Misshaped chocolates from Artisan du Chocolat, for valentines of all shapes and sizes

“We are all of us in the gutter,” sang Chrissie Hynde, quoting the eminently quotable Oscar Wilde in her 1981 track Message of Love. Like the writer and debonair extraordinaire, Chrissie knew that, regardless of whether single or in a relationship, each of us struggles perpetually to ‘fit in’. That feeling that everyone but you has a perfectly-shaped life seems pretty much universal.

Nevertheless, when we enquire after Artisan du Chocolat‘s funny, lumpy bags of chocolate ‘misshapes’, their vast popularity—next to the chocolatier’s perfect gleaming ‘pearl’ truffles and ‘couture’ collections of pralines—came as a surprise.

“They are our best sellers ever. I could open a stall just selling these, to be honest. That is how popular they are,” says Andre at the stall. Though consisting entirely of chocolates that broke, chocolates whose colouring went awry, experiments with new flavours which “are good but not the best in the world”, the bags outsell their more perfect counterparts significantly.

Ripe English cherries
Among thick, jagged crags of milk chocolate nestle slim, sleek squares of pitch dark bars, jumbled up with thin gold-dusted shards and pink heart-shapes which look like strawberry milk, smell of ripe, English cherries and taste, tangily, somewhere between the two. “The quality is good. The taste is good. Only they aren’t perfect,” says Andre. “Just like humans.” We too have broken bits, look less than perfect and have edges to be knocked off (or melted away).

We are all misshapes: it’s finding the right ‘misshape’ to fit us that matters, and here too the bag of chocolate offers the perfect analogy. “I look for one that’s very colourful. Some people look for one with large bits in, some for thin bits, some with more truffles,” Andre explains, smiling.

For Artisan du Chocolat, it’s a way of making the most of bits that would otherwise be wasted; for us, it’s a chance to see life—and love—a bit differently. As Oscar’s Lady Windermere’s Fan and Chrissie’s Message of Love sagely conclude, after reminding us all of our imperfect, ‘gutter’ existence: “Some of us are looking at the stars.”