10 years ago, as America was falling in love with the Obamas, the Obamas were falling in love with Fran’s Chocolates. The Seattle-based shop run by chocolatier Fran Bigelow first appeared on the President’s radar a year-and-a-half earlier, when he was at an Emerald City campaign stop.
Local businesswoman and lead fundraiser for Barack Obama’s national finance committee, Cynthia Stroum, put together a welcome basket that included a box of her favorite Fran’s milk chocolate salted caramels.
“He had it backstage before he came out to make his speech,” she told Seattle Post-Intelligencer back in 2008. “As he was entering the stage, he saw me and whispered in my ear, ‘Oh my, what were those? Those are phenomenal. I want more’. So that became my little treat for him.”
When Obama took office, the White House contacted Fran’s and asked the company if it could produce a special run of sea salt chocolate caramels in a blue box with the Presidential seal, so the President could offer them to overnight guests and friends who came to dinner. Fran’s, of course, duly obliged.
Unsurprisingly, the small, high-quality chocolate factory started churning out salted caramels like never before after Obama’s love for them became public knowledge, and many credit the humble chocolatier as the catalyst for the country’s sea salt caramel and chocolate craze. But for Bigelow it always has been and always will be about the magical art of chocolate that mesmerized her more than 30 years ago.
“My objective has always been to provide the ultimate taste experience by cooking with only the finest ingredients in small batches, using no preservatives or artificial additives. This commitment to quality remains the guiding philosophy for the company today,” Bigelow told Ecole Chocolat, and anyone who has ever savored one of her artisan chocolates, salted caramel or otherwise, can certainly attest to that.
Fran’s Chocolates has four locations within the greater Seattle area.