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Interview with the Locals Guide

Locals Guide: February 2018

Interview with the Locals Guide

Locally owned and locally produced Branson’s Chocolates is located at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland. Owned by Deena and Kevin Branson, the boutique chocolate factory has steadily grown over the past 12 years and is now processing more than 1000 lbs of chocolate per month. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Branson’s Chocolates has been busy stocking up and getting ready for the holiday rush. In our interview today we speak with Deena to talk about some of her favorite creations and her plans for 2018.

Deena, thanks and welcome back to Locals Guide. We always enjoy your monthly business column in which you share your latest and greatest creations. 

Thank you, and thank you to all our readers… Having the column helps to keep us pushing to create new chocolates, and we also get to showcase our favorites.

Just to bring things into context, exactly how much is 1000 lbs of chocolate per month?

When we moved to our current location we were bringing in about 250 lbs per month, now we are at about 1000—we’ve quadrupled our chocolate production in less than three years. Let’s just say that 12,000 lbs is roughly equivalent to a full size elephant.

Deena catch us up on how the year went year for Branson’s.

It has been a crazy good year.  We decided to take another leap of faith, the third big leap of faith we have taken.  The first was to move the business and open retail, the second to expand our location and take over the adjoining section of the building.  This time we decided that Kevin (my husband) would retire from his job of over 28 years and come work with me.  He has spent the last couple of months learning the systems and getting familiar with the day to day operations at Branson’s Chocolates.  Over the past 12 years he has helped with all the events we go to and has spent plenty of his vacation days helping me.

What have been some of the local favorites this year?

Our Marzipan Creams have been a favorite right from the beginning.  The have the wonderful almond flavor that the traditional Marzipan has.  But ours is different than most it is smooth and creamy like a cream and that is why we call it a Marzipan Cream.

Deena, on top of running a chocolate factory you also have a retail space.

Yes, we are continually putting the word out about our retail store. We are located at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard (the old Mongolian Grill).  This is where you can get our rotating Item of the Month, Oops!’s (discounted, visually imperfect) products, and all the other goodies that we make.  We have quite a few places where you can purchase a variety of our product, but our retail store is the only place you can see everything we make.

Tell us about some interesting projects you have been involved in recently.

Last March I taught a Truffle Making class in conjunction with the Oregon Chocolate Festival.  It was my second time to teach a class, but my first truffle class.  Every attendee left with a recipe, a set of dipping forks, and truffles that they got to personally dip, so they could go home and make their own truffles.  I will be teaching another Truffle Making class this year, in conjunction with the Oregon Chocolate Festival March 10-11, 2018.

Destination Oregon: Branson’s Chocolates in Ashland

Deena, please tell us about some of your treasured recipes.

When we started, we purchase the equipment and recipes from Ashland Fudge Co. The recipes we use for creams, caramels, and truffles are based off of those original recipes. The fudge recipes that we use originated in the late 1800’s on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  And we have the recipes that I have created on my own.

You recently completed a successful internship with a local high school student?
Yes, I had a student from North Medford High School doing her senior project with me.  North Medford requires that the student do their senior project in the area of field they want to go into and they have to volunteer between 20 and 40 hours.  When this student asked if she could do her project with me, my requirement was that she create a product that we could sell, a product that we could potentially make a regular item.  She did, and came up with December’s Item of the Month, Port Ganache Square.

Please tell us about your store’s hours and opportunities for the general public to come and visit.

We are open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30pm and closed Sundays. When you walk in, you can see right over the retail counter to the production area, and watch everything being made. There is no wall between the production and the retail areas so we can work and interact with the customers. Our packaging room has huge windows, so you can see how we hand wrap and label all the chocolates bars.

Deena, please tell us about the array of custom products you make.

There are several ways we customize chocolate for our customers.  One is with custom flavors like our very first chocolate bar, Marion Blackberry Dark Chocolate Bar, which was requested by Ashland Springs Hotel. The Lavender Sea Salt Caramels and Salted Lavender chocolate bars for the English Lavender Farm use their lavender oil, and we make chocolates with essential oils for Blue Giraffe, to name a few.  Another way to customize our products is with a custom label like we do for Paddington Station and Grange Co-Op.  We can add a customer’s logo, picture, or artwork to our labels.  Custom molded chocolate is another way to customize chocolates. You can have a chocolate mold made with your logo or artwork.  We do custom molded chocolate for Butler Automotive Group and the Holly Theatre.

Product sourcing and quality are an important consideration that goes into all of your creations.

Yes, it is very important to us.  We source locally, and directly from farmers and distillers whenever possible. For example, our macadamia nuts and hazelnuts come directly from the farmers. Our mint oil comes directly from a farmer up in Clatskanie, Oregon. I choose Oregon-produced products and liquors over nationally-produced products.  I believe in using the best, and supporting local businesses.

Deena, are there any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

February’s Item of the Month is all about Valentine’s Day, Raspberries and Strawberries.  We will be featuring our Raspberry Chambord Truffles, Raspberry and Strawberry Creams and a couple brand new items, a Raspberry Dark Chocolate Bar and a Strawberries and Cream White Chocolate Bar.  We will be doing our Valentine’s Day Special again this year of a free Red Rose with the purchase of Valentine’s Box of Truffles.  The Valentine’s Day Special starts February 12th while supplies last.

Learn More: =============================

Branson’s Chocolates

1662 Siskiyou Blvd

Ashland OR 97520

www.bransonschocolates.com

541-488-7493

 

 

(c) 2018

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

 

Valentines Day is not only for those in relationships; You can use this day to show appreciation for a loved one, a friend, or even yourself! No matter how you decide to spend February 14th Branson’s Chocolates has several different options for you.

This year we are partnering up with The Valley Radio Station for a special Valentines Day promotion, where callers have the opportunity to win a box of chocolates and those finalists are entered to win a grand prize drawing, beginning January 30th and ending February 10th.

In our retail location, we have a three piece and a twelve piece heart shaped truffle box available. Those who purchase the twelve piece truffle box will receive a free rose from B. Cazwells Floral Dezines (while supplies last).

If you are looking for simpler options we also have chocolate bars engraved with the sentiment “Love”, and heart shaped chocolates in both milk and dark chocolate.

 

 

 

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Interview with the Locals Guide

Locals Guide: February 2017

Interview with the Locals Guide

Ashland’s favorite home town confectioner has been hard at work in her chocolate factory making chocolate delights of all shapes and sizes. With recipes dating back to the late 1800’s, Deena Branson keeps traditions alive and Ashland coming back for more. I met with Deena to learn more about her chocolate adventures.

Deena, thanks so much for doing this interview with us today

Thank you, I love talking about chocolate!

Deena, I’m sure that many in Ashland know of your success story, but I know that some do not. Would you mind taking us back and tell us about your story?

I managed Ashland Fudge Company for almost 10 years. I had been gone almost 3 years when my husband came home one day and said, “Did you know that Ashland Fudge Company closed?”So we bought their equipment and recipes and started Branson’s Chocolates from scratch. That was 11 years ago.

Did you ever have any doubt that it might not work?

It never crossed my mind. I just knew it would work one way or another.

Who were some of your greatest supporters and how did their support help you power through the challenging times?

Besides the help and support that my family has given us, there are also our wholesale customers. Paddington Station was the first customer that I did a custom mold for. They have always believed in us, so when they asked if I could make English Toffee, I figured it out and never looked back, and it’s become one of our biggest sellers. The Grange Co-op has also been a huge supporter; it all started with an “It’s A Girl!” chocolate bar. They were the ones that gave us the boost we needed to be able to move into our current location and add retail. Those are just a two of our many wholesale customers that believe in us and support us.

Please tell us about some of your treasured recipes?

Ashland Fudge Co. started as a franchise. When the second owners purchased it, they bought out the franchise and the rights to the recipes. The recipes we use for creams, caramels, and truffles are based off of those original recipes. The fudge recipes that we use originated in the late 1800’s on Mackinac Island Michigan.

What kind of training do you have?

The first owner of Ashland Fudge Co. knew that I liked to know how things worked, so he would explain how the different machines worked and why he would do things the way he did, not knowing that 9 years later I would be using the same equipment. Other than that, I am self-taught–I’ve learned by watching, reading, and occasionally from trial and error.

How did you learn to do what it takes to make things work?

I grew up with two self-employed parents, my mom is a hair dresser, and my dad was a mechanic with a service station, tow truck, and the longest running U-Haul dealership in the region. I learned all about hard work from them. Dad worked six days a week at 70-80 hours. Mom worked three days a week and kept the house going with four kids.

Did your parents come from an entrepreneurial family?

My dad did. His father owned a trucking business before opening the service station with my father.

Customers love your chocolate and it’s also very affordable.

We have always wanted to make our chocolates affordable enough to be an “Everyday Indulgence”.

Deena you are continually pushing the envelope to try new things. What are some of your new creations and will you have any of these as the Oregon Chocolate Festival?

My husband keeps challenging me to make new creations, but it took me three years to make his first challenge; I didn’t think it would sell. Boy, was I wrong. Six years ago I started making the Tequila Truffle; I use Patron Silver in the ganache, and topit with a sprinkle of lime-flavored white chocolate and sea salt. He also challenged me last year to make a Wasabi Ginger Chocolate. I mix wasabi powder into a dark chocolate ganache center, dip it in milk chocolate, and top it with crystallized ginger. I started making Jasmine Tea Squares last year with jasmine tea infused into the dark chocolate ganache, which is dipped in milk chocolate. The newest one is a Matcha Green Tea Squares, made with ceremonial grade Matcha Green Tea powder mixed into a white chocolate ganache, dipped in white chocolate, and topped with a sprinkling of the Matcha Green Tea Powder.

Please tell us about your store and hours and opportunity for the general public to come and visit.

We are open Monday – Friday 10-6pm, Saturdays 11-5, and closed Sundays. When you walk in, you can see right over the counter to the production area and watch everything being made. There is no wall between the production and the retail areas. It makes it so we can work and interact with the customers. The packaging room has huge windows, so you can see how we hand wrap and label all the chocolates bars.

What surprises you most about your growth?

How steady of a growth we have had over the years. When we started, it took a year to go through 500 lbs. of chocolate. I now bring in over 500 lbs. a month. We make 200 to 300 bars a day, plus all the hand-dipped chocolate that is made daily.

Deena, please tell us about the array of custom products you make.

The first chocolate bar that I made was a Marionberry Dark Chocolate bar, which was requested by Ashland Springs Hotel. We make Lavender Salted Caramels and Lavender chocolate bars for English Lavender Farms using their lavender. And we make chocolates with essential oils for Blue Giraffe, to name a few.

Product sourcing and quality are an important consideration that goes into all of your creations. 

I source locally and directly from the farmers and distillers whenever possible. For example, our macadamia nuts and hazelnuts come directly from the farmers. I choose Oregon-produced products and liquors over nationally-produced products. The mint oil that I use comes directly from the farmer in Clatskanie, Oregon. And we make everything in small batches with care to ensure the quality of our products.

Deena are there any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

We have exciting things to come this year so stay tuned.

 

 

Learn More: =============================

Branson’s Chocolates

1662 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland

www.bransonschocolates.com

541-488-7493

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Dietary Concerns

Dietary Concerns

This holiday season when you are choosing one of our confections you may be shopping with specific dietary concerns in mind. Here at Branson’s Chocolates we cater to many different needs including Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Sugar-free. All of our chocolate is GMO-free because we use a delicious European Chocolate.

Local or Direct from Producer

  • Direct from the Producer Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Mint Oils
  • Local Produce, Beer, Orange and Blackberry Liqueur, Rum, Preserves and Cream

 Gluten-Free

  • Most of our confections are gluten-free
  • Beer Truffles are the only items that contain gluten

 Dairy-Free

  • All of our dark chocolates are dairy-free because there are no milk fats added

 Sugar-Free

  • Milk chocolate bars with or without almonds
  • Dark chocolate bars with or without almonds
  • Milk and dark chocolate hazelnut clusters
  • Milk and dark chocolate peanut clusters
  • Sugar-free items are sweetened with Maltitol a sugar alcohol

 

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Paddington Station Annual Open House

Paddington Station’s Holiday Open House

For the past 43-years Paddington Station has hosted their Family of Stores Open House event. This event is a really exciting way to kick off the holiday season! They offer grand prize drawings, music and entertainment, hourly door prizes and all proceeds benefit the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.

Paddington Station is one of the many Southern Oregon locations that you can purchase Branson’s Chocolates. I have participated in their open house for the past seven years handing out samples of the product that they carry. This year I had samples of Peppermint Squares and Peppermint Candy Bars. Among these items Paddington Station also carries our Chocolate Bars, Toffee, Salted Caramels, and Hazelnut Clusters.

There are many local places that you can pick up a piece of Branson’s Chocolates. Visit our website for a full list of places you can purchase our chocolate this holiday season!

Handing out samples at the Paddington Station Open House

 

Peppermint Squares and Peppermint Bars Sample Station

 

A great turnout for the 43rd annual Paddington Station Open House!

 

Ashland High School Choir

 

 

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Ashland Culinary Festival

Chocolate Bar Class

Ashland Culinary Festival

Branson’s Chocolates has been participating in the Ashland Culinary Festival for the past seven years. It is an exciting opportunity to be able to showcase our hard work for the year and connect with the local community. Every year we host a booth where you can taste some of our favorite confections. This year we promoted our gourmet line of Wasabi Ginger Squares, Seasalt Caramels, and Jasmine Tea Squares.

Aside from our booth at the festival, we also hosted a workshop at our retail location (1662 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland OR.) where participants had the ability to make their own chocolate bars! We included some pictures from this exciting experience!

Some of our participants learning about how to make chocolate bars!

 

Focusing on getting the right amount of chocolate into the chocolate bar molds! Yum!

 

Putting ingredients into the molds!

 

Teaching one of our participants how to use the vibrating machine to shake down ingredients into the chocolate bars!

 

After the chocolate bars were complete I held a question and answer session for our participants.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this years Ashland Culinary Festival! If you missed this event I will be at the Paddington Station Open House located at 125 East Main St in Ashland on November 19th handing out free samples! More details about the event can be found here.

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Welcome!

1422636_10153158804044713_4995745475182151099_nIn 2005 Ashland Fudge closed its doors and I purchased equipment and recipes to use in what is now my ever-growing business, Branson’s Chocolates. In the past eleven years I have doubled the business three times and what began as a family run operation quickly grew to numerous hours a week from myself, 2 full time and 1 part time employees. Because we are growing at such a steady pace it can be difficult to learn to take a step back and let someone else help me out. I enjoy being hands on in all aspects of my business from packaging to fixing a broken piece of equipment.

So what set’s us apart? I get asked this question frequently as any business owner does. Our handmade, hand-packaged chocolates use many local and natural products sourced directly from the farmer. For example this months item of the month (Almond Butter Cups) used MaraNatha Almond Butter, a brand that was founded and is currently produced in Ashland.

We hope to see you in our retail store at 1662 Siskiyou Blvd in Ashland, Oregon to try our item of the month Almond Butter Cups, or one of our other specialty confections!

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Interview with the Local’s Guide 2015

Local’s Guide: Interview July 2015

July is definitely summer, and summer in Ashland means being outdoors – hiking, waterskiing, mountain biking, and walking through Lithia Park.  Branson’s Chocolates has the perfect treat for all this summertime fun – Chocolate Dipped Fruit, which just so happens to be our Product of the Month.  We have dried bananas, apricots, apples and pineapple, crunchy freeze-dried raspberries – all hand-dipped in our famously delicious Belgian Chocolate, choose from either Milk Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate.  Add Chocolate Dipped Fruit to Peanut or Hazelnut Chocolate Clusters and you’ve got yourself some gourmet trail mix.  Chocolate Dipped Fruit is also perfect for bridal and bay showers, as an on-the-go snack, and especially for your “Everyday Indulgence”.

All of our Products of the Month, including this month’s Chocolate Dipped Fruit, are featured in Chocolate Talk videos on our Youtube Channel.  My brother-in-law Brian Goodwin films a video every month of me talking about how we make our Product of the Month.  We started making the videos in January, when we started featuring a Product of the Month.  Each month I highlight a different chocolate confection, either a favorite, a classic or a new creation.  Now at Branson’s Chocolates we’ve kicked it up a bit to include Chocolate Dipped Dried and Freeze-dried Fruit, for us these are tasty new creations.

I was so pleased to be asked to do a Locals Guide interview this month.  Check out the interview and read all about MY favorite chocolate’s, our surprise best seller, and why chemistry is important.  As an added bonus, discover our Locals Guide Readers Special for July.  And then come on down to Branson’s Chocolates, get yourself some Chocolate Dipped Fruit, and have an amazing Ashland summer.

Deena Branson

Born and raised right here in Ashland, Deena Branson had a love of chocolate from a very young age.  After working at Ashland Fudge Company for a decade downtown, she never dreamed that she would one day have her very own chocolate company.  “I always knew I would own my own business.” says Deena, “I just never thought it would be chocolate.”  Nine years later, Branson’s Chocolates provides local businesses such as the Grange Co-op and Paddington Station with custom labeled bars and Deena’s list of wholesale clients just keeps growing.  If you haven’t stopped by, you must.  Branson’s Chocolates, located on Siskiyou Boulevard just past Walker Street, smells wonderful.  With copper kettles bubbling and cooling pans of deliciousness within sight as well as display cases filled with truffles, bars and beautifully wrapped delights, the shop is an experience not to be missed.  We met up with Deena recently to learn more about her sweet business.

Thanks so much for talking with us today Deena.  Your shop is amazing.  How are things going now that you have had the retail space open for over a year?

Things are good.  We have always wanted a space where you could get our chocolate and confections.  We are having fun this year with our Product of the Month that ties to our YouTube channel where we talk about and show the making of the product of the month.

You grew up here is Ashland and have a long family history here in town.

Yes, my dad (Rex Bounds) moved here when he was 4 years old and my entire family still lives in the valley.  Dad has the oldest U-Haul dealership in Southern Oregon and mom (Jeri Bounds) has been doing hair for over 50 years.  My youngest sister (Shelley Underhill) worked at the Ashland Branch of Umpqua Bank (formerly Sterling Bank and I have been told she knows everyone by name.  My first job was at Big Al’s Drive In where I learned to make a killer milkshake.

How have you developed your recipes over the years?

When I create the many different products I always start with the best ingredients that I can find.  Quite often I source directly from the growers.  From there we carefully measure all the ingredients to ensure that every batch comes out to perfection every time.  I have taken some of the old Ashland Fudge Co. recipes and tweaked them to make them our own, along with creating new recipes.

Chocolate making involves quite a bit of chemistry.  Did you realize you would become such a scientist?

No, I never would have guest that I would use chemistry in my life.  If I would have, I would have taken chemistry in school.  Chocolate is very temperamental in temperatures and what you can mix with it and I think chemistry would have helped me understand more.

What did it take to get here Deena?

Lots of hard work and determination.  Both my parents are self employed so I had an idea what it would take.  The first 8 years I worked full time as a server here in Ashland while working full time making chocolate.  With the support of my husband (Kevin Branson), family and friends the business grown to where we are now.  Before taking on a new customer I always made sure we could handle the volume without compromising the product.

I understand that the Ashland Fudge Company had a lot to do with your beginnings.

Ashland Fudge Co. (where Mix is now) was a good place for me for 10 years.  I worked for all three sets of owners and even helped train the last two.  I learned about managing a staff and inventory control.  During the tie I was at Ashland Fudge Co. I would hire an average of 12 high school students every year, many of them would come back for during the summer break from college.  This is where I really learned to love chocolate and where I met my husband, Kevin Branson.  I learned about chocolate making by watching and asking questions.  I was never officially taught how to temper chocolate.

Tell us about some of the partnerships that you have established over the years with other local businesses.

One of Branson’s Chocolates first customers was Mix Sweet Shop, they carried our Peanut Butter Cups and Truffles.  I then met Pam Hammond when planning a Mother’s Day fundraiser for the Ashland Rowing Club back in 2009.  Shortly thereafter Paddington Station started carrying Branson’s Chocolates and now we are in all three of their locations.  Ashland Springs Hotel asked if I would make Chocolate Bars for the, never having mad bars before, I said yes and now we make over 20 types of Chocolate Bars.  We have proudly been making Chocolate Bars for Tudor Guild for tow years now and last year they started carrying our English Toffee last year.  December 2012 we became the first Rogue branded food product with the Grange Co-op, which has been a perfect match.

Your wholesale clients keep you very busy.  What are some of the ways that businesses use your chocolates in their marketing or promotions?

We can custom label just about any chocolate that we make.  We also can make custom molded chocolates.  I you have been to Blue Giraffe Day Spa and seen the chocolate with “BG” on it, that is and example of a custom molded chocolate.  We can make custom chocolate that is given out as customer gifts.  In the case of Anderson Auto Body, they give out a box of chocolate with each repair.  AmeriTitle gives chocolate out when you sign documents with them.  I even drop ship customers gifts for Butler Automotive Group; which means you give me the customer information and any note that you would like included and we ship chocolate to the customer year round (we have ways of shipping during the summer).  We even have done fundraisers; the most recent one was with the Le Cirque Centre.  We mad WONKA Bars for the Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory show last year.

What is your favorite chocolate?

I have always gone for the more traditional combinations of Peanut Butter and Chocolate (PB Cups) or Caramel, Almonds and Chocolate (Ashland Nugget).  But I made something new recently that I am enjoying.  It is a Smoked Sea Salt Caramel; the sea salt has a slight smoking flavor from the English Oak that just enhances the dark chocolate that surrounds a soft chewy caramel.

What chocolate has been a best seller that surprises you the most?

Tequila Truffles, my husband is a Tequila guy.  He bugged me for three years to make a Tequila Truffle.  I kept saying it won’t sell.  When I finally deiced to make one I said we had to do it right.  So I created the Tequila shot in a Truffle.  It has the lime the sea salt and we use Patron in the center.  The first show that we took it to they sold out.  Now my husband gets to tell me “I told you so”.

Any specials to offer LocalsGuide readers?

Yes, when you come in mention that you read this interview in the Local’s Guide and get a free caramel, either plain or salted.  (One per customer, offer good through the end of July).

Do you ever get tired of chocolate Deena?

No, I actually average a piece a day.  There are some days that I don’t have any chocolate but others… well the piece is an entire chocolate bar.  And yes I even have days where chocolate is lunch.

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A Little About Us

Local’s Guide: May 2015

When we (Deena & Kevin Branson) started Branson’s Chocolates in 2005 we were working out of an industrial kitchen in a business complex producing mostly for wholesale customers.  About 18 months ago we moved to, 1662 Siskiyou Blvd (where the Mongolian BBQ used to be).  Now we have a retail space as well as production space, so you can get Branson’s Chocolates at our retail store or at your favorite stores around town.

We make everything by hand on site, which means when you walk in to buy chocolate you can smell the delicious chocolate, you can see all the production and packaging happening, and you can even talk to us while we work.  We have kept some of the traditions from Ashland Fudge Co. (where Deena got her start in chocolate), and added many signature products.  So you will find Ashland Nuggets (formerly Porkers) and the traditional clusters and caramel sticks along with some nontraditional items, like Tequila Truffles and Cayenne Cherry Chocolate Bars.

We strive to support other local small businesses so we buy our peppermint and lavender oils and some of our nuts directly from the growers.  We also use as many natural ingredients as we can.  The chocolate that we use is high quality Belgian chocolate that is extremely smooth and creamy.  YUMMM!!  We try very hard to keep our case Gluten Free as well as offer Dairy Free and Sugar Free options.

We get asked quite often if we have dark chocolate.  Our response is always “Yes, we do!  You can choose from 58% Semi-Sweet or 72% Bitter-Sweet.”

We price our chocolate for your “Everyday Indulgence” and not just that occasional gift.  We love getting to know our long-time customers more every time they come in.  we also love meeting new people that have “just found” us or have “been meaning to stop by” and finally did.  We want to become the place you go for special occasions, that gifts, and especially the “Everyday Indulgence”.

Please stop by, say “Hi”, and get yourself a piece or two of chocolate for your own “Everyday Indulgence”.

We have the best customers in the world, and they say the nicest things…

“Oh my Gosh. YUMMMM. The best chocolate ever!!!!!  So many kinds to choose from.  This is high quality stuff, and the price is unbeatable.”     ~Angela Rae

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The Beat Goes on at Branson’s Chocolates

Sneak Preview: March 2015

The Beat Goes on at Branson’s Chocolates

Back in the day when the Ashland Fudge Co. was all the rage on the Plaza, Deena Branson was the rock that held it together.  “I worked there for ten years for all three owner,” Deena said.  “I stepped away for a couple of years but realized that chocolate was my passion.  When the opportunity came to purchase the production equipment and recipes from the owners of Ashland Fudge, my husband Kevin and I jumped at it.”

In December 2005 they opened Branson’s Chocolates, which is now located at 1662 Siskiyou.

Both Kevin and Deena grew up in the Rogue Valley.  Kevin graduated from Crater High School and has worked in the Ashland area for 26 years with ASLCO (American Linen), while Deena was born and raised here, growing up on middle Clay Street.

“My father, Rex Bounds, has the oldest U-Haul business in Ashland, and I started doing his payroll 22 years ago and still do it to this day.”  Deena said.  “But it’s chocolate that is my primary focus.  We are a chocolate shop that believes in using the highest quality products and local products in small batches.  We believe in pricing our products in a way that you can have the “everyday indulgence” instead of the occasional piece/”

Branson’s Chocolates is definitely a family business, as everyone but one employee is family.  “When you walk in the shop you immediately smell the chocolate we’re working with.” Deena said.  “You’ll also see all the production and packaging happen right out front.”

They also custom label for sever business around the Rogue Valley, along with the places in other states.  “That means you may have had our products without realizing it.” Kevin said.  “Grange Co-op’s ‘Rogue’ Chocolate Bars, Paddington Station’s chocolate bars and Tudor Guild’s chocolate bars are just a few of the places where you can find our custom labeled products.”

The full March 2015 article can be found here.