Emily Allen, an employee of Visual Anatomy, checks to make sure there are no air bubbles in a batch of chocolate ears Monday at Sarah Donahue prepares to make some more. Visual Anatomy, located in Springfield, makes chocolates in the shape of body parts and internal organs. Bill Lackey/Staff

Springfield company specializes in chocolate body parts

Tina Pavlatos started an online business selling medical illustrations but about two decades later it’s clear what her customers really want is a chocolate placenta.

Pavlatos started her company, Visual Anatomy, around 2001 as a freelance business that sold medical illustrations to physicians, medical text books and attorneys arguing personal injury cases. But nearly all of her business now comes from small, homemade chocolates shaped like anatomically correct lungs, brains, kidneys and other organs.

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“A lot of times it’s just the general public who thinks it’s funny or knows someone they want to send it to,” Pavlatos said.

Pavlatos started making the chocolates in her home in 2005 and shipping them as a gift for clients who bought the illustrations. She studied art and anatomy in college in Cleveland, providing skills that allowed her to draw up designs for anatomically correct molds for chocolate body parts. 

Before too long, many of her customers were more interested in the chocolates. The medical illustrations make up a tiny portion of her business now. The most unusual request, she said, was a woman who wanted a chocolate placenta.

“Even for me, that’s a little different,” Pavlatos joked.

She didn’t have any experience making chocolate but figured it out by trial and error, reading and researching online. The business started in her basement but has recently moved into a larger kitchen on West Main Street.

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She now works with a small part-time staff that makes chocolates one or two days a week. The business doesn’t have a storefront and only sells the chocolates online.

Sarah Donahue and David Diment started working part-time for the company in September after seeing an ad.

“It’s hard to pass up a part-time job as a chocolatemaker in Springfield,” Donahue said. “You have to go for that.”

Visual Anatomy makes more than 20 anatomically correct chocolates. They’re also available in themed packages like a nine-piece bone box and a four-piece “Gettin’ Old” assortment that includes a hip, eye, knee and a brain.

Pavlatos tries new options, even if they don’t all pan out. A zombie set wasn’t as big a seller as she expected, but she still has fun creating new designs. 

“Most people are just really excited and can’t believe they exist,” she said about the chocolates.

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