One Deadwood store is helping keep its community sweet by getting back to the basics when churning out its chocolate creations.
A team of chipmunks, nestled in the heart of the Black Hills, have made top-notch truffles their specialty.
Chubby Chipmunk is going on its 15th year in Deadwood, and owner Mary “Chip” Tautkus has made her chocolate obsession a reality for thousands of yearly visitors.
“I want people to come in and, for a moment, they are in total bliss. They are in chocolate heaven,” said Tautkus.
The fact that Mary goes by “Chip” only proves she’s had a passion for the sweet delicacies since she was a child. She and her sister even took the ironic nicknames Chip and Dale while at a camp when they were growing up.
“My mom said when I was 4 years old I would wake up at four in the morning, go out in the kitchen, and start creating things,” said Tautkus.
Chip’s creations involved whipping up breakfast for her parents before the sun was even up. Plus, she was always experimenting with treats and desserts as long as they included chocolate.
“I’ve always had passion in me, and chocolate has always been number one,” said Tautkus.
The Chubby Chipmunk’s signature treats are truffles, which come in Dark, Milk, and White Chocolate varieties. They’ve also incorporated Nutty, Caramel, and Fruit options.
“When we started we just had a few truffles, maybe 12 or so,” said Tautkus. “We’re always growing, and now we’re right around 40 and then have our seasonal ones, too.”
Chubby Chipmunk also carries Bars, Patties, and Turtles all with the goal of providing customers with the most authentic chocolate experience. Tautkus says getting down to the basic ingredients is an important part of the process.
“The number one thing is to educate people on what really good chocolate is without all the extra ingredients,” said Tautkus.
Chip uses a cream that can’t be found in a store, and it’s special ordered. She also cooks with a list of secret ingredients (she divulged to 605 that those special recipes include “butter and love”). The cocoa Tautkus uses is exclusively from Peru. She says the Chubby Chipmunk is the only place you can find it in South Dakota, as a testament to her commitment to quality ingredients.
“PEOPLE COME IN WHO ARE TRAVELING AND BRING A GIANT COOLER BECAUSE THEY ARE GETTING ORDERS FOR 10 OTHER PEOPLE.” – CHIP
“The real basis of the shop is to just bring joy to people, and to introduce to people what good chocolate tastes like,” said Tautkus.
Chip is originally from California, where she started the first Chubby Chipmunk. After moving to Deadwood with her husband for retirement, a friend convinced her to open up the chocolate store again.
The eclectic shop has been growing in popularity, allowing the team to expand to a larger space.
“There are days when the line is outside and wrapped around the building,” said Tautkus. “We expanded a bit and built a lobby out front.”
Deadwood isn’t the only place you can taste the famous chocolates. Chubby Chipmunk does weddings, parties, and has corporate gifts. There is also a second shop located in the Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City.
With the holiday season in full force, she says “the chipmunks” are so busy working away that it’s easy to lose track of the time.
“We’re basically filling boxes as we’re dipping, and we’re dipping thousands a day,” said Tautkus. “It’s just mind boggling to look at our trays, and each tray can hold several hundred, and each tray is a full flavor and back up trays are ready to go. It’s been a wonderful, wild ride.”
For more information, visit chubbychipmunk.com.
A FLAVOR FOR EVERYONE
- Bailey’S Irish Cream
- Creme BrûLéE
- Dark Caramel
- German Chocolate Cake
- Lemon Meringue
- Mint Munk
- Raspberry Creme
- Root Beer Float
- Toffee Trixie
- 30+ Others