Following our previous articles on chocolate’s renaissance, another spotting came in from Australia and New York: Max Brenner (“chocolate by the bald man”) has set up shop near Union Square. A second NYC store will be opening soon at Second Avenue and Ninth Street. Max Brenner, an Israeli pastry chef and confectioner who trained in Europe, opened his first chocolate bar in Israel in 1996. Over the past decade, another 19 bars followed in Australia, Israel, Singapore, the Philippines, and now the US. Not content with producing and selling high quality chocolate products, Brenner is aiming to create a new chocolate culture worldwide. The centre of this new chocolate culture, Max Brenner chocolate bars are open from morning til late, changing throughout the day. In the mornings, soft jazz music plays while people hug hot chocolate in their hands; in the evenings, the mood becomes more sensual as the music changes, candles are lit and the crowd becomes more intimate. The brand is heavy on storytelling, and on ceremony. Brenner wants to change the way people experience chocolate, turning consumption into a ceremony, with its own special utensils, textures and tastes, much like wine and coffee. The chocolate drinks menu spans four pages, including chocolate granitas and frozen chocolate cocktails for hot summer days. Special cups were created for different ways of drinking chocolate. Shown above are the Hug Mug, shaped for hugging in both hands; Alice, the ‘ultimate’ milkshake cup; and the Suckao, a special cup with a metal straw and candle underneath designed for preparing thick hot chocolate from hot milk and flakes of chocolate. A small shop accompanies every Max Brenner bar, selling truffle creams, pralines, pastries and cookies, as well as the company’s signature mugs and cups. Although the company states that they’re currently not seeking franchisees or business partners, it’s definitely one to keep an eye on. And if you can’t join them: find yourself another snobmoddity to turn into a culture and a worldwide empire!