This morning, we headed over to the other side of Las Vegas to Henderson, NV to experience Ethel M Chocolates. Founded in 1978 and opened in 1980, Ethel M is named after the founder’s mother. The founder, by the way, was Forrest E. Mars Sr. This company is a smaller, gourmet branch of Mars candies. When he retired from Mars, he moved to Henderson to make chocolate in smaller batches, like he learned from his mother. He also began collecting cacti and planting them around the building holding the factory and his private apartment.
You can visit the factory for free, viewing the action through clear glass, though they might be making Mars candies instead of the Ethel M’s because the parent company needs it. Only a small portion of all the chocolate that Mars sources actually goes to Ethel M.
How did I find out all this information? We took the Tasting Experience. For $14.99 per adult and $4.99 per child, this is a great way to learn about the work that goes into making chocolate. Ethel M doesn’t use preservatives in their chocolates, so you know you’re getting high quality products. When you arrive, the friendly staff greets you with chocolate samples. Lots of chocolate samples.
From the flower, to the pollinator (a special midge fly that only works with chocolate trees), to the seed, and on through opening it, the fermenting process, grinding and then transporting the different blends of chocolate that are made from the nibs. Then, the fun begins! You are presented with 4 different chocolate products of Ethel M. You can experience 4 completely different kinds or you can focus on just one branch, like milk chocolate or cremes. We didn’t specify, so we got one of each. They do take allergies in account, so I ended up having a macadamia chocolate instead of peanut. FYI, if you have a severe peanut allergy, I would not recommend this tour. They do process peanuts in the factory.
After the class, we were let free to roam the chocolate shop.
Mom saw some chocolate that she wanted to take home, but I had to break the news that they weren’t real.
We ended up with a much smaller box.
If you’re looking for something off the Strip and have a sweet tooth, check out Ethel M Chocolates.