Hot cocoa bombs are exploding in the suburbs. Goodness, why wouldn't they be?
For a person who doesn't like chocolate, self-described "cottage baker" Ashlei Nordmeyer chose for her specialty a surprising confection -- one that has generated millions of views for her on TikTok.
The South Elgin woman is among a growing contingent of bakers and candy makers who've embraced the latest viral food trend: hot cocoa bombs.
They're small chocolate orbs filled with cocoa mix, mini marshmallows and other sweet ingredients that break open when hot milk (or a milk substitute) is poured over them. The treats are so popular they are sparking countless queries on social media about where to find them.
"I'm not a fan of chocolate at all, but I'll drink the hot cocoa," says Nordmeyer, whose TikTok video showing one of her cocoa creations racked up more than 4 million views, confirming that -- for chocolate lovers -- this treat is da bomb.
According to The Washington Post, an Idaho man named Eric Torres Garcia claims he created the first cocoa bomb. In 2019, he posted a video on TikTok showing him pouring hot milk over a chocolate sphere, which then broke open and released mini marshmallows.
Within 10 hours, 1.7 million people had viewed the video, according to Garcia, who trademarked "cocoa bomb" and set up cocoabombs.com to sell his concoctions.
Watching a "how-to" cocoa bomb video on social media several months ago, Nordmeyer thought, "I can do that," and Ashlei's Cocoa Creations was born.
The mom of three posted her creations on social media, and the response was immediate. Her video went viral, and Nordmeyer subsequently appeared on "The Today Show" and "Good Morning America."
Nordmeyer estimates she's made 3,000 cocoa bombs since she began her venture in September. Cocoa, caramel, peppermint and white chocolate versions are most popular.
But she also offers specialty bombs. One tastes like a s'more; others incorporate breakfast cereal, Oreo cookies and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
"It makes me feel great that I can offer something people really like," Nordmeyer said.
Anticipating post-holiday demand, she's already contemplating Valentine's Day and Easter-themed versions. And she's mulling over creating a bomb to pair with coffee and a "boozy bomb" for adults.
"I'm still thinking outside the box of what I can offer," she said
Prices range from $4 for regular flavors to $6 each for specialty flavors with a minimum purchase of four. Her creations are available at facebook.com/ashleiscc.
The cocoa bomb's popularity doesn't surprise Alicia Eisenmann, owner of Delish Cakes in Bloomingdale.
"You know how that goes. Once someone tries it or talks about it, everyone else has to have some," she said via email. "So now, here we are."
That so many people are at home and eager for something new to enjoy adds to the appeal, Eisenmann said.
She introduced a milk chocolate bomb before Thanksgiving. She's added more flavors since, with caramel latte and salted caramel versions to come.
But one of Eisenmann's original creations is a milk chocolate bomb infused with 40 mg of cannabidiol distillate, which contains no THC and does not require a license to sell. Prices range from $5 to $8.50 each.
At Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery in Buffalo Grove, hot cocoa bombs have been a hit since the shop debuted them 2½ weeks ago, said manager and head baker Arianna Romero.
"They go out super fast," she said. Some customers purchase them by the dozens.
"At $5 each they definitely come in to stock up for their family," she said of Smallcakes' spheres, some of which are topped with Lucky Charms, Chips Ahoy cookies and Kit-Kat bars. For New Year's Eve, Romero promises an adults-only option.
Cindy Brown, owner of Sweet Occasions Cake Studio in Schaumburg, compares hot cocoa bombs to a double shot of chocolate. The explosion is part of their appeal, she said.
"You're not only getting the cocoa; you're getting the layers of chocolate," Brown said.
"You're putting the bomb in the milk, pouring in hot milk and watching things pop out of it," she said of Sweet Occasions' creations, which sell for $3.50 to $4.50 individually.
"We have one we call The Unicorn, which is white chocolate with sprinkles and rainbow marshmallows inside," Brown said.
Like Nordmeyer, she anticipates the confections' popularity will extend beyond the holidays.
"It's a nice gift," she said, "and they're not as perishable as cupcakes or cookies."