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Wow, Brits! Tell us how you really feel about American chocolate

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

The comments are funny, and a bit damaging to my American pride! (can't disagree much, though...)

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  1. Unfortunately, the independent brands that don't get world wide distribution don't get any praise as there is some good chocolate to be found just probably not from the large sellers. I mean most chocolate manufacturers are now owned by say Proctor and Gamble or Cambell's (like Godiva). I think even Scharffenberger is not owned by someone else.

    2 Replies
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      Scharffenberger is, ironically, now owned by Hershey's

      1. re: Withnail42

        Ahhhh thats what it was. I mean when I read about Kraft buying Cadbury in England it made me sad. I wish that these money grabbers could just stick to their own product and if it isn't doing it for you.. find a way to make your product better.

    2. you could do much worse than Hersheys.
      Chocolate, as a foodstuff, will never rise above mediocre, because it requires too much processing to remove disease. That said, chocolate goes remarkably well with many good things that have substantial quality variation.

      Like Milk. Hershey has some of the best in the world -- that's why Milton put his plant there.

      Or vanilla... mmm...

      Or coffee... (blueberry cappuchino! man, ethiopian can do crazy things to the tastebuds!)

      28 Replies
      1. re: Chowrin

        "... as a food stuff, will never rise above mediocre, because it requires too much processing to remove disease."

        I'm curious what you mean by this, Chowrin. Are you saying that Cocoa has disease problems? Or that chocolate, as a finished product, has disease problems? I'm a little confused. And how does this translate to chocolate as a foodstuff, "never rising above mediocre"?

        1. re: mateo21

          you bake all the interesting flavors out, through prolonged and excessive processing. it creates a homogenized, mediocre product. compare to coffee, where the roasting process makes alcohols and other fun things that you drink.

          Chocolate as a finished product does not have disease problems... in general. Look up the law on how much rathair they're allowed to have in every bite!

          1. re: Chowrin

            "Look up the law on how much rat hair they're allowed to have in every bite!"

            In the respect, chocolate is no different than any other foodstuff with any degree of processing. Unless you make every single thing you eat from whole, fresh produce and never use anything - not a thing - manufactured or canned or otherwise packaged, the laws for allowable inclusions affect you.

        2. re: Chowrin

          "you could do much worse than Hersheys" - Actually Hershey is still some of the worst chocolate I have tried ever anywhere. It has an artifical flavor I haven;t found anywhere else.

          1. re: honkman

            oh ye of too large budgets,
            a story I've to tell...
            of chocolate that was part veggie oil
            and drawn from the depths of hell.

            1. re: Chowrin

              I guess you never had good chocolate so far. And similar as with everything food related - high quality ingredients cost money and so if you want taste good stuff you have to pay more. Chocolate is not different to meat, produce etc.

              1. re: honkman

                chocolate is shelf-stable. what makes "good chocolate" better than "less good"? Is it the amount of theobromine? *snort*

                1. re: Chowrin

                  The same as what makes good coffee or pasta or meat or tea better than not so good coffee or pasta or meat etc. - better ingredients and better processes to make product, e. g. milk, cocoa beans and how they are processed. You might not know but chocolate is not growing on trees or magically appears in supermarkets.

                  1. re: honkman

                    can you detail what makes a "better process" for processing cacao into chocolate?

                    1. re: Chowrin

                      I'll take this one.

                      We were on the Carribean side of Costa Rica and Panama this summer, and visited a cacao plantation. We made and ate FRESH chocolate. It was like nothing else I've ever had. The seeds of the cacao fruit are slightly fermented, dried, and roasted (much like coffee beans) and are ground through a hand crank grinder which looks a bit like a meat grinder. You collect the ground cacao (which contains all of the glorious cocoa butter that is extruded from commercial chocolates and resold at a high premium to cosmetics and pharma companies. This natural emulsifier is then often replaced with cheaper stuff like soy lecithin).

                      To the ground cacao, you mix various ingredients to make the chocolate more palatable, as you like. Vanilla, cinnamon, milk, etc. Aside from the roasting, *nothing is cooked!* You mix and knead the stuff vigorously for about 20 minutes until it becomes very much the texture of a dense dough.

                      Eventually you spread this chocolate "dough" out onto a platter and shape it into a squat, flat block where you slice it up like fudge. The fresh chocolate gleams with the beautiful layer of cocoa butter. It tastes like nothing else I'd eaten before.

                      I'd say that's a "better process" for processing cacao into chocolate!

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        I remember seeing a travel show about a Mexico City chocolate store that makes all their chocolate in-store using this method and the hand-crank machine.

                        Damned if I can remember which show and what the store was called, but the chocolate definitely looked incredible!

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            No idea. The roasting was not done in a machine. It was done by hand, in a metal pot with a long handle, over flames. Think of the way that Ethiopians do traditional coffee service where they roast the beans in front of you and you can get a sense of what this process was like.

                            Mr Taster

                    2. re: Chowrin

                      Does all chocolate taste the same to you?

                      1. re: chowser

                        No, but it sounds like it tastes all the same for you

                        1. re: honkman

                          Um, I think you have your posters/posts confused. I was asking Chowrin if chocolate tastes the same to him, based on his comments.

                          1. re: chowser

                            Oops. I guess I didn't have enough chocolate today.

                        2. re: chowser

                          yup. they process it too much for it to be otherwise.
                          That said, vanilla in chocolate makes everything better. and good vanilla tastes better than bad vanilla. Tried Macaibo chocolate?

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            It's a matter of taste, I guess. Not even getting into taste but there's a world of difference in mouthfeel between a Hershey's kiss and a good chocolate that melts in my mouth.

                            1. re: chowser

                              proportions issue? amnt of cocoa butter versus chocolate solids?
                              I grok what you're saying, there's def. a texture difference. not sure which way I swing, actually.

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                We all have different taste buds. If you can't taste the nuances of different types of chocolate grown in different places with different production methods, then you should stick with the least expensive. People who can, won't.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  What a weird discussion! Of course there are chocolates of varying qualities. How is this even a debate? And I really wonder about anyone who thinks that Hershey's is the best at doing anything other than making mad amounts of money and then posts on a food forum! Hilarious!!

                2. re: Chowrin

                  > you could do much worse than Hersheys.

                  No. No, you really couldn't.

                    1. re: LiviaLunch

                      Well, there's the Tootsie roll. In case some people aren't familiar with it, it's a chewy candy with a disgusting fake chocolate flavor. It contains no real chocolate, just "artificial cocoa whey" or some such nonsense. When I was a kid, we used to call it a Tootsie turd, which it definitely resembles.

                      1. re: LiviaLunch

                        to me, at least, white chocolate is a vile abomination -- milk candy(a quite good product) trying to be "chocolate". yick.

                        But i rec that others feel differently.

                        1. re: Chowrin

                          Not here! That stuff should be called chocolate.

                    2. someone on that thread is fantasizing about rat-shit flavored candy. Food standards in America really, really suck.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chowrin

                        rat-shit flavored candy is called 'hershey's' haven't you heard?

                      2. Can say I disagree with the assessment of the Kisses. Always thought they were gross even as a kid.

                        1. I like Hershey's Kisses, always have. However, they're for kids--milk chocolate and overly sweet for an adult palate. I've read criticisms of American chocolate, Hershey's in particular, as being too "gritty," according to Europeans. I contrast, I find some European chocolate to be too fatty and lacking in "chew." It needs more chewiness to be satisfying. If there is no chewiness, it is like eating chocolate-flavored butter. I hasten to add that this is not my evaluation of all European chocolate, much of which is a superior product, but European chocolate is, at times, certainly not without fault.

                          I would be curious to hear what the author of the article thinks of Ghirardelli chocolate, a much more European style American chocolate. I'll bet that she would like it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: gfr1111

                            I think Ghirardelli chocolate tastes like greasy soap. I think Hershey's chocolate tastes like it's been made with milk that has gone sour.

                            I'll take Lindt over those any time.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              The soured milk is a fact, not just a taste. I'm not surprised that someone like you who was raised on...Lindt...Milka too I bet...would not care for them.

                            2. re: gfr1111

                              Ghirardelli doesn't taste particular like European style chococlate. Together with Hershey they are good examples of lousy tasting American chocolate. There are many good tasting American chocolates but you often have to go to smaller producers whereas in Europe many of the large producers still make good chocolate.