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Doug Robinson: After TV, Hatches stick to their true love — chocolate

Published: Monday, Feb. 13 2012 10:02 p.m. MST

Reality TV alumni Steve and Katie Hatch run Hatch's Family Chocolates in Salt Lake City.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The TV cameras are long gone, but Steve Hatch is still here, making and serving hand-dipped chocolates that are as much art as confection at Hatch's Family Chocolates. As the Valentine's Day crowd drops by, Hatch takes up his familiar post, leaning on a chair and chatting up customers.

Maybe you remember "Little Chocolatiers," the reality TV show that aired on the TLC network in 2010, featuring Steve and his wife Katie working in their shop. No? Well, there were only a dozen of the shows and then it disappeared as fast as their chocolate-covered cherries.

"Apparently, we're boring," Steve says dryly, standing by my table, chin resting on an arm that is propped on a chair.

The truth is, Steve agreed to do the show — despite serious reservations about its true interest in the couple — because it would advertise the shop, and it has done just that. Business spiked during the show, and though it has fallen some since its cancellation, it has permanently boosted sales. Now it's just about the chocolates. Before, it was, well, about something else.

When TLC originally inquired about doing a show, Steve had no illusions about why they were asking.

"Obviously, it was the novelty, the cuteness, of two little people running a shop," he says.

Steve is 3-foot-9, Katie 4-foot-2. The way Steve explains it, little people is the polite term, dwarves the scientific term, the M-word the unacceptable term.

Steve "bluntly" turned down the show the first time he was asked. TLC kept calling. When Katie and Steve told a friend they didn't want to stand out for being short, the friend — also a little person — told them: "Get over it. You're always going to stand out." He convinced them that not only would it be good for business, but it would show the independence and relative normalcy of life for little people. Steve and Katie relented, and the show aired.

"We're different," Steve says. "You can resent it or embrace it. Ultimately, we wanted some other little person to realize he or she could do what they wanted. We decided to jump on it. It was the chance of a lifetime."

Now, the show is gone and Steve is philosophical. "Our chocolate shop is our priority; we didn't do it to be TV stars," he says.

For Steve, the roots of the chocolate shop are tied to family, but it took time to get here. His mother was killed in a car accident. Steve's father Jerry married a woman a few years later, making Steve one of 11 children in their combined families and the only little person.

"My (step)mother has always treated me as one of her natural children," Steve says. "She was instrumental in making me an independent person. She raised me like a normal-size child. I got no special treatment."

Steve, now 41, was senior class president at American Fork High. He was student body president at Utah Valley University. He served a mission for the LDS Church. He studied business and political science. He served an internship with former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt. He covered sports for the UVU newspaper. He took a job at UVU working with students with disabilities and advocating their cause on Capitol Hill. For all that, he struggled as a student — "I was a class clown," he says. He finally dropped out of college, at age 30, without a degree.

"I still didn't know what I wanted to do," he says. "I had a lot of interests, but everything I had done was centered around people."

Along the way, while attending a little people's conference, he met Katie Masterson, whose family owned and operated a pub in Chicago. He moved to Chicago but decided it was too cold and returned to Utah. She followed a few months later, and they married.

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