The Southbend Chocolate Company has been around for decades and is home to one of the largest collections of chocolate memorabilia in the world.

I love chocolate in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. I love a good chocolate bar, a piece of chocolate cake, and, of course, a scoop of chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone. That said, there is one tourist destination that I'm going to have to put on my bucket list, and luckily, this chocolate fairytale is not too far out of reach.

The Southbend Chocolate Company, 3300 W Sample St. # 110, South Bend, Indiana, is a dream come true for anyone who has ever seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (or Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). The company was founded by Mark Tarner in 1991, who grew up working at his family's grocery store in Leesburg, Indiana. According to the company's website, new confections roll out of the factory every day. Currently, the business has over 500 different chocolates and sweets available in company stores, along with select retailers nationwide.

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The factory spans about 58,000 square feet. Visitors who take the factory tour are treated to a chocolate history lesson as a guide leads you through all the factory processes, including panning, enrobing, and more. Guests even get to enjoy a test sample at the end. As far as I know, there are no Oompa Loompas around ready to sing if you fall into a vat of chocolate.

Another fun aspect of taking a trip to the Southbend Chocolate Company is taking a stroll through their "Chocolate Museum," which contains some of the largest collections of chocolate memorabilia in the entire world. One notable piece is a 1,300-year-old Mayan chocolate pot, but visitors can also expect to browse hundreds of tins, containers, and chocolate boxes of all shapes and sizes. The factory and museum are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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