Sweet dreams are made of these

Chocolate benefit has tails and tongues wagging

By Paula Johnson

Photo: The Oh, So Sweet Chocolate Benefit for The Humane Society of Greater Dayton begins at 1 p.m. on Oct. 12; photo: Jessica Garringer

The sweet hereafter

There are many ways to define heaven. In my version, those gates aren’t pearly, they’re made of solid chocolate. Behind them flow endless rivers of rich chocolate desserts: brownies, cakes, pies, candies, sauces, all there for my delight, as many as I can possibly eat. And there are kittens. Of course kittens.

This has been the stuff of dream and fantasy until now, because there is an event coming to Dayton that has made my fantasy real: The Humane Society of Greater Dayton’s Oh, So Sweet all-you-can-eat chocolate benefit at The Crowne Plaza on Sunday, Oct. 14 from 1–4 p.m.

A mere $12 ($15 at the door) entitles attendees to eat all the chocolate desired, provided by more than 25 professional chefs, caterers and restaurants, plus a small army of non-professional baking volunteers. Children under 12 will be admitted for $6 in advance or $8 at the door. And according to Jessica Garringer, The Humane Society’s marketing and development projects manager, watching kids at this event is the best part. “Last year a 10-year-old boy had a plate piled so high he could hardly see over the top AND his shirt was stuffed with chocolate,” Garringer said. “Definitely the happiest child I’ve ever seen!”

Garringer went on to explain the importance of the Oh, So Sweet Benefit to the Humane Society, which she pointed out is a no-kill shelter. The facility receives a lot of animals that are too young, injured or sick to be part of the adoption program, and are placed in the foster program. These animals are given temporary homes with volunteer families who care for them until they are ready to be adopted. The costs incurred by these foster families for food, medicine and supplies are all offset by the Humane Society. “This event helped so much with that goal, and we are expecting to raise even more funds this year with a larger attendance!”

The chocolate benefit is the brainchild of one of the Humane Society board members who also happens to be a foster volunteer. It was started last year at Miami Valley School with an attendance of 300. “It was so successful we knew we needed a bigger venue,” Garringer explained. The Crowne Plaza Hotel generously donated their ballroom to accommodate the more than 400 people expected this year. And parking is free at the lot across from the Crowne Plaza. It’s connected by a cat walk (how appropriate) so you don’t even need to go outside.

You had me at chocolate

So, what are some of the highlights to look for this year? How about a chocolate fountain featuring a custom blend of milk and dark chocolate?

“I’m preparing 20 pounds of a special chocolate fondue for people to dip marshmallows, graham crackers, pretzels, strawberries and pineapple,” Jenny Blake, owner of Lady Belgium Chocolate Fountains (and the owner of two chihuahuas and a pug) said. “The Humane Society is such a great organization and the people are marvelous to work with. I just can’t wait for the event!”

Additional vendors participating this year are Kinder’s Kupcakes, Bites of Happpiness, Kohler Catering, Miss Riley’s Cookies, I Dream of Cakes, Dorothy Lane Market, Christopher’s Restaurant, Lindt Chocolates, Baking Frenzy Bake Shop and Bill’s Donut Shop. “We keep getting calls to donate, so the list won’t be finalized until right before the event,” Garringer said.

To keep your chocolate-covered whistle wet, belly up to the bar – the milk bar that is, featuring regular, almond and soy milk. Need a caffeine fix? Try the coffee bar, sponsored by local chain Saxby’s. And as you stroll around perusing the offerings you’ll be entertained by the Stivers School for the Arts Jazz Band.

With so much to taste, it’s important to pace yourself, so after your thirst is quenched it’s a good idea to take a break. And what better motivation to step away from the chocolate than petting kittens? Possibly puppies as well, if they can arrange it, according to Garringer. A photo booth to benefit the foster program will be on hand for pictures with foster kitties, as well as Gem, the Dayton Dragons mascot. To further sweeten the deal, there will be a raffle with prizes provided by area businesses, including Rue Dumaine, City BBQ, Buffalo Wild Wings, AMC Theaters, Petco, Becca’s Jewelry and The Cheesecake Factory.

And finally, according to Garringer, her second favorite part of the event happens when it’s over. “We take all of the desserts that are remaining and make up platters to take to local fire and police stations,” she said. “You should see the faces of these people when we walk in!”

Still looking for a reason to go? How about the fact chocolate is good for you? The flavonoids found in chocolate are antioxidant compounds, which increase the flexibility of veins and arteries. Plus, petting cute furry creatures has been found to lower blood pressure. So, it’s safe to conclude attending this event can only improve your general health. Now, let’s review: There is chocolate. There are kittens. Any questions? My only regret is that being new in town I didn’t know about last year’s event. I plan to make up for lost time on Oct. 14. I’m going online to get my ticket now. Just as soon as I finish this chocolate ice cream.

The Humane Society of Greater Dayton presents the Oh, So Sweet Chocolate Benefit on Sunday, Oct. 12 from 1-4 p.m. at The Crowne Plaza Hotel, 33 E. Fifth St. in Dayton. For more information, please call 937.268.7387. For tickets, please visit hsdayton.donordrive.com/event/chocolate.

Reach DCP freelance writer Paula Johnson at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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