Surrounded by confections, a sweet time awaits at the chocolate expo


Smitten by chocolate, and so much more. Temptations await at the Chocolate Expo’s latest edition, ready to entice everyone on March 12.

The popular event is back on Long Island to delight chocoholics at its new location — Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports & Exhibition Complex in Hempstead, for a day-long foodie paradise. More than 80 vendors — representing Long Island, New England and elsewhere, even international purveyors — will share their sweet and savory wares during this unique food-centric festival.

Founder Marvin Baum says this year’s event includes many first-time vendors as well as a diversity of offerings — even some for your beloved pooch. As Baum puts it: “People take care of themselves with special treats, so why not let your pet enjoy some, too?

Visitors can celebrate and indulge in gourmet chocolates, baked goods, specialty items, cheeses, wines, spirits, hard ciders, craft sodas, and much more. Of course tasting is very much a part of it all — starting from the moment you enter. Guests are greeted by fountains overflowing with dark, white and milk chocolates, in which a selection of fresh fruit, marshmallows pretzels and Rice Krispies treats can be deliciously drenched.

“When you go to these festivals, you remember something you tried that you can’t get elsewhere,” Baum says. “That’s what we try to do with this.”

Participating chocolatiers offer chocolate bonbons, chocolate bars, raw chocolate, hot chocolate, chocolate fudge, chocolate novelties, chocolate barks and chocolate-covered goodies, chocolate- covered soft pretzels, even chocolate- covered bacon. Cupcakes, brownies, doughnuts, and assorted cakes are showcased along with other gluten-free offerings and other baked goods, while hot cocoa, wine, and hard ciders, and even chocolate moonshine, will be among the craft beverages available for tasting and purchase.

“We’re really excited to be here,” Baum says, noting that his chocolate-fest has emerged from the pandemic renewed and re-invigorated. “We love to work with local vendors and support new businesses by introducing people to them.”

These include: The Best Goody Bag, a Valley Stream baker of custom birthday cakes and other birthday-related treats; Peace Love & Hot Chocolate, a purveyor of gourmet hot chocolate kits, based in Island Park; Uncle Jeff’s Pecan Pies, a Wantagh baker, who’s all about pie — pecan pie that defies imagination; and West Hempstead’s Sunflower Bake Shop, which specializes in kosher and vegan baked goods.

If your palate reaches sensory overload, take a break for a while and check out some of the many activities that round out the day. Magician Eric Wilzig, of “America’s Got Talent” fame, performs two high-energy “extreme” magic shows on the Expo stage. Actor Paris Themmen — who starred as Mike TeeVee in the original “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” film — is on the scene to greet guests from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., plus he does an interview noon, followed by audience Q&A.

Also appearing is chef Francis Legge, a winner of Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” and a contestant on Netflix’s “Snack vs. Chef,” who will do an on-stage demonstration, while Long Island’s DJ Chef, who won Food Network’s “Cuthroat Kitchen,” does his “Beats & Sweets Interactive Cooking Show,” combining his passions for food and music. Kids will enjoy face painting and balloon twisting activities in the Kidz Zone, along with chocolate-themed crafts.