Field Trip to the Chocolate Factory

by Timothy Lutts, CEO Cabot Wealth Network

Whenever my company, Cabot Heritage, achieves a business goal, we have a celebration, which can be anything from a lunch to a brewery tour to a harbor cruise to a shopping spree at the mall. For our latest celebration, we took a tour of Harbor Sweets, Salem’s famous chocolate company, and at the end, everyone got $100 to spend on chocolates.

Plus we all got free samples to taste—several times!

chocolate factory visitHere we are in our stretchy paper hats, to make sure no hair gets in the chocolate.

Harbor Sweets was started by Ben Strohecker in 1973, just three years after Cabot was started. Today, under the guidance of current owner Phyllis B. LeBlanc, it employs about 50 people in the slow summer season and ramps up to 120 at the peak of the holiday season.

Most of the work at the chocolate factory is still done by hand, and the results prove it’s worth it.

The company’s best-selling product is the original Sweet Sloop, an almond butter crunch sailboat with a white chocolate jib floating on dark chocolate, with pecan sea foam washing the sides. The company can churn out 28,000 Sweet Sloops a day. Also in the Classic nautical-themed line are Sand Dollars, Barque Sarah, Sweet Shells and Marblehead Mints.

Here’s some Sweet Sloops in production.


Years ago, Phyllis introduced Dark Horse Chocolates (Peanut Butter Ponies, Trophy Assortment, Equestrian Fabric Box & The Milk Chocolate Hunt Collection) to cater to dark chocolate lovers, and this year the company rolled out a new line of hand-crafted truffles called Salt & Ayre. Made with 70 percent dark chocolate, the new line includes Chai, Café au Lait, Hazelnut and Espresso, Caramel with pink Himalayan Sea Salt, Crystalized Ginger with Thai Ginger Sea Salt, and Almond Buttercrunch Toffee, garnished with Chipotle Sea Salt.

My favorite is the ginger, but they’re all delicious.

So if you find yourself in Salem, stop by for a look, and a sample. Harbor Sweets is a great local small business, and its products are miles better than the mass market chocolate churned out by Hershey, Nestle, Mars, etc.

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