- Ginny McCabe Contributing Writer
Whether you’re a chocolate lover, or looking to purchase a last-minute holiday gift, the Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory in Lebanon is a must-stop place to shop. In fact, even Cincinnati-born director, movie producer and screenwriter Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Studio regularly place orders with the Lebanon-based business, located at 120 S. Broadway Street.
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Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory makes premium chocolates daily. A few of their signature chocolates include the company’s Texas Tortoise and Pecan Toffee as well as buckeyes, nut clusters, barks, truffles and much more. Customers can purchase everything from individual pieces to gift-boxed orders in person or online at www.goldenturtlechocolatefactory.com.
Serving Warren County and beyond, we caught up with Joy Kossoudji, who owns the Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory with her husband, Ted to find out more about what they have to offer. The company has been making chocolates since 1982, and the shop has been in its current location since 1988.
Q: Tell us about yourself?
A: I was born in Dayton, Ohio. Ted was born in Brooklyn, New York, but he moved to Dayton when he was 2 years old, so we consider ourselves as Buckeyes. We started the Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory in 1988, and we are now in our 30th year, and we are celebrating that for a few months, giving away baskets, goodies and things like that to thank the community for being so supportive over the past 30 years. Each month, we are going to try to do something different to thank the community. (The company was founded on November 19, 1988. The company will celebrate 30 years in business in 2018. When the company passed November 19, 2017, they started into their 30th year.)
My son, Scott Kossoudji is in Cypress, Texas, and he has a chocolate factory called Copper Kettle Chocolate Factory. He studied under Ted. He, and his wife, Carrie, and their son, Ryan run the business in Cypress, Texas. I have another grandson, Sean. He is in the Navy in Special Forces, and he just had a baby boy, Ray, so now I’m a great grandma and Ted is a great grandpa, and we are looking forward to seeing them in January when we go out to San Diego to visit.
Ted’s brother, Pete Kossoudji, and his wife, Shirley, are the founding owners of the North Dayton Garden Center. (The North Dayton Garden Center first opened in March of 1963.)
Q: How did you come up with the name Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory?
A: That’s interesting. We wanted to come up with a name for the community. We looked up the hill, and there was the Golden Lamb, an icon in town. And, on the other side of our building is Turtle Creek, so we looked into how Turtle Creek got its name, and we found out that there was a very friendly Indian Chief named Chief Little Turtle, and he helped the white man rescue a white woman from another tribe. So, we thought “Golden Turtle,” and “Chocolate Factory” is what we do, so that’s how we came up with the name.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about being in the business?
A: I’ll tell you what we both enjoy the most: It’s the pleasure that the people get out of a chocolate. When customers come in and customers are just so happy, and thrilled, it makes us feel good that we’re doing something that is making somebody else feel good. It’s a real “upper” to know that you’ve made somebody happy, and they’ll come in and say, “I used to bring my children in when they were babies. Now, we still come in, and have great memories.” I think it’s just the pleasant feeling you get from knowing that you are making other people happy.
Q: What are some of your specialty items? And what are a few of the items that are most popular?
A: Our signature item that we sell the most of would be our Texas Tortoise. We call it Texas Tortoise. We get our pecans from Texas, and it’s a (chocolate) turtle. It has caramel and pecans, and that one we sell head over heels above everything else. That is a signature item. We also sell that item to Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Studios out in California. Well, in fact, they’re all over the country. They are one of our real famous customers. Then, another signature item would be our Pecan Toffee. It tastes a lot like a praline. Then, we have an Almond Toffee, which is real popular. And, Ted makes a lot of different kinds of barks. We have a Pistachio Salted Bark. We have a Peanut Caramel Bark, and on and on … . We also offer Almond Cashew and Peanut, and we have caramel bars with different kinds of nuts. And, we do a lot of themed molds. We have dinosaurs and alligators, fireman and police molds, and music and on and on.
Q: How did you make the connection with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks?
A: I will tell you how we made that connection. We were selling to a large, brick-laying company in St. Louis, Missouri. The (owner’s) mother knew Steven Spielberg’s mother. So she gave Steven Spielberg’s mother a 3-pound box of our Texas Tortoise. And, they took it on a cruise when she went out with Steven Spielberg. He loved them. And, ever since, he’s been buying them, and members of his DreamWorks studios will call and order six or seven boxes. They probably order 50 or 60 times throughout the year. It’s always the Texas Tortoise. He likes the dark chocolate, but they will order the milk chocolate also. That’s how he got into the picture, and that was in 2004. He’s been buying from us since 2004. He’s a great customer.
Q: That’s neat.
A: It’s exciting for us. We couldn’t believe it when we found that out. When I talked to the owner of the brick-laying company, he knew all about it. He said, ‘Oh yeah, my mom gave Steven’s mom a box of those.’ I said, ‘I want to thank you for that one.’ … Of course, you know Steven Spielberg was born in Cincinnati.
We also had a customer, Bert Buccilli, who passed away last year at age 103. He would call up and place his orders … . He sent me a picture one time with his granddaughter, and I have that hanging on my billboard. I’m looking at him right now. He was 102 at the time. He was one of my favorite customers ever, he was so sweet.
Q: What do you love the most about the business?
A: I love the orders we get. I love the people we deal with. We have great customers. As far as physically what like to do, I like to do the molding of the chocolate. And, I do some hand dipping. I like to create a new product. Although, Ted does most of that. Or, I’ll suggest something to him and he puts it together. We also have a fantastic staff.