Why I Love These Extraordinary Chocolates Made By Extraordinary People

As you walk toward the building, the rich, velvety aroma of sweet, delectable chocolate wafts through the air. On cue, you salivate and quicken your steps to enter the building and taste the extraordinary chocolates creating the aroma.

Once inside, you find all kinds of sweet treats to tickle your tastebuds. Chocolate almond bark, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-shaped molded pops, and other sweet treats surround you in the quaint chocolate shop.

Highland Chocolates is not an ordinary chocolate store. It is extraordinary in many ways.

Highland Chocolate Building is “located in rural Tioga County, Pennsylvania, along Route 6 near Wellsboro.”
(Photo Credit: Robin O’Neal Smith)

They are located in rural Tioga County, Pennsylvania, along Route 6 near Wellsboro. Highland Chocolates is a unique non-profit chocolate factory/shop providing vocational training and employment for adults with disabilities.

Last fall, during a Route 6 road trip, we made a stop at Highland Chocolates. To say we were impressed is an understatement. Management provided a unique and fascinating tour of the candy factory.

Tours have been closed to the public due to COVID-19 but will return in the Spring of 2023.

There are so many reasons to love these extraordinary treats. Let’s look at a few reasons why I love these extraordinary chocolates made by extraordinary people.

I visited Highland’s Chocolates during a Route 6 Press Trip. All opinions are my own.

“Highland uses high-quality chocolate to make all its products.”
(Photo Credit: Robin O’Neal Smith)

The Chocolate Is Delicious

Chocolate is one of the most consumed treats around the world. Although chocolate made in other countries tastes different, it is still a treat of choice across the globe.

Highland uses high-quality chocolate to make all its products. Many of their treats come in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate flavors. The chocolate is smooth and silky with that melt-in-your-mouth texture.

One taste, and you will be happy you stopped and supported this chocolate factory. The delectable treats are delicious, and they support a great cause.

Eating Chocolate Makes You Feel Happy

It is a fact that eating chocolate increases your feelings of happiness. Actually, just the fragrance of chocolate increases our happy feelings. The flavor of what we eat is more than just the taste buds on the tongue. The nose plays a role, too, with smell, taste, and texture working together to create a sensory experience.

German scientists have proved that smell alone can make a person happier. Similar to why many use essential oils or the scent of flowers rich in beta-ionone, the smell of roasted cocoa beans improves moods. Perhaps, that is why the two most popular valentine’s gifts are roses and candy.

Most people enjoy eating chocolate because the brain uses the amino acid tryptophan in chocolate to create serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness.

Dark chocolate is said to increase the happiness factor, but milk chocolate is what makes me happy! I find it very difficult to be upset when eating chocolate.

Chocolate trains
“Highland Chocolates has a large variety of treats.”
(Photo Credit: Robin O’Neal Smith)

Large Variety Of Treats

Highland Chocolates has a large variety of treats. They specialize in all kinds of “bark.” Pretzel, almond, s’more, and coffee bean bark are just a few. A unique bark that stands out is the Chili Nights Bark. It includes their famous milk chocolate pretzel bark infused with chili oil, chili pepper flakes, and a secret blend of spices to warm you up on the chilly nights in rural PA.

Chocolate-covered pretzels and both dark and milk chocolate nonpareils are foodie favorites. Milk chocolate peanut butter covered Oreos and other varieties of Oreo treats were a new tasting delight. They have molded chocolate pops that change with the season or events, various snacks, fudge, and many other treats.

Their most recent addition is the Sweet Souvenirs collection. It is a collection of yummy “sweet treat souvenirs” celebrating local attractions. Some examples include:

  • Pine Creek Poppers, named after the beautiful Pine Creek River: These spicy treats include dark chocolate, bacon bits, and jalapeno oil.
  • Cherry Springs Dark Skies Bark: They start with dark chocolate and add sweet cherries, stardust, and glittering edible stars. It tastes like chocolate-covered cherries but prettier.
  • Wellsboro Gas Lamp Bars: They are delicious solid chocolate squares featuring Wellsboro’s iconic gas lamps. Available in milk, dark, or white chocolate, they are gift-boxed.
Worker “crushing pretzels to make their famous pretzel bark.”
(Photo Credit: Robin O’Neal Smith)

Special People Make The Chocolates

Extraordinary people who love their job make the delicious chocolate confections. Partners in Progress, Inc. (PIP) owns and operates Highland Chocolates. PIP is a non-profit vocational agency that empowers those with disabilities to succeed.

People with disabilities often have a difficult time finding a job. If they do find one, they face many obstacles to being successful. PIP changes that and provides an atmosphere and assignments that help their workers succeed. Highland gives disabled people jobs they can master and encourages them to become experts in their craft, and the employees flourish.

I had the pleasure of meeting many of the employees, and they were the happiest workers I have met in a long time. They explained their jobs to me as they made the sweet treats, and they obviously loved having a job to go to every day.

Many of them worked as a team creating the treats, each having a specific job as part of the team. One person might be stirring the chocolate, and another may be crushing the pretzels to make their famous pretzel bark. Another would be in charge of packaging, and someone else would be adding labels.

They were very positive and showed enthusiasm for their work. They felt their jobs were important to the success of the candy factory, and they loved being a part of the process.

Worker makes "tree stumps"
“When we visited, they were making my favorite chocolate delight, their Tree Stumps.”
(Photo Credit: Robin O’Neal Smith)

Our Favorite Chocolates From Highlands

My husband’s favorite treat from Highland’s is the almond bark. I like their pretzel bark and chocolate-covered pretzels.

Tree Stumps with peanut butter
Tree Stumps are “a treat that includes a layer of caramel, followed by a layer of peanut butter sandwiched between two pretzels [then] dipped in milk, dark, or white chocolate. “
(Photo Credit: Robin O’Neal Smith)

When we visited, they were making my favorite chocolate delight, their Tree Stumps. They are a treat that includes a layer of caramel, followed by a layer of peanut butter sandwiched between two pretzels — dipped in milk, dark, or white chocolate. The stumps are named after the Tioga State Forest and Susquehannock State Forest. They sell packages of three or five Tree Stumps.

We enjoyed these treats so much we have ordered them online several times since our visit. It is great having them shipped to our home. They also make great gifts!

Available At Two Locations

You can purchase and enjoy their delicious chocolate treats at two locations. The factory store is located at 11724 Route 6 Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, and a second store location is in downtown Wellsboro at 82 Main Street.

Their chocolates can also be found at various retailers throughout the state. After visiting, we found them at state parks and visitor centers.

Signage outside of Highland Chocolates
Signage outside of Highland Chocolates
(Photo Credit: Robin O’Neal Smith)

They Do Fundraisers

If your organization needs to raise money, they have a fundraising plan available that will make money for your group and support a wonderful cause.

Editor’s Note: The factory/store on Route 6 is temporarily closing for renovations on May 27. A big celebration is planned during the afternoon of their final day of operation. They will continue making their fabulous confections at another location that does not have a store until the renovations are complete in the spring of 2023. The new factory promises to be bigger and better than the current facility. Until then, you can still purchase their delicious treats online or in their downtown Main Street store. 

Read more about some of the best chocolate shops and locations around the world:

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