Chocolate Advent Calendars: Holiday Cheer in a Box
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There are numerous culinary traditions associated with the season of advent that leads up to Christmas. From roast turkey to stollen, there is no shortage of specialty food associated with the advent season in any part of the world. This article delves into a less well-known Advent tradition: chocolate advent calendars. Continue reading to learn about the history of this popular Christmas gift, its current relevance, and other popular iterations of the calendar.

The structure of the calendar can range from a box with simple demarcations to handmade themed models, all containing anywhere between 24 and 30 cavities that house wrapped chocolates. The size and type of chocolates used will vary depending on the manufacturer. Small businesses and chocolateries may use their own formats to feature chocolates or pastries that they have concocted especially for the holiday season.

Several large chocolate brands have tried and tested formats for the calendar that have been in production for several decades. The first advent calendars in the world predated large-scale chocolateries; advent calendars with pictures or bible verses relevant to the month were said to be popular holiday gifts in the early twentieth century.It wasn't until nearly 50 years later that the calendars began to feature chocolate, when several Swiss chocolateries used the medium to market the first runs of their mass-produced chocolate offerings. These calendars would remain localized to the alpine states for nearly two decades, until Cadbury began selling their trademark advent calendars in the UK. The concept quickly gained traction, despite the fact that most chocolateries could only produce the calendars on specific years due to production constraints.This would only change in the 1990s, when Cadbury announced that their calendar would be a permanent member of their line-up. Several food and beverage companies followed suit; conglomerates such as Nestle and Lindt would launch advent calendars under almost every brand name they owned. Advent calendars would soon become popular the world over; they made for perfect gifts owing to the element of surprise, spread over nearly a whole month, until the last date on the box.

The calendar is still a best-selling item during Christmas today. Several food and beverage companies have also used the format to sell a range of other products. The market today has advent calendars that feature everything from whisky to jams. Companies have also used the format for limited promotions or even publicity stunts. In 2010, the automobile giant Porsche offered a 1 million-dollar advent calendar containing memorabilia and merchandise focused on the brand's history and design philosophy. It was a limited edition of only six units, one for each continent in which the company operates.

The format has been a godsend for small business owners. Around the world, several craft bakeries and chocolateries rely on the month of advent for a significant portion of their annual sales, both festive and staple offerings. Advent calendars are an inexpensive and effective way for these companies to advertise, with the format being so effective that most chocolatiers that make the boxes allocate their budgets for the month factoring in the increased sales brought in through the same, which more than makes up for a lighter advertising budget.

The calendars are also a great marketing choice for companies that are already thriving in an effort to generate hype, in a manner similar to how successful companies turn to niche platforms such as thread-style forums or crowdfunding platforms to market their products. This is especially true for the alcohol industry, which is the second largest adopter of the format, losing out only to chocolate companies. Several companies curate boxes that feature miniatures of gin, wine, whisky, etc., with anywhere from twelve to even thirty bottles per box.

There are advent calendars pertaining to almost any edible item you can think of, however niche or impractical they may be. Companies that sell everything from cheese to pet food use the format with much success.

Can’t find one where you live? Making an advent calendar of your own can make for a great project and gift. All you need are a few boxes of various sizes and art supplies that you have lying around the house. You may use any item of your choice; chocolate and alcohol minis are great places to start. Assemble the calendar by making cutouts for the insertions, anywhere from a week to a full month. The calendar makes for a thoughtful gift, as you can tailor the experience to suit the preferences of the individual it is to be gifted to, with complete control of the creative process.