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9/5/2017 6:50:00 PM  

Have you ever wondered if there’s anything better than a peanut butter & jelly sandwich?

How about Peanut Butter & Jelly chocolate?

Chocolatier Rachel McKinley taste-tested lots of peanut butters and types of jellies and jams on her quest to create the chocolatier version of this childhood classic.

For one, the texture of the peanut butter (smooth, crunchy, in-between?) plays a huge role in the mouthfeel of a chocolate. Crunchy peanut butter brought the exact flavour profile that Rachel wanted to achieve for the bottom layer of this piece. The peanut butter is blended with milk chocolate (from only 100% sustainable cocoa) into a gianduja (jan-DOO-yah). If you’re a Purdys fan, you’re already familiar with another type of gianduja in our runaway bestsellers, the Hedgehogs.

And while grape jelly might be the traditional choice, Rachel paired the crunchy peanut butter ganache with a melt-in-your-mouth raspberry pate de fruit (the elevated French version of a fruit jelly).

Wrap it in creamy milk chocolate and you’ve got yourself the makings of a soon-to-be iconic chocolate.

The inspiration for our PB&J piece is naturally the peanut butter & jelly sandwich. The first known reference to PB&J is in the Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics, authored by Julia Davis Chandler, in 1901. Here’s the excerpt:

“For variety, some day try making little sandwiches, or bread fingers, of three very thin layers of bread and two of filling, one of peanut paste, whatever brand you prefer, and currant or crab-apple jelly for the other.”

But peanut butter & jelly sandwiches became popular a bit later, starting with the Great Depression in 1929.

Peanut butter is high in protein and makes for a filling meal, which was especially helpful for soldiers in World War II. Jelly, bread and peanut butter were staple ingredients in war rations and the peanut butter & jelly sandwich became a popular meal, especially with American soldiers.

After the war ended in 1945, the soldiers brought their love of PB&J sandwiches home and it soon became a household staple.

And now there’s something even better than a PB&J sandwich. Peanut Butter & Jelly chocolates are available in all Purdys shops and online at purdys.com.

8/23/2017 2:53:00 PM  

We’re setting up shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba at St. Vital Centre! #PurdysinthePeg.

It’s a special occasion, and that calls for a few special celebratory things.

Like if you’re one of the first 100 people in line on Saturday, Aug 26th (we open at 9:30am), you get a free box of some of our best-loved chocolates, all crafted from only 100% sustainable cocoa.

And that day, it’s also buy 1, get 1 free on Original Ice Cream Bars.

And we also have the exclusive launch of White Spruce: a dark chocolate ganache, icy fresh peppermint and the bright herbal flavour of white spruce together in a dark chocolate shell speckled with naturally coloured cocoa butter. (Not in Winnipeg? Don’t worry, White Spruce is coming to all Purdys shops soon and we’ll shout it from the treetops when it’s available.)

Chocolatier Rachel McKinley, who created White Spruce, actually hails from Stonewall, Manitoba (about 25 kms from Winnipeg). She originally had plans for a career in medicine (just like Peter Higgins, President & Chocolate Scientist at Purdys Chocolatier). But one winter, she started personally fundraising with the goal of selling a couple hundred truffles for $1 each to friends and friends-of-friends. She sold 3,000 truffles and picked a new career.

Rachel went on to study at Ecole Chocolat, first in their online program and then through several internships across North America, then at the Barry Callebaut Academy in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, where she apprenticed with Master Chocolatier Julian Rose.

In 2006, Rachel moved to Vancouver and joined the faculty of her alma mater Ecole Chocolat and journeyed with other chocolatiers to France and Italy to study the art of chocolate-making.

And on Saturday, August 26th, Rachel will be live-sculpting a 3 ft. tall polar bear out of chocolate. Follow along on Instagram for updates and photos.

7/31/2017 7:09:00 PM  

As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline.

Three years ago, in 2014, we switched to 100% sustainable cocoa. That means that everything we craft at Purdys helps support our cocoa farmer partners through community and farming improvements.

While creating an icon, introducing an original, adding milk chocolate to our lineup, buying a farm or trading shaving cream for chocolate shavings are all very sweet moments in our Purdys history, we knew we wanted to end our 110th birthday celebration with what we think is the most important one: switching to 100% sustainable cocoa.

For Purdys, sustainable cocoa means helping to improve the lives of our cocoa farmer partners while protecting the environment today and for future generations.

For example, our Sustainable Cocoa Program has helped directly contribute to these improvements and special programs in rural cocoa-growing communities:

• The expansion or new construction of 6 rural primary schools

• The distribution of 675 school kits (i.e. pencils, notebooks)

• 9 new primary classrooms, including desks, benches, blackboards and solar panels (for lighting)

• 28 new cocoa tree nurseries, generating over 300,000 quality seedlings for farmers to start new cocoa plots or expand their farms

• An entrepreneurship program for 200 women cocoa farmers

• A special leadership training program attended by 188 women cocoa farmers

Peter Higgins, our President and Chocolate Scientist, has personally visited some of the co-ops to which our cocoa farmers belong—and witnessed firsthand the positive impact of our Sustainable Cocoa Program.

Peter is also the narrator of our This Bean sustainable cocoa video, which shows you how a single cocoa bean does more than make delicious chocolate. It’s a great summary of what our Sustainable Cocoa Program is all about.

Just watch:


And if you’d like to read more on the two pillars that govern our Sustainable Cocoa Program, we’ve got plenty more facts, photos and videos for you.

It's been great fun taking a look back at our 110-year history with you (who knew time travel was this sweet?). Thank you for taking the journey with us. And here's to another 110 years.

7/26/2017 1:31:00 PM  

As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline.

The internet has dubbed the 90s as the best decade ever.

Probably because it was the decade when we created Hedgehogs.

You can spot Hedgehogs in any Purdys shop by their distinctive box: a golden glorious triangle. We asked Brenda, who’s been with Purdys since 1985 (around the time we introduced an Original), about the design:

“I worked together with Mr. Flavelle and the marketing manager at the time on the box itself and the Hedgehog logo. The idea was to have something stand out from the standard rectangular gift boxes. I remember getting really excited about the triangle idea when we talked about it. We knew we had a really great concept there.”

The Hedgehog box definitely stands out—but so do the Hedgehogs.

Each shell is creamy milk chocolate crafted from 100% sustainable cocoa. (At Christmas, Santa brings dark chocolate Mini Hedgehogs with him. Want to know when they’re coming this year? Get on our email list.)

At the heart of each Hedgehog is a special hazelnut gianduja (pronounced jan-DOO-yah).

Gianduja is made with finely milled hazelnuts, cocoa powder, cocoa butter and sugar. It was invented during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte (1804-1815) in the city of Turin, in the Piedmont region of Italy.

Cocoa was scarce during Napoleonic times, suffering from both high prices and supply issues.

So chocolate makers in Turin got creative and added a local tree nut to the cocoa they had: the hazelnut, which grows in abundance in that region even today.

In 1865 at the Turin Carnival, local chocolate company Caffarel had the Carnival’s favourite character, Gianduja, hand out these hazelnut chocolates (wrapped in foil) to carnival goers. And the name stuck.

Hedgehogs aren’t the only chocolates at Purdys that feature gianduja. There’s the Salted Hazelnut Flake. And Turona, named after a 16th century Spanish confection. And the Coffee Crunch Mayan, the Peanut Butter Crunch Mayan and the Almond Butter Mayan, which you can find in our Favourites or Classics gift boxes or you can request a custom pack of all Mayan chocolates (just leave a note at checkout!).

And now, for our last time-travel trip, we’re heading to 2014, when we switched to 100% sustainable cocoa.

7/20/2017 4:26:00 PM  

As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline.

In the mid-80s, Charles Flavelle, then-owner of Purdys, received a tip from a mall manager who wanted ice cream sold in the mall. The manager didn’t want a separate business to sell the ice cream, instead looking for a confectionery shop already established in the mall to take it on.

At the start, Purdys sold ice cream cones only—but Mr. Flavelle wanted to add another option: ice cream bars.

So he took ice cream home, cut it into chunks and experimented with melted chocolate and different toppings until he found it.

The Original.

Vanilla ice cream dipped in dark chocolate and smothered in roasted almonds.

Like so.

You can get the Original at any Purdys shop (but not online, as it turns out you can’t easily fit an ice cream bar through a mail slot).

Be sure to also try the Ultimate Ice Cream Bar (watch how it's made!), the Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar and the NEW Cookie Crunch Ice Cream Bar, which was inspired by the white chocolate Cookie Crunch Bar


Ice cream itself actually dates back to (at least) the 4th century B.C. and it’s believed to have been brought to Europe from China. Originally, it was ice blended with fruits, so more of a sorbet, but as people continued to experiment with flavours and ways to keep the ice cream frozen, it became what we now call ice cream.

The ice cream bar was invented much, much later (in 1920) in the United States by Christian Kent Nelson, a confectionery shop owner originally from Gunstrup, Denmark.

The story goes that a young customer in the shop couldn’t decide between a chocolate bar or an ice cream sandwich but only had enough money for one or the other.

This gave Nelson the idea to create ice cream dipped in chocolate, and called it the “I-Scream Bar”. The name was changed to the Eskimo Bar a year later when Nelson went into partnership with chocolate maker Russell C. Stover.

Where to next, time travellers? The 90s, and a certain chocolate with a lot of personality.

7/18/2017 10:43:00 AM  

As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline.

In 1993, American advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners came up with the now-iconic “Got milk” slogan for the dairy industry, which is said to be the most remembered tagline ever in the beverage industry.

But that’s not where our story starts. We’re going back 30 years earlier, to 1963, when Purdys customers were saying ‘got milk chocolate’?

The answer was no, actually.

Purdys chocolates were crafted using only dark chocolate until Charles Flavelle, then-owner of Purdys Chocolatier, introduced milk chocolate to our lineup that same year.

Already popular in Eastern Canada, milk chocolate proved to be a very, ahem, sweet idea.

Milk chocolate is typically made from the same ingredients as dark chocolate (cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, soya lecithin—an emulsifier—and vanillin, an extract of the vanilla bean) and one extra ingredient: milk.

The percentage of cocoa powder and cocoa butter also makes a difference. Dark chocolate generally has a higher percentage of both, often giving it more of a bittersweet taste.

Ghana, one of our Single Origin Bars, has a 45% cocoa content, so it’s often described as a deeper milk chocolate.

And, of course, we had to take our “regular” milk chocolate even further—ours is actually a special blend of milk, dark and white chocolate together to create a memorable, uniquely Purdys taste.

What’s next in our time-travel itinerary? The 80s and ice cream (baby).

7/13/2017 12:07:00 PM  

As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline.

The year is 1939.

It’s the start of World War II and rations mean that cream and butter are in short supply.

Hugh Forrester, then-owner at Purdys Chocolatier, came up with a pretty sweet workaround to the rations—by purchasing a dairy farm with 20 cows in Ladner, BC (which is about 40 minutes outside of Vancouver).

Throughout the war, Purdys' chocolatiers and candy makers had fresh cream and butter daily from this farm to craft favourites that are still made today, like any of our Creams.

But WWII didn’t just mean rations; it also meant supply restrictions, which meant that Purdys shops sold out of chocolates very quickly.

Each day during the war, the shops would open at exactly noon and customers could only purchase one pound of chocolates each. There were line-ups around the block, and we usually sold out of chocolates within half an hour of opening.

Evelyn Powell, a Purdys fan who lived in Edmonton during WWII and came to Vancouver with her friend on a mission to find lumber (as Alberta was experiencing a lumber shortage at the time), remembers:

“One day we saw a line-up on Granville Street. In those days, when you saw a line-up, you got into it. If you didn’t need what was offered, someone you knew did.

‘What is on,’ we asked. No one knew. As the line moved on, people came by waving their parcels.

‘Chocolates’, they smiled. ‘Purdys chocolates, in boxes.’

We let out a scream. We hadn’t seen a box of chocolates in months!

We each got a box, and went back to Purdys every day and stood in the line-up.

When we went back to Edmonton, it was with seven boxes each and some lumber. We were really proud of ourselves.”

And the farm with 20 cows in Ladner? It got sold after the war ended in 1945.

Next up, we’re time travelling to the 60s. Specifically 1963, which is when milk chocolate became a thing at Purdys.

6/30/2017 7:09:00 PM  

It's Canada's 150th birthday this year! And it's our 110th birthday!

We figured we'd celebrate with chocolate (always chocolate) and take a look back at some sweet moments in our Purdys history.

First up, 1907 AKA the beginning.

Purdys' founder, Richard Carmon Purdy, was originally from London, Ontario. Born on January 20, 1878, he moved out west to Vancouver some time in the early 1900s.

He was also a barber by trade, according to the 1901 Canadian Census.

We're not sure if he was a good barber but he had a real passion and talent for chocolate-making.

So in 1907, he traded shaving cream for chocolate shavings.

He sold his homemade chocolates on the streets of Vancouver and pretty soon after, he saw the need for an actual chocolate shop to meet the demands of his increasing fan base.

That original shop was at 915 Robson Street, in an area of Vancouver that was quickly becoming the heart of the downtown shopping district.

And the rest is sweet, sweet history.

Want a taste of that history? Get it with Vanilla Caramels, crafted from an original 1907 recipe.

You can find Vanilla Caramels on their own in the Chocolate Case or in our Caramel Assortment. If you like, you can request a custom pack of just Vanilla Caramels, whether you're ordering online or in a shop, or just enjoy some other incredible caramels with them. Either/or, you can't go wrong.

Himalayan Pink Salt Caramels are also crafted from the same OG 1907 recipe.

Isn't learning about history just tasty?

Next up, we're going back to 1939. And cows. Oh, yeah, it's a good story.

6/19/2017 4:09:00 PM  

When Purdys first launched the Clean Water Project, we hoped to raise enough funds for 35 LifeStraw Community water filters.

Just one of those filters provides safe, clean drinking water for about 60 children for three whole years so we knew that 35 LifeStraw Community water filters would have a significant impact in our cocoa-growing communities.

But your enthusiasm and support for the Clean Water Project saw us smashing that goal of 35 water filters.

Thank you again for your incredible help in making safe, clean drinking water possible in rural cocoa-growing communities.

In the end, we raised enough funds for 63 filters. That's 28 more filters than we had as our initial goal.

Those filters are now on their way to schools and medical centres in cocoa-growing communities in Ivory Coast that are part of our Sustainable Cocoa Program.

Our on-the-ground partners there will work with local community leaders to distribute the filters and provide training on their use and care plus important WASH (water, health and hygiene) training for teachers and students.

Our Sustainable Cocoa Program itself continues to support programs that build schools, dig water wells and provide medication in these cocoa-growing communities as well as training for cocoa farmers, seeds for them to grow healthier, more productive crops and give them the resources they need to improve their and their family's livelihoods.

In a couple of months, we'll have an update on the Clean Water Project that I can't wait to share with you.

Talk soon, 


Peter Higgins, President & Chocolate Scientist at Purdys Chocolatier

5/31/2017 6:37:00 PM  

Whenever Peter Higgins (that’s him in the photo, on a cocoa farm in Ivory Coast) introduces himself as President & Chocolate Scientist at Purdys Chocolatier, he gets asked a lot of questions about the latter.

And since it’s grad season (say conGRADS with our cap-and-gown chocolate collection), we thought why not cozy up with Peter and a box of Hedgehogs for a Q&A?

If you’re a frequent reader of the blog, you might recognize Peter from his blog posts on Sustainable Cocoa, most recently the one on our Clean Water Project that aims to raise funds for LifeStraw Community water filters in Ivory Coast.

Q: How does someone become a Chocolate Scientist?

Peter: I have a Food Science degree from the University of British Columbia. It’s a very hands-on degree, it’s not all studying in a classroom. You get to go out there, learn about different types of soils, you learn about chemistry and molecules that make up food, it’s a lot of practical stuff.

That’s the kind of thing that interests me. Chocolate-making is a science, it’s recipes, it’s testing flavour combinations, it’s being creative. I’m using my degree every day.

Q: What’s a typical day for you?

Peter: I’ve been with Purdys for 19 years now so I feel pretty good about saying this: there’s no typical day. I could be in all-day strategic planning meetings or sampling test chocolates or brainstorming ideas with our chocolatier Rachel McKinley. I also do a lot of TV and radio appearances, I love doing that and getting together with people and sharing chocolates and talking about it.

But my absolute favourite is that I have the opportunity to visit some of our farmer partners in rural cocoa-growing communities. I get to witness firsthand the impact of our Sustainable Cocoa Program, chat with our farmer partners, I even had the chance to plant cocoa trees!

Q: Was a degree in Food Science always your plan?

Peter: Actually, no, I was going to be an ophthalmologist. But at UBC, and other universities I’m sure, you get the chance to tour other departments and get of idea of what they do, what they can teach you. I really connected with the Agricultural Sciences department, I remember thinking it sparked my interest and I just fell in love with it, really. That was it, I switched majors in my second year.

Q: Any advice for recent high school grads?

Peter: Say yes to a lot of things. You can make a lot of great connections at university that’ll help you later in your career. You can find your niche, find the thing that excites you. It’s a really great time to explore, audit courses that sound interesting, talk to a lot of professors. Just let your curiosity guide you.

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