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By Sharan Street
Published Feb 12, 2024

John Kelly Chocolates, based in Los Angeles, expanded its color palette to include ruby cacao, a new chocolate variety created by European chocolatier Barry Callebaut in 2017. John Kelly Chocolates, based in Los Angeles, expanded its color palette to include ruby cacao, a new chocolate variety created by European chocolatier Barry Callebaut in 2017. Image credit: John Kelly Chocolates

State of (Chocolate) Nirvana

For a baby boomer growing up in Southern California, a box of See’s Candies was meant to be savored. Unlike mass-produced candy bars, these chocolates required a special occasion. So it was disconcerting when a colleague from the Midwest wrinkled her nose at See’s, eschewing its nuts and chews for Daffin’s milk chocolate, a tradition in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

We would argue that for those who love dark chocolate, California rules. In a 2022 article titled “The Best Snack in Every State,” Food & Wine writer David Landsel asserted, “no place in America carries the humble cacao bean to greatness quite so ably as the Golden State. From everyday treats to the darkest single origins best nibbled by the shard with a glass of full-bodied red (local, of course), California has achieved chocolate nirvana.”


The Darker Side of Chocolate

It’s not just taste that sets our chocolate apart. It’s also the prevalence of “bean to bar” producers. Like so many raw materials in world history, cacao beans have been extracted cheaply from poor countries and processed into a commodity that profits wealthy ones. In the last couple of decades, a new generation of bean-to-bar chocolatiers began buying directly from farms that grow organic, sustainably produced cacao, and processing the beans themselves.

California has a plethora of chocolatiers who make traditional European-style bonbons, as well as those who craft rough-hewn bars from raw chocolate. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve assembled a travel guide to California chocolate, from Eureka to San Diego.


Beans, Bars and Bonbons: A Guide to California Chocolate

From its factory on the San Francisco Peninsula, Guittard makes chocolates that are used by professional pastry chefs and confectioners, including See’s Candies.
From giant companies with roots in the Gold Rush days to local microproducers with a focus on fair trade, California is ground zero for high-end chocolate.

History Channels

While we’re on the subject of California history—one of our favorite topics at California Local—here are a couple of quick reads. One is an evergreen story published by the Sacramento Observer a couple years ago about Sacramento’s African American historic landmarks. This registry of dozens of local sites, from churches to schools to civil rights organizations, was put together by Sacramento Girl Scout Maya Lee.

The other is a story just published this week that offers guidance on where to learn more about the history of Yolo County. We’ve published similar articles about other counties in our network, and here are the links where you can find those pieces: El Dorado County, Monterey County, Placer County, Sacramento County, San Benito County, Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County.


Harvesting Information

The Woodland Opera House—George M. Cohan played there, as did John Philip Sousa.
Want to learn more about Yolo County’s history? Here are some good places to visit and sites to browse.

Landmarks of Black History

The Sacramento Observer broadcasts the Black community’s cultural heritage with its guide to landmarks.
Where is Sacramento’s Black Wall Street? Which park was named after LeVar Burton? Find out on SacObserver.com.


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Get to Know a Group

Gilroy Historical Society logo Gilroy Historical Society

The Gilroy Historical Society supports the city-owned Gilroy Museum, and also serves as a point of connection for people interested in the history of Gilroy and the surrounding area. Closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum is open once again.

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From Our Media Allies

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San Jose Inside logo Valley Water CEO Seeks Police Investigation of Director Eisenberg for Document Theft

Valley Water CEO Rick Callender said videos confirmed that Director Rebecca Eisenberg illegally took a report on allegations that she had discriminated against male Valley Water staff and insulted water district officials.

Morgan Hill Times logo Floral Fulfillment

Jerry Ayala, owner of the Flower Cottage in downtown Morgan Hill, said the top-selling Valentine’s Day items in his store, by far, are long-stem roses, teddy bears and chocolate.

San Jose Inside logo City Takes Tougher Stance on Stolen Catalytic Converters

The San Jose City Council approved a new ordinance that would allow law enforcement to charge those in unlawful possession of catalytic converters.

Metro Silicon Valley logo San Jose Earthquakes Celebrate 50 Years

The San Jose Earthquakes were not just invented from scratch a few years ago. The current team expands on a vibrant historical body of work dating back to 1974.

Gilroy Dispatch logo Atmospheric River Soaks Region, But Only Minor Damage Reported

More than 900,000 households and businesses throughout California lost electricity during the latest atmospheric river storm that walloped the state, according to PG&E.

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(02/12/2024) → CalMatters

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With the March 5 primary election weeks away, one-third of Silicon Valley voters still don't know who they want to represent them in Congress—and there's a long list of heavyweights hoping to replace retiring Rep. Anna Eshoo.

(02/12/2024) → San Jose Spotlight

• Silicon Valley Congressional Candidate Tied to Fake Newspaper

Congressional candidate Charlene Nijmeh is connected to a fake newspaper that mirrors several other misleading websites created by her consultant with ties to Roger Stone and an extreme right-wing agenda.

(02/12/2024) → San Jose Spotlight

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Incumbent Councilmember Domingo Candelas, Surinder “Suri” Kaur Dhaliwal, Sukhdev Bainiwal and Tam Truong spoke to about 50 residents at a forum hosted by the community’s democratic club.

(02/09/2024) → San Jose Spotlight

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The San Jose City Council unanimously approved allocating $200,000 to remove roughly 20 people living by the Guadalupe River Trail and work with community partners to encourage residents to frequent the trail.

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Recent Statewide News

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States are plowing billions of dollars into a high-stakes health care experiment that’s exploding around the country: using scarce public health insurance money to provide housing for the poorest and sickest Americans.

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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (02/11/2024)

Rizo-López Foods and Fresh Creations Foods, Along with the FDA, Have Issued a Recall of All Chicken Street Taco Meal Kit Units Due to the Potential Contamination of Listeria Monocytogenes

Rizo-Lopez Foods and Fresh Creations Foods, along with the FDA, have issued a recall of all Chicken Street Taco Meal Kit Units due to the potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes. The select meals and kits include crema cup which contain a recalled cheese ingredient. Product was sold in Spr
Image of City of Milpitas seal. City of Milpitas   (02/09/2024)

Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year from the City of Milpitas!
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/09/2024)

The Perfect Bite Co. Issues Voluntary Recall of Mexican Style Street Corn Bite Containing Cotija Cheese Due to Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination

The Perfect Bite Co. of 747 W. Wilson Ave, Glendale, CA, is voluntarily recalling its MEXICAN STYLE STREET CORN BITE, which contains Cotija Cheese, due to the possible presence of Listeria Monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or e
Image of City of Milpitas seal. City of Milpitas   (02/09/2024)

Tickets to Mean Girls Now on Sale

Milpitas Community Theatre is proud to present Mean Girls High School Version, March 7-10, at the Milpitas Community Center.
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/09/2024)

Fresh & Ready Foods Voluntarily Recalls Four Torta Sandwiches Containing Cotija Cheese Distributed in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah Due to Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination

Fresh & Ready Foods is voluntarily recalling four torta sandwiches that contain cotija cheese which were sold in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. This voluntary recall is being initiated as a result of the Rizo-Lopez Foods, Inc. recall of cotija cheese due to possible contamination with Lister
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/09/2024)

Braga Fresh Issues Voluntary Recall of Marketside Bacon Ranch Crunch Chopped Salad Kit Due to Containing Potential Cross-Contaminated Cheese Linked to Rizo Lopez Foods, Inc.

Braga Fresh is voluntarily recalling a limited quanty of Marketside Bacon Ranch Crunch Chopped Salad Kits containing recalled cheese that contains Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with wea
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/09/2024)

Taylor Fresh Foods Voluntarily Recalls Marketside Bacon Ranch Crunch Salad Kit Made with Ingredient Packets Containing Cheese as Part of the Expanded Recall from Rizo-López Foods, Inc.

Taylor Fresh Foods is voluntarily recalling Marketside Bacon Ranch Crunch Salad Kit made with ingredient packets containing cheese as part of the expanded recall from Rizo-Lopez Foods, Inc. due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes
Image of City of Morgan Hill seal. City of Morgan Hill   (02/09/2024)

Housing Division's Next Orientation

Register to attend in person to learn what housing opportunities are available and how HouseKeys can help. Events starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber Building.
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/08/2024)

Stater Bros. Markets Recalls Chicken Street Taco Kit Because of Possible Health Risk

Stater Bros. Markets is voluntarily recalling 768 units of CHICKEN STREET TACO KIT with All Sell Thru dates up to and including Feb. 10, 2024, supplied by Fresh Creative Foods due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and somet
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/08/2024)

Save Mart, Lucky, and Lucky California Stores Recall Service Deli Chicken Street Taco Kit Because of Possible Health Risk

- The Save Mart Companies has recalled all lot and date codes of Chicken Street Taco Kits sold in Save Mart, Lucky, and Lucky California store service delis, as they include a cup of crema sauce containing cotija cheese produced and recalled by Rizo-Lopez Foods. These kits have been recalled due to