This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at CHOCOLATE FROGS in the Wizarding World!
When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village opened in 2010, to say it was an immediate smash is an understatement. In many ways, it completely changed the course of Orlando theme parks for the next decade. The land’s E-Ticket attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey created a queue so immersive that – for the first time in theme history – guests wanted to spend more time in line to savor all the details. The Ollivander’s Wand Experience was a first-of-its-kind show that truly made guests bond with, to be blunt, theme park merchandise (in the form of wands). When it comes to food and beverage, it has been said by those who would know that the sales of Butterbeer alone recouped Universal’s Hogsmeade investment within six months.
But there was one more item that came with Hogsmeade’s debut that has also turned out to be a major hit with guests: Chocolate Frogs.
Chocolate Frogs come straight from the Potter movies, and were one of the first introductions that Harry Potter – and us watching as the audience – had to the “magic” of the Wizarding World. It was a whimsical take on a normal “muggle” item and turned into something memorable.
Harry was also informed that every Chocolate Frog box comes with a card featuring a famous witch or wizard. This was another brilliant take on a standard item we’ve all seen in the Real World – in this case kid’s collecting something like baseball cards – and giving it a fantastical spin. Not only did the pictures on the cards move, but they would even disappear, because “you can’t expect him to hang around all day, can you?”
Many of you have probably seen the Chocolate Frogs available in mass market stores, such as the one made by Jelly Belly. They are cheaply made and ultimately aren’t that special at all. For the Wizarding World, Universal went the other way and created a product that brings guests straight into the world of Harry Potter. The elaborately themed box seems like an actual movie prop, and the Witch and Wizard cards use lenticular pictures, giving the illusion of movement. To make them even more special, the original four cards that were randomly inserted into the boxes were based on the four founders of Hogwarts (Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin). The immediate success of Chocolate Frogs in Hogsmeade influenced the direction theme parks merchandise in the years following, directly leading us to the amazing in-world products we see at the parks today, including the Weasley twin’s Skiving Snackbox in Diagon Alley, and the Resistance MRE at Star Wars: Galaxy’s. Edge.
In the Wizarding World, Chocolate Frogs are more than just the actual snack though, so let’s take a look at what else you can see, starting with…
# 6 – Window Display at Honeydukes
One of the first things you will encounter when stepping through the gates of Hogsmeade Village is Honeydukes sweet shop. Honeydukes is the official home of Chocolate Frogs (although at this point you can buy them almost anywhere, including Universal’s on-site hotel gift shops and even at the Orlando International Airport’s Universal store). In one of the window displays is an elaborate presentation featuring Chocolate Frogs. When the popular interactive wands were introduced, this display was adjusted so that the large Chocolate Frog box in the display could be “magically” opened by guests.
The normal state of Chocolate Frog box in the window display is closed.
On the ground in front of the window is a “Revelio” spell marker. Guests using the interactive wands are encouraged to follow the spell movement (as shown on the marker) while announcing the spell.
If done correctly, the Chocolate Frog box will open to reveal a large chocolate frog!
# 5 – Ornaments
We theme park fans love our Christmas merchandise. There are stores solely dedicated to Christmas items inside several Universal and Disney theme parks, as well as one in Disney Springs. Ornaments are a big seller, and it’s easy to see why. For the most part they are small (ie: easy to travel home with), relatively inexpensive, and when put on the tree each Christmas season, give an immediate memory of the vacation you had. If you were looking for a Chocolate Frog ornament to hang on your tree, well you’re in luck because Universal has several options. First up is one that recreates the look of the large Chocolate Frog itself and the iconic front of the Chocolate Frog box.
The actual “chocolate frog” that is in a Chocolate Frog box is different than the one seen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It is a more cartoonish version, as the realistic version that is seen in the film would be almost impossible to faithfully recreate without 95% of them having the arms and/or legs damaged inside the box. However, Universal does offer a Christmas ornament featuring a Chocolate Frog that is based on the one you see in the movies.
You can also buy ornaments based on the Witch and Wizard cards that come with each Chocolate Frog box. We mentioned that the original run of Chocolate Frogs had a card featuring one of the Four Founders of Hogwarts, but a year later a fifth card was added to the rotation featuring Albus Dumbledore. Guests can buy a Christmas ornament featuring any of these five cards, all of which use a lenticular picture to simulate movement.
# 4 – Plush
Who among us doesn’t have a favorite theme park plush, whether one or one million? Universal has a Chocolate Frog plush that would fit right into the Magical Menagerie over in Diagon Alley. Not only does it come with a recreation of the iconic Chocolate Frog box, the actual plush is scented chocolate. That’s right, Disney has their scented Lotso Bear and Universal has a scented Chocolate Frog. There’s something for every
weirdo perfectly sane person out there who enjoys smelling their plush!
# 3 – Pin
Thanks to Disney’s aggressive marketing, pin collecting is a big deal to many theme park guests. Some will buy just one as a memento of their trip, while others go all in and collect every pin that relates to their favorite character or attraction. While there are seemingly thousands of Harry Potter pins available, there is only one for the Chocolate Frogs. However, the pin is pretty cool as you can “open it up” to reveal the frog inside.
# 2 – Collectible Tin
For those who really like their Chocolate Frogs and want something more substantial, there is the collectible tin available that includes a chocolate frog and five cards (the Four Founds of Hogwarts and Albus Dumbledore). Because it offers five cards at once, buying a tin at $25 could be the best bang-for-your-buck for any card collectors out there, as the regular Chocolate Card boxes cost $12 each.
# 1 – The Witch and Wizard Cards are a DEEP DIVE into the Harry Potter Universe
“…it’s the cards you want. Each pack’s got a famous witch or wizard. I got 500 meself.” – Ron Weasley
When Chocolate Frogs made their debut in the Wizarding World with the Four Founders of Hogwarts, Universal could have stopped right there and been fine. They were already offering a unique product, and this was the only way guests could get any item featuring a Founder such as Helga Hufflepuff or Salazar Slytherin. The visualization of the Founders was introduced in the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, as the four have a conversation with each other via their “moving paintings.” At the time, none of the Founders were featured in any of the Harry Potter films (Rowena Ravenclaw would eventually be seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II). So these cards were already special. However, Universal wasn’t done…
We mentioned above that just a year later, Universal added into the mix a card based on Albus Dumbledore. This was a nice surprise, but several years later the floodgates were about to open…
Now we have cards based on other characters that were seen in the films, such as Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Garrick Ollivander (of Ollivander Wands).
Universal created a card for Hengist of Woodcraft, who founded the village of Hogsmeade.
Artemisia Lufkin, the first witch to become Minister of Magic.
Bertie Bott, the wizard behind Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (another popular item inside the Wizarding World).
In the Harry Potter Universe, Jocunda Sykes is the first person to travel by broom across the Atlantic Ocean. Think of her as the Wizarding World’s Amelia Earhart. We are so far beyond fan service at this point it’s crazy and Universal is giving us witch and wizard cards we don’t deserve (but totally appreciate!).
Devlin Whitehorn created the Nimbus Racing Broom company. The Nimbus broom “revolutionized” the sport of Quidditch, and are featured in several of the Harry Potter films.
The latest specialty card to be released is based on Paracelsus. If you were a poor student of science like me, you’ve never heard of Paracelsus. The back of his card simply states “was a renowned sixteenth-century physician, alchemist, and surgeon.” Paracelus was born with Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (that’s a shoot, brother!) and lived during the late 15th century into early 16th century. That’s right, he’s a real human who lived in the “muggle” world. This is next level bonkers and I AM HERE FOR IT!
On the opposite end of the “known” spectrum is this card based on Merlin. Even in the Harry Potter Universe, Merlin is referred to as most famous wizard of all time. That said, if Merlin and Paracelsus can be included in this set, it opens the door for a lot of cool possibilities in future cards.
Honorable Mention: The Actual Chocolate Frog
While the taste of the chocolate frog isn’t going to make Messrs. Hershey, Lindt, or Cadbury lose sleep any time soon, Universal definitely didn’t skimp on the product. You get a large, solid piece of chocolate that at the very least is going to keep the kids happy while they snack. For those of you that collect cards and end up getting a lot of these piece of chocolate, one thing we like to do is adding into onto desserts. For example, melting it to drizzle over Chex Mix, or shaving off some to add with pretzels and peanuts.
So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Looks at the Chocolate Frog! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles covering the latest from the Disney Outlet Stores. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, The Mighty Maven of Merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.