Whatever happened to 'Digby' of the chocolate shop?
PUBLISHED: 14:38 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:29 29 March 2019
What happened to ‘Digby’ of ‘Digby’s Fine Chocolates’? This newspaper tracked down the retailer with the sweet tooth, Digby Eddison, to find what he’s doing now.
You’ll find Digby Eddison, 55, still selling chocolates and sweet treats but he’s swapped the city for a store by the sea in Cromer.
Called Harald’s after a Norwegian friend, this shop on Garden Street has all the familiar chocolates we remember from his Royal Arcade shop including the ever popular violet creams and champagne truffles.
The ‘theatre’ of a chocolate shop is also still alive too with Digby donning his white gloves and apron to serve you. But one thing that’s changed is the name; Digby sold the Royal Arcade business in 2013 and as part of that deal, he is not allowed to use his name nor trade in Norwich under it.
“I opened in Holt in 1992 and then the Royal Arcade in 1993 and I got to thinking what to call it; the ‘Chocolate Box’ or something like that but then a friend said why don’t you call it Digby’s? My name has caused me merriment and my character has borne that merriment all my life but it just caught on.”
In fact customers over the years have named their sons and pets after him and ‘Digby’s Fine Chocolates’ became a great success. “We would spend hundreds of pounds on our window displays,” he recalls. “This is your window on your world. I once did a Norwich skyline, it was 6ft wide with the cathedral, I also did a mountain with skiers and I’d buy huge reindeers for Christmas.
“I once had a massive chocolate chicken on display. A customer came in and wanted to put an engagement ring in its beak so I actually melted a hole in the chocolate and re-wrapped it.”
But he juggled the Royal Arcade shop with running a hotel in Holt and it took its toll.
“It became too big for me to handle,” he said. “It is a difficult, hands-on business, we would spend hours packaging, we once worked two days solidly ribboning 1200 boxes for a corporate delivery to what was Norwich Union. Most people wanted to see you package personally every box in front of them and it’s almost not sustainable, I just felt I wanted to make my life a bit easier.
“I disappeared,” he said. “When I sold the business, I thought the new owner needed to get on. I’ve had no regrets.”
In his Cromer shop he sells Belgian loose chocolates with a Bailey’s truffle being the most popular along with the ‘new kid on the block’, a salted caramel and he enjoys a maple brazil, a maple fondant with a crystallised brazil in the middle, but apparently these are difficult to source. He also sells traditional sweets in jars which you can buy by the quarter and popular at the moment is anything ‘sour’ as well as chilli jellies and ‘ammonium spiders’ which are salty flavoured liquorice which have ‘the most acquired taste ever.’
Now married with an eight year old son, he really enjoys life by the seaside. “Where else can you buy just one chocolate and eat it there and then? I got tired of the city, I like the seasons in Cromer.”