Montezuma's Chocolate Anniversary
Celebrating 20 Years of Montezuma's Chocolates
This August we're celebrating 20 years since Simon and Helen left their jobs as lawyers and traveled to South America. This is when Montezuma's was born and their extraordinary story began and we opened our very first store in sunny Brighton. You can learn more about the Chocolate story here.
After 20 years, you would be right in thinking we have a lot of moments where we want to go back and shout no don't do it! But there is just as much we would never want to change for anything.
Celebrate with us, and tell us what advice you'd give to your younger self using #MontezumasTurns20
We will pick out a winner at random who will receive a Movers & Shakers gift box - good luck!
*UK postal addresses only
20 Years has generated endless memories, our Co-Founder Helen Pattinson shares some advice and stories from the early years of Montezuma's
After what feels like months of shop-fitting, planning, recruiting and making chocolate, we are finally ready to open the doors of our first store in Brighton. Although we think we’re ready first thing on Saturday, a few final teething problems (like no price labels on anything!), mean we don’t actually open until lunchtime. We had been so worried that we would make a mess of the first day that we hadn’t told any press or even any potential customers! It was a sunny day and Brighton was busy but we hadn’t anticipated the rush we would experience. We had primed the team to be outside with taster trays and people just flocked when the word spread that there was free chocolate, albeit just a little taster, out on the street. They came in to store and I couldn’t even watch, I sat looking out of the upstairs window to wait for the reactions. It was such a buzz, watching people come in a spend money on something we had created . The first sale was £6.45 for something called Brighton Pebbles, a little jar of sugar coated chocolate pebbles, sadly not something we sell any more. I often wonder who that first customer was!
Creating The Montezuma’s Revenge truffle
We had many possible names for the business including The Cocoa Bean, Planet Cocoa, Cocoa Tree and Cocoa Culture but we just felt that they were all too bland and although they referenced the amazing little cocoa bean that gives us chocolate, they just didn’t sound very exciting. We loved the word Montezuma’s and it reminded us of how we felt when we really discovered chocolate and the adventures we had had in South America. We felt it was more memorable than any of the others and it referenced the incredible history of chocolate and cocoa really well. It did have one negative connotation however which was that Montezuma’s Revenge had become a term used for an upset stomach, particularly in the USA and amongst older people in the UK. The origins of this term were effectively the same as the Emperor Montezuma reputedly drank up to fifty goblets of chocolate every day which would have resulted in dire digestive consequences! As it was all part of the same rich history, we decided to take the risk and use the name Montezuma anyway.
In the early days in the Brighton store, we did have a few comments, particularly from older customers who would invariably say, “don’t you know what Montezuma’s Revenge is?”. So we decided to tease them with it and Simon set about creating a truffle to challenge the palettes of the most antagonistic customer! And so the Montezuma’s Revenge truffle was launched, a rich dark chocolate with chilli, tequila and lime, drawing inspiration from the Aztecs and Mexican food. It’s still a core truffle in the range today, it is delicious and to my knowledge has never caused an upset stomach in any of our happy customers!
We make a cock up!
Having successfully launched the Rainbow bars, we manage to get a listing in Waitrose for a few in the range, including Lordy Lord, a fabulously rich dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. The first batch of bars make it on to the Waitrose shelves and we pop in to the Chichester branch to see how they look. It’s only then that we realise there has been a printing error on the Lordy Lord carton and instead of Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs, the printing down the side of the bar has been cut off in error so it now reads Dark Chocolate with Coc. We’re not convinced this will go down that well in Waitrose!