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British Chocolate:

The New York Times has this piece on the superiority of British chocolate over American standards like the Hershey bar. What the article misses is that chocolate everywhere, not just Britain, is better than U.S. chocolate. Forget Belgium--even places that I wouldn't have expected to be chocolate havens, like Israel and Greece, have basic chocolate bars that are vastly superior to basic American chocolate.

theobromophile (www):
1. Ditto that! Hershey's is vile stuff.

2. Would you link to the piece in question?
7.13.2007 7:02pm
Humphrey Bogus (mail):
Fine, but generalizing all American chocolate to Hershey's is a bit unfair. Here in the Bay Area, we have Scharffen Berger, which is quite good. (And it's now owned by Hershey's, incidentally.)
7.13.2007 7:10pm
Try the veal, it's the finest in New York.:
even places that I wouldn't have expected to be chocolate havens, like . . . Greece

Greece is a haven for all things sweet.
7.13.2007 7:15pm
Steve2:
British chocolate's better than American? What stunning news will they report next, German beer is better than all other beer in the world?
7.13.2007 7:22pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
Mine's a 99.
7.13.2007 7:25pm
Shelby (mail):
German beer is on average vastly better than mass-produced American beer, for the same reason Swiss chocolate is superior to mainstream US chocolate: the average American consumer has terrible taste. Literally. BUT, I'll put American microbrews up against any beer in the world, and I expect US craft chocolate to do almost as well.
7.13.2007 7:36pm
Federal Dog:
Two words: Red October.
7.13.2007 7:44pm
theobromophile (www):
Here in the Bay Area, we have Scharffen Berger, which is quite good.


Don't forget Ghirardelli's, and, if you are into confections, Joseph Schmidt truffles (which may also be made by Hershey's....?) and Recchiuti's. San Fran is a veritable chocolate haven.

San Diego has Chuao* and Cambridge has Burdick's.

*which only supports the point about non-American chocolate being far superiour to anything made in the States.
7.13.2007 8:01pm
liberty (mail) (www):
1) There is a lot of pretty bad (but very cheap) chocolate sold in England. 2) Hershey bars are not all equal, their special darks are quite good, for example.
7.13.2007 8:01pm
Nels Nelson (mail):
What's next, "Mexicans who come to the U.S. not impressed with Taco Bell"? Hershey's is about as low as it gets.
7.13.2007 8:05pm
theobromophile (www):

Hershey's is about as low as it gets.

Someone's never tasted a Nestle bar in his life.
7.13.2007 8:07pm
scote (mail):

1. Ditto that! Hershey's is vile stuff.

Yup, eating a regular milk chocolate Hershey's bar is like eating sand that is vaguely chocolate flavored.

Scharffen Berger rocks, for the moment. Unfortunately they were bought out by, wait for it, The Hershey Co. Grrrrrrrrrrr......

As for Ghirardelli's, their dark chocolates are nearly flavorless even if they have a nice, crisp temper.
7.13.2007 8:08pm
scote (mail):

What's next, "Mexicans who come to the U.S. not impressed with Taco Bell"?


Ironically, there are Taco Bells in Mexico...of course, the US also exports Hershey's chocolate. If there is one thing the US still knows how to export, it is bad food (and bad nutrition).
7.13.2007 8:12pm
Gordo:
My wife thinks Hershey bars are quite good. We used to enjoy visiting the Hershey plant in Oakdale, California a couple of decades ago to see how it is made. And I don't think Hershey is so bad either. Enough snobby American-bashing!
7.13.2007 8:13pm
JB:
7.13.2007 8:21pm
theobromophile (www):

As for Ghirardelli's, their dark chocolates are nearly flavorless even if they have a nice, crisp temper.

But you can buy it for $3.49/lb at Trader Joe's.
7.13.2007 8:30pm
Bravo:
the article is about candy bars, not just basic chocolate. that's an important difference. the new york times is not retarded -- everybody knows that lots of countries make very good chocolate. but NOT many countries have the same market for mass-produced candy bars with lots of other ingredients, like the wafers in a kit kat, or nougat/caramel/nuts in a snickers, or whatever. the point of the article is that if you enjoy candy bars, england does a much better job than the US even though the US candy bar industry is bigger and more developed.

the article of course mentions basic chocolate because it is at least relevant to the discussion of candy bars, but the main thrust of the article -- as well as the headline and photos -- is about candy bars.
7.13.2007 9:24pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
The Israeli "Pesekzman" beats any English candy bar I've had, and the "Kiph Koph" (Kit Kat) is way better than the American version.
7.13.2007 10:08pm
Nate F (www):
I don't mind Hershey's so much. Maybe it's because I grew up an hour from Hershey PA. Who knows.

At any rate, my favorite chocolate related candy is Marabou (Scandinavian company owned by Nestle)'s Mint krokant chocolate bars. Damn those are good. The Marabou Pigall is a close second.
7.13.2007 10:10pm
Eli Rabett (www):
British chocolate includes up to 5% vegtable fat. That is what makes it so smooth.
7.13.2007 10:49pm
junglegym (mail):
"Everywhere" is a pretty broad territory, pockmarked with JB's suspicion about vegetable oil. The Thai chocolate available in Burma is in large part tinted palm oil.
7.13.2007 11:13pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I sent an ounce of Budweiser to a chemical lab, and they sent back a report that my horse had diabetes.
7.13.2007 11:56pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
British mass-produced chocolate is vastly inferior to its American cousin. Besides being overly sweet, the mouth feel lies somewhere between wax and cold cream. It's truly vile stuff.

There are exceptions, of course. The Green &Black 'Dark Maya Gold' and 'Dark with Ginger' are very nice. The Cadbury 'Crunchie' (though inferior to the Australian Nestle's 'Violet Crumble') is a personal addiction.

I will reject Greek chocolates under any circumstance (texture, sweetness), but find Turkish chocolates amazingly good. Other European chocolates range from poor to excellent, strictly according to price. Things get iffy east of Poland, though.
7.14.2007 12:12am
Malvolio:
Is anyone really foolish enough to be surprised that the mass-market products seem blander and less interesting that the niche products that he prefers?

In order to become a mass-market product, it has to appeal, at least minimally, to a huge section of the population. Widely popular has to hit the middle range of sweetness, bitterness, saltiness. Widely popular movies cannot be too cerebral -- or too silly, neither too raunchy nor too prudish. Widely popular cars must economically without being too chintzy, and on.

I assume that someone sitting around eating $10 bars of Scharffen Berger, watching movies from Slovakia, and driving an Avanti understands that those products happen to meet his needs very precisely, but only fit the needs of very small sections of the market, and that Hersheys, Hollywood, and Honda fit (more loosely) a much larger group.
7.14.2007 12:50am
scote (mail):

I assume that someone sitting around eating $10 bars of Scharffen Berger

2oz $2 at TJ's.

Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar 1.55oz $.89 at 7/11.

$1/oz vs. $.57/oz. Definitely more expensive but not as much as you would suggest and sooooo much better.
7.14.2007 2:08am
DBL (mail):
I once visited the Baker's chocolate factory in Montreal and had a chance to talk to the factory manager who told me that they could make any type of chocolate you wanted - Belgian-style, Swiss-style, etc. - it was just a matter of how long the chocolate was "conched" - the technical term for mixing - and how much milk and sugar you added. Belgian chocolates are conched for much longer than American chocolates. American chocolate is the way it is because that is how most Americans like it. If they wanted Belgian-style chocolates, American chocolate companies could produce that tomorrow. Indeed, as others have noted above, there are American micro-producers who are doing exactly that.
7.14.2007 8:58am
dearieme:
Belgium is not just for choco but also for beer. And chips with mayonnaise.
7.14.2007 10:29am
Peter Wimsey:
I may be mistaken, but I think the SB chocolate bar at TJ's is only 1 oz. Regardless, it is kind of silly to compare upscale british chocolates with Hershey's, while ignoring upscale US products.

IIRC, Hershey's bought SB in 2005.
7.14.2007 11:49am
c.gray (mail):
At the shop floor level, candy manufacturing is a very conservative business. Once the recipe and manufacturing steps are laid down, the formula gets carried out unchanged for decades. Hershey bars are probably made almost exactly the same way they were in 1900 when Mr. Hershey started cranking out his first mass produced bars. I've always suspected a lot of the esthetic criticism of the bar is a result of the efforts by Hershey to formulate the things to minimize production costs and prevent melting during rail shipment from Pennsylvania to Florida, Texas and California. The things _do_ have a disturbingly long shelf life.

I truly enjoy a plain Hershey bar once in a while. But then again sometimes I prefer a Steak &Shake steakburger to fresh sushi or a fine Italian pasta from a local 4-star restaurant, too.
7.14.2007 12:20pm
scote (mail):

I may be mistaken, but I think the SB chocolate bar at TJ's is only 1 oz. Regardless, it is kind of silly to compare upscale british chocolates with Hershey's, while ignoring upscale US products.

Nope, the wrapper in front of me says 2oz, same size I've always bought at TJ's. But I can't swear that there aren't regional differences.

And, grrrr, Hershey did buy Scharffen Berger. So far the quality seems the same, but I'm in West Coast and we get chocolate from the original factory. I can't speak to the East Coast. I really wish they hadn't sold out, though.
7.14.2007 2:22pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
You know, people have been complaining about various chocolates being terrible for a very long time. I have a whole host of friends who refuse to drink any kind of hot cocoa that isn't made in the Mexican way (I am not entirely clear on the difference, except that the stuff is imported.) Hershey gets more flack because they're huge, full stop. I have other friends who think all milk chocolate is disgusting, and two who only eat white chocolate. When saying things like "Hershey's is vile," you should at least try and remember that it's a highly subjective matter.

Personally, I like almost all the kinds of chocolate that I've tried (Swiss, Korean, Russian, etc.,) though if I have any kind of dark chocolate with mint, I have to wait about a month before Andes' taste good again. It annoys me, as I like them whenever I haven't had dark chocolate (with mint) lately. And the most expensive chocolates I've ever had didn't put me off my Kisses.

(random Hershey remark: much of the profit from the sale of their products helps out these kids. This is why I buy Twizzlers rather than Red Vines when both are available. ^_^)
7.14.2007 3:34pm
Anthony Calabrese (www):
Wonka makes the best chocolate.
7.14.2007 4:11pm
Ted Frank (www):
That's because it's mixed by waterfall.
7.14.2007 4:59pm
james of england:
Think it might have anything to do with the EU subsidizing cane sugar more and the US focusing taxpayer support on corn? For a long time people have used chocolate as an argument for freer US trade, but the new twist is that ethanol may improve US candy and soda.
7.14.2007 11:08pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):


Hershey's is about as low as it gets.




Someone's never tasted a Nestle bar in his life.


Palmer (Easter bunnies and school fundraisers.)

I once had an Israeli chocolate from the Passover section that was definitely top taste for year-round. I was pleasantly surprised.

But our cigarettes and nylon stockings still rule.
7.14.2007 11:44pm
theobromophile (www):
I have a whole host of friends who refuse to drink any kind of hot cocoa that isn't made in the Mexican way (I am not entirely clear on the difference, except that the stuff is imported.)


Huh. There is hot chocolate, which is technically chocolate melted into cream, and hot cocoa, which is made from a powder. Do your friends get the cocoa powder (which probably comes with the spices and sugar added)?

Mexican hot chocolate has chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. Chili powder is optional. Some people put eggs in it, too. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can make it over the stove and froth it with a molinillo.


7.15.2007 5:47pm
Stash:
Hersey's is inedible, including its not so special dark. The people who eat it are likely to have one of two problems: they have never had the real thing or they do not really like the flavor of chocolate. There are all kinds of nasty products, such as instant coffee, that are purchased for many reasons unrelated to the actual taste. Hersey's is usually what kids start on, and I ate it out of ignorance before being introduced to real chocolate. Price, familiarity, habit, marketing and ubiquity all support sales of Hersey's. Also, chocolate is more than just a confection. Everybody likes the endorphins it releases, and if you do not particularly care for chocolate, Hersey's will get you there just as well the stuff that conveys more of the taste. Certainly, some things are a matter of taste or opinion. And while a preference for Hersey's is among them, the notion that it is "good chocolate" is not. That is, one may prefer it, but it is for a reason other than its quality.
7.16.2007 2:46am
DeezRightWingNutz:
I would love to see a double blind taste test with all these chocolate snobs. Just like many who claim to prefer expensive vodkas, beers, wines, and coffees, I bet a number would prefer the cheaper chocolate. Not necessarily Hershey's milk chocolate over some Belgian dark, because differences in kind should be readily apparent, but maybe Hershey's special dark. Just like I wouldn't expect a beer snob to prefer Budweiser over some Belgian porter, but maybe a German or Czech lager.

Incidentally, does anyone know of a beer that costs more to produce than Budweiser? If so, can someone inform the folks at A.B., so they can update the printing on their can?
7.16.2007 10:36am
Waltlaw (mail):
I'm willing to embrace chocolate of all nations. That said, the British product tastes burnt and Eurochoc tastes waxy.
7.16.2007 1:00pm
mkschoen:
Hershey's chocolate has a slightly sour taste that can be traced back to its original creation, something to do with the process he used to develop a longer shelf life, I believe ("The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars" by Joël Glenn Brenner has details.)

It's definitely an acquired taste, and Americans have by and large acquired it. I think you just have to think of it as a separate flavor category from regular chocolate bars though. I'd guess the problem a lot of Europeans have is that they eat one expecting it to taste like traditional chocolate, and the sour flavor is so unexpected it puts them off. If you specially marketed the sour flavor that might sell better than pretending it's not there.

I like it, I think the sour taste contrasts nicely with the massive sugar rush (and goes particularly well with almonds.) But I also like schmancy European chocolate and tacky English candy bars as well (mmmm, cadbury flakes).
7.16.2007 2:17pm