From luscious toffees to the irresistibly named Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows, being sweet is a serious business for the Vieau family.
Pam Vieau is the master chocolatier, whipping up delectable confections at the Chocolate Inspirations kitchen in Roselle.
Her partner and daughter, Marcy Vieau-Goetz, runs the sales and marketing side along with their Happy by Chocolate shop, also in Roselle.
And Pam’s 95-year-old mom, Charlotte, helps package the candy before it’s shipped to customers across the U.S.
Chocolate Inspirations’ success story began in the early 1990s. Vieau was a self-described “hobby cook,” expert at concocting delicious dinners for her big family as well as treats like English toffee.
She sharpened those skills at culinary classes, including one game-changing lesson on chocolate.
The chef “made a chocolate box, and I thought it was the coolest thing I ever saw,” Vieau recalled.
“Chocolate, other than ice, is the only thing I know of that you can start in liquid form, turn it into a molded piece, then turn into a confection. I can do millions of things with it.”
Inspired, Vieau began playing around with her English toffee recipe. She gave the results to friends as holiday gifts. They wanted more. And more.
“Her phone started ringing off the hook” with people eager to purchase the homemade bonbons, Vieau-Goetz said.
Marcy and Charlotte, plus a contingent of aunts and cousins, pitched in to fill orders, and a candy company was born.
The 1990s were a time when chocolate products in the area were typically made by Hershey Co. and Nestlé, Vieau explained.
Armed with instinct and tips from French pastry chefs, such as “no, no — you don’t use THAT butter,” she invested in high-quality ingredients and got creative.
Soon, Vieau realized artisan chocolate was not a hobby — it was a business.
“That’s when Marcy came in. I was in the kitchen and she started developing a client base year-round. People need to know about this — it’s so different; it’s so good,” Vieau-Goetz recalled thinking.
Corporate clients seeking unique gifts came calling and so did specialty grocery chains. Vieau also crafted unique plant-based toffee and chocolate products for candy-loving vegans that became a universal hit.
Chocolate Inspirations was run out of Vieau’s house but in 2017 “we were stepping over one another,” Vieau-Goetz said. They decided, “‘let’s take the plunge. Let’s do this full-time.'”
They opened a chocolate kitchen facility on Central Avenue in Roselle in 2018 and picked up the pace. The shop at 116 S. Prospect St. debuted in October 2022.
Now, there’s a team of seven women along with Pam, Marcy and Charlotte immersed in chocolate. The company has been featured in People Magazine and USA Today and recommended by actor and author Alicia Silverstone.
Summer is a chance to recharge for a nonstop holiday season that stretches from Thanksgiving to Mother’s Day.
Flying off the shelves are delectables like Cinnamon Toast Toffee, Snickerdoodle Artisan Chocolate Bars, truffles, vegan caramels, Cookies and Cream Chocolate Bark, and homemade marshmallows.
Come Valentine’s Day week, mother and daughter are working seven days a week, but it’s a labor of love.
Vieau-Goetz recently helped a stressed customer select an assortment of treats for his girlfriend. After she tied a bow on the gift, he asked, “‘Can I hug you?”‘ she recalled.
Candy is one of those “little things,” that makes people happy, Vieau said. “We can all use a little happy.”
For information, go to chocolateinspirations.com.