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Chocolate Fountains--Are They Passe on A dessert buffet?

Just wondering if chocolate fountains are passed their expiration date.

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  1. I still see them at weddings, casino buffets, large home parties, fundraising events and I'd take a chocolate fondue pot over a chocolate fountain any day.

    1. I've recently read people referring to them as germ transfer systems.

        1. I'm not one to get squicked out by germ-y things, but chocolate fountains are revolting. Anytime I see them, I avoid them. Jay F has it right- they're germ transfer systems.

          15 Replies
            1. re: forthetrees

              Jay F would rather have the dog lick his plate than eat from a chocolate fountain.

              (He is sick with the flu this week, so he's writing in the third person.)

              1. re: Jay F

                Aren't they only germy if people "double dip?"

                1. re: Sra. Swanky

                  I don't know. I've never eaten from one.

                2. re: Jay F

                  Or is he/you doing a jfood imitation? Not allowed.

                    1. re: iluvcookies

                      Miss him too. Hope jfood is well and I'm missing Sam F (RIP) too. They were so witty & warm and had such great ideas. They really were the ultimate hounds.

                      1. re: Sra. Swanky

                        I understand he's a contributor to a Connecticut based food site. Sam's living magically 'up there' :) and cooking up a storm.

                    2. re: c oliver

                      I'm just so sick, I was delirious when I wrote that. What does the "j" stand for in jfood?

                            1. re: sandylc


                              I got a warning once for addressing my "reverence"

                  1. Yes. Not only the germ issue, but I've seen too many where the chocolate gets clumped/jammed and doesn't flow properly.

                    Why not just have an assortment of fruit dipped in chocolate.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: viperlush

                      Yes, and seeing a chocolate fountain clogged with bits of fruit and angel cake crumbs is not very appetizing. Plus, all the ones I have seen used poor quality chocolate. Who wants to eat that?

                    2. Yes. Fountains of anything (chocolate, "mixed drinks") have gone the way of shoulder pads and DeLoreans.

                      1. Nothing like watching people stick their finger into the flowing chocolate, lick it clean, then stick the same finger back into the fountain.

                        Oh yes they do!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          That's what I'm talking about. There are just so many better ways to ingest chocolate.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            I really thought they were cool till I stood near one and watched people (mis)using it. finger tasting listed above, trying to retrieve dropped food from the pool, using it to coat anything not nailed down within a 50 foot radius (chocolate covered roses? why not? because the petals fall off unless the flower is very fresh! then the failed attempts were left there by the fountain for others to witness (steamed vegetables in chocolate 'soup', chocolate scalloped potatoes, oh yeah - a chocolate covered cigar - there's an idea.) And chocolate fingerprints on doorknobs, flatware, barware, plates, windows. Now mind you it was almost all adults at this event. SMH (shake my head)

                          2. Yes! A thousand times YES!

                            1. Weren't they always??? As Veggo would say, shoulda been drowned at birth. Yuck. Okay, well, maybe in Vegas which has a higher threshold for tacky.

                              1. They look pretty, but I personally wouldn't eat the chocolate from one.

                                  1. Bad chocolate and kids sticking their hands in it. Enough said.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      Amen to both. Just took 1 tiny taste at a wedding, and it must have been that "chocolate-y coating" stuff-just awful. Give me even a Hershey bar over a chocolate fountain. And an antibiotic.

                                      1. re: pine time

                                        Now there's an idea: a chocolate fountain laced with Cipro to ward off any diseases.

                                    2. Now, a ranch dressing fountain - THAT'S the new it thing.


                                      24 Replies
                                      1. re: Violatp

                                        As long as no one stuck their hands in it or double dipped, that would be great! You may be on to something! ;o)

                                        1. re: Violatp

                                          That's what Guy Fieri had at his wedding reception.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            I'd believe it.

                                            I'm extremely gullible, though. ;-)

                                          2. re: Violatp

                                            I attended a wedding expo in 2006 (worst idea ever - never do this, I repeat - do NOT attend a wedding expo) and they had chocolate, ranch, and nacho fountains. It was kind of hypnotizing in a lava-lamp kind of way, but also super nauseating. THAT MUCH ranch dressing was scary.

                                            1. re: NonnieMuss

                                              Lol. Thanks nonnie. Have been giggling at this thread but I had just bought a $9 battery-op fountain hoping it would entertain the cats with water. Sadly, I did not know the physics and water is not thick enough to pump in cheapass fountains so never got to the kitties.

                                              Now I have two goals: ranch fountain to please a friend next time she comes over, and T-day gravy fountain. Have to find a recipe for "stuffing sticks".

                                              DaisyM, just say no. Stay classy. ;)

                                              1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                Gravy fountain???

                                                Insert Homer Simpson drool here.

                                                Stuffing balls on sticks!

                                                Wait, this ISN'T the embarrassing foods thread?

                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                  Why has nobody made a stuffing ball with gravy dipping? Wouldn't an hors d'oeuvres inspired by Thanksgiving be a lovely theme? I am completely serious!

                                                  Must think of other ideas...

                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                    I like it! I think little mashed potatoe puffs with a tiny slice of turkey on top would be a terrific hors d'oeuvres in the same vein. And phyllo cups with green bean casserole inside...

                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                      A thanksgiving scotch egg--deep fry all the ingredients in a big ball. What could be better? Add gravy to the green bean casserole. Freeze into little balls. Roll in cranberry sauce and then cover w/ slice of turkey. Cover w/ stuffing and deep fry. It would be better w/ a gravy fountain.

                                                    2. re: melpy

                                                      I'm on board! --- if the turkey part is left out.

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        Stuffing cupcake with mashed potato icing?
                                                        Sweet potato cupcake with marshmallow icing?

                                                    3. re: DuchessNukem

                                                      I think I just snorted my grapefruit juice up my nose I was laughing so hard DN - Yeah to the gravy fountain!

                                                      1. re: gingershelley

                                                        lol. Trial run on Friday when I get home. Will have to use the emergency jar of gravy I was saving for the coming apocalypse. :)

                                                    4. re: NonnieMuss

                                                      Now, I'm the one going "yuck" about ranch and nacho fountains. But I won't yuck someone else's yum. And if a client wanted to do it, I'd have to see if it would work, and if it could, then I'd probably do it.

                                                      But yeah, I'm not keen on the idea.

                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                          It's really hard to say "no" when the client says "x venue did it for us and it was great." Personal opinion (meaning, I hate the idea) flies out the window sometimes.

                                                          1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                            Just thinking out that, that could be a double edged sword. I'd probably pass on a caterer if someone highly recommended him/her with, "She did the BEST ranch fountain." The client might be happy but your reputation is on the line.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              Totally agree. We're caught between a rock and a hard place sometimes. I do put my foot down when a client is being totally unreasonable and doesn't understand the logistical end but sometimes, and I hate to say it, we just have to cave in. Sometimes there's politics involved, sometimes other reasons. But overall, we don't compromise our high standards.

                                                              But before you pass on the caterer who did the BEST ranch fountain, you might want to find out WHY they did it. Assuming you get a honest answer, you'll know for sure why you should pass, or give them a shot anyway.

                                                              1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                I remember about 28 years ago when I was the CLIENT caught between a rock and a hard place.

                                                                I was getting married in my home (small) town. The only wedding cake baker in town just did NOT understand what I wanted. I wanted real butter, real vanilla, and no food coloring. She could not wrap her mind around that - the frosting wouldn't be WHITE if she used butter!!!! I gave in because she was just stupid about it, but insisted on no food coloring - just simple, beautiful white-on-white piping.

                                                                Fast forward to the wedding reception; we arrive at the country club, and there's the cake - with some sort of green vines piped all over it.


                                                                  1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                    OH!!! Those are wonderful!! Just think how their memories will be forever alive! When everything goes as planned, where's the fun? ha

                                                      1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                        Wow. I absolutely thought I was making that up.


                                                        And I like ranch dressing! But, ew.

                                                    5. Recipe for Fountain Chocolate: 50% cheap chocolate + 50% cheap oil to get it to flow properly = Gross

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: seamunky

                                                        Um, no, not cheap chocolate and cheap oil. I just did a chocolate fountain for a client and you really have to buy good chocolate. No added oil. You have to heat the fountain properly, add the chocolate a little at a time and keep stirring it til it flows well.

                                                        If the heating element is turned down, then the chocolate WILL get gummy and the chocolate won't flow properly. It looks just as you would imagine....

                                                        I will say that for the right group (and I don't mean little kids), it's enjoyable. I've seen guests take pictures of the fountain, as they've never seen it before. It's not something I ever suggest but if the client wants it, they can can have it.

                                                        As as an aside, I only do business catering....nothing social.

                                                        1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                          You may do it a quality way, but all you have to do is search the web for recipes/fountain rentals/etc to see that copious amounts of veg oil are the norm.

                                                          1. re: christy319

                                                            from a typical website:

                                                            Basic Oil-Based Fountain Chocolate:
                                                            Serves up to 20 Guests
                                                            24 ounces milk chocolate, dark chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
                                                            3 unsweetened chocolate baking squares, chopped
                                                            3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
                                                            1. In a double boiler, combine all ingredients. Over low heat, continuously stir all ingredients together until chocolate slowly melts and combines with the oil.
                                                            2. Pour the chocolate into the basin of the fountain and turn on. If the chocolate does not flow smoothly, add 1/8 cup oil into the basin and stir to combine.

                                                            Basic Dairy-Based Fountain Chocolate:
                                                            Serves up to 20 Guests
                                                            24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
                                                            1 cup whipping cream
                                                            1. In a double boiler over low heat, bring the whipping cream to a light simmer. Add the chocolate chips and whisk both ingredients together over low heat until the chocolate is melted and combined with the cream.
                                                            2. Pour the chocolate into the basin of the fountain and turn on. If the chocolate does not flow smoothly, add 1/8 cup cream into the basin and stir until combined.

                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              All I can say is YUCK! We use only chocolate, period. Pity those who get otherwise.

                                                              Chocolate Fountain MO:
                                                              1. Turn machine on.
                                                              2. After about 10 minutes, pour chocolate pieces into base of fountain.
                                                              3. Stir chocolate as it melts.
                                                              4. Add additional chocolate pieces as the melted chococolate flows downward from the top.
                                                              5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 as needed to keep chocolate flowing.

                                                              And most importantly, do not adjust the heat knob, as the chocolate will stop flowing and harden into the base of the fountain. Not a pretty sight!

                                                              1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                So someone has to be tending to it all the time?

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  I guess it depends on how many people you want to serve. It should be stirred often so it stays smooth, and if you are serving more than a few people at one time, you either need a few fondue pots or just keep refilling the one you are using. I think fondue pots only come in once size, right? I don't think I've seen anything large enough to do a large group.

                                                                  At the reception I helped on 20+ years ago, we had one server dedicated to the fondue. Like I said, it was an awful mess (on specialty linen, no less and the linen wasn't brown, which would have hidden the chocolate. The linen was YELLOW--very ugly). Fondue is meant for small, intimate gatherings, where you sit around and dunk bread or whatever. Personally, I would do something else decadent/chocolate for a large gathering. Individual items, nicely presented.

                                                      2. I've always wanted to stick my head under one of them and let the chocolate flow into my pie hole..

                                                        One day, I'm gonna do it...hee hee

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                                          Saw a guest one time put his beverage cup under the flowing chocolate, and filled it up. He found a spoon somewhere and happily ate melted chocolate, no dippers needed. I told my client and she roared with laughter, said she was tempted to do the same.

                                                          And that's why people still order it.....

                                                          1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                            Gotta be that AYCE, more is better, quantity over quality mindset. Ugh.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Not an AYCE function, just a dessert break. Some people just like chocolate, period, and don't necessarily need the high end stuff.

                                                              1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                Whereas I'll take just one little cube of perfect dark chocolate maybe seasoned with salt or jalapeno. Just let it melt in my mouth. And that completely satisfies my sweet tooth. I have other 'vices' :)

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  I'm in your corner, here. I want the good stuff. The lower quality stuff just doesn't do it for me. If there are Hershey bars and kisses and KitKats, etc., available for snacking, I count it as an opportunity to skip some calories.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    Sometimes I just need a fix, and anything will do. See my previous thread a few months ago when I was about to bang my head against the wall from stress. I NEEDED chocolate. I KNOW it's crappy calories, but a fix is a still fix.

                                                                    The rest of the time, I want the good stuff, no question about it. But I don't keep it on hand for those "just in case" situations.

                                                              2. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                That guest might have been me - but you said "he" so I know it wasn't! At an end term party, I took my coffee cup (clean cup) and filled it up with chocolate from the fountain, then happily went back to my table to eat it with a spoon.

                                                                Please don't judge me. :o)

                                                                1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                                                  I can easily eat chocolate any day of the week without any excuse (I've got some Hershey minis and chocolate kisses in my desk right now). I have a sign in my office that says "I never met a piece of chocolate I didn't like" (and thanks to Will Rodgers for the inspiration of that quote).

                                                                  If I go to one of those fill-your-own-cup frozen yogurt places, I heap on the hot fudge topping. I will almost always order chocolate for dessert in any restaurant, I'm pretty boring that way.

                                                                  So no, I don't judge you :)

                                                              3. re: Beach Chick

                                                                You've read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, haven't you, Beach Chick? :-)

                                                              4. DaisyM, I'm curious why you've asked. Are you considering having one for an upcoming event? Have the posts had any impact on your decision?

                                                                15 Replies
                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                  I was asked to review some catering options for a large event and the chocolate fountain was listed as an option. It seemed pretty dated to me and I was wondering if I was the only one who thought so. I've been feeling that way about cupcakes for quite awhile, too.

                                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                                    At least a cupcake is an individual serving. Fountains are problematic for so many people and do NOT, repeat do NOT belong at children's b-day parties!!

                                                                    1. re: DaisyM

                                                                      I don't think cupcakes are as dated as the chocolate fountain, but I agree, eventually you just get the same level of excitement as when it was a new fad.

                                                                      When my middle daughter was married, we had a chocolate bar at the reception with trays of filled chocolates and little plastic bags for the guests to take some home. It was a big hit. Last daughter gets married this year and we plan to do the same thing. Trays of fine Belgian chocolate hand crafted with filled centers. Fine chocolates are timeless.

                                                                        1. re: mikie

                                                                          I love the idea of a nice chocolate bar (I even love the play on the word). That's much more elegant than a chocolate fountain, plus as you said, portable--I can't imagine a better take home gift.

                                                                        2. re: DaisyM

                                                                          I like little pies better than cupcakes.

                                                                          1. re: Violatp

                                                                            I truly love great pie. I'd love to see a pie buffet.

                                                                          2. re: DaisyM

                                                                            I don't particularly like cupcakes but my fiancé would like them instead of cake for our wedding. How tacky do you think? Does it depend on flavor etc?

                                                                            1. re: melpy

                                                                              With cupcakes, I think it depends more on the presentation. Neatly swirled white frosting with wrappers to match your color scheme and arranged in tiers, they can be quite elegant.
                                                                              Alternatively--a small, beautifully decorated cake for you to cut, and cupcakes of the same flavor for the guests.

                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                I'd do mini cupcakes. I've done the large ones quite a few times for clients and most go uneaten. This item isn't a case of bigger=better.

                                                                                Actually, mini anything is better. And yes, presentation is really important.

                                                                                1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                  We have decided to go with mini cupcakes for our wedding. We get six flavors. So far we are definitely doing coconut cream, cinnamon swirl and possibly raspberry tirimasu. Othe contenders are Maple Bacon and Salted caramel and we will be trying a carrot cake and a pumpkin closer to the wedding ( it is in the fall).

                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                    Great decision. All the flavors sound great except....you don't have any chocolate! You have to have chocolate, it's the perfect palate refresher. I have a sign in my office, "I never met a piece of chocolate I didn't like." I don't know where I got it, but thanks to Will Rogers for the inspiration.

                                                                                    Are they going to be on a cupcake tower, or on platteres? I'm sure the different toppings will be very pretty.

                                                                                2. re: melpy

                                                                                  I hardly ever eat cake, but I eat cupcakes. They are neat, small, and I prefer to have a choice of flavor. Those qualities don't go out of style and as far as I can see, cupcakes are still very popular...they might not be just a "trend".

                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                    Cupcakes depend upon the quality and taste.

                                                                                    Skip the huge, garish, colored-up, over-frostinged, shortening-loaded travesties.

                                                                                    Go for small, appropriately iced cakes made with butter, real vanilla, and high-quality chocolate and other flavors (such as coffee, good jam, etc.).

                                                                                    Small (3-4") square cakes might be very nice. Like large petit fours.

                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                      Daughter recently had cupcakes for her wedding. Arranged on tiered holders, and complete with custom cake "toppers" on the uppermost tier... made from sugar cookies. Very cute.
                                                                                      I would recommend tasting a sample or two from the bakery, to determine whether or not you actually like the product.

                                                                                3. I love chocolate but there is nothing about a chocolate fountain that appeals to me, including the waste in the end. I was surprised it took off as a trend. If I wanted dipping chocolate for an event, I'd probably do individual fondue cups over sterno/candles. I ran a (really bad) hot chocolate race where they gave participants a scoop of warm chocolate and dip-ables--the best part of the race.

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    I just did a reception for 1000 pp, client ordered 2 fountains, over 1300 pieces of dippers....individual fondue cups wouldn't work in that scenario. Trust me on that. One of my former associates did fondue pots for a large (over 2,000 pp) many years ago, before chocolate fountains became popular (maybe even before they were invented). What a g-d-awful mess that was...

                                                                                    A smaller event, less than 50 pp, sure. More people, definitely not.

                                                                                    1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                      Ugh, I can't imagine 1000 people using 2 fountains but then as, I said, I hate the whole concept of the chocolate fountain from start to finish.

                                                                                      When I did the race, there were thousands, we all all received a bowl of melted chocolate and some things to dip in it. They had people scooping the chocolate into the cups as we went through the line. If it's a small amount, you wouldn't need tea lights to keep it warm. If I had to dip chocolate, I'd rather do that than use a fountain.

                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                        Agree with ou, chowser. I also loathe the whole concept. It just seems tacky somehow. As I mentioned, too Vegas-like for me. We were on a cruise recently and they had a big brunch buffet one day. Even THEY didn't have a chocolate fountain.

                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                          It's really hard to day "no" when logistically it is possible. There are things I do say NO to but I have to have a really, really good reason for it. I can't say no if I think it is tacky...and believe me I'd love to!

                                                                                          1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                            I completely understand. I'm wondering more about the client who wants a fountain, especially for that many guests!

                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                              It is still a novel item for alot of people. I think that some people on Chowhound forget that alot of items they are jaded about are truly wonderful for alot of people. So, again, I will do a fountain if my client wants it, in the right setting.

                                                                                              It may also be a repeat item for them and was well-received. The thinking for clients ranges from "if it ain't broke, we won't fix it" to "we did this last year, we need to do something different this year."

                                                                                              This client had a dessert break on Valentine's Day. They did cupcakes (red and pink frosting) and the fountains. They served Proseco and that was also well received. All in all, the break was a success and that's really all that matters - for both of us.

                                                                                    2. Chocolate fountains are for people who wear stinky pajamas in public. Besides, don't they deserve more than just ranch dressing and liquid cheese sauce? After all, these folks seem to be more and more a part of American culture. No longer are they confined to Wal Mart.

                                                                                        1. Pretty much that happened the day Bridesmaids came out.

                                                                                          1. Interesting. We all seem to hate 'em yet I continue to see chocolate fountains at events. Someone must enjoy them.

                                                                                            I will spare you the gory details of the chocolate fountain I saw at a Golden Corral in Myrtle Beach last summer. It was right next to a cotton candy machine. You can do the math, factoring in hoards of boys there for a big basketball tournament.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: tcamp

                                                                                              I shudder to think what a Golden Corral in Myrtle Beach looks like. 8<D

                                                                                            2. Yes indeed.

                                                                                              Snotty fingered kids use them...ewww.

                                                                                              Oily chocolate is crappy anyway.

                                                                                              1. I know everything that could be said has been said, but I ran across this picture today and I just couldn't resist.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                  All I could think was "oh that poor bird"! :(