The holidays are busy for Brynn O'Neill. Their family runs a chocolate store. Brynn identifies as nonbinary gender. A nonbinary person does not identify as male or female.
The holiday season for candy makers begins in October. Brynn, their mother and employees work together. They turn giant bars of chocolate into truffles, caramels and hot chocolate bombs.
This season, Brynn says, their job is to put strawberries on sticks. They are also stuffing chocolates in boxes.
Brynn was 7 years old when their parents bought the chocolate store.
The shop is called Chamberlain's Chocolate Factory. It is near Atlanta, Georgia. Brynn started helping out in the store at a young age. They are now 12 years old.
Peppermint Patties Are A Favorite
Brynn says they don't eat that much chocolate. But their favorite treat is the peppermint patty. It is a mint-flavored candy disk dipped in chocolate. "Those are really good," Brynn says.
Another special treat the store is famous for is the Freakshake. It is an "extreme milkshake." Whipped cream and cake are put on top of the milkshake. Peppermint bark is popular. So are chocolate Santas.
The store uses more than 2,000 molds to shape chocolate. Sailboats, mermaids, dreidels and 3D Christmas trees are some examples. They also sell special kits. They allow you to make your own molded chocolates.
Coping With Loss
Two years ago, tragedy struck Brynn's family. Their father died. The death brought Brynn closer to their mother and older sisters. They had to figure out some complicated machines. Their father had run them before on his own. Brynn says working at the store helped distract them from the sadness.
Today, Brynn likes helping with parties at Chamberlain's. Girl Scouts can earn badges at the shop. People have birthday parties there. Anyone can make their own chocolate bars.
"We give them a mold," Brynn says. "We set out all sorts of fruit and nuts and candy pieces. They choose their chocolate and then add what they want."
Christmas Is Busy At The Shop
Often you can find Brynn in the store or doing schoolwork. Brynn also plays volleyball. The online game Roblox is another favorite activity.
The holidays are very hectic. Brynn has little time for games. Orders come from across the country. They pitch in to help fill them.
"I'm probably one of the only kids on the planet who's glad when Christmas is over," Brynn says.