Hot for Santa

A brief but startling history of the chocolate Santa Claus

Lip service: Mrs. Claus gets a lickin'.
photo: Kate Lacey
At a recent tasting conducted in a friend's apartment, we voted Jacques Torres, with its startling fillings and handsomely decorated pieces (including one that looked as if a tiny rake had been drawn across it, and, my favorite, creamy caramel), as the best chocolates in town (23-piece box, $24). Torres's only competition was provided by staid Upper East Sider La Maison du Chocolat, where the attendants wear somber, dark-colored uniforms and speak in hushed tones, reminding me of the Aztec priests who administered chocolate beverages long ago. Cast and decorated in dark colors, and made with French chocolate of thrilling smoothness and flavor, these chocolates (27 pieces, 0.55 pounds, $44) provoked a taster to intone: "These are the kind of chocolates I'd bring to a funeral." Though sometimes shaped like tiny Volkswagens or surmounted by entire perfect nuts, the Swiss-made chocolates at Teuscher, which fall into the same mind-boggling price range as Torres and La Maison, were a disappointment; there was something coarse about them and the fillings overpowered the chocolate coatings. We thought the product at Belgian chocolatier Leonidas—often regarded as the gals' favorite, perhaps because the pieces have a thicker chocolate coating—a shade better than Teuscher. A pair of chocolates called Satan and Mephistopheles caused us to rank Neuhaus, available at Macy's and elsewhere, in third place, and the dark chocolate bar by the same manufacturer scented with Earl Grey tea ($5) was one of the best we'd ever tasted.

Though I do so with a deep blush on my face, I've got to mention the most unusual chocolate Santa of all. In one way, at least, he's also the largest. Eddyville, Kentucky, confectioner Sexy Desserts crafts a Horny Santa with an extravagantly large erection in white, dark, and milk. You can view this Santa in the privacy of your home at It gives new meaning to the old favorites "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Who would have imagined Santa was so well hung?

Best Luxury Chocolates
photo: Kate Lacey


Holiday Preview

"A Brief but Startling History of the Chocolate Santa Claus" by Robert Sietsema

"Season's Spirits: Bars With Cheer"

"No-Sweat Gift Guide"

"Merry Mayem: Holiday Events"

1. Jacques Torres Chocolate
66 Water Street, Brooklyn, 718.875.9772

2. La Maison du Chocolat
1018 Madison Avenue, 212.744.7117

3. Neuhaus
Available at various locales

Macy's Cellar, Broadway and 34th Street, 212.695.4400; Elk Candy, 1628 Second Avenue, 212.650.1177; Evelyn's Hand Dipped Chocolates, 4 John Street, 212.267.5170; Li-Lac Chocolates, 120 Christopher Street, 212.242.7374; Choc-Oh!-Lot Plus, 7911 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718.748.2100;Teuscher, 620 Fifth Avenue, 212.246.4416; Leonidas, 485 Madison Avenue, 212.980.2608

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