For those who frequent St Augustine, one thing remembered often besides of course our charming cobblestone streets, amazing buildings, and out many local restaurants are the chocolate and the ice cream shops you will find on many corners of the historic district.
A tradition for many includes walking St. George Street’s pedestrian mall, where you will likely find our visitors lingering in the chocolate shops and enjoying ice cream during every season.
There are a few local chocolatiers to speak of, but if you desire not only a sampling but an actual tour of a chocolate factory, Whetstones if the first that comes to mind. This is named after a local family who started their business back in the 1960’s right on St. George Street where they opened their very first ice cream shop, which is known as Tedi’s Ice Cream today. This shop can be discovered right around the corner from the Agustin Inn. This very parlor has held the reputation as “the best ice cream shop in town” since its opening.
Shortly after the ice cream business took off, Henry and Esther Whetstone entered the chocolate market when they created a home-made fudge recipe in the family’s small kitchen. Late into the night, they would prepare the highly sought after delicacy at home for the next day’s customers. Armed with little more than a few cookbooks and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, they set out to learn all they could about chocolate. While Esther was creating and testing different recipes of fudge, Henry was busy hand-carving molds for the introduction of their solid chocolate gators and dolphins.
The small kitchen was the original Whetstone Chocolate factory and the production crew was two hard working people. Their long hours and deep commitment to quality was rewarded by increasing demand for their fudge.
By word of mouth, the Whetstone Chocolate reputation grew rapidly and the demand for their chocolates increased even more so. By 1967, they were selling 13 different flavors of fudge along with an increasing assortment of hand-dipped chocolates.
Soon, expanding sales forced Henry and Esther to move the kitchen operation to a larger facility. In the 1970s, they opened a chocolate production factory at 51 Cordova Street in downtown St. Augustine. Their reputation spread beyond the confines of regional sales and Whetstone Chocolates opened more retail stores and began wholesaling their superior chocolates.
Today you will find their factory on King Street next to the San Sebastian Winery. This location offers tours and tastings that charm every guest several times a day by reservation only. Be sure to visit their website for more information on their tour times, reservations, product offerings, and even ordering. Not only is the King Street location home of the very factory where chocolate is made, it also houses the largest of three area chocolate stores. Other locations include St George Street Pedestrian Mall and Anastasia Island just on the other side of the Bridge of Lions.