When we asked Alex Clark, the owner of Hamtramk, MI based Chocolate company Bon Bon Bon, about the beginnings of her business and her love of chocolate she answered, “It’s always been about chocolate.” She spoke about her grandfather and his love of chocolate, saying, “He had a real obsession.” However, it was not until moving away from her home and traveling the world that she came to the realization that chocolate was her true calling. While tasting chocolates in Amsterdam she had an epiphany of sorts: “I realized that this was my medium, this was the way I could express myself.”
Bon Bon Bon was fashioned as a place that people could be creative and where the flavors could change and adapt to the seasons. Clark wanted to mix new food science and old techniques to create “good goodies” – goodies created out of good things. She talked about cream filling as one of the examples of how bringing the old and the new together can make something that is better than either one by itself. We all know that the cream filled chocolate is always the last one to leave the sampler box, but Bon Bon Bon wanted to change that. With a combination of new techniques and ancient cream filling recipes they created a cream filling that people actually wanted to eat: a ginger cream modeled off of the Boston Cooler, a popular Detroit drink.
Ingenuity and community lie at the center of all that Bon Bon Bon does. The process of coming up with new flavors to rotate into their 57-flavor lineup is one of many examples of these things in action. Everyone has a voice in creating the flavors and the inspiration can come from anywhere. One example particularly stood out to us: Clark and her team couldn’t get a song by rapper Fetty Wap out of their heads, and in particular, a line that, to them, sounded like “sushi lady.” Like all good misheard lyrics, they wanted to turn it into a flavor of bon, and we can’t wait to see the result. This lighthearted “let’s see what happens attitude” mixed with a technical mastery of the precise science of making great chocolate is what makes Bon Bon Bon a place that we know will stand the test of time.
Clark jokes that, “It takes a village to raise a chocolate shop,” but it seems that this joke rings true with Bon Bon Bon’s relationship with the community of Hamtramck. This two square mile city jammed up against Detroit is definitely one of their greatest assets. Being such a diverse city in such a small area allows the creative geniuses at Bon Bon Bon to get all the ingredients they need to make their wild ideas come to life. Clark lauds this community asset saying, “Having trained all over the world, I am accustomed to having many varied ingredients but you can’t get them everywhere… We can walk out of our shop and get any ingredient from all over the world in just a couple of blocks.” The Hamtramck community is invested in keeping Bon Bon Bon for the long run, and Bon Bon Bon is happy to stay – having just bought a new production space they are committed to stay, and we can see why. “If we’re working late it’s not unusual for one of our neighbors to bring down some left over lasagna or Swedish meatballs or mac and cheese, which is the greatest thing in the whole world,” She said. “If your having a the worst week ever, to know that your whole community is excited for you and they’re willing to support you, maybe they cant make a sour cream caramel but they can make Swedish meatballs and feed you that night, that’s everything.” Bon Bon Bon has found a loving home in this “oddball” neighborhood of Detroit.
“There is a lot of bad chocolate out there with people trying to tell you its good chocolate… Why not just make great chocolate and tell people it’s good chocolate.” This simple statement we think sums up why we love Bon Bon Bon. They want to make you great chocolate and tell you its good chocolate. They leave it to you to determine its greatness, and I think we can all agree that what they have made is pretty great. We love what this “bunch of nerdy smart girls that are really happy to see you and one nerdy smart guy,” has done, and we cant wait to see, and taste what they do next!