Sees candy, loves candy, gives candy – there is an accepted truth in culinary circles that we eat first with our eyes. Science has shown us that visual stimuli can actually alter our perception of food and thereby influence our overall satisfaction. The visual experience is an immediate reaction we have to food as we take in all the colors, positioning and components of the dish. What we see is important to what we feel.

Our eyes lead us in enjoyment of food which is why premium items are always eye-level in the stores or why the snack counter with its brightly lit menu board is the first thing you encounter at a movie theater. Our sense of sight ignites our interest in the food and signals to the brain a positive or negative reaction to what it is seeing. A positive reaction predisposes us to want the product or at least appreciate the potential enjoyment it might bring. The sensation is particularly acute in candy and chocolate because those products tend to be eye-catching in color and trigger pleasant memories in our subconscious. A person sees candy and associates it with past experiences that the brain wants to repeat so our sense of sight contributes to our desire to eat that sweet.

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Understanding the importance of that visual experience a person has when he or she sees candy helps chocolatiers at Chocolate Pizza Company in Marcellus, New York create gourmet chocolate specialties that are unique, delicious and impressive. The company’s signature product, Chocolate Pizza, is a blend of the highest quality Swiss-style chocolate with homemade English toffee that is poured into actual pizza pans and then hand-decorated for a one-of-a-kind feel. The most striking decorations are colorful candies and hand-scripted messages in white chocolate that give the Chocolate Pizza a custom look. For example, a Happy Mother’s Day Chocolate Pizza with a candy border surrounding mom’s good wishes with pastel chocolate gems and sugar decorations popping in summer shapes and colors create a visual party for the eyes. The brain sees candy and signals its pleasure with the gift. Bingo! Mom is already in love with this gift.

Even the packaging on the Chocolate Pizza is meant to convey a visual signal of fun and enjoyment. The custom pizza box that the product comes in creates a familiar presentation and an interesting contrast. The brain sees candy through a window in the pizza box so it is drawn into the “discovery” of what lies inside the otherwise common box. The contrast of a pizza box holding gourmet chocolate adds to the intrigue and ultimately to the joy of uncovering a “hidden” chocolate treasure.

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If we eat first with our eyes, then we also evaluate gifts first with our eyes. Visual impact on gift choices does matter. Watch the subtle differences in a person’s reaction to opening a box containing a grey tie and the reaction you get when a person sees candy through a pizza box window and opens it to find a Chocolate Pizza inside. Guess which one has wow-factor. Skip the tie, buy the pie.

Chocolate Pizza Company is Central New York’s largest chocolate maker and has been featured on national media including Hallmark Channel, CNBC, Food Network, CMT and in Forbes, People and Entrepreneur magazines.