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Henry and Esther Whetstone are Florida natives and lifelong residents of northeast Florida. After they married, they longed to own and operate their own business. Operating from their kitchen each night, Henry and Esther first opened their small ice cream store on St. George Street in the historic business district of St. Augustine in 1966. They entered the chocolate market when they created a home-made fudge recipe, again in the family’s small kitchen.
The small kitchen was the original Whetstone Chocolate factory and the production crew was two hard working people.
By word of mouth, the Whetstone Chocolate reputation grew rapidly and the demand for their chocolates increased even more so. By 1967, they were selling 13 different flavors of fudge along with an increasing assortment of hand-dipped chocolates. In the 1970s, they opened a chocolate production factory at 51 Cordova Street in St. Augustine. Their reputation spread beyond the confines of regional sales and Whetstone Chocolates opened more retail stores and began wholesaling their superior chocolates. When Virginia Whetstone, the daughter of Henry and Esther, graduated from Vanderbilt University she soon became President of Whetstone Chocolates. In 1984, a new 10,000 square foot factory was constructed on Highway 312, south of St. Augustine.
In the early 1990’s the Whetstone Chocolate factory became a major St. Augustine attraction as tourists and local residents alike sought to learn more about the unique Whetstone delicacies. Daily tours, conducted at first by Virginia and later by her staff, became commonplace for tourists as well as many local families. Having evolved from mass production chocolates, Virginia’s vision now transcends two horizons. First, is to educate consumers on chocolate, its growth, harvesting and production. Second, is to educate the consumers’ palates to the delicate and flavorful varieties of chocolate. As such, Virginia now focuses on adding unique and exciting artisan chocolates.