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OCH MoT SHOP: The Chocolate Butterfly of Toronto

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

Pre-Covid, there were over 110 butterfly conservatories or galleries in the world, on every continent except Antarctica, including three in Ontario (in Niagara Falls, Cambridge and Sudbury) and two claiming to be the "largest in Europe": one in Spain, one in Turkey. Each has a gift shop.

Butterflies are SO popular that there may be as many butterfly-themed t-shirts, mugs, stickers, hair clips, fridge magnets, calendars etc. as winged insects in the Amazon but there is always appetite for MORE.

Meanwhile, displayed are extremely rare cards created in the 1920s to tuck into chocolate bars of the then-named Patterson Candy Co. Ltd. Some of the exotic homes of the butterflies listed on the card backs include: America, Belgium, Bombay, Borneo, Brazil, Java, Madras, New Guinea, New Mecklenburg, Sumatra and Venezuela.

"The Chocolate Butterfly" was Patterson's tasty symbol.

These cards are a fraction of the original 24 in the set. (Toronto's archives may have the rest, but the author of this website would welcome being able to buy them as well. For the cost of 10 cents' worth of stamps, Patterson's offered to mail out free albums to hold the full collection so there must be one stashed in an attic somewhere.)

Even these few cards could be developed (with or without the Patterson's logo) into cards, stickers, fridge magnets, tea towels etc. because their Japanese art-influenced, '20s era designs -- and even the quaint fact that they're from 100-year-old candy bar cards -- would make them charming additions to the world of butterfly art.

The possibility exists that the OCH Gift Shop could develop a wholesale sideline in lightweight, made in Ontario, butterfly card-themed products (with associated texts translated beyond French into: Anishnaabe, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese for the Brazilian market, Swahili, Arabic, German, Italian, Turkish, etc.) sold directly to the largest butterfly conservancies around the world. Marketing them first to butterfly conservatories or galleries in Ontario, Newfoundland and B.C. would be a useful try-out. All products would eventually reflect that they come from the Museum of Toronto.

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