The Chocolate Ball: Tasty Treat or Grand Event?
With the Annual Chocolate Ball here, many Neopians are left still perplexed as to what this event truly means. This vague marking on the annual Neopian Calendar left me, for one, wondering what it was truly about. I decided to go back and see what TNT had, in fact, told us all about this event in the past to learn a little more. In Year Ten they revealed, "The most swanky of dates on the Neopian calendar is here. The rich and famous from all of Neopia have gathered at the Chocolate Factory for the Chocolate Ball!" This statement, however, left me questioning whether this famed 'Chocolate Ball' was indeed a night of chocolate celebration, something quite rare and delectable, or a combination of both? And so my quest for the truth began...
When looking back at the news postings for the Chocolate Ball each year, you can see that they tend to lack details about what really goes on at the Chocolate Factory when all of the VINs (Very Important Neopets) of Neopia gather for one special evening of chocolaty goodness. The news posting of "OUCH! It looks like someone couldn't wait to eat some chocolate. If you are brave, and lucky, maybe your Usul will be painted Chocolate for the Chocolate Ball!" in the news posting in Year Eight leaves one none the wiser as to what goes on behind the Chocolate Factory doors on that one evening a year where the most mouth watering of smells drifts in the air of Neopia Central.
Some things that we DO know happen, however, are that typically new Chocolate Neopets and petpets can be found wandering throughout Neopia at and around this time of year. New chocolate items and treats are often released as well to enjoy. It often also signifies the time of year when many pets' hunger status goes right up to bloated, with so many irresistible delicacies everywhere that you turn it's no wonder! I would highly recommend investing in a pair of Pant Devil Pants with an extended waistband for your pet.
So, notebook and quill in hand, this reporter donned a health inspector uniform in a lovely shade of chocolate brown (of course) and headed out to do some sleuthing to answer all of the questions I had floating around in my head concerning this date. Making my way to the front desk of the famed Chocolate Factory in the Neopian Bazaar, I was greeted by a friendly Kiko with a bandaged head, blue top hat, cute little beard, and a cane which I strongly suspected to be made out of chocolate.
As I entered the castle-like doors of the shop, the shopkeeper turned my way and said, "Welcome to the Chocolate Factory! Nobody ever goes in... nobody ever comes out, but we sell chocolate by the truckload!" It was a peculiar greeting, which left me ever the more curious as to what went on where the customers had never to lay their eyes. I promptly pointed to my health inspector badge and asked for a tour of the facilities to make sure that no gummy rats were lurking in their kitchens. He asked me to wait a moment and I heard a scuffle behind the doors into whatever waited behind the shop in front of the factory itself. He returned a few minutes later with a Chocolate Mynci who asked if I was a bona fide health inspector, at which point I assured him with the fact that no one would be crazy enough to walk around in a health inspector uniform who wasn't actually a health inspector. He agreed to that (clearly he had never met the crazy likes of me), and I was presented with the tour of a lifetime.
Curious as to what I found behind the shop when given my once-over of the famed Chocolate Factory? Well, due to some privacy agreements I signed, I am unable to tell you about any of the new recipes they've been cooking up back there, but let me tell you they are quite splendid! However, I can tell you a little bit more about what it looks like and what I learned about the Chocolate Ball while being the sneaky reporter gone health inspector that I am.
Upon being taken past that door at the back of the shop front, I found myself in a hall full of entirely too small doors. They only just reached above the height of my boots! I asked the chocolate Mynci that was guiding me around what they were used for and was informed that the Chocolate petpets running around the factory prefer to have doors which they can reach the doorknobs on. I found this to be a very practical solution, and a smart one, on behalf of whoever decides to build those sorts of things around the factory. Moving on, we entered a huge room of chocolate vats and various neopets on huge platform stirring the massive pots. I queried as to the reason for so many humungous pots and was informed that there was one for every type of chocolate: milk, dark, orange, white, mint... and the list went on. It was about this time that I asked my guide when he had had the pleasure of being painted Chocolate, and was simply told that he started out as a vat-supervisor himself. That was when I noticed that all of the Neopets with large wooden spoons stirring the pots of melted chocolate were mostly painted Chocolate themselves. I guess they take a chocolate swim every now and again! Who knew a pet could find themselves chocolaty in that way!
Exiting the beginning area of the factory, we found our way into the kitchen, of which I can only tell you smelt of such a wonderfulness that cannot be put into words, and that everything I saw there I am by contract obligated not to reveal. Sorry! However, I am ever thankful for those contracts which I was made to sign due to the fact that they required my guide to leave me unattended for a while, and while pretending to inspect their kitchen I wandered upon a small door which would have appeared to be one for those aforementioned petpets. It was hidden inside a cupboard, which I found to be a rather curious location for a door, and opened it up. Peering my face through the opening in the back of the cupboard, I found myself gazing at something that baffled me, and answered all my questions about the Chocolate Ball. Since this room was adjoining the kitchen, but not attached, I am allowed to reveal to you the secret which I unfolded. In that little secret area, I gazed upon one of the largest balls of chocolate that I have ever seen! Towering taller than a neohome, and surrounded in red velvet rope, I knew what it was that Neopians gather for every year. Made of every sort of chocolate imaginable, with a most intricate of carvings etched into its sides, there it stood, the Chocolate Ball.
I then had to make my way out of the cupboard, hoping I might be invited to the Ball one day to get to see that wonderful treat once more. I followed the Mynci once again and he let me know that there were some living quarters for employees in order to keep the factory secrets within its walls and a few offices that I didn't need to see. There was one odd purple door at the back that I didn't get to look inside, and then suddenly I found myself back in the hall of small doors finding my way back into the shop. I said my farewells to my guide and told him I would send over a health report in a week or so to let him know how the factory had done on its inspection. Apparently the Kiko that I walked past at the shop desk while leaving was wrong because I went in and came out!
So there you have it; I got my sneaky self into the Chocolate Factory's workrooms and learned a bit more about what goes on behind those ever mysterious doors, or at least which ones I got a look behind. To answer my previous question, the Chocolate Ball is both: an event, and a magnificent item. I am positive that the Chocolate Ball I found is what those selected Neopians get so dressed up for once a year, a gathering around the massive chocolate masterpiece at the Chocolate Factory, to enjoy the unveiling of some more wonderful treats that the kitchen staff have cooked up! I wonder if the event has ever included an auction of that massive chocolaty item? Regardless, I hope the factory enjoys my health inspector review, which will be coming their way in the form of this article! Don't be bitter, Mr. Kiko in the top hat; I'm just too sneaky for you to have known!
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No sooner had they done that than the doorbell rang. "Now who can that be!" Isla said, getting up. "If it were Lianne, she'd have let herself in."
Prized by gourmets, held in high regard by collectors with truly deep pockets, rarity 100 chocolates are truly the epitome of the gourmet cuisine.