By Emily DeSalvo in the Middletown Press.
Posted on January 1, 2020
Patterson Family Chocolates is an online chocolate store. Ed Patterson has been running the business on and off since 2000. He and his kids Taylor and Masen formally launched an online storefront again this November after being on hiatus since 2011.
When the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce welcomed Patterson Family Chocolates late in 2019, it didn’t welcome a business, but rather a family committed to chocolate and the community. Patterson Family Chocolates is an online chocolate store based out of Glastonbury. Ed Patterson has been running the business on and off since 2000. He and his children, Taylor and Masen, formally launched an online storefront again in November after being on hiatus since 2011. While they market themselves like any other business, the aim of the business is deeper.
“We don’t want to have a billboard benefit,” Patterson said. “That’s not us at all. It’s really actions. Get out there, talk to people, build relationships, taste the chocolates, experience the smile and I think that’s our signature.” Patterson developed his own chocolate recipe in the early 2000s, infused with a secret family ingredient. Now, he and his kids run the marketing side while an outside manufacturer makes truffles based on his recipe. Patterson Family Chocolates ships chocolates to individuals as well as corporations across Connecticut . Patterson said they add a personal touch to orders from businesses by imprinting logos on boxes.
“You see this white package that says Patterson Family Chocolates,” Patterson said. “Well who sent me chocolates?
Already you’re like a kid again. They open it up and let’s say it’s the company you do business with and they’re like ‘Oh, that was so nice of them.’”
Taylor Patterson said she and her brother grew up watching Willy Wonka and learning about the magic of chocolate. Now at age 21, she serves as marketing manager for her family business that prides itself on operating with the tenants of wonder, magic, goodness and fun. “When you put that together you have a little bit of that Willy Wonka thing,” Ed Patterson said. “What did Rahl Dahl do when he created all that stuff? It was about a mystery. It’s about wonder. Everybody smiles and it’s fun.” In this way, Patterson said the product isn’t promotional, but personal. Taylor Patterson said she has gathered a following on social media that started with friends and family and has grown from there.
“My friends are getting older, having kids, getting married and those are little things we can target,” Taylor Patterson said. “I have been able to generate a very good following on the Instagram and many of [the followers] have taken that to their families and their friends as well. It’s kind of like a snowball effect.”
The business, as of now, is seasonal because of difficulties delivering chocolates during the summer months. Since chocolate is a popular holiday gift for employers and family parties, the family hit the ground running after their November ribbon cutting. It was these same local connections that helped the business survive it’s first month.
“Our sales really didn’t start until December,” Ed Patterson said with a laugh. “Seriously. So we were really trying to get it in for the full fourth quarter, but nobody knew who we were. It was the kindness of others that really made it work.” Patterson said he received a few calls from businesses who heard they joined the chamber who invited Patterson Family Chocolates to attend holiday bazaars and other events. “We didn’t ask them, they found us,” Patterson said. “That was the power of the chamber.” Patterson said after a few weeks they started to feel a “buzz” around town from families who wanted to shop locally. “We got asked to do another holiday bazaar and another holiday fair and then they kind of took off from there,” Ed Patterson said. Patterson said he hopes to expand the business within Connecticut while promoting an American brand of chocolates, similar to the culture surrounding chocolate in European countries such as Belgium.
“America sees chocolate as candy,” Ed Patterson said. “OK, candy is nice but I am a chocolatier and when you have our chocolate you know the difference. It’s not a candy bar.” He said creating an American chocolate culture starts with engaging the community and recognizing the power of a piece of chocolate. Taylor said this culture of chocolate may have been dormant in America, but has been alive and well in her family since she can remember. “We grew up with our version of a culture of chocolate,” Taylor Patterson said. “In my opinion, to express the culture of chocolate and to implement that into the world and into America, it’s really strong within us.”
Masen is a business major and Taylor foresees the two will play a role in the business even after they graduate from college. “It’s going to strengthen our bonds as brother and sister and strengthen our bonds with our dad and the family, it is a family company,” Taylor said.
Ed, Taylor and Masen head into the New Year in hopes that they can share the wonder of chocolate that has strengthened their family with the community in hopes it can work the same magic there too.
“Family is the most important thing and if we can help other families and we can help other people and really make that impact. Chocolate doesn’t just impact you, it impacts your soul,” Taylor said. “It really does change your day.”