Ones to Watch | By Sabrina Davis
The show grabs them, and after one taste, cravings keep them coming back. That’s the secret behind the success of Showcolate, a chocolate fondue concept that began in Brazil in 2003 and now is growing quickly in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The operators say young and old alike are mesmerized by Showcolate’s spinning wheels of cascading chocolate. And once they stop to stare, few can resist sampling the indulgent treat and making a purchase.
The name is fitting. In Portuguese, chocolate is pronounced ‘show-co-lot-ee.’ And everywhere a new kiosk opens, customer interest begins with the “show” of spinning dark, milk, and white chocolate.
“The developers wanted to do something with chocolate, but something different than anything else out there, and something that would appeal to all ages,” says Ricardo Marques, president of Showcolate USA. “We are appealing to all of the senses to trigger impulse buying.”
Beyond the sight of flowing chocolate, there’s the sweet aroma, the sound of upbeat music, a promotional video on a flat-screen, and—perhaps most enticing—the rich flavors provided through constant samplings. “The only sense we don’t appeal to is touch, but after you buy it, you can touch it as much as you want,” Marques says with a laugh.
The menu is simple and includes the choice of fondue cups or fruit skewers. A cup topped with chocolate, nuts, and whipped cream is $5.50. Customers can select up to three fruits from an array of six and top skewers with dark, milk, or white chocolate for $4.95. After the skewers are dipped, the chocolate is flash-frozen to a hard coating.
Milk chocolate is the most popular topping, followed by dark, then white. That’s true everywhere except Honduras, where white chocolate is favored. Diet chocolate, popular in Brazil, will be added in the U.S.
A fruit cup without chocolate for $4.20 was recently added with morning mall walkers in mind. Selection varies by location. Bananas and strawberries are the most popular, followed by pineapple, kiwi, oranges, peaches, mangos, and apples. Fruit and chocolate smoothies also are available.