Chocolate Box

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Gift Exchange
Name: Chocolate Box
Date(s): 2015–ongoing[note 1]
Moderator(s): chocolateboxmod, thecatmod
Founder: chocolateboxmod
Type: ship matching
Scope: ships, both romantic and gen
Fandom: multifandom
URL: https://chocolateboxcomm.dreamwidth.org/
https://archiveofourown.org/collections/chocolatebox
chocolateboxmod[at]gmail
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Chocolate Box is a gift exchange where participants are matched based on ships. They then produce either fanfiction or fanart; Chocolate Box is a low-effort exchange modeled after Trick or Treat, so fanfiction produced as a main assignment only has to be 300 words and fanart only has to be "a nice sketch that is not on lined paper."[1] Gift reveals are on Valentine's Day, February 14th. Chocolate Box is the second-largest exchange (Yuletide being the largest) with 623 participants in Round 4 in 2019.

History

The anon meme fail_fandomanon has a reoccurring thread for discussing bangs, fests, and exchanges, where many multifandom exchanges have started. The multifandom exchange Trick or Treat started up in 2014 because of a discussion in that thread, and after it was over a nonnie wished for a similar exchange in the spring, specifically suggesting "something Valentine's day-ish"[2] and several other nonnies agreed that that sounded like a great idea. Trick or Treat's 300 word minimum was cited as desirable, specifically, and maybe a theme of love, although one nonnie noted that this hypothetical exchange should be sure to allow "threesomes and gen"[3], noting that ideally it would "not limited to ship fics even if the overall theme is love. It could allow friendship, parental love, love between siblings, creepy obsessive stalkers with one-sided fixation on someone etc."[3]

The idea didn't take off until after the 2015 round of Trick or Treat, when nonnies in the ToT postmortem thread on November 7th, 2015 again discussed wanting an exchange like ToT but for ship matching instead of character matching.

It started with one nonny saying:

[ToT] was basically perfect. A couple of months ago someone on meme mentioned doing a similar thing with pairings instead of chracters for Valentine's Day. I hope it happens![4]

This subthread received 69 comments from other nonnies who were enthused at the prospect of being able to match on ships and eager to discuss what the Valentine's Day exchange might look like. One nonnie suggested that it be called "Valentine Box"[5] but another suggested Chocolate Box, "Where every little fic is a delicious candy."[6] Another nonnie added, "And you never know what you're gonna get!"[7]

On November 14th, a nonnie replied to the Bangs, Fests, & Exchanges subthread Exchanges You Want To See saying:

That trick or treat styled Valentine's exchange people keep thinking of.

Someone with more organizational skills/time than me please start it![8]

Two other nonnies replied that they'd also like to see the exchange but couldn't run it, and then a third nonnie said:

I'd love to run it, and I have experience in running exchanges, but I don't want to step on toes if someone else is running it, or if my vision is too different to what everyone wants. I'd want to run it using gen and ship combinations, using / and & tags for matching purposes, and I'm not sure if people want that or not. Other than that, it'd be a 300 word minimum and open to fandoms of any size.

Is this what people would like?[9]

It turns out that that was exactly what nonnies would like, especially if they could request just & or just / tags for matching. In the same thread there was also a desire for a more general crossover pairing exchange that would allow & and / matching, because "Crossovering only matches on fandoms within a group. ShipSwap and Rarepairs allow crossover ships, but it's only romance and the odds of matching on those requests are very low."[10] This is a desire that Chocolate Box would eventually fill, as on the 16th of November, the nonnie who would become chocoboxmod came back to the BFE thread to make a Chocolate Box subthread that started with this post:

All right, we're doing this!

Here's what I have so far:

1) Minimum of 300 words, all fandoms allowed. Art will be allowed, but as I am not an artist I don't know what 300 words would look like, art wise. Is T or T's description of art at the nice sketch stage equivalent to 300 words?

2) Nominations are by character combinations with & and / to be used to indicate gen or shipfic (or "hugs" and "kisses"). The & and / will be enforced pretty strictly, so no using a / tag to request genfic, or using a & tag to request shipfic. Matching is "OR" but given that you're matching on character combos, that's to be expected! Participants can request all / combos, all & combos, or a mixture of the two.

3) The community will be on DW. The exchange itself is run on AO3.

4) Prompts will be visible during signup. At the close of signups I'll start to create a searchable spreadsheet of all prompts as well.

5) Crossover character combinations are allowed.

I'm now trying to work out the timetable. So far, this is what I have.

Nominations: 25 December -31 December.
Signups: 1 January - 7 January
Assignments out: 7-8 January
Assignments due: 7 February
Archive revealed: 14 February

I am aware that we're up against Yuletide at the beginning and Shipswap at the end, but I really want to hit 14 February for gift reveals. I can see why no exchanges really start up during this period, it's really hard to avoid Yuletide! Hopefully that won't be too detrimental.

I'll probably start getting the administrative stuff up and ready over the next week or two, and start advertising in the first week of December.[11]

The subthread received 80 replies, including the Fandom Growth Exchange mods chiming in to say that the Chocolate Box mod wouldn't have to worry about maxing out the servers during matching.[12] The mod confirmed poly relationships and gen groups of more than two characters would be allowed[13] and expanded the nomination period to start on December 20th to allow for the more complex wrangling involved with & and / tags.[14] When nominations opened, there was some confusion about if Chocolate Box was a female-oriented exchange because it had come up in a thread earlier in the month about Galentine's Day not running.[15]

Rounds & Statistics

Chocolate Box has had four rounds which have used 998 distinct fandom tags and produced 3,843 works as of the beginning of June, 2019.

Round Fandoms Participants Works
Round 1 (2016) 276 292 617
Round 2 (2017) 354 402 773
Round 3 (2018) 441 495 1142
Round 4 (2019) 534 621 1307

Round 1

Round 1 ran on this schedule:

  • Nominations: 20 - 29 December
  • Signups: 1-7 January
  • Assignments go out: by 10 January
  • Posting deadline: 7 February
  • Story reveal: 14 February
  • Author reveal: 21 February[16]

Most popular fandoms, based on fic written:

Fandom Works Notes
Tolkien 46 Especially The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings
Star Wars 43 Especially The Force Awakens
Marvel Cinematic Universe 32 Especially Captain America Movieverse and Jessica Jones
Harry Potter 24 Mostly marked gen and/or m/m
Original Work 22
Professional Wrestling 19 Especially World Wrestling Entertainment

The signup summary has a breakdown of fandoms by requests/offers.

Most popular ships, based on fic written:

Ship Fandom Works
Leia Organa/Han Solo Star Wars 8
Will Graham/Hannibal Lecter Hannibal 5
Lestat de Lioncourt/Louis de Pointe du Lac Vampire Chronicles 4
Harold Finch/John Reese Person of Interest 4
Irene/Eugenides The Queen's Thief 4

Round 2

Round 2 ran on this schedule:

  • Nominations: 20 - 29 December
  • Signups: 1-7 January
  • Assignments go out: by 10 January
  • Posting deadline: 7 February
  • Story reveal: 14 February
  • Author reveal: 21 February[17]

The most popular fandoms, based on fic written:

Fandom Works Notes
Star Wars 88 especially Rogue One
Yuri!!! on Ice 41
Harry Potter 39 Including Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them
Original Work 36
Marvel Cinematic Universe 29 Especially Captain America Movieverse and Agent Carter
Star Trek 14

The signup summary has a breakdown of fandoms by requests/offers.

Most popular ships, based on fic written:

Ship Fandom Works
Katsuki Yuuri/Victor Nikiforov Yuri!!! on Ice 7
Chirrut Îmwe/Baze Malbus Rogue One 5
Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter Harry Potter 4
Original Male Character/Original Male Character Original Work 4
Leia Organa/Luke Skywalker/Han Solo Star Wars 4
Magnus Bane/Alec Lightwood The Mortal Instruments/Shadowhunters 4
Javert/Jean Valjean Les Mis 4

Round 3

Round 3 ran on this schedule:

  • Nominations: 18 - 29 December
  • Signups: 1-7 January
  • Assignments go out: by 10 January
  • Posting deadline: 7 February
  • Story reveal: 14 February
  • Author reveal: 19 February[18]

The most popular fandoms/ships, based on fic written:

Fandom Works Notes
Star Wars 121 Mostly the Sequel Trilogy
Original Work 116 Mostly F/F
Marvel Cinematic Universe 71
Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling 40
Star Trek 22

The signup summary has a breakdown of fandoms by requests/offers.

Most popular ships, based on fic written:

Ship Fandom Works
Original Female Character/Original Female Character Original Work 17
Original Male Character/Original Male Character Original Work 8
Leia Organa/Han Solo Star Wars 6
Javert/Jean Valjean Les Mis 6
Original Female Character/Original Male Character Original Work 5
Loki/Thor Thor Movieverse 5

Round 4

Round 4 ran on this schedule:

  • Nominations: 18 - 28 December
  • Signups: 1-7 January
  • Assignments go out: by 10 January
  • Posting deadline: 7 February
  • Story reveal: 14 February
  • Author reveal: 19 February[19]

The most popular fandoms/ships, based on fic written:

Fandom Works Notes
Original Work 97
Marvel Cinematic Universe 78 Especially the Captain America Movieverse
Star Wars 68 All Media Types and the Sequel Trilogy
Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling 25
Professional Wrestling 20 World Wrestling Entertainment

The signup summary has a breakdown of fandoms by requests/offers.

Most popular ships, based on fic written:

Ship Fandom Works
Original Male Character/Original Male Character Original Work 24
Original Female Character/Original Female Character Original Work 9
Peter Parker/Tony Stark Marvel Cinematic Universe 8
Hades/Persephone Hellenistic Religion & Lore 8
James "Bucky" Barnes/Steve Rogers Marvel Cinematic Universe 7

Notes & References

Notes

  1. Technically the first round started in 2015, since nominations tend to start at the tail end of December, but sign ups and reveals happen fully in January and February. The first round's AO3 collection is called "chocolatebox2015" but the second round is called "chocolatebox2017" even though no year was skipped.

References

  1. Chocolate Box Round 1 announcement on Fandom Calendar
  2. Nonnie on November 8th, 2014, here
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nonnie on November 8th, 2014, here
  4. Nonnie on November 7th, 2015, here.
  5. Nonnie on November 7th, 2015, here.
  6. Nonnie on November 8th, 2015, here.
  7. Nonnie on November 8th, 2015, here.
  8. Nonnie on November 14th, 2015, here.
  9. Nonnie-who-would-be-chocoboxmod on November 14th, 2015, here.
  10. Nonnie on November 14th, 2015, here.
  11. Nonnie-who-would-be-chocoboxmod on November 16th, 2015, here.
  12. Nonnie on November 16th, 2015, here.
  13. Nonnie on November 16th, 2015, here.
  14. Nonnie on November 16th, 2015, here.
  15. This thread on December 20th, 2015.
  16. Chocobox Round 1 Profile
  17. Round 2 Profile
  18. Round 3 Profile
  19. Round 4 Profile