The name of Van Otis Chocolates has an interesting background. Rather than coming from someone’s last name of Van Otis, it is actually based on the full name of Evangeline Hasiotis. The company’s beginnings were in a small candy store she started in 1935; the name of Van Otis wasn’t applied until 1958. I have been sent a large (16 oz.) box of their assorted chocolates, which includes about thirty pieces. This sized box sells for $24.99.
I seem to have found it my duty to personally try each and every chocolate in the box: there is enough of a variety that I didn’t want to miss anything. My tally includes fourteen dark chocolates, twelve milk chocolates, two milk/darks, one white chocolate, and two fudge pieces. Among the group, about six are nutty chocolates. There are also cream fillings, jellies, and caramel. So the “assorted” label doesn’t exaggerate: neither do flavors not textures get left out.
Let me back up to that curious mention of the milk/dark chocolates. These are the two wrapped in gold foil, which has very fitting subtle stripes on it. Each block has a top half of milk chocolate and a bottom half of dark. There is something nutty in these, like a praline. Nothing is too strong or profound about the combination, but I find it rather nice.
A peculiar piece was a kind of milk chocolate log that reminded me of a Twinkie. It has a generous dose of caramel inside, along with some white chocolate; the result is buttery and salty. There is a flat dark chocolate circle with a white mint center that certainly has an advantage over regular peppermint patties in its usage of actual chocolate. A dark chocolate with a light green filling (which I suppose is meant to be lime) tastes much like Smarties (the US candy). The milk chocolate with pink strawberry filling reminds me of those cheap, yet addicting strawberry wafers, and the Van Otis take on a peanut butter chocolate shares an intriguing resemblance, in my eyes, to those crumbly, Mexican peanut candies.
Some of these “reminders” were entertaining, but you can probably tell that the flavored, artificially colored fillings didn’t impress me. Nor did the jellies. These had a texture more like jello than anything, which I do not find goes well with chocolate at all; I was glad there were only two of them. The caramel that’s in some of the chocolates is of a fairly standard, stiff nature.
On a more positive note, there was a dark chocolate that stood out from the rest, having also a dark filling/ganache. It isn’t highly dark (that isn’t the point of this collection), relying rather on what I term the brownie or fudge decadence. Which reminds me of those two pieces of fudge. One is lighter in color and melts in the mouth in a rather lovely way; it has flavor notes almost like light berries. The other has some small bits of nuts, which I believe are pecans; it tastes more of chocolate than the other, while still retaining that unique texture.
Let me give some final comments on appearances. The box and most of the chocolates are very simple in their looks. There were three chocolates, though, that stood out to me: a dark chocolate molded in the shape of a leaf (how can any Lord of the Rings fan not get excited over that?), a milk chocolate pentagon with a pretty pink crown on top, and a rectangular milk chocolate with a flower pattern on its surface. Including even just these three does much for the overall appearance when you first open the box. Perhaps in the future there will be more molds like this?
I’m going to recommend Van Otis Chocolates to fans of See’s (which I am certainly not) who want to branch out more. This box is mostly composed of casual confections, which don’t hold the most weight for me. However, if you like assorted collections of this nature, Van Otis will keep you happy.