Bar None

Candy man Colin Redding chocs it up to experience

Screw Willy Wonka. Colin Redding is our very own chocolate wizard, a man with his own candy factory who's willing to make a 40-foot dildo out of chocolate (although he'd rather not). He's even pulling a Wonka by sneaking golden tickets into chocolate bars sold at Changing Hands Bookstore (ticket holders win a tour of the factory -- imagine!). And if Redding, who co-owns Granny's Chocolate Creations with his parents, Lynn and Merry, won't reveal the secrets of chocolate -- its politics, its ingredients, its effect on the rain forest -- it's not because he's being wily, Wonka. It's because he doesn't know. Still, he gives a sweet interview.

New Times: So. Granny's Chocolates. Is there a Granny?

Colin Redding: It's Granny's Chocolate Creations. And there isn't necessarily a Granny. My parents have a wonderful sense of humor, and they used to say, "Yes, there's a Granny, she came over from Russia on a boat with the chocolate recipes sewn into the lining of her coat."

Colin Redding loves to stir up chocolate trouble.
Jeff Newton
Colin Redding loves to stir up chocolate trouble.

NT: You're cracking me up! Is working with your family a bittersweet experience?

Redding: Ha-ha. No, more like a bitter pill to swallow. I figure a year from now I'll be in a padded cell, drooling on myself and banging my head against the wall. Actually, I love my parents. They're out of town for five weeks right now, and I'll get more done while they're away than I will the whole rest of the year.

NT: They'll be delighted to read that, I'm sure. Are you a dark or milk chocolate kind of guy?

Redding: I like the dark. Without nuts. I'm a purist. I really like chocolate.

NT: How come you're not big as a house? You own a chocolate factory -- shouldn't you weigh 400 pounds?

Redding: I don't really have a sweet tooth. I grew up in a house where sugary foods weren't allowed. I came home from college for the summer and they'd bought a chocolate factory. And I'm like, "Who's going to pay $20 for a pound of candy?"

NT: Yeah. Why is everyone so gosh darn in love with chocolate?

Redding: Because it makes you feel good. It's magical, and brings you back to your childhood. If you're feeling crappy -- can I say that?

NT: You can say "fuck," if you like.

Redding: Okay. So things are shitty, you're kind of down, chocolate is that thing that makes you feel better.

NT: Not everyone. I've met people who don't like the stuff.

Redding: Like you?

NT: Look at these thighs. These are not the thighs of someone who doesn't like chocolate.

Redding: Well, not liking chocolate is just a red flag for other, deep-rooted psychological issues. Chocolate is recession-proof. It's powerful stuff.

NT: It can kill dogs!

Redding: Dark chocolate can. You can probably feed your dog milk chocolate, but bittersweet baking chocolate, like you use in baking -- if your dog eats that, he could die.

NT: Because?

Redding: Because it's too much good, man. I have no idea. I think I read once that it has something to do with cocoa butter content. It's lethal to them or something.

NT: I refuse to believe that chocolate is an aphrodisiac.

Redding: That's a myth that makes for great marketing. I've heard that chocolate can release the same endorphins as when you're in love, but then if you don't really know what love is . . . I don't know. It's indulgent, it tastes good, it feels good in your mouth, it's silky smooth on your tongue.

NT: I've read that chocolate is good for you. But all it does for me is make my ass bigger. How is that good?

Redding: I don't know. I should be able to spit out a bunch of chocolate facts, I know.

NT: I want you to know every single thing about chocolate.

Redding: Let's see. On a chemical level, the darker chocolates have a certain number of antioxidants in them. The cacao bean is helping to make you healthier, at a certain point, I guess. You're going to play back your tape [of this interview] and think, "This guy is an idiot."

NT: I would never think such a thing!

Redding: There are some studies that say there are things in chocolate that are good for your heart, but who's funding those studies? Hershey's, Nestlé, Mars.

NT: I can get three Hershey bars for a dollar at my corner grocery. Why should I drive out to Gilbert and buy expensive shit from you?

Redding: It just tastes so much better. It feels better in your mouth. It's like the difference between Jack in the Box coffee and pure Kona coffee. I don't drink Thunderbird, but I do drink some really good red wine. You know?

NT: I know! And I read that cocoa trees are really sensitive and only grow about 20 degrees north and south of the equator. These trees sound rare. And you're killing them to make Snickers bars!

Redding: It's not just [the chocolate industry]. I mean, cocoa butter is in a lot of products. Lipstick.

NT: Sounds like we're headed for a cocoa shortage. Will chocolate be hugely expensive in the future?

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