The Story of the Chocolate Monkey
After much contemplation, Steve and Mei Shuen Branham along with brother John and sister-in-law Mary Branham made the decision to venture into the candy business. After many combined years of experience in both retail and customer service, we knew that this was a direction that we wanted to go in because even in times of bad economic conditions, people love their sweets!
In February, 2009, we opened the doors to our first Chocolate Monkey in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee
with the help of several veteran candy makers from the area. With all of their many years of experience with
chocolate, candy and fudge business we were able to get started with relatively few mistakes. This allowed us
to compare various recipes and techniques with the ultimate goal of producing the absolute best quality and best
tasting products to be found anywhere, period. The Smoky Mountains have long been associated with great
homemade candies and fudge, but we had the goal of offering our customers an even better product combined
with fantastic customer service. All of our products are created the old fashioned way using the best ingredients
such as real cream and butter. Our giant caramel apples are one of our star attractions. They are covered in our
own homemade caramel and topped with various combinations of candy, chocolate and nuts resulting in an
incredible work of delicious art. Our real cream and butter fudge has been a huge hit with customers who know
great fudge. The rich flavor and creaminess of our fudge has many of our competitors scratching their heads.
We have definitely moved great fudge to another level.
In October, 2009 we added a custom made Chocolate Monkey Concession Trailer for Fairs and Festivals and
also the ability to provide our great products for indoor events. This Concession Trailer is based out of
Columbia, South Carolina. This allows our customers who can not make it to the stores in Tennessee as often
as they want, to purchase our great tasting chocolate, fudge and apples at an event near them.
In March, 2010 because of our success with our first shop and concession trailer, we decided to take a great
leap and opened our second Chocolate Monkey in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Because of it
being a huge tourist destination, we located right in the middle of several big name competitors. We are happy
to say that we have carved out our share of the business by doing what we set out to do, raising the bar for
outstanding quality and customer service. We have noticed that some of these competitors have already made
changes in their products in an attempt to compete with us. We intend to always stay a step ahead with the
goal of outstanding customer satisfaction resulting in happy repeat customers.
In February, 2011 the third Chocolate Monkey was opened in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This is a different type
area with not as much foot traffic but a lot of the visitors to the area recognize the Chocolate Monkey name
which has made this store a big success.
In February, 2012 the fourth Chocolate Monkey was opened in Lexington, South Carolina. This is our largest
Chocolate Monkey with over 2500 square feet. We wanted to know how a Chocolate Monkey would do outside
of a tourist area and are proud to announce this store is doing better than our highest expectations.
In March, 2013 the fifth Chocolate Monkey was opened in Seveirville, Tennessee. This store allows our
customers to sit outside on picnic tables under a canopy and enjoy all of our delicious treats. We are excited
about the new changes as we continue to grow our business.
In June, 2014 Chocolate Monkey opened at West Town Mall in Knoxville,Tennessee. We are excited about
trying the Chocolate Monkey concept in a mall environment.
Because of our success, we are now being invited to locations. In July,2015, we opened in the Food Court at
Columbiana Mall in Columbia, S.C..
Our newest Chocolate Monkey opened at the Food Court at West Town Mall in Knoxville, TN., in September
In January 2017, Steve and Mei Shuen decided to retire. John and Mary moved up to Tennessee to run the
Chocolate Monkey 9 opened in June of 2017 in Pigeon Forge.
In July of 2018, we closed our two South Carolina stores and decided to concentrate our locations in the east
Chocolate Monkey 10 opened May 3rd, 2019 at Ober Gatlinburg.
On October 26th 2020 our newest location opened up on the main drag in Gatlinburg near the village.
Our name .... A huge part of our success has been our name. After considering many different options, most of
which are too ridiculous to mention, the name "Chocolate Monkey" evolved. We gave a lot of thought about it to
come up with a simple, funny and easy to remember name. We always enjoy standing outside of one of our
shops and listening to people walking by say "Chocolate Monkey". It is a name that puts a big smile on the faces
of both kids and adults because everyone loves chocolate and everyone loves a monkey. Our sign really stands
out and grabs peoples attention and people just have to come in and see what we're all about. The sight and
smell of our shop takes care of everything else. We offer people free samples of our fudge, cinnamon glazed
nuts and ice cream. After a taste of what we have to offer, we have a happy customer who will surely be back