Chocablog has reviewed the odd product now and again, including chocolate shampoo and lip balm. You may call me crazy for it if you wish, but I am adding chocolate notebooks to the list. That is, one Chocolate Journal by Moleskine and a Chocolate Notepad by Chronicle Books of San Francisco.
You see, I was innocently picking up a book I’d been planning to buy at Barnes & Noble. Given my fondness for Barnes & Noble, I was also browsing around the store while I was there. The Valentine’s Day display was up, not a section I would normally pay attention to. But when I saw the words “Chocolate Journal” and “Moleskine,” I may or may not have gasped and reached out involuntarily for the thing. And it sort of came with me and my book to the register. And then I saw the word “Chocolate” on packaging I didn’t recognize at the register’s display. I looked over to make note of what brand the store was selling, liking always to keep tabs on who sells what chocolate. When I found that it was a notepad, I quickly put it on the counter before I could change my mind or the cashier could shoo me away.
At about twenty dollars for the journal and nine for the notepad, these are terrible impulse purchases, but I justify myself in saying that I am trying them out for any woeful chocoholic who might also see them and feel tempted.
I’ve never had a Moleskine before: they’re pricey and the plain design of their basic line doesn’t appeal to me. But I do collect journals, and I’m willing to pay more every once in a while for good-looking leather and fabric bound notebooks. The Chocolate Journal is in basic black so as not to be too much of a gaudy novelty. What it does have is a subtle imprint of a chocolate bar, including a couple of broken off pieces, on the front. View it from the wrong angle and you could miss the chocolate. That’s either a good or bad thing depending on your style. For myself, I’d prefer just a little more visibility, or maybe a brown color instead of black.
The inside begins with a few pages of basic information on cacao varieties and origin, vocabulary, and tasting guidelines. Overall, it’s handy and concise info. Next comes a section that allows you to take notes on under fifty chocolates. There is space to mark texture, aroma, flavor notes, etc. While there is even room for cacao percentage and country of origin, the only place to mark the company is under “product description.” That strikes me as odd. One page might not be enough for a Chocablogger, but it could serve as a useful tool for someone just getting into in-depth chocolate tasting. A Recipes section, which I find unnecessary, follows. Next is an Events section, which is nice but also probably too long for most people. Who really has the opportunity to go to more than a few chocolate events a year? The place to record Favorite Shops is more useful. Space for notes and even clippings follow, along with a handy fill-in index so that you can easily navigate your notes. The verdict: I like having this journal as part of my collection, but I would actually be able to get use out of it if it had more space dedicated simply to the chocolates.
Moving on to the notepad, I must explain that I adore its design. It’s vintage-inspired and trendy at the same time. But the tragedy is that, like a real chocolate bar, you must tear through the paper and foil to get to the notepad inside. So I cheated. I used scissors to cut the paper cleanly, refolded the empty foil, slipped the paper sleeve back on, and taped the paper shut in the back. It looks just as good as ever and I think I am more happy about it than the actual notepad.
It’s just that the notepad is inevitably boring. It’s a light brown block with tear-off pages that look like a chocolate bar. It isn’t an over-spoken novelty and hence not so tacky, but that means it also isn’t very exciting. Sure, I think I’ll enjoy writing notes on a faux chocolate bar, but the question is whether it’s worth nine dollars to do so. In fact, I would feel better if both of these products were just a couple of dollars less. But I did buy them at these prices and I don’t regret it. I would still recommend them if you have any interest and would have been more than happy to receive either one as a gift. Gifting is, after all, probably their main market.