Condor Chocolates is making the UGA State Botanical Garden’s inaugural holiday lights show even sweeter.
Locally owned by brothers Nick and Peter Dale, Condor Chocolates has created a Winter WonderBar to coincide with the garden’s holiday light show, Winter WonderLights, presented by the UGA Office of the President. The bar is 48 percent milk chocolate with peppermints and will only be sold in the garden’s gift shop and at the lights show, which runs from Dec. 1 through Jan. 9, 2022.
The State Botanical Garden, a unit of Public Service and Outreach at UGA, reached out to Condor Chocolates to create a unique treat to sell during the inaugural winter light show.
“The whole WonderLights was super exciting; he didn’t have to ask twice,” Peter Dale said. “That sounded like a super cool thing to be a part of.”
For the holidays, Condor Chocolates usually makes a peppermint bark. They adapted the bark for Winter WonderLights to a milk chocolate bar with peppermints, which Dale said combines the best aspects of both.
“Milk chocolate is rich and creamy, but then they’ll be lots of little bits of peppermint that will be like a pop, so I think there’s a direct metaphor to the pops of light you’re going to see,” Dale said. “It’s going to be comforting and something familiar but something hopefully a little new or different, in a lot of ways resembling the lights.”
The bars will be sold in special packaging with Winter WonderLights branding, featuring a festive graphic designed by Natty Michelle Paperie.
“We’re delighted that Condor Chocolates agreed to create a special bar for Winter WonderLights,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden. “Having a unique chocolate bar to commemorate the first year of our lights show only adds to the experience. It also highlights plant products that we enjoy during the holidays. We have chocolate and peppermint plants on display in our garden.”
Dale said milk chocolate was chosen as the base because it suits the tastes of both children and adults.
“Some people don’t like dark chocolate, and certainly with kids, that’s not their favorite, so it gives us something everyone can be happy with,” he said.
Dale’s mom is from Ecuador, and the company sources all its cacao from the country.
“We really wanted it to have a connection to where our mom is from, and we love chocolate. We think Ecuador grows the best cacao in the world,” Dale said. “We’re a little biased, but a lot of chocolatiers would agree with that.”
They source the cacao from small farms instead of big growers. He said using cacao from different farms produces a slightly different flavor of chocolate, and they like to celebrate those differences.
The temperature and the amount of time the cacao bean is roasted affects the flavor. If the beans are lightly roasted, the chocolate will taste fruitier or floral. If the beans are roasted longer, the chocolate will taste nuttier.
While the chocolate comes from far away, the creating and packaging of the bars happens in Athens. All the Winter WonderBars will be produced in Condor Chocolates’ new location in downtown Athens.
“We feel like we could only do this business in Athens,” Dale said. “We grew up here; this is home, and so being part of the community and being asked to be a part of a cool new event is really a big honor,” Peter said.
For more information about Winter WonderLights and to purchase tickets, which are sold only online, visit wonderlights.uga.edu.