If you’re outside of Las Vegas, then you’ve probably never heard of the company now known as Ethel’s Chocolate, or of Henderson, Nevada, the Las Vegas suburb where its factory is located. But what if I told you that Ethel’s Chocolate used to be called Ethel M. Chocolates and that the “M” was short for Mars? Yes, the very same Mars that brought you all those fancy treats, like M & M’s, or Snickers.
You see, Ethel was the mother of Forrest Mars, the fellow who went on to start one of the most successful candy companies in the world. After his retirement from the company that bore his name, he founded Ethel M. Chocolates to focus on more upscale chocolate, cuz let’s face it…nobody looks at a Snickers bar and thinks its fancy chocolate…
You can take a tour of the chocolate-making operation at Ethel’s factory, but the real draw, at least for me, is experiencing their large Botanical Cactus Garden. And while folks across the country are decorating trees with lights for the holidays, the good folks at Ethel’s are doing the same thing…with their cacti…
Sounds crazy, right? Can you imagine what it must be like to string Christmas Lights through a cactus? Well, let me tell you that the end result is like nothing else you will ever see.
A walk down one of their windy paths leads to a cacophony of colors, with nearly every available plant surface covered with lights.
Their wide assortment of of desert plants include the commonly thought of cacti, like the Texas Prickly Pear.
And more unusual ones, like the Century Plant.
There are also trees, like the Soaptree Yucca.
And big ol’ cacti that come to mind when you think of the Southwest.
The scenes you see walking through the garden can be just beathtaking.
And a solid reminder of just how beautiful nature can be…even in the desert!
A visit to Ethel M’s Botanical Cactus Garden is free and the holiday lights continue till January 2, 2011