Mention chocolate and you’re likely to see pupils dilate and smiles erupt. While some people might be allergic or otherwise averse, few don’t love chocolate goodies of all kinds, from hot cocoa to candy bars to fine truffles.

“It’s hard not to smile if someone gives you chocolate. At least it is for me,” says Laurie Aronoff, director of marketing for Goldner Associates, this year’s PPAI 100 No. 49 distributor.

Chocolate also literally triggers warm, fuzzy feelings, thanks to the human body releasing endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin – all the happy hormones – when we eat it. That’s just one of the many reasons chocolate and other sweets are a traditional holiday gift.

“They can be shared, it is not something that the recipient already has, and it is universally enjoyed. When you eat chocolate, your body replicates the chemical your body creates when you are in love,” says David Miller, president of Hicksville, New York-based supplier NC Custom, the PPAI 100 No. 18 supplier and home of the Chocolate Inn brand.

Part of the fourth generation to work in the family business in Nashville, Tennessee, Aronoff uses chocolate for her company’s self-promos as well as recommending it to clients as a simple yet versatile – and delicious – giveaway.

“You don’t have to worry about the demographics of your audience. You don’t have to worry about the industry. You don’t have to worry about sizing. There’s all different price points you can hit,” says Aronoff. “A lot of them have great packaging where there’s lots of room for messaging, and it just appeals to a lot of senses.”

While the industry offers tons of great options, Aronoff advises her fellow distributors to always sample anything new.

“Before I put our logo on something, I need to be sure it stands up to the quality, taste, whatever test, she says. “It’s got to be good – and our industry does have some really good chocolate and other products.”

Also, she says, be sure to take full advantage of all the customization options, from custom-wrapped candy bars to unique, retail-inspired packaging in different shapes to imprints on the candies or cookies themselves.

“The nice thing about some of these chocolates is you can make the packaging relate to whatever the holiday is, whatever the event is,” says Aronoff. “… There’s so much room on a wrapper. It’s not like you’re trying to put an imprint on a pen where you’ve got to tighten the amount of room. You’ve got a lot of billboard space there.”

Another benefit of chocolates and other sweet treats is their shareability: Chocolates are often enjoyed in social settings and shared among co-workers, friends and family.

“When you provide chocolates as promotional gifts, recipients may choose to share them with colleagues, friends or family members,” says Mitch Silver, vice president of sales and marketing for Chicago-based distributor Printable Promotions. This creates an opportunity for your brand or message to reach a broader audience through word of mouth.”

holiday gift box of chocolate-covered seal salt caramels

Aronoff’s favorite sweet treat is Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels. These rich bites deliver soft, buttery caramel, made with dairy fresh cream and enrobed in dark chocolate, then dusted with a delicate sprinkling of sea salt to create a bold flavor.

Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8


peppermint bark stars in gift box

Aronoff is also a big fan of Chocolate Inn’s Peppermint Bark, with dark chocolate, white chocolate and crushed peppermint candy. “Something about that combination is just to die for, so I love those,” she says. Available in different holiday shapes (trees and stars) and a variety of customizable packaging options.

NC Custom / PPAI 111662, S7

custom gift cubes filled with candy

Appeal to the eyes as well as the tastebuds with retail-inspired packaging like the Two-Way Signature Cube Collection, with your choice of fillings from nuts to gourmet chocolates. Cubes also available in singles, threes, six or nine.

Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, S3

custom labeled candy jars

Bring in some different flavors to make your client’s brands stand out with custom-labeled SugarSpot candy jars. Bold Bourbon Cordials and Campfire S’mores Bites are just two of the many chocolate-forward options available.

HPG / PPAI 110772, S11

gourmet tower of treats in silver gift boxes

For something more traditional but with a wow factor, the Shimmering Tower of Gourmet Treats – including an array of chocolate, cookies, nuts, caramels and more – makes a classic holiday gift perfect for sharing in the office or at a family gathering.

Gemline / PPAI 113948, S11