Move over, candy hearts! Here comes Sweet Steam
With that sweet sweet holiday quickly approaching, chocolates are everywhere. Don’t settle for just any chocolate though. Give yourself and your loved ones quality chocolates.
When was your company founded & how did you come up with the idea for your company?
We started doing this as a hobby in 2012, and after years of getting to know the steampunk community and learning more about the chocolate making process, it became a passion. In 2020, we were hoping to turn our little Pinocchio project into a real boy by actually getting our Roustabout Bar–a milk chocolate bar that tastes like a root beer float–into stores around Michigan. Because of the pandemic, we’ve had to mostly put a bookmark in that plan. However, several stores are now carrying our products and we’re looking forward to adding more.
What gave you the idea for the flavors you’ve created?
Sometimes we think of flavors that we’ve always wanted in a chocolate, and sometimes we come up with a perfect punny name and search for the right flavor to go with it. For example, one of our first product ideas was a chocolate pocket watch, and of course it had to be orange flavored. Often, when we are going to be attending a convention with a strong theme, we will create a new flavor especially for that event. We created our most recent confection, the Choklava, to match Teslacon’s Murder on the Orient Express event. The original Orient Express travelled through several regions where baklava is a popular dessert. The Choklava is our chocolate version of that delicious treat.
What were the original flavors?
The Clockwork Orange was probably the first, and then we had Chocolate Cogs in dark, milk, white, spicy, mint and peanut butter. Now, we have nearly two dozen flavors, with many complex multi-layered concoctions.
What made you decide on what shapes to come up with?
We wanted shapes that fit with the Steampunk aesthetic. Initially, pocket watches, gears, locomotives, corsets, top hats, that kind of thing. We followed with shapes influenced by other genres – horror, murder mystery and a certain wizarding world. We’re just as curious as anyone to see where we go next.
What’s the craziest flavored you tried to create?
We haven’t created it yet–we’re always experimenting! So, keep checking in every November when we launch our newest product at Teslacon in Wisconsin.
What’s the best selling chocolate?
It depends on when you’re asking, but right now, it’s far and away the Roustabout bar. Our new Choklava, though, is giving it a run for the top spot. (mmmm – rice crisps, honey and pistachio)
Since you also sell many flavors of hot chocolate, did you always have the idea that eventually you would sell hot chocolate or did that just kinda spout up on it’s own?
Right from the beginning we’ve brainstormed many product lines, including hot chocolate, ice cream toppings, and even beer! We figured that we’d get to hot chocolate sooner or later, but after our first couple of events, people started asking us if we had any. We experimented in the off-season, and by the next event we had several flavors of cocoa to offer.
What is the best way to make your hot chocolate?
We each enjoy it in different ways. Jeff likes to put a teaspoon of the spicy cocoa in his coffee in the morning. Doug goes for a giant mug of mint with fresh marshmallows. Darrow prefers the butterscotch flavor with dark, spiced rum added. Joe starts with the original and adds chunks of the Roustabout bar for a real root beer experience.
What are your favorite chocolate flavors & favorite hot chocolate flavors?
Again, that’s a different answer for each of us. Jeff’s current favorite is the Choklava. Doug is a dark chocolate fan, so the 70% Dark Secret Key is his fave. Darrow is torn between the Choklava and the Roustabout. Joe likes the Roustabout Bar and the Butterbeard.
What is the process in making your chocolates & hot chocolates? Are you allowed to share or is it a secret?
All of our recipes are trade secrets. We’ve discovered that we can’t really copyright the flavors, so we keep them closely guarded, kind of like the Colonel and his herbs and spices.
Who comes up with the lovely packaging?
That’s Doug’s job. It’s nice that we found some use for him. (It’s also handy that he’s been a professional graphic designer for four decades)
Is there anything left you would like to tell the readers? We look forward to conventions opening up again so we can see all our Steampunk friends. But in the meantime we are moving to the next phase of Sweet Steam and getting into stores throughout the region. If you’re in Southeast Michigan, you can find our confections at any of Comic City’s three locations. In Frankenmuth, our friends at Kernel Benney’s Popcorn carry our products — and they’re also shaving our Roustabout Bar into their milkshakes. If you’re near Hartville, Ohio, you can find our products at Chocolate Creations. Of course, if you’re not near any of those places, you can order our confections at SweetSteam.com. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sweetsteamllc/ to get the latest news, and may all your days be sweet!