retail shops will be gone by March, but you’ll still have other options to purchase.  You can find small displays of their products at the cash registers of upscale department stores.  You can order most of their delicacies online (including “Gold Box” assortments, which cost more than you can afford).  You’ll even find Godiva’s “Signature Mini Bars” at lowly retailers like Target and Walgreen’s.  But let’s face it, Godiva is as much about the experience as it is the chocolate, and I’m just not gonna feel uber-rich when I’m at Target.

Some content sourced from the 1/24/2021 CNN.com article, “Godiva is closing or selling all of its stores in the United States”, and Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

7 thoughts on “Chocolate Cremè de la Cremè

  1. This is sad news. I love Godiva, like you, not buying it all the time, but enjoy going into the store. Buying a pre-boxed assortment at a department story is not the same and you don’t know how fresh the candy is either. Well, it makes sense, with quarantine, people are not going to shopping malls all the time, so it makes sense to close the stores. Maybe when COVID lifts and they assess the department store sales, they will open a few select locations in major cities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The real shame is Godiva was test marketing a “chocolate cafe” in New York City, with plans to open dozens more across the country. Not so much food as just drinks and chocolate. Oh my. Needless to say, those plans have been put on hold.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, the dreams of retiring and sitting on the couch eating bon bons from a Godiva box are now dashed forever. I once received a box of Godiva chocolates from an attorney after I was assigned to Juliet solely for the purposes of getting her acclimated to our law firm after she ended a years-long clerkship for an appellate judge. She was grateful and I was as well – it was such an indulgence and I shared them with my mom. What a shame – I am sure that walking into the store must have been heavenly with the scent of those chocolates.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Godiva always lent an air of class to a shopping mall; an almost untouchable luxury. I’m sad I won’t be able to experience that “heavenly scent of chocolate” in the cafes they were test-marketing. We can only hope they’ll return to retail after the world settles down again.

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  4. You have been in a Godiva store exactly two times more than I have, but I understand the experience perfectly. It was like getting your hands on a Niemann Marcus catalog in the early 70s.

    I think if we step back and think about why they were in malls in the first place, it would surely because they expected to make a living from those of us who walk into such places with the awe and reverence that comes with knowing we don’t really belong but they’re letting us in anyway.

    But I agree that it’s too bad that there will be one less opportunity for average folks to occasionally experience a little luxury, whether for chocolate or something else.

    Liked by 1 person

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