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Worst "Gourmet" Chocolates

John & Kira's chocolates. www.johnandkiras.com

Company has gotten a lot of good press. I finally succombed and tried an assortment - mint, raspberry, whiskey/coffee and pistachio. Godawful. Enrobing chocolate was poor quality. Center had a strange texture and a taste that did not in the slightest bit capture the specified flavor. Subtley is one thing. ZERO flavor is another.

Email to customer service went unanswered.

At about $60/pound, get thee to Target and splurge on 10 pounds of Dove.

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  1. I disagree. I think the flavors are very strong. Not my favorite brand, but I think they're decent. As to worst "gourmet" chocolates, I'd have to say Godiva (waxy, sickly sweet) and Vosges (not bad, but you can't even taste their advertised flavors).

    14 Replies
    1. re: thesu

      Vosges gets my vote for overrated, and (to me) unimpressive flavors. It's -waaayy- too trendy for my likes, and the 2 times i've eaten their chocolate, I came away disappointed. Very muted on the flavors listed, and for what it costs..A rip-off.

      1. re: Honeychan

        Yeah, me too. I considered buying some of the bacon flavor as a gag gift (pun possibly intended) for my husband, but I was underwhelmed by the ones I tasted.

        1. re: jlafler

          Not me, I love Mo's Bacon Bar! Actually really like all the flavors I've tried. That said, I'm actually *not* a chocolate lover (I even like the white chocolate with black olives, which I'm sure is anathema to connoisseurs), so therein may lie the rub.

          1. re: tatamagouche

            I don't like Vosges truffles, but I do like their milk chocolate bars, which are the darkest milk chocolate I've tasted. Naga Bar and the Bacon Bar are both good.

            Godiva's chocolates are terrible. My secretary knew I liked chocolate (because she saw the mail order packages of Burdicks, XOX, etc that I shipped to myself), so every Christmas she'd buy me a big box of Godiva chocolates. Ugh, I just didn't know how to tell her they weren't on my edibles list!

      2. re: thesu

        +1. Godiva is a waste of money IMO. I can name 10 brands I would rather have.

        1. re: madgreek

          I agree with your opinions. The Godiva brand is surviving off of fancy packaging and name recognition.
          I'm not sure if See's is considered gourmet, but I wasn't impressed with a sampler of theirs I received from a client. The toffee was good, but the rest was waxy and forgettable.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            True, See's is verrrry ordinary. Maybe Kraft bought them too.*

            *Kraft bought Polly-O, which was new news to me.

            1. re: dolores

              say dolores, did your mom ever notice any change in the polly-o quality?

              1. re: dolores

                Actually, Bershire-Hathaway (Warren Buffet) acquired See's a number of years back... I live in LA. I know See's is made here for sure, and it's quite good if you appreciate chocolate - not in the category of Boule, Jin or other chocolatiers - but very respectable. The nuts and chews are hands-down my favorites. If you're from outside of LA, the mundane quality of their products may have to do with lack of freshness or quality issues if they're being made elsewhere... Our relatives who live overseas could never understand what was so great about these chocolates that we sent to them - until they came out to visit us and got a fresh batch...

                1. re: dolores

                  Agreed. I can't see what the big deal is about Sees. Very ordinary. I would prefer to nosh on a bag of Dove chocolates.

                  1. re: MysticYoYo

                    I think what I like about See's is that "ordinary-ness" - the caramels are exactly like what my grandmother used to make. I don't think much of their other things like the truffles - but the Awesome Nut & Chew Bar is far better than the old Mars bar ever was. (But at $1, I'm not sure it's considered gourmet either.)

                    I agree with the others about Joseph Schmidt, too. Again, too sweet, too much about appearances but they end up with a very long list of ingredients that don't add a thing to my experience.

              2. re: madgreek

                Another that agrees that Godiva is more hype than substance. I've tasted it and wonder what do people see in it and what makes them willing to pay the price.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  Godiva is crap. I live way too close to a production plant and while they do employ a decent percent of the residents in our county, I will not eat the stuff. Waxy, bland, with a weird fake chemically aftertaste. Yep the packaging does it, makes it look like its worth the $$ they want for it, but no way. Like putting lipstick on a (chocolate covered) pig.

              3. Moonstruck. When gifted with a hand-picked box, my mom outright told me to stick to See's. On further research, I have to agree with her.

                Godiva is terrible.

                1. seems to be something of a consensus here...


                  1. Leonidas - I can only hope that perhaps it's just the shop near me that is bad, but I certainly will never go back - stale and tasteless and their marzipan even worse. Come on Leonidas, I used to live in Belgium, that's not anything near what I used to get.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: sebetti

                      I've liked Leonidas in the past (stale is no good, of course), and I do think they are better than Godiva, but no rival to some of the more artisanal chocolates.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Is it my imagination or is Godiva and Leonidas better in Europe? The chocolates seem to be different and better on the few occasions I've had them in Europe. But perhaps the exotic environment is contributing to my more favorable experience...

                        1. re: moh

                          godiva in brussels is far superior to u.s. godiva.

                      2. re: sebetti

                        Yeah, Leonidas is, shall we say, a disappointment. Especially after having it in Brussles. And even there, it wasn't the best thing one could readily find.

                        Also, I really hate Lindt (not that that's necessarily gourmet). Really really. It's like the Hershey's of the Swiss chocolate world. Way too sweet.

                        And Godiva is blech mostly, but I do like their dark chocolate dipped orange peels. Of course, I pretty much like *any* dark chocolate dipped orange peels.

                        Burdick's (local to Boston) is tasty, but the truffles and assorted concoctions NEVER taste like what they say they're supposed to taste like. You can list all the fancy ingredients you want (quince, earl grey, lavender, etc), but it all pretty much tastes like inky dark chocolate. Which is yummy, but not really what's on the label.

                        I do like Vosges, but not all of it. It can get a little precious, however I do enjoy the Barcelona bar with the sea salt, as well as the curry and chile chocolates.

                        My favorite chocolate is Bissinger's -- local to St. Louis. Dark chocolate molasses lollipops... yum.

                      3. I think Godiva is one of the most over-rated. For the same price these days you can get real artisan chocolates (and usually with a far shorter ingredients list). But it's hard to go wrong with a fresh dipped strawberry. Here in California though, most malls have See's which is far better at a fraction of the price.

                        I like Vosges truffles, but I don't care much for their bars. (I'm not sure which folks are discussing here.)

                        Leonidas wasn't my thing, I thought too many of the pieces tasted the same and were far too sweet to allow the chocolate flavors to come through. (But I don't begrudge those who like that, I think it's just a style, not an indication of being "bad".)

                        I've only had a few pieces of Knipschlidt and was not impressed enough to plunk down the big bucks for a full range of products to taste. Maybe someday I'll be happily proven wrong.

                        I've pretty much decided those Lindt Lindor truffles are squicky ... what's in there? It feels like chocolate but it doesn't taste like anything.

                        (There are probably other things that I've had and thought were disappointing, but happily those memories have been replaced with good experiences.)

                        1. there must be something wrong with me....I actually like Godiva chocolates. Lindt also has it's place.

                          IMO and OT, but i think the best varieties of chocolates are the unbranded, small shop variety.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: im_nomad

                            Im_nomad, I'm with you on the Godiva and the Lindt. They aren't the best in the world, but I'll happily eat them.

                            Unfortunately for my diet, there is little chocolate I won't eat.

                            But I am also very lucky to live in a place with many excellent small boutique chocolate shops with beautiful, fresh, original truffles and chocolates. You are right, there is nothing like fresh hand made chocolate.

                            1. re: moh

                              I'm a closet (afraid to mention it on chowhound) Godiva fancier. Won't buy it for myself, but love it when clients give it to me. Hershey's better tasting than Godiva? C'mon!

                              I have to wonder how much of the attraction of packaging and name-cachet go into these preferences. I'd like to see how the various brands fare in blind taste tests. I actually like Dove milk chocolate bars quite a lot.

                              Along those lines, anyone have an opinion on Debauve and Gallais (at about $4 per piece)?

                          2. Does Ghiradelli count? I think it is highly overrated. I'm also not crazy about Sees, but I tend to like my chocolate unadulterated (i.e. sans lots of sweet fillings), so I'm willing to accept that this is more of a personal taste thing and not a quality thing, since people here like it so much. But Ghiradelli, I've actually had their unadulterated bars, and their dark is quite bad. Scharffenberger is also a bit overrated, imo. Mind you, I don't think I have snobby tastes in chocolate. My favorites are a $2 bar of dagoba or the endangered species brands.

                            Otoh, I haven't had Godiva in years, but I don't remember particularly disliking it. They mostly do the "adulterated" kinds, so I don't taste it often. Next time I try it, I'll take a note of the flavor.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: anzu

                              I think of Ghirardelli as "chocolate ordinaire." Not gourmet, but good, decent everyday chocolate. I use their chocolate chips for baking.

                              1. re: anzu

                                Scharffenberger makes me appreciate the simple standard of Ghiradelli. I think like Hersheys, Ghiradelli is just a classic taste that is easy to write off for the more European style higher end goods, but I know I always go back to the oldies but goodies and find they can't be replaced.

                                See's is all about the candy from the shops...the gift box stuff can take on a plastic-y taste.

                              2. Noka, not for the taste but for their immoral pricing policy (never tasted it anyway)


                                Count me in for the Godiva haters. It tastes like commercial candy, and a bad one if I may say.

                                On the other hand I like Vosges bars, but I agree that their price point is obnoxious (especially in Canada). However, I also observed that paying 10 dollars for a bar forces me to not gorge on the whole bar and eat in moderation.

                                1. THE worst? Harry & David. Taste like plastic, mouthfeel like oil sludge.

                                  Leonidas chocolates are so-so, but their hot chocolate is ambrosia (especially the Mexican).

                                  1. I tend to favor unflavored unfilled chocolate (although I will accept anything offered to me, in the interest of science) in the 59-72% range, and my current favorite is Dagoba 59% for aroma, mouthfeel and finish (!). Bonnat from France I think is wonderful, and TJ's around the holidays was offering a really nice sampler of about 8 single origin bars.

                                    The same product always tastes better in Europe than here,whether chocolate, wine or cheese, partly because of the vacation mental state factor but also because consumers there are more opinionated and willing to pay more for quality.

                                    As for Droste, Lindt, Godiva etc, any brand that you find marked down in Marshall's you know must have been bought up by some multinational conglomerate, I'm guessing.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: cassis

                                      >>you know must have been bought up by some multinational conglomerate, I'm guessing.

                                      Good point. I remember liking Godiva a long time ago, now not so much. I like Lindt, though, especially their peanut butter truffle. Again, any truffle you find in Stop and Shop?

                                      I find Ghriradelli better for baking than Nestle.

                                      My current favorite for gourmet is Lake Champlain truffles.

                                      A boutique chocolate store opened locally, written up ecstatically in one of those bought and paid for advertisements in a free magazine, so I tried it. One of THE worst truffles I've ever eaten.

                                      There are truffles, and then there are truffles.

                                      1. re: dolores

                                        I don't know how much you get into NYC, but if you find yourself in Soho, do check out Kee's on Thompson for wonderful truffles and other chocolates.


                                        I can't remember whether or not she does mail order.

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Thanks, MMRuth, that looks like another I will try. The website says 'inquiries'.

                                          I don't get to Teuscher anymore, but they were divine years ago.

                                          Kees are $2.00 apiece, which is what I paid for Lake Champlain. Expensive, yes, but worth it.

                                          1. re: dolores

                                            I love Teuscher's champagne truffles.

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              I love Teuscher's almond truffles...but the champagne are a close second.

                                          2. re: MMRuth

                                            Yes, Kee's chocolates are delicious! Some of my favorite chocolates, particularly the turtles and yuzu.

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              I love the Kee smoked salt chocolates...pure sin. I think one of the "chocolate" coffee shops where I live sells Leonidas--they're ok but nothing to right home about. I also adore Fritz Knipschildt. Then again for me to say no to chocolate it has to be really, really bad.

                                        2. My most recent chocolate purchase was John & Kira's and I really enjoyed it and will definitely order from them again. And I did like the chocolate that enrobed the ganache centers. I especially loved the pistachio flavor - not chocolate inside.

                                          Godiva is low quality without a doubt. They can't be bothered to use real vanilla! I'd rather have Hershey's. I'm amazed at what they charge for their chocolates as well. Just yesterday I was at Fanuiel Hall in Boston and someone was going on and on about getting some Godiva while we were there. I bit my tongue, but I wanted to say, "Godiva sucks!"

                                          I think Joseph Schmidt is way over rated. I got a small box at Christmas time and never even finished it.

                                          I once got Romanico's and was really disappointed in what I got.

                                          A couple months ago I got some Charle's Chocolates. I did enjoy them, but some of the flavors were nothing special (the peanut butter butterflies especially) and I wouldn't pay full price for them. But I did like some of the flavors very much.


                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: puppymomma

                                            Ew, I really don't like the Charles chocolate bars.... so hard and waxy. I tried the candied orange peel and just bought a crispy rice bar and both are almost inedible. The latter one is sitting in my cupboard and every once in a while I take a small bite and wonder why I don't just throw it away. Because I paid about $6 for it, that's why! I did like the PB butterflies, though, which I bought at the Cocoa Bella store in SF (nice place to try a bunch of different chocolates at once).

                                            1. re: puppymomma

                                              I'm with you on Joseph Schmidt - overly large, overly sweet - ugh.

                                              1. re: puppymomma

                                                Schmidt was always about the flowers, bowls, and other novelty presentations, more so then his chocolate. His truffles had a following just for being overly decadent, and sweet. I think the stuff has improved since he sold, but really it's one of those things where the hype settles and in retrospect, it was never as good as we thought.

                                              2. godiva in the u.s. is apparently not "belgian", but "keystone" -- manufactured in reading, pennsylvania. http://www.wtnh.com/Global/story.asp?...

                                                i knew the godiva in brussels tasted so much better than here in the u.s.
                                                all that rich belgian milk, from those cute belgian cows!

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  Exeter Township, Pennsylvania, to be exact. Years (okay, *decades*) ago, before I decided I was wasting my life and went on to college*, I was working doing data entry in a local office. A coworker of mine had a neighbor who worked at Godiva. She used to bring in this HUGE plastic bags of the Godiva seconds. Not gourmet, but definitely good enough for office scarfing when one needed a sugar rush!

                                                  BTW, I am an out-of-the-closet Ritter Sport fan! Especially the yogurt bar!

                                                  *this in no way means that people without college degrees are wasting their lives! Please don't read that into this statement. *I* was wasting *MY* life and, having few skills and even less discipline, needed to go to get focus and discipline. And (to make this cooking related) I was throwing some wonderful dinner parties as a (nontraditional) student!

                                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                                    just to be ornery, i wonder if the godiva naysayers would refuse huge bags of free godiva? you know..... with hounds, it could go either way! ;-)

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      Never! I've melted down good candies in the past for an icing, and Godiva would make a respectably good icing.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        I have been offered free Godiva, and yes, I pass. I believe that I have only so many discretionary calories. I'm either going to be adventurous or I'm going to go with a tried and true favorite.

                                                        Just to check my perception of them, I did give them another try last year, and it wasn't encouraging enough to continue.

                                                        But that's just me. If other folks are pleased with it, then have at it! I hate it when a favorite of mine is discontinued or changed. (And if we were friends, I'd be happy to buy you some if I knew it was your favorite.)

                                                        1. re: typetive

                                                          I too have been offered free Godiva and refused. You know something is bad when you don't even want it for free.

                                                    2. re: alkapal

                                                      Thanks for searching out this info Alkapal, I thought there was a difference between the two products...

                                                      I admit I really like the Godiva Key Lime Truffle. It is delicious, the citrus flavour is very bright in this chocolate. The other chocolates are good,but maybe not worth the price. But I won't refuse them. Bring on the free bags!

                                                      (Nofunlatte, I also like Ritter Sport. I'm a big fan of the Rum raisin bar.)

                                                      (ok, no one's gonna take any of my recommendations seriously any more. I've lost all street cred I'm sure.)

                                                      1. re: moh

                                                        If I could buy a whole box of Godiva's raspberry caramels, I would.

                                                    3. I've wasted plenty of money on the trendy 'single origin' bars (any brand), plus I don't really go for the ones that advertise by strength. (82%).

                                                      But the Leonidas shop in my area is amazing, particularly the pralines, also the buttercreams are a revelation. And quite reasonably priced to boot. More than $27 a pound does not get you better chocolates.

                                                      1. Godiva, which smells and tastes like the powdered skim milk that people used to drink in the 60s, and Vosges {{{{shudder}}}. I think the chocolate that Vosges uses is of very poor quality. Yes, I would turn down any free volume of either chocolate, happily.