the column of lasting insignificance...
—January 20, 2018 by John Wilcock
The Candy Store
In England, a candy store often means it is owned by an individual rather than a candy company, which means of course individually-made candies. One such store in my birthplace of Sheffield, is owned by Kate Shepherd, 33, who talked to me about her beginninings in the job that she loves.
I'm Kate Shepherd, owner of Cocoa Wonderland, a chocolate shop, café, and traditional sweet shop nestled in the hills of Sheffield on the famous Ecclesall Road.
What is your work / creative background?
I have been working at Cocoa since I was 20, so apart from casual weekend jobs in between studying it has been my only 'proper' job. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and I have always been fascinated by food. The thing that makes me happiest is making things for people that make them happy. As a child I didn't eat a lot of sweets but I remember being given lots by my granny who lived across the road. I used to save up all my treats in a secret cupboard in my bedroom then bundle them up into pretty little packages to give to friends. Kind of like what I do now!
When did you start making chocolate, how did it come about and when did you decide to launch it as a business?
The time came when reading about chocolate wasn't enough, we wanted to experience cocoa farming and chocolate production within real communities, real people, and in real life. So we began saving for a trip of a lifetime. One snowy January Anne and I embarked upon a great adventure and travelled to a tiny island of Grenada, West Indies, to visit the smallest, most politically correct chocolate factory on the planet. We stayed on a cocoa plantation, helped pick the pods, collect the beans and take them to the Island's very own chocolate factory where we saw the cocoa being processed into chocolate. This was an experience the I will treasure forever.
Seeing the chocolate making process in real life - not a just in a book - from tree to bar was magical and inspired us to make our own chocolate. So we booked ourselves in at the Chocolate Academy (what better education could there be than actual Chocolate School?), and learned how to become chocolate makers. After years of carefully considered chocolate concocting, I can't believe we have our very own in-store chocolate factory where we temper, blend, mix, and make the most luxurious of chocolate.
What do you love about working with chocolate?
Do you have a shop / cafe / do events? If so tell us more!
Cocoa then became not just a place to pop in and to buy a luxurious treat but a place to make friends, escape, relax and unwind at one of our Chocolate Lock-ins, Knit Club and Book Club (with a cup of our truly decadent thick Hot Chocolate!).
Tell us about your studio / kitchen / place where chocolates are made…
But where were we going to make the chocolate then? Whilst on holiday I had a brainwave to transform our back room into a little chocolate factory this would mean all our customers would get the golden ticket and be able to see chocolate being made before their very eyes... I was so excited about my idea so as soon as I returned home my mum, dad, and I got our hard hats on set to work erecting stud walls and pulling up floorboards. It was super hard work (I even broke my wrist) but it was all worth it and the little chocolate factory opened in December 2016 just in time for Christmas.
Now our factory is quite exposed, anyone could walk in and see right in through the big windows but I really like that. It's like putting on a chocolate show for customers every day! When we were in our old studio tucked away making chocolate on our own I really missed the interaction with people. Opening the little chocolate factory has added another element to the cocoa wonderland experience and means that customers can see that products don't appear at the push of a button and can appreciate the work and skill involved in manufacturing by hand. I love giving out spoonfuls of melted chocolate for people to try whilst telling them all about what we're making that day.
How many people are in the team?
Talk us through an average day in the studio / the making process…
Tell us about the different products you make…
Do you have a favourite product in the range?
What are your best sellers?
Do you like to bring out seasonal flavours and specials?
Where do you find inspiration for new flavours? What is the process from idea - testing - final product?
Do you use a lot of local suppliers for your ingredients? Is this important to you?
Your packaging is gorgeous too!! Tell us about the designers you work with?
Camilla has a real eye for beautiful things and making things beautiful. We were having an identity crisis a few years ago and felt we lacked brand identity, we had lots of eclectic designs and a huge variety of products (not just chocolate) and felt that everything was all a bit jumbled & made no sense to us. So Camilla came up with the 'Cocoa Wonderland pattern' (featured on some of our packaging) that united all our ideas and helped make sense of our brand. Since then she has spruced up our website too and designed a whole new range of chocolate bar wrappers to complement our brand.
Future plans for the brand / new products?
Kate can be reached via Cocoa Wonderland.
comments? send an email to John WilcockNational Weed (1974, issue #3)
comments? send an email to John Wilcock
- Complete column archives: 2006 - present
— From the archives... The religion of Violence & Statistics, otherwise known as college football; WPA II; Would it be called Indiastan or Pakindia?; Who you Gonna call? Crime Predictors; Being a Bank means you never having to say you're sorry; Oil vs. Democracy, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— From the archives... The Mother of All Family Feuds, Otaku Means Geek in Japanese, Affirmative Action or 'It all depends on who you know', The Moonies are packin', and of course, the Wilcock Web......
— Dear Reader,
— Dear Readers...
— John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eighteen--The Quest for Magic: Around Europe by VW bus;
Regarding armchair travelers;
Pisa's Leaning Tower;
The magical Alhambra
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library;
In the Cannes
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Nine (continued)--Rip Torn on stardom… Robert Mitchum's gift; London: Julian Beck’s critique; Emmett Grogan and the Diggers; Greece: The Junta, Charlotte Rampling, and art hero Daniel Spoerri
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Nine--Bob Dylan in the Village, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, Richard Neville and OZ, What Does London Need Most?, The International Times
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight (continued)--Japan: a working honeymoon;
The Shinjuku Sutra
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight--Art Kunkin's LA Free Press; In LA with Hunter Thompson, Lenny Bruce; Visit by Warhol; Hakim Jamal plays god; The San Francisco 'Be-In'; Underground papers meet
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six—The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Four—Into the '60s--London's underground press; Jean-Jacques Lebel burns US flag; Everybody's friend: Jim Haynes; Lenny Bruce and the kitchen tapes
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Three--The Village Voice (continued) --Lasting insignificance: the 3-dot column, ECHO and Larry Adler, Woody Allen plays classic nerd, A sample Village Square column
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Steve Allen derides TV columnist; Marlene Dietrich--glamorous grandmother
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Chatting with Marilyn Monroe
— Manhattan Memories: Introduction.
- column archives: 2006 - present
in the press...
Now on Boing-Boing!
JOHN WILCOCK: Leaving the trial, I realized Kennedy had just been killed.
February 12, 2015
July 13, 2012
Manhattan Memories: an autobiography
(The complete review begins on p.175)
December 1, 2011
On the Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U.S
November 28, 2011
The Book Bench - Loose leafs from the New Yorker Books Department
October 22, 2011
An authorized comic book biography of John Wilcock,
This is a book length comic series on John Wilcock. People who enjoy focusing on underground and alternative media are occasionally familiar with John's work, but most often the response is "who's that?" Outside of small press historians and collectors, John remains very unknown. Which makes no sense, the more you learn about him. We're very excited about the opportunity to tell his story. Art for THE STORY OF JOHN WILCOCK is by me and co-conspirator Scott Marshall. Story comes from an extended and ongoing year-long interview with Wilcock, himself. The focus is John's years in New York, roughly 1954-1971.
“The Return of the World's Worst Businessman”
John Wilcock is not what you would call a household name, and yet, he has had a measurable impact on art, journalism and culture-at-large over the last century. He co-founded Interview with Andy Warhol. He also was one of the co-founders of The Village Voice. He has written for countless print and online publications: Frommer’s, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail, The East Village Other, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Ojai Orange, etc. So why, one feels inclined to ask, is he relatively unknown? The answer seems simple: Wilcock has called himself “the world’s worst businessman.” This self-description makes sense because listening to him one hears the voice of a writer and a traveler and an enthusiast, not at all the voice of a businessman. In an age when it seems like everyone is all about business—art as a business, fashion as a business, everything as a business—it is refreshing to hear someone self-identify as “the world’s worst businessman.” It seems less like he has failed as a businessman and more like he has refused to become one. In addition to all his other accomplishments,...
Monday, November 15, 2010
A Reader Comment from the recent New York Times Frugal Traveler post
Not only did John Wilcock shake up staid publishing in the USA, from the Village Voice to the East Village Other, his influence extended to several continents, including Australia & the UK, where - in his mild mannered way - he pushed the boundaries of image and speech. The counter culture was nothing but a dull puddle, until John kicked out the jams and ignited the Underground Press, which attracted absurd prosecutions, that of course boosted circulations. An unsung hero of the sixties,
It was the first handwritten letter I’d received in 5 years. Or maybe 10. Signed by John Wilcock, a man I’d never heard of, and postmarked Ojai, Calif., it was waiting for me when I returned from my São Paulo-to-New York summer trip. Mr. Wilcock wrote that he had been an assistant editor at The Times Travel section back in the 1950s, and had written the first editions of “Mexico on $5 a Day,” “Greece on $5 a Day” and “Japan on $5 a Day” for Arthur Frommer in the 1960s.
By George, I thought. This man was the original Frugal Traveler.
"A GOOD WAY to describe John Wilcock is to say that he is a talented bohemian counter-culture journalist who once played a major role in the emergence of America’s underground press. Born 1927 in Sheffield, England, he left school aged 16 to work on various newspapers in England, and on Toronto periodicals before moving to New York City. There in 1955 he became one of the five founders of the Village Voice in which he and co-founder Norman Mailer wrote weekly columns. Wilcock called his column “The Village Square”, an intended pun. He and young Mailer were not quite friends, although Wilcock was at times annoyed, but always amused, by Mailer’s monstrous ego."