Ms. Colt and Her Chocolate Factory
When Mackenzie Colt set up shop in 1984, little did she know that 30 years later she’d be in the middle of a Nashville Renaissance. Indeed, in an unassuming cinder block building smack dab in the middle of The Gulch sits Colts Chocolates, found only because of its location near Barista Parlor Golden Sound and Yazoo Brewery. It houses something far more desirable (for most of us) than a $5 pourover or a $4 beer: chocolate—a myriad of bites, bars, and brownies, in all their milk chocolate lusciousness. But, like its humble façade, this chocolate is not infused with lavender or duck fat or chili pepper. It doesn’t proclaim the percentage of cocoa, nor does it contain nibs. It’s not trendy. It doesn’t challenge your palate as much as comforts it in its simple, effortless deliciousness. Chocolate covered peanut butter (Colts Bolts), chocolate covered butter grahams, marshmallows, and salted caramel gooey butter bars (her inaugural dessert) cut into generous samples are scattered around the gift shop for all to taste.
Within ear shot of the shop is an office with possibly the sweetest (and smartest) thing in the place, owner and chocolatier Mackenzie Colt. Mackenzie is one of those special people whose bright eyes and hometown manner exudes goodness and makes you feel right at home. Her story is a fascinating one: a teenage mom who put her husband through college and law school, a successful song writer and singer gigging with Buck Owens, and then a Hee Haw Honey on TV (reruns of which are playing in the store). After life on the road, she returned home to Nashville and started Colts Chocolates, a Nashville institution in operation since 1984. Mackenzie threw herself into the business with as much energy as she did her music, experimenting with recipes and shipping methods and how to increase volume. She developed all the products herself and they are all made from scratch. No shortcuts. She learned much of the business by trial and error. After shaping peanut butter centers by hand for years, she discovered they could use a machine designed to portion hamburgers to shape the peanut butter centers. Eureka!
Beyond Mackenzie’s office is a small door where you enter the “factory,” which is a large room with racks of truffles, bars, and “bolts”—eponymously named after Mackenzie and her biggest seller, Colts Bolts. Mackenzie’s team, led by Tomasa and Victor, is like family—small and intimate. Mackenzie flits around the factory showing us what’s in process, stopping to occasionally stir something. While we were there, they were carefully escorting the “chocolate covered truffle babies” down the conveyor belt and into their little packages. The few that didn’t pass inspection (not enough chocolate on the bottoms) ended up in our mouths. (Mercy, we’ll never eat a Reese’s cup again.)
It’s astounding to see what comes out of this little factory. With more than forty separate products, Colts does mail order, private labeling for Crate and Barrel, and wholesale to hotels in town for their “turn down” services. Yet at its heart, the business is more like the little train that could than a corporate machine. With our city’s love of artisan, homegrown foods, Colts is just the ticket—a golden one at that.
In addition to chocolates, Colts does dessert—which is the delicious, original product they began with in 1984. Their salted caramel gooey butter bars are their signature sweet. Nashvillians and others have been ordering their pies for years. The All Butter Chess Pie, Dark Chocolate Fudge Pie, and White Chocolate Pecan Pie are available as whole pies to order for the holidays.
Order online at coltschocolates.com or call 615-251-0100.
609 Overton Street
Nashville, TN 37203
BRING HOME A PIE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
All Butter Chess Pie, Dark Chocolate Fudge Pie, and White Chocolate Pecan Pie (above) are available to order for the holidays at Colts.