Spread the Joy: GSO’s Joyland Provisions Bring Culture into Every Chocolate Bar

Featured Image: Robert and Viny Wallace of Joyland Provisions stand in their certified family kitchen where they make chocolate in small batches. (photo by Sayaka Matusoka)

The unbroken line weaves its way through itself, crossing its body to create a hypnotic looping pattern on the bright yellow paper. Kolam is a form of drawing often found in front of houses in South India, created delicately from rice flour or chalk as part of a morning meditation. The models are complex and differ by region. It is believed to bring harmony to the home and celebrate coexistence with nature. Rather than marking the exterior of a house, this kolam on a bright yellow background decorates the exterior of one of Joyland Provision’s signature chocolate bars.

The kolam can be seen on the yellow squares of the India bar packaging. (courtesy photo)

“When I was little, people would draw this in front of their house with rice flour,” says Viny Wallace, co-owner of Joyland Provisions. “It was for decoration but also to really connect with the earth. Now that is an auspicious thing to do.

Wallace left India for the United States with her husband Robert eight years ago. A few years after moving to Greensboro, the two started Joyland Provisions, a small-batch food company specializing in single-origin dark chocolate. One of their iconic bars – the unique origin of India – carries kolam as a way to infuse some of the culture into the product.

“I’ve had experiences that not everyone has been lucky enough to have and I know it’s not easy to understand how things are done differently in some places,” says Robert, who has traveled all over the world. “Chocolate is a way to connect these different things and other people.”

Robert and Viny both say they want to use chocolate not only to spread joy through exquisite flavors, but to share knowledge of the people and cultures behind the individual bars. In addition to their bar from India, they sell cocoa bars from Tanzania, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.

“It’s a great way for us to connect with other cultures,” says Viny. “It’s really interesting to see all the differences with just one thing like cocoa. It is a hobby that has gotten out of hand.

A sample of Joyland’s chocolate bars (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Joyland Provisions debuted in 2017 after Robert started talking with a friend about making chocolate. He read a few books and started making chocolate in his spare time. Three years later, Wallace’s kitchen looks like a small chocolate factory with all the gadgets needed to produce high-quality bars, like a blender and tempering machine. Right now, the two are making all of their chocolate in their certified home kitchen with the help of Viny’s dad, Harry Joseph. They wrap and wrap each bar by hand and also handle most of the sales. Because Robert and Viny both work full time, they spend a lot of time moving produce on weekends at local farmer’s markets like the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market on Yanceyville and the Corner Market on Walker Ave. These days, due to the pandemic, they have also stepped up their online business, shipping chocolate and trying to increase awareness through marketing.

“We try to elevate it and communicate the value behind it,” Robert says of chocolate. “Our vision is to always keep chocolate at the center of what we do and the people behind the chocolate at the center of what we do.”

Eventually, the couple hope to expand their home and rent space.

“I would like to take the factory out of my house,” Viny says. “I would like to do it on a larger scale. I feel good about what we do. It’s something heartwarming. I want to do more.

Robert and Viny Wallace from Joyland Provisions in their home kitchen. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Most of the couple’s customers are local and they think it’s because there really isn’t anyone else making specialty chocolate in town.

“I think there was a space in Greensboro where no one was making chocolate,” Viny says.

“Plus, there’s something delicious about it,” Rob adds. “It’s just fun.”

Other chocolatiers in the area include Black Mountain Chocolate in Winston-Salem and Videri Chocolate in Raleigh. And because of the pandemic, they say an interest in supporting local produce has grown and has helped their business.

“The appetite for the local has really increased during this time,” says Viny. “We were already aware of supporting the local, but there is so much more now. “

The two find ways to collaborate with other local manufacturers to create their product. For a chocolate bar, they used coffee from Fireweed Coffee, another Corner Farmer’s Market vendor, to create a coffee infused chocolate bar. They also sold macaroons made by Easy Cuisine with their chocolate, and Little Brother Brewing used their cocoa beans for an award-winning beer. Over the next several weeks, the two herald holiday flavors like pistachio-cranberry and gingerbread spice.

And as the name suggests, Robert says Joyland’s main goal is to make customers smile, but he also finds joy in the process. He says his favorite part of the manufacturing process is roasting because of the smell it gives off from the house.

“It smells really good,” he said. “It’s tactile; it engages all your senses. And it’s cool to see something transform in real time within an hour.

Viny’s is the last stop before bars take to the world.

“We’re so close to the product,” she says. ” We are taking care of it. It feels like we pour our love into it right before we give it to our customers.

Learn more about the Joyland provisions at joylandprovisions.com. Saturday, Joyland Provisions will be at the Winston Junction Market in Winston-Salem from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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