After nearly 75 years of asking you to visit us in downtown Riverside, Cupid Alley Chocolatieres has moved closer via the internet. It’s just another paving stone on our pathway, one more footprint in front and behind the Cupid Alley Chocolatieres’ counters since 1939.
Ferdinand Colombo, an Italian refugee escaping the bitterness imposed by Il Duce, emigrated to the States in the mid 1930s. Soon after arriving at Ellis Island, he traveled north. Finding himself at a Boston bar, he struck up a conversation with a dapper gent who turned out to be famed spiritualist Arthur Ford. The roamer on the paranormal frontiers, who also consulted with Harry Houdini’s widow and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, told Colombo that in a previous life he had created chocolate confections for kings and that his older selves included one as the child of a clandestine mating of Christopher Columbus and a mysterious Honduran named Mama Quilla, who was herself descended from Mayan chocolatistas. From such do we trace The Cupid Alley Chocolatieres to the earliest days of the cultivation of cacao.
Colombo wrote in an unpublished autobiography that he didn’t put too much stock in the idea of a past life at first, but admitted the story’s romance stayed with him. Certainly there was a connection when he experienced what he described as “an electric sensation from toe to brain” upon first spying the empty Cupid Alley storefront. He had been riding the rails across the country during the Depression’s saddest days sampling whatever flavors were offered and searching for opportunity. With help from a widowed wealthy lover whose name he took to the grave with him, he opened The Cupid Alley Chocolatieres in 1939.
At first there were just penny candies and cheap sweets. A few years later, soldiers from the neighborhood sent him notes and samples from wherever World War II took them. In response, by the mid-50s he was importing to his tiny neighborhood store harmonies of cacoa from domestic and foreign sources. In later years, as expansion added a kitchen, Colombo’s sons, daughters and then their children have baked, brewed and molded the tastes and shapes in the back room, giving the store its notoriety and the experience and authority and love for chocolate that guide and encourage us every day.
Your thoughts and wishes (and especially orders) are always welcome. If you can’t drop by, please email cupidalleychocolatieres [AT] yahoo [DOT] com.
Sweet dreams day and night from all of us here at CAC.