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POP CULTURE BUCKET LIST: Tour a Chocolate Factory

Photo by Pop Culture Passionistas

We got a golden ticket! We got a golden ticket! It came in an email a few weeks ago — an invitation to a semi-private tour to a chocolate factory.

We arrived at John Kelly Chocolates in Hollywood, California, ready to experience something we’ve dreamed of all our lives. While there were no flowing chocolate rivers, marshmallow-topped mushroom caps, ganache-filled balloons or green-haired men running around singing life lessons, it was, indeed, a world of pure imagination.

John Kelly is actually two guys — John Kelson and Kelly Green. About 11 years ago they left the corporate grind in search of something more inspiring. Armed with a family friend's gourmet fudge recipe they set out to live a life surrounded by creativity. They rented a small space in Hollywood and began elevating the flavor of that fudge with premium quality ingredients and artisanal craftsmanship. What they ended up with was their very own Truffle Fudge Bar. As the name implies, it’s a blend of these two confections with a high-end chocolate coating.

But to simply say their signature chocolate is just ganache covered fudge does not do it justice. The fluffy, silky, airy melt-in-your mouth offering is, quite possibly, the best chocolate we've ever had. And we’ve had a lot.

Through the years the company has expanded into other chocolates as well. They added clusters with nuts, salted caramels and molded chocolates to their repertoire. And for those of you living a healthier lifestyle (not judging, just saying) they offer chocolate-dipped fruit and their recently released vegan chocolate bars.

They are also creating some seasonal items like solid chocolate Day of the Dead skulls, Pumpkin Spice Truffle Fudge and hand painted bunnies for Easter. Yes, we said hand-painted. In fact, everything they sell is handcrafted one at a time. It takes five people to make just one Truffle Fudge Bar including a quality control person who inspects each bar to make sure every millimeter is covered in chocolate coating. And they make thousands of chocolates a day, by hand, every day. There’s no denying that John and Kelly truly have impeccable taste. Not only are the chocolates delicious but their attention to detail on every level embodies their stunning craftsmanship.

Their sweet treats are available at their own locations in Hollywood and Santa Monica, as well as, at retailers throughout the country including specialty shops, hotels, grocers and high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks. And while they never set out to be chocolatiers to the stars, they have seen their fare share of celebrities, due in part to their high-profile location. When the aroma of melted chocolate billows from your storefront right off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, you are certain to attract a few stars from time to time. They have been visited by such notables as Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco and Steven Tyler. The Aerosmith lingered for a bit watching the candymakers at work and stocking up on charity giveaways for a MusiCares event.

You can also order John Kelly chocolates directly from their website but pay close attention to the shipping policies. John Kelly’s attention to detail also extends to delivery of their product. When preparing packages for standard ground shipments, they carefully track all weather conditions and plan accordingly, so no chocolates run the risk of melting in transit.

As our tour wrapped up and we were leaving John Kelly Chocolates we realized two things. First, if we were Charlie, we definitely would've stolen the Everlasting Gobstopper because these tasty treats were all so enticing (although for the record there were plenty of free samples provided and we resisted temptation). Second, even though we didn't crash through the roof in a glass elevator at the end of our visit, spending an afternoon with two charming men who have followed their passion and realized a dream was equally as inspiring as Charlie Bucket’s adventure with Willy Wonka.

Visit the John Kelly Chocolate factory at 1506 N. Sierra Bonita Avenue, Hollywood, California or 1111 ½ Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, California or at

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