Knoxville chocolatier won't let economy stifle his popularity

Knoxville chocolatier won't let economy stifle his popularity

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Brad Hamlett's Chocolate Factory at World's Fair Park is a haven for chocolate lovers. Brad Hamlett's Chocolate Factory at World's Fair Park is a haven for chocolate lovers.
In the front of the store you'll find dozens of chocolate confections guaranteed to satisfy just about any sweet tooth. In the front of the store you'll find dozens of chocolate confections guaranteed to satisfy just about any sweet tooth.
All the fun happens in the back of Chocolate Factory. All the fun happens in the back of Chocolate Factory.
One of its biggest sellers is the Tennessee Walking Stick, a pretzel rod covered in caramel, pecans and chocolate. One of its biggest sellers is the Tennessee Walking Stick, a pretzel rod covered in caramel, pecans and chocolate.
"We have people, a great team here. It's a young group of people using an old fashioned recipe but we really want to become Knoxville's Chocolate. That's our goal," said Brad Hamlett "We have people, a great team here. It's a young group of people using an old fashioned recipe but we really want to become Knoxville's Chocolate. That's our goal," said Brad Hamlett

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - What happens if you put a history major together with fine arts, English and psychology majors? In the case of Brad Hamlett, who graduated from Florida State with a history degree, you get a group of young people who have a passion for chocolate that's made in Tennessee.

Brad Hamlett's Chocolate Factory at World's Fair Park is a haven for chocolate lovers.

In the front of the store you'll find dozens of chocolate confections guaranteed to satisfy just about any sweet tooth.

However, it's in the back where all the fun happens.

Hamlett and his team of chocolatiers roll out all sorts of sweets, using vintage equipment that's been around for more than half a century.

One of its biggest sellers is the Tennessee Walking Stick.

"It's a pretzel rod with caramel, pecans and chocolate," explained Hamlett. "It's delicious and the name helps sell it. We sell it all over the country. People buy it as a souvenir from Tennessee."

Hamlett first learned the chocolate business as teenager growing up in Florida when he found a job at a local chocolate store.

Eighteen years ago, he opened his first store in West Knoxville: Bradley's Chocolates and Gifts. Last year, he purchased Chocolate Factory.

"What our focus is, we think we have a really great product. It's delicious, it's wonderful. We have people, a great team here. It's a young group of people using an old fashioned recipe but we really want to become Knoxville's chocolate. That's our goal," he said.

He wants to reach that goal, regardless of what happens to the economy.

"With chocolate, we see things and hear things and we worry a bit. I don't want to say it's recession-proof, but it does holds own when economic times are bad. Maybe people aren't buying as much, but they still need those treats and those pick me ups," said Hamlett.

Hamlett, who laughs when you suggest he's a lot like Willy Wonka of movie fame, says he's happy for the comparison, just as long as he can continue to whip out chocolates made in Tennessee.

You can find out more about Chocolate Factory at their website.

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