History of Lake Champlain Chocolates
It started on a dare in 1983 . . .
In the kitchen of the Ice House Restaurant, in Burlington, Vermont. At the holidays, Jim Lampman would buy fancy chocolates to give out to his staff. Until one Christmas, when his pastry chef confessed what he really thought of those chocolates. “All right, then you do better!” Jim replied. The result was a batch of hand-rolled truffles so smooth and creamy, so deep in pure chocolate flavor — after just one bite, Jim knew they were onto something.
Within a year the restaurant was sold, Lake Champlain Chocolates was born, and a new era in American chocolate had begun.
That’s where we always start the story.
Though maybe it began back in 1965, when 15-year-old Jim landed a summer job at Country Kettle Fudge, on the Jersey Shore. Visitors to the shop discovered a magical experience there, and a feast for the senses. This was thanks to the vision of owner John Maschal, who would become a mentor to Jim over the next four years — a model for bringing passion to all you do.
Then again, perhaps it all started one morning in 1959, in Danville, Illinois, when Jim’s Grandma Tusca served him chocolate cake for breakfast. As Tusca saw it, your taste buds were freshest in the morning, so chocolate tasted better — plus, you had all day to work it off! This made sense to Jim, who learned that morning to do things his own way (like Grandma Tusca). And to eat chocolate any time.
However it began, our story continues . . .
At the start, the idea was to sell our truffles wholesale to just a few specialty stores. Tucked away in a tiny alley behind Floyd’s lawnmower service, we weren’t too easy to find. And yet, there came a constant knocking at our door — chocolate lovers who had tracked us down in search of truffles!
It was clear we'd have to grow — and in 1998 we did, moving to a 24,000-square-foot facility at 750 Pine Street, where we still make all our chocolates today. You can now find our products in 2,000 specialty stores across the U.S., as well as in our three Vermont retail stores and our new culinary center, the South End Kitchen. Mail order and online sales represent our fastest-growing segment, shipping directly to consumers in all 50 states.
From small beginnings come great things.
It’s amazing to think it began with a handful of employees willing to “work for chocolate”! Today, we’re close to 130 people at peak season, and what began with truffles has expanded to include Chocolates of Vermont, Five Star Bars, sea salt caramels, hot chocolate, organic chocolate, and our popular Chocolate of the Month Club.
LCC’s chocolates have won regional and national awards, as well as accolades from the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, the Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, WeddingWire, Martha Stewart Living, and others. Sure, we’re proud of those — but what we’re most proud of is our commitment to the people who make our products possible.
A chocolate company you can believe in.
In March 2013, Lake Champlain Chocolates earned Fair for Life - Social & Fair Trade Certification — a third-party certification for social accountability and fair trade. And as of June 2013, 86% of the chocolate we use is fair trade certified by FLO-CERT of Fair Trade International. In addition, we’re supporting a World Cocoa Foundation scholarship, expanding direct trade with cocoa farmers, and developing organic, non-GMO products.
With so many exciting new initiatives in the works, it’s good to pause, take stock of the past, and appreciate where we are today. Most important, to realize it’s all been possible because you — our customers — care as much about great chocolate as we do. And looking to the future, you can be sure we’ll continue to follow the same principles that have guided Jim from the very beginning:
Dare to do better. Always do it with passion. And do it your own way.