For over 30 years, Christine O’Brian’s family has created some of the most desirable chocolates and sweets in New Jersey—and she is determined to continue that tradition. Originally named Sophisticated Chocolates, David Bradley Chocolatier was started by O’Brian’s grandmother, her father’s mother. O’Brian remembers driving around as a kid with her father, helping him deliver local orders. When she and her two brothers (one named David, one named Bradley) took over the shop, they rebranded what had been in their family for generations to make it their own. “What you put into it is what you get,” O’Brian says. “It’s a good legacy and creates a good product.”
O’Brian’s brothers parted ways with the company a few years ago; she continues to run the storefront and chocolate factory, with the help of her 30-person staff. They pump out hundreds of sweets every week.
We caught up with O’Brian to discuss her upcoming Passover and Easter treats, how she’s handled this past year, and the perks of running a family business.
Table Hopping: Did you always know you’d be a part of this business?
Christine O’Brian: No! When my brothers and I took over for a short time, we updated the name, we updated the book, and just kind of changed things—modernized it a little bit. My brothers since then have gone off to do their own thing, and I decided to stay.
TH: Take us through the process of making your chocolate.
CO: In our store, there’s a window so you can watch things being made. We have three big melters; we have cluster machines. And it’s amazing what the factory produces. Our customers can come into the shop and watch everything being made. It’s really cool.
TH: How did you guys do over the past year?
CO: We were fairly devastated. It happened right before Easter last year, so when we closed for two weeks we came back to a curbside Easter and weren’t allowed to have anyone in the store. I had thousands of chocolate bunnies. Our mayor of Robbinsville bought 500 of them and gave them out to residences. That’s why we definitely love our township here.
TH: You also do a lot of corporate gifting, right?
CO: Oh my gosh, yes. This year we sent out a chocolate-making kit for corporate gifts and personalized it for companies. We customize to all of our clients’ needs. We always want to make it work for them.
TH: Do you have a most popular item?
CO: No matter what I do, it’s always the chocolate-covered pretzels. And I’m sure you’ve heard all about the cocoa bombs. I saw all these moms on the internet coming out with these chocolate circles filled with cocoa powder and mini marshmallows. I’m like, “What is this craze?” For Valentine’s Day, we did a heart-shaped cocoa bomb, and I think we sold almost 10,000 of them. We also just did a shamrock bomb with gold sprinkles for St. Patrick’s Day, and for Easter we did a bunny-shaped bomb. The circle bombs are cute but so fragile; the shaped ones I can ship.
TH: What other treats are you doing for Easter?
CO: Ice cream–flavored Easter eggs (filled with Sherbet, Cookies and Cream, and Peanut Butter flavors). I had people showing up with styrofoam to keep the eggs cold because they thought they were made with real ice cream; it was so funny. They’re just flavored like ice cream!
TH: You also have a bunch of Passover treats as well.
CO: The chocolate-covered matzah is the way to go. We literally take that whole sheet of matzah and dip it into our tanks. That’s really what people love. I also have Happy Passover chocolate pops.
TH: Where do you typically source your products from?
CO: We have caramel corn that we cover in chocolate—but instead of making it, I buy it from Johnson’s Popcorn, which is out on the boardwalk in Ocean City. They make such a good product that I can’t compete with it. Just like our chocolate-covered chocolate chip cookies—I use Tate’s Bake Shop out in the Hamptons.
TH: What’s been your favorite part about working for a company that’s been in your family for generations?
CO: When you have your own company, something that’s great is the freedom it allows you. I am able to pick up my daughter from school a few times a week. We also don’t have to run this like a corporate company. [For St. Patrick’s Day], we went out and got everyone a Shamrock Shake. It’s become a second home for everybody working here.
David Bradley Chocolatier’s storefront and chocolate factory are located at the Windsor Factory, 92 North Main St., Bldg. 19, in Windsor. Order their Passover and Easter treats online or visit them in store. Check out their Instagram for updates on new treats or visit their website for more info.Click here to leave a comment