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April 22, 2007

Public Comment to the FDA
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 04:32 PM * 160 comments

Lack of public comment is one of the the things that let the FDA take away Cylert.

Now they’re planning to ruin chocolate.

Via Crooks and Liars:

From the Modesto Bee:

The federal Food and Drug Administration is proposing to redefine the very essence of chocolate and to allow big manufacturers such as Hershey to sell a bar devoid of a key ingredient - cocoa butter. The butter’s natural texture could be replaced with inferior alternatives, such as vegetable fats. And consumers would never know.

Chocolatier Gary Guittard said it best: “No one can afford to sit back and eat bonbons while America’s great passion for chocolate is threatened.”

For every defender of traditional chocolate, there are powerful proponents who want to replace cocoa butter with vegetable oil: the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Snack Food Association. These industry titans have filed a “citizens petition” to the FDA, as the Los Angeles Times recently reported, as if there were some groundswell in society to water down chocolate.

At the moment, chocolate requires two basic ingredients - cocoa and cocoa butter. Cocoa provides much of the flavor; cocoa butter, the texture. So if, say, Hershey wanted to make a chocolate bar without cocoa butter, it can under today’s rules. The product has to be labeled “chocolate flavored” (for it still has the cocoa in it) rather than “chocolate.” That gives the consumer a signal that something less than chocolate lies beneath the wrapping. To help defend chocolate, visit www.dontmesswithourchocolate.com and learn how to submit feedback to the FDA.

More on this story:

This is from one of the comments at the Grist site. It refers back to the LA Times editorial (emphasis mine):

The FDA is considering MANY things within the docket under consideration. That’s why there are so many names on that “citizen’s petition”. Yes, ADM would benefit in many areas should this pass as they make both chocolate and many of the substitute oils.

The curious thing about this docket is that there is an open comment period, but the precise contents of the docket have not been posted on the FDA website for the public to view. (As the originator of the editorial in the LATimes, I tried very hard to get a hold of the text.)

The portion about chocolate has come to light because a member of the CMA has dissented from the organization and passed around the proposed changes while we could still voice our opinion.

The “ADM” referred to is Archer Daniels Midland, a huge agroconglomerate.

We have just three days left in the public comment period.

Comments on Public Comment to the FDA:
#1 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Much of what is sold here in the UK as 'chocolate' isn't chocolate under EU regulations, and the EU is right. What we have may be sugary and addictive but it isn't chocolate.

Looks like that's what they're trying to do over there.

Only buy proper chocolate. Get your family and friends to do the same. Get them to get their family and friebds... etc. Its all about profit and if you don't buy their adulterated junk they won't make a profit.

Real chocolate is one of the true pleasures of life. Keep it that way.

#2 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 05:21 PM:

US-made chocolate already doesn't taste much like "real" chocolate, so I don't think the current regulations are much to cheer about. I've asked friends why chocolate like the stuff sold in Belgium or France seems to be pretty much unavailable in the US. The usual answer is something along the lines of "US regulations say you can't make it like that here." Does anyone know what regulation, if it in fact exists, they are talking about? (I suspect this discussion is going to make me hungry for a good, rich chunk of dark chocolate!)

#3 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 05:26 PM:

What's next? Relabelling Crisco as "steak and potatoes for astronauts"?

#4 ::: Joe Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 05:45 PM:

"The butter’s natural texture could be replaced with inferior alternatives, such as vegetable fats. And consumers would never know."

If the difference isn't even perceptible, what does it matter?

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 05:45 PM:

Don't just write the FDA or sign the petition.

WRITE TO HERSHEY AND TELL THEM YOU'LL NEVER, EVER BUY ANYTHING FROM THEM AGAIN.

#6 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 05:53 PM:

The difference btw cocoa butter and (other) vegetable fats *is* perceptible, not just in flavor but also in mouthfeel; if these regs pass, I shudder to think what's going to end up being sold as "white chocolate".

In fact, that's probably a good taste-test right there; if your local grocery store or craft store has "compound coating" (in plain white or vaguely cocoa-flavored brown), buy some and eat it as a sneak preview of The Chocolate Of The Future.

#7 ::: anaea ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 05:59 PM:

I already don't buy anything from Hershey if I can help it. A lot of their chocolate is practically wax. It's not bad as junk food goes, but when I want chocolate, I want chocolate.

Also, beware vegan chocolate sauce designed for fondue without heating it. I'd only had it for two days before it exploded due to massive mold growth. Either there was something wrong with it, or it needed different care than what I give non-vegan chocolate of the same style.

#8 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Joe: I suspect they'll know, but they won't know. They'll start noticing that the kind of waxy, chocolate-flavoured stuff that they're used to is now even more waxy and tastes kind of funny and is generally quite unpleasant compared to the old days - what happened? With something like Hershey bars that have an established taste, people may well blame their tastebuds first and not think to check the ingredients labelling unless they have allergies, and maybe not even then.

Hm, that makes this bother me even more. I wonder if they'd use soy (is soy even usable that way)? If so, and this stupidness goes through, I'll have to be careful getting my sweets fix when I visit relatives.

#9 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Greg, the "they can't make it here" claims are sheer nonsense. The best American chocolatiers turn out fabulous stuff; you just can't find it in your supermarket.

The confusion arises in comparing fine Belgian chocolates and the like to the stuff which is marketed to 6 year olds and to adults who've grown up knowing nothing better. It's like looking at Budweiser and saying "there's no good beer in America." Of course there is; there's just a lot of really terrible beer (and chocolate) too.

As the LA Times says, it's all about "segmenting the market." They want to change the rules so they can further degrade the crap they sell to the common person, to raise their profits there, while raising the prices on what educated customers will pay to avoid that crud, so as to raise their profits there.

I'm rather curious what Mars thinks about this. They're still a family company, and while they mostly produce mass market candy, I've heard they're pretty conservative (in the positive sense) about candymaking.

#10 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:02 PM:

I have submitted my "individual consumer" complaint to the FDA.

I have also submitted my complaint to my Senators. Not on the issue of chocolate ingredients, but on the fact that the FDA's attempt to hide the contents of the docket. Is the FDA to protect the food and drug manufacturers, or protect the public *from* the food and drug manufacturers? If the latter, the FDA ain't doin' a real hot job.

#4: Only the food manufacturers who want the change think we'd not notice the difference. Mr. Hershey must be rolling in his grave like a high-speed train axle.

#11 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:04 PM:

Most people don't have the experience to blind taste ersatz chocolate and say, "Ah! This candy bar is held together with library paste instead of cocoa butter!" but that doesn't mean they don't notice.

If it's just solidified sugared gunk, it should be labelled solidified sugared gunk. Calling it 'chocolate' is a lie.

#12 ::: kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:05 PM:

ObSF:
Ankh-Morpork people, said the Guild, were hearty, no-nonsense folk who did not want chocolate that was stuffed with cocoa liquor, and were certainly not like effete la-di-dah foreigners who wanted cream in everything. In fact they actually preferred chocolate made mostly from milk, sugar, suet, hooves, lips, miscellaneous squeezings, rat droppings, plaster, flies, tallow, bits of tree, hair, lint, spiders and powdered cocoa husks. This meant that according to the food standards of the great chocolate centres in Borogravia and Quirm, Ankh-Morpork chocolate was formally classed as "cheese" and only escaped, through being the wrong colour, being defined as "tile grout". (Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time, shortly after the reunion in the museum)


Joe @4,
Can't write a long answer now, but I remember how a few years ago a local restaurant chef got caught using pork cutlets in their veal cutlet dishes. Diners hadn't noticed the difference, so did it matter?

If you found out that the ground hamburger you'd been buying also contained textured vegetable protein, but you hadn't noticed, would that matter? If your 30 year old whiskey was actually just 3 years old, but you hadn't noticed, would that matter?

Should labels be accurate?

#14 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Myself, I figure that cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, and a binder are all that's needed. In other FDA news, melamine has been found in pork intended for human consumption. Just remember: so far it hasn't turned up in kosher food.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:22 PM:

It is, of course, possible to find real chocolate in the US. My own favourite is Maison Robert, on North Peachtree Road in Chamblee, GA. The best chocolate with which to court, I have discovered.

#16 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:31 PM:

I keep remembering Trader Joe's 'Ketchy'. They couldn't legally call it ketchup, because it didn't have one required ingredient: sugar.

#17 ::: Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:47 PM:

A bigger problem with chocolate than adulteration is slave labor: much of the chocolate in products from the big companies like Hersheys comes from the Ivory Coast, where it's created using child slaves.

The nice thing about this latest controversy is that if you buy your chocolate from a company that's careful not to use cocoa beans produced using slave labor, they're likely to be the kind of company that will also insist on making real chocolate.

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Dave @ 17

The probalem is that the FDA's definition will affect every chocolate company: they define what's allowed in the product, and how it can be labelled, and if it isn't in the defined list of ingredients, you can't use the name of the product being defined.
What this is, is the camel sticking its nose under the tent flap, allowing cheap substitutes in a product rather than the expensive genuine ingredient.
Five or ten years down the line, what you'd likely get is another petition, to define out the cocoa butter completely, because no one has complained therefore no one has noticed the difference. [/rant]

#19 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Corporate ass kissing morons.
I'm allergic to soy, which is what most "vegetable" oil is now.
Cuddles her fair trade 82% cocoa dark chocolate tightly.

#20 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 07:16 PM:

I already submitted a comment through the site mentioned. I found it through DailyKos, so hopefully many, many people will hear about this. I added to the prewritten comment that the proosed change would actually make it harder for American chocolate to compete overseas, where it is up against the higher European standard.

I mostly buy the Fair Trade good stuff, or imported. Aldi, at least the one near me, has excellent 70% cacao dark chocolate, imported from Germany, 125 gr for $1.49.

#21 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 07:32 PM:

A great deal of chocolate is grown in South America.

#22 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 08:12 PM:

I bought an Aldi milk chocolate & almond bar when I was visiting the folks at Christmas.

I made that bar last weeks.

#23 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 08:16 PM:

LiLacs has an outpost in Grand Central Station.

It's kind of like having CrackRUs a five minute walk from work.

#24 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Citizens, rejoice! Your chocolate ration has been increased to three squares a day.

#25 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 08:20 PM:

Joe Mason @4: I don't think it's a matter of the difference not being perceptible; it's just that:

  1. you won't be able to tell from the label whether a 'chocolate' bar is actually made of chocolate
  2. what you can tell by taste will just be that "this 'chocolate' sucks", which isn't necessarily the same

You will be able to tell at the high end because cocoa butter counts as a 'cocoa solid', so those "85% cocoa solids" chocolates will almost certainly be using cocoa butter.

While I deplore anything that degrades the quality of chocolate in the world, the bigger issue is the fact that most of the chocolate in the world is made (at least in part) with cacao that was harvested in Cote d'Ivoire using slave labor. So I'm already boycotting all the chocolate produced by folks like ADM anyway.

And yes, I know that a lot of cacao is grown in Central and South America (and the Caribbean, for that matter), but most chocolate isn't single-source. So even if most of the cacao in a batch of chocolate is from a country (or plantation) that doesn't use slaves, it's hard to be sure that all of it is.

Oh, and go Modesto Bee! (my home-town paper)

#26 ::: Calluna V. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 09:05 PM:

It seems likely that all that will happen is that the high quality manufacturers selling their confections in the US will add something on the label saying that their chocolate is made with real cocoa butter and no other oils. I imagine they're already putting their copy-writers to work with their lawyers to figure out how to phrase it appealingly and within the law. ("We can't say that only chocolate made with only cocoa butter is 'real.' Can we say it's 'authentic'? We could say 'old-fashioned,' is that going to have the right appeal? How about--")

As an inveterate label-reader, I don't see the hardship, here. I suspect that within a few years, even the major manufacturers of cheap candy in the US (Hershy, Mars, Nestle, etc.) will have two versions of their most popular items out - a cheaper one made with substitutes, which people will buy for children, offices, and parties - and a more expensive one made using only cocoa-butter and no other oils for a smaller but significant market - in much the same way that the more expensive bars of chocolate made by Lindt, Ghirardelli, Cote Noir, Choco-Love (one of my favorites), and all the rest have a solid market, even though they're not replacing M&Ms in any kindergarden Hallowe'en party.

If you look, there are already cheap 'off-brand' products which have what's carefully called "chocolatey" chips or "chocolate-flavored coating," precisely because they're already using the vegetable oils.

I may be missing something, here, but it seems as though what we're looking at is an increase in cost rather than a drop in quality, for those who care to seek out what they want. That's annoying, but costs do rise, willy-nilly.

I will say, however, to anyone who thinks no one will notice the difference, that I think it's true that many people (I judge by my coworkers, alas) who eat the candy at room temperature or colder won't notice much or care at all. But anyone who cooks with the stuff is going to need to read labels carefully. I once tried to make a batch of truffles using what turned out to be "white confectioner's chips" rather than "white chocolate chips" and I will never forget the bizarre, plastic/elastic cohesive glob that formed in my saucepan to my stricken horror.

#27 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 09:33 PM:

The confusion arises in comparing fine Belgian chocolates and the like to the stuff which is marketed to 6 year olds and to adults who've grown up knowing nothing better.

So this leads me to wonder: how much is the stuff marketed to Belgian 6-year-olds better than the stuff marketed to North American 6-year-olds? Dare I even add "(if at all)" in the middle there?

I mean, I've made many a joke about American beer in my day, but I sure wouldn't want to be the guy who had to defend Canada's honour in the face of Labatt Blue. Would I have egg on my face if I wanted to talk up the virtues of Belgian chocolate, but we ended up talking about the cheap stuff you'd buy at a corner store in Brussels to pacify a 6-year-old?

#28 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 11:04 PM:

Wasn't there some mention in 1984 of Winston Smith getting to taste some real chocolate, and discovering that the "chocolate" he'd been eating all his life was merely an awful imitation?

Just so you understand where this is going...

#29 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 11:15 PM:

#28: You beat me to it. Yes, Inner Party guy O'Brian had the real thing in his swank apartment.

#30 ::: Tesla ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Calluna V. @ 26: The way that things are currently labeled, with the "chocolate-flavored chips" and so forth, works for me. I would be deeply irritated if I suddenly couldn't tell the difference between this junk and chocolate without reading the nutrition information.

#31 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 12:07 AM:

Lin Daniel @ 10: I have also submitted my complaint to my Senators. Not on the issue of chocolate ingredients, but on the fact that the FDA's attempt to hide the contents of the docket.

That's the part that particularly disturbs me. What else, exactly, is on that docket that the FDA doesn't think we should see?

#32 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 12:15 AM:

T.W. @ #19;

Me, too. Soy lecithin is in everything as an emulsifier--the product looks prettier on the shelf, and they can sell the good stuff, like the peanut oil that used to be in your peanut butter, separately. I've had to explain to several people that the white bloom on the top of their chocolate bar does not mean it's gone bad--it's just the cocoa solids rising to the top--but they'd rather return it for something that tastes like crap but *looks* nice and even and velvety.

#33 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:09 AM:

I'm going to come out and admit that I like Hershey's chocolate, in its most basic form.

I've tried $12 a bar gourmet chocolate. I've tried some awesome organic chocolates. My favorite Dark Chocolate comes from a small independent chocolatier local to Connecticut. I tend to find that Godiva has chocolates that aren't up to my standards...

But when I want milk chocolate, I want Hershey's. I'm not sure why; the more expensive milks I've tried taste somehow sweeter, too sweet for my tastes. I find the import Cadbury makes my teeth hum. I thoroughly dislike Hershey's attempts at Dark Chocolate, but for some reason their plain milk hits the right note for me.

The arguments that relabeling will not make a difference, because people who care will pay and it's just a difference of price... well they remind me of an episode of the Simpsons where it's revealed that they've been using rats' milk for the school lunch milk. The enraged mayor exclaims "You promised me dog or higher!"

Just because kids won't immediately realize they've been drinking rats' milk doesn't mean we should allow labelers to label it the same as cow milk.

When I was a very young child I sort of envied the giant easter bunnies I'd see my friends get. I always wanted one, and was thrilled when I got one as a gift from a friend's parents. After two bites, I was cured. My little humble solid mold chocolatier bunny was much better in ways I lacked the vocabulary to describe.

Even if kids can't speak about the difference, they'll notice it. Right now the "chocolate flavored" dodge on really bad derivatives makes parents think twice about buying the awful stuff. Removing that is just... opening up new windows to inadvertent culinary child abuse, in my opinion.

#34 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 02:32 AM:

ADM is rapidly heading towards the top of my list of companies clearly owned by the minions of pure evil. The only good thing to come from them recently is biofuel from corn, and the good there is primarily that they're not pushing so hard to get every American to consume more corn syrup, by slipping it into every prepared food there is. It's all agro byproduct to them. So I wonder what other little surprises they have for us in new FDA regulations.

I think I'll inform my Senators of my displeasure tomorrow, when I'm more awake and can inject a little more sense into my sentences. They may not have the guts to do anything about the general level of corruption in the public and private sectors, but perhaps they're not too afraid of the chocolate lobbyists.

#35 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:23 AM:

Aconite @31,

Exactly. The chocolate is just a distraction. A wonderful, delicious distraction. But perhaps a good hook, because the overall document is too large for me to grasp all at once.

In their petition the GMA is asking for something much larger, and I can't quite name it:

Seems to be a "If it has duck, and tastes like bbq duck, you can call it bbq duck" act of 2007.

They're saying that food standards can be too specific for foods that have standardized definitions, so they want flexibility comparable to what they have in "non-standardized foods."

They claim that they're not asking for reduced accuracy in labeling. That's a nice claim, but is that what the full document says?

They're asking for "six categories of variations"(1) from food standards, where as long as the "essential characteristics" of the food don't change, then the food standard is still met.

It feels like they want more wiggle room in what is an 'essential characteristic.' Could be bad, could be good (i.e. the Ketchy example- is sugar really an essential part of ketchup?).

Sure, some of the flexibility makes sense. If, as they imply, there's no way for them to make a pasta product that is 30% whole grains (vs all or nothing), where this incremental increase in whole grains is a nutritional improvement, then I don't have an argument. But there's something fishy about the process as a whole.

----------------
(1) The Six Categories of Variations:

1. "Addition of ingredients intended solely for technical, nondistinctive effects, such as emulsifiers, stabilizers, or antimycotic agents."

I'd want a better, expanded definition of their "Under 2%" standard.

2. "Use of safe and suitable flavors and flavor enhancers in foods generally, and use of safe and suitable ingredients such as salt substitutes, sweeteners, and vegetable fats and oils where appropriate"

This seems to be where the chocolate / oil substitute could be in play. They never mention chocolate specifically, but...
"Where a standard allows for the addition of a particular vegetable fat or oil, the use of any safe and suitable vegetable fat or oil would be allowed." (pg 19)

3."Use of advanced or more efficient technologies to produce ingredients of all types, such as enzyme technologies that enhance the properties of egg yolk used in mayonnaise."

4. "Use of alternate manufacturing processes, also known as "alternate make" procedures, for those standards that specify particular processes"

This one seems like it could have problems. They give as an example:
"This approach would be consistent with the FSIS' revised policy with regard to roasted projects. Although FSIS policy formerly required that "roasted" only be used to describe meats cooked by use of a dry heat method, the Policy Book now provides that "roasted" may be used to describe products that have been subjected to cooking methods that result in a roasted appearance" (Pg 22)

I tend to want my "roasted" products to be, in fact, roasted.

5. "Changes to a product's basic shape..."

6. "Improvements in nutritional properties that do not rise to the level of a defined nutrient content claim..."

#36 ::: Rebecca Borgstrom ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:00 AM:

Regarding the six categories:

I'm a bit sleepy, so please forgive me if either of these questions is inane.

Would 1 apply to pet food poisons? Would 4 free the people of America to devour the organic and free-range twinkies we have always longed for?

#37 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:11 AM:

Anticorium@27: Think of Lindt milk chocolate and Kinder Surprise chocolate. Like that.

#38 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:18 AM:

Coming from the UK, I found US chocolate of the Hershey (and Mars, for that matter) type just tastes bad. The twist is that I find the US and UK brands on sale in continental Europe just as bad; and I find much of what is sold as "real" (eg. Belgian) chocolate far too bitter. Frankly, I can cope with Cadbury's stuff (assuming they keep it salmonella-free); and I can cope with the lowest, milk-chocolate end of "luxury" chocolate; but after that, I don't like much of anything.

I figure I am in fact a supertaster. Nobody said that the fact you can taste the difference means you are going to *like* it.

Meanwhile, I'm surprised people on Modesto eat much chocolate at all. Doesn't it melt on the shelves ten months of the year? Somehow I can't associate chocolate with hot weather, but that's probably just me.

None of this changes the point at issue, though, which is precisely that food labelling needs to make clear whether you are going to get chocolate or some ersatz chocolate-coloured stuff. The FDA is clearly just caving under corporate pressure here. What does the FDA claim to be *for*, again?

#39 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 08:05 AM:

>What does the FDA claim to be *for*, again?

Whatever sounds patriotic and American, but in reality what advances the corporate interests of Dick Cheney's friends....

#40 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 08:05 AM:

A few weeks ago, wanting some cookies and not having any in the house, I made a batch of triple chocolate ones. Used Baker's Semisweet Chocolate and then threw in two bars of Ghiradelli 72% Dark Chocolate for good measure.

32 ounces of semi-sweet and dark chocolate in those cookies. People I gave them to swore they were the best ones I'd made in a long time...

I can't stand milk chocolate any longer. If I can't eat or bake with dark/semisweet/unsweetened chocolate, it just doesn't taste like chocolate to me.

#41 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 08:49 AM:

According to my chocoholic mother, the dark chocolate available at Trader Joe's is excellent stuff. Reasonably priced, too. And they have single-origin bars. (The rest of my family lives too far away from a TJ's to go on a regular basis, so I get long shopping lists with requests to bring home on holidays. The little silvery-purple three-packs of dark chocolate bars are always high on the list.)

Re: #33: I'm not loving Godiva right now either, which makes me sad, because when I was little they were awesome, and now they've gone and turned all waxy and flavorless on me.

#42 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 08:58 AM:

33, 41: Allow me to pimp Leonidas. It costs the earth (in the US, at least; in Belgium there's a shop on every street corner) but boy is it good.

#43 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 09:05 AM:

John @ 40

My "problem" precisely; I've never been fond of milk chocolate, now I find I really don't like it. But then, when I was four or five I used to badger my mother into giving me blocks of unsweetened baking chocolate to gnaw.

So I'm going to tell the FDA that they can have my chocolate when they pry it out of my cold, dead hand.*

* Or, since we're headed into warm weather now, when it melts in my hand and oozes out.

#44 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 09:52 AM:

42: There's a chocolate shop called Leonidas? That's pretty weird. And, you know, un-Spartan.


#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 10:42 AM:

candle @ 38

Well, here in Los Angeles, I store mine in the fridge or the freezer.

#46 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 11:11 AM:

#44: It was apparently named after the founder, although there are apparently some other associations between Spartans and confections.

#47 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 11:20 AM:

I received a heads-up on this a few days ago in the form of an e-mail blast from See's--the chocolate I grew up eating. Every Saturday, my sister and I would stand shoulder to shoulder in our freshly cleaned room, palms out to receive our allowance. Once our $7 was in hand, we'd walk the mile and a half to the comic shop to load up on Elfquest and X-Men (me) and Archie Double Digests (her), then stop by See's on the way back for a San Francisco Brickle Bar, a couple of chocolate suckers and the ubiquitous free sample.

Even if I didn't care about good chocolate (which is akin to not caring about gentle spring rains or fluffy gray kittens), I'd have submitted a comment just to support such a stalwart and delicious pillar of my childhood. (Kind of like how my sister still flips through the Archies at the grocery checkout counter; but she swears they're not as good as they used to be and she won't buy them any more.)

#48 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 11:42 AM:

I'm not loving Godiva right now either

same here. quality has gone down, as brand visibility has gone up.

but, i do like me a Hershey bar now and then, and a Mr Goodbar is good in a pinch. i really like those little Dove miniatures, too. they have a really great smooth texture.

#49 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 11:43 AM:

"Go tell the FDA, chocolatiers passing by
That here, obedient to their dockets, we lie."

#50 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 12:27 PM:

"will have two versions of their most popular items out - a cheaper one made with substitutes, which people will buy for children, offices, and parties"

hmm, children, offices, and parties

what are - three things I dislike enough to poison with bad chocolate, alex?

#51 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 12:56 PM:

I just contacted both my senators, saying, "I know this is a silly issue (compared to, say, torture), but it's symptomatic of larger problems at the FDA, and you might want to keep your eye on things."

I was recently given several Dagoba Xocolatl bars which are absolutely delicious--the mild heat goes remarkably well with the dark chocolate, and there are yummy, crunchy cocoa nibs (a vastly underrated ingredient, IMHO).

Unfortunately, I don't think they're Fair Trade certified (although many other Dagoba products are).

#52 ::: steve ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:09 PM:

American chocolate is hopelessly inferior anyway, so who really cares. Buy good stuff, and they'll soon learn the lesson America's car manufacturers are still trying to recover from; screw the consumer and you'll pay the consequences.

#53 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:09 PM:

candle (#38) and PJ Evans (#45): Not to sound ultra-pretentious or anything, but I've discovered that a great place to store chocolate is in a wine fridge - I don't have to worry about it melting out on hot summer days, and it's pleasantly-cool to eat rather than fridge-cold.

[In my defense, I'd like to point out that my rental apartment isn't air-conditioned, and I live on the third floor of a historic building (for you MA Cantabrigians out there, it's the building across from City Hall), which makes it tricky to install a window-mount. I decided it would be a lot cheaper to just keep my wine cool, rather than the entire space. And wine fridges have gotten pretty small and inexpensive.]

#54 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:20 PM:

#51: Dagoba Chocolate??

"Ugh! How you get so big, eating such stuff? Hmm?"

#55 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:41 PM:

#28 and 29

It's actually Julia who hooks Winston up with his first taste of real chocolate since his childhood. It's in chapter 2:

"Then, as though touching her waist had reminded her of something, she felt in the pocket of her overalls and produced a small slab of chocolate. She broke it in half and gave one of the pieces to Winston. Even before he had taken it he knew by the smell that it was very unusual chocolate. It was dark and shiny, and was wrapped in silver paper. Chocolate normally was dullbrown crumbly stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it, like the smoke of a rubbish fire. But at some time or another he had tasted chocolate like the piece she had given him. The first whiff of its scent had stirred up some memory which he could not pin down, but which was powerful and troubling." (part one, chapter two)

We later find out that the memory that troubles him is that he once at a whole extra slab of chocolate that was meant to be shared between himself, his mother, and his dying sister.

"After his father had been vaporized, his mother had struggled to feed Winston and his sister on her meager earnings. With the selfishness of childhood, Winston had tried to grab whatever was available, often refusing to listen to his mother when she told him to share with his sister. He had justified this by telling himself that he was hungry and that gave him a right to be selfish. One evening when they got a small piece of chocolate, he snatched the whole thing and ran away. He remembered seeing his mother hug his sister to her as he ran. He had never seen either of them again, when he came back they were gone. He did not know if they had gone away or were taken away and vaporized. And he had lived with that guilt for years." (part two, ch. seven)

Sorry for the pedantry, but I can't help it.

#56 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:42 PM:

For all of you hating Godiva: about ten years ago, they started manufacturing it in America, instead of flying it over from Belgium. That would be right around when the quality went down.

I switched over to Leonidas, still made in Belgium, still flown in to JFK every week.

When I go to Canada, I buy up their consumer brand chocolate. It's not as good as the high-end stuff, but it kicks the ass of Hershey's. On my way home from Ad Astra this year, I got serious questioning by the guy at customs for my "Chocolate--$100" item on the form.

#57 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Arrgh, I hate writing complaint letters. I can *see* the horrible thing that a cheaparse capitalist chocolate-maker would do here: put .01% of soy oil in ALL "chocolate", so that ALL the ingredients lists read "cocoa butter, soy oil, cocoa powder", and then mess with the concentrations so that the "cheap" stuff has exactly one drop less soy oil per million-bar batch than real cocoa butter... and the lists for the "good" one and the "cheap" one look the same. But then I can't put the thing into English clearly! Gah. If only you could write these in Perl or something.

#58 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:56 PM:

For all of you hating Godiva: about ten years ago, they started manufacturing it in America, instead of flying it over from Belgium.

Actually, I know at least one Belgian who doesn't like the Godiva sold in Belgium, either. Like many of you, she's a Leonidas fan. (I have yet to try it, myself, alas.)

#59 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Greg @2, I call bullshit on the "they can't make it like that here" nonsense. Go get yourself some Scharffen Berger, and share it with your doubting friends.

#60 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Arg.

I'm getting a little fed up here with the stream of people who say "American chocolate sucks, so who cares if they ruin it more."

Is there some great study that says that somehow Cadbury is empirically better than Hershey's? (Or whatever the most common, famous, inexpensive brand is in the country you obtain your chocolate of choice from) We're not talking lovely little chocolatiers... those have to be judged entirely independent of nation. Is there some universal standard of chocolate-making that one country stands up to better even in its basest, most plain convenience-store milk-bar? Because I'll be damned if I've been able to find any reference to that online.

Or is this all personal preference being stated as fact?

Sorry for the rant there. I'm just frustrated.

#61 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 02:51 PM:

The really sad thing is the reason why the cheaper ingredients are cheaper to begin with is all the cartels and agriculture subsidies. It is a circular money system.
The creeping presence of soy in encyclopedic ingredient lists means fewer things I can safely eat and the things I can eat are priced beyond my budget. Peanut butter should not be a rare expensive treat. Chocolate is my sanity drug. They are taking away my drugs. What's worse is what gets successfully lobbied in the U.S. finds it's way up here to Canada.

#62 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 02:52 PM:

Eric, 51: According to my sources in Portland, Dagoba has been bought by Hershey's. Deathwatch begins in 3...2...1...

#63 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:02 PM:

There are two kinds of chocolate, and a lot of our conflict in this thread comes from conflating them.

1. Gourmet chocolate, which one eats for the sheer pleasure and delight of it. I prefer either Droste (a Dutch brand, whose pastilles I used to buy from the local foofy stuff shop) or someting fine and fairtrade.

2. Nostalgia chocolate, which one eats to recapture the magical taste of childhood treats. Christmas, for instance, requires nostalgia chocolate. For me, this is Hershey's Kisses. It's not about my virtue as a chocolate snob - this is emotion in a silver wrapper with a paper ribbon. (Kinda a pain to source here in Scotland, BTW, and I suspect the Netherlands will be no better.)

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Has anybody called the CDC(*) yet?

(*)Chocolate Defense Center, of course.

#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:09 PM:

TexAnne:

They own Scharffen Berger already.

I think they wanted the high-end stuff to extend their product line. First they adulterate the cheap stuff, then, somewhere down the road (five or ten years?) the midrange stuff. The premium brands they'll leave alone for longer.

I suspect part of this is because cocoa butter gets much better prices when it's sold for cosmetics.

#66 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:13 PM:

PJ: Not to mention that they can now claim that X % of their product lines are fair trade.

#67 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:31 PM:

#62: Oh, dear. I suppose this means I should try Dagoba Xocolatl now.

This brings me to my question:
Does anyone have any suggestions on storing chocolate? The collective wisdom of the web is inconsistent about whether or not I can keep it in the freezer. I understand that, ideally, it should be a cool, dry place. However, I don't have air conditioning so, in the summer, room temperature is at the mercy of the weather. (No wine fridge, sorry. If I had one, I'd probably put it there. It sounds like the perfect place for it.)

I'm mainly asking because it seems a bit excessive to pay $8 shipping on a $2.69 chocolate bar. I might as well buy some other chocolate at the same time (for the same shipping).

#68 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Folks, if you haven't tried them, Lake Champlain Chocolate is GOOD. Have to buy the larger Easter bunny next year...and their peanut butter eggs are to die for!

We have a local chocolatier who does some pleasant stuff, Anthony Thomas (love those dark buttercreams). Prices are rapidly reaching unaffordable...sigh.

Also, if you're in Chicago try Moonstruck Chocolates on Michigan Avenue near the Chipotle. Some really unusual truffles and fantastic coffee and try the hot chocolate that has chilies in it. It really warms you through and through.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:42 PM:

(scene cut out of The Empire Strikes Back

YODA: Have some Dagoba chocolate.
LUKE: Maybe I should try some of it.
YODA: No! Do or do not. There is no try.

#70 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Leah --

I can't tell how large your skepticism is. It looks to me as though you're denying that chocolate made of cocoa beans is better than chocolate made of, say, " tallow, bits of tree, hair, lint, spiders and powdered cocoa husks". Surely this is just because I'm parsing too literally, though. (And if it is what you're saying -- well, then you won't care what your confections are made of, but choco-tasters will, so there's an utilitarian argument for maintaining standards.)

Did you actually mean that there's a plausible standard of chocolate goodness but you don't believe we have evidence that one nation's cheap chocolate is better than another's? Because I suspect the Internet can rise to that challenge. Blind tastings at MeetUps should be very popular.

#71 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Regarding the whole FDA/Cylert/drug companies dropping old drugs bit, I've got a bit of an idea brewing, and I'm going to blabber for a moment...

Part of the problem seems to be that drug companies are reluctant to keep producing older medicines that are off-patent, and to do the work needed to get off-label uses approved when a patent has or is about to expire. More interesting for them to work on new medications, which will be sold for more money.

That leaves people who need an older medicine for an off-label use stuck, in terms of arguing to the FDA that the drug is important, and in terms of organizing in support of older drugs in the face of large companies actively undermining them.

But there is a second big-money player here. That is the insurance companies.

(Heresy, I know.)

For an insurance company, generic drugs are preferable to new brand name drugs, and getting generic drugs approved for successful off-label uses will give them more options in terms of finding inexpensive drugs for their customers.

So the question is, do we have any way of planting a meme-seed into the mind of the folks at the insurance companies that they really want to fight for generic drugs and approving off-label uses, as a way of controlling costs?

#72 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Clew @#70

I'm saying I've blind tasted Hershey's, Cadbury, and some fairly generic German chocolate of a brand I can't recall (all three varieties were milk). I preferred Hershey's.

I cannot find any documented difference in Hershey's manufacture to Cabury, excluding exact amounts of milk and sugar.

I'm saying that I think a great deal of American chocolate... both low priced, mid, and high range is quite enjoyable as is, and would be hurt considerably by this FDA-proposed change. I was reacting primarily to Steve @#52 who wrote:

"American chocolate is hopelessly inferior anyway, so who really cares. Buy good stuff, and they'll soon learn the lesson America's car manufacturers are still trying to recover from; screw the consumer and you'll pay the consequences."

I believe this is false. I believe American chocolate is currently good and should be saved. And I prefer Hershey's to Cadbury in a blind test, and know many others who do as well.

Basically universal dismissal of one country's product based on samplings in far different price ranges frustrate me. And statements of fact based entirely on one person's personal taste bothers me as well.

If someone came to me and said "Cadbury is superior because such and such an additive is left out which casues this mouthfeel and the beans are sourced from such and such a place." I'd be a bit more likely to consider it. But I can't find anything like that for any everyday chocolate, only for independent chocolatiers... who should never be compared to Hershey anyway.

I'm not saying Hershey is a great chocolate, or incredibly high quality, or my favorite. I'm also not saying it's better than Cadbury. I'm saying I have a personal preference for it versus the only other "mainstream foreign brand" I can immediately call to mind, so blanket statements of American chocolate inferiority confuse me.

#73 ::: RichM ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:23 PM:

anaea @ #7: Also, beware vegan chocolate sauce designed for fondue without heating it. I'd only had it for two days before it exploded due to massive mold growth. Either there was something wrong with it, or it needed different care than what I give non-vegan chocolate of the same style.

That's just the way we like it here on Vega.

#74 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:34 PM:

Here's my FDA comment:

I wish to object in the strongest possible terms to allowing anything not containing cocoa butter to be called "chocolate," ever, under any circumstances.

It's bad enough that candy companies are already adulterating chocolate with palm oil and other unhealthy and nasty-tasting things. But to let them use the name 'chocolate' when there's no cocoa butter at all is just a travesty. It would make it impossible to buy decent chocolate most places in America (where 'decent', here, means "containing no adulterating fats").
In fact, I would favor a tightening of the standard of identity and/or labeling requirements, so that nothing containing ANY added fats other than cocoa butter or milkfat could be called by the name 'chocolate'. If that seems too restrictive, then you could simply require a label, in a sharply contrasting color and 20-point type, saying "CONTAINS ADULTERATING FATS."
And all those industry people who are telling you it'll be just fine...let THEM eat the abominations they produce. I can read ingredients. But millions of children everywhere will be fed unhealthy chocolate-like substances, innocently believing them to be the real thing. This is a crime that you should be ashamed to be part of.
I hate them. Bastards.
#75 ::: Diana Swiger ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:38 PM:

I can not eat vetable shorting. Corn oil makes me ill. Most oils are not well tolerated by me.
Cocobutter is one that I can.
This is a very very sad day for me. I rather like the new dark line that is come out.
Real chocolate is one of the true pleasures of life.

#76 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Leah (#72)

Oh, I see. That makes sense.

In a small observational sidenote, it also seems to me that people's experience of imported chocolate could be honestly reflecting a bias in the imports -- why would anyone bother importing stuff that wasn't at least as good as Hershey's?* And higher price can be the result of higher standards, not just the other way around.

But we seem to agree that the FDA should not let consumers be fed stuff other than what we expect under the label, so why quibble?

*Snob appeal, okay, but the central trend...

#77 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 04:55 PM:

I agree Godiva's quality has deteriorated. I own stock in Hershey, but don't eat Hershey chocolate because it tastes like wax. Ghirardelli can be ok. Scharffen Berger (yes, it's a Hershey division) has been great so far. Nibby Bars and Gianduja. ::smacks lips::

Since Seattle is my nearest and dearest metropolitan area, I like to recommend Fran's Chocolates. I love the look of the chocolate figs. I am tempted by their beauty, until I come to my senses and remember that I don't care for the fig flavor. And then I see the lovely golden figs, plump with ganache and I want to try them, convinced that this will be the time that my taste buds come to their senses. So I give in, and try the figs. Again. The result - chocolate good, fig meh.

Those who do like figs tell me that the chocolate filled figs are delicious bundles of yum. I can attest that the other offerings are delightful. Single Malt Truffle. Ahhhh.

#78 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:00 PM:

What might happen to the cheap candy bars? I'm not a high-end chocolate person-- the only Really Good Expensive Chocolate Bar I've ever had, the three-four dollar kind by the checkout at the coop, was like plastic to me. But if they mess with my Snickers bar, I will hunt them down and force them to eat, um, the white chocolate stuff with the chemical afterscent.

#79 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:26 PM:

I'm not sure why; the more expensive milks I've tried taste somehow sweeter, too sweet for my tastes.

Hershey's is made with sour milk. That's why it tastes different from most other milk chocolates.

#80 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:26 PM:

I'm not sure why; the more expensive milks I've tried taste somehow sweeter, too sweet for my tastes.

Hershey's is made with sour milk. That's why it tastes different from most other milk chocolates.

#81 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:42 PM:

TexAnne @ 62: Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that Dagoba's been bought by Hershey. I clearly need to stock up the next time it goes on sale at the grocery store.

Leah @ 60: In Switzerland, the cheapest common chocolate is Toblerone. But at least 50% of the shelf space in small stores (and 90%+ in grocery stores) is dedicated to premium chocolate. So assuming that you prefer high-end US chocolate to a Hershey's bar, then you'd presumably prefer mass-market Swiss chocolate to mass-market American chocolate.

#82 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:43 PM:

Yet another reason I don't eat American chocolate ... plus, I like the bittersweet 70% and aboves! Also, thank you all for noting that I'm not that ADM!

#83 ::: Canard ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:43 PM:

As a bingey sort, I find myself wondering who it will be a bigger deal for if they wreck chocolate: me and my smudge-faced ilk, or the more sensible people who eat chocolate in smaller amounts on rarer occasions and really enjoy it? The latter group values it more; the former needs it more.

Either way, boo. And definitely not Boo-urns.

#84 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Ursula, 71,
Aren't most medical insurance companies in some way owned by the same people as the pharmcorps and medical supply companies?

Anaea,7,
Real dark chocolate is vegan to begin with or it should be. As for the mold I notice a lot of chocolate products go and grow colonies easily even in the fridge but real chocolate doesn't.

Isn't most industrial corn and soy ingredients in the U.S. genetic modified as well?

I can see a lot of cashing in on the media hype that chocolate is good for you health reports because most consumers will skip over the fine print of must contain minimum level cocoa solids for antioxidant benefit and grab a Hershey's.

#85 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Diatryma @ #78: I remember the "definition of chocolate" argument flaring up at some point when I was a child in Turkey; there was a time I read full-page ads in newspapers taken out by chocolate makers to educate the public as to what makes chocolate chocolate. (It was a question of cocoa butter vs. other oils, I think, and the upshot was that if it does not contain only cocoa butter or a certain percentage of cocoa butter, the manufacturer had to market it as "nougat" or "praline", not chocolate). Around that time my favourite snackfood diet as a kid included examples of both chocolate and the other stuff, and I could tell the difference. I cannot describe the difference now; it has been too long. But I remember, even to my undiscerning child's palate, that the "other stuff" tasted... cheaper. Greasier. If cost-cutting happens at the level of the coating on a bar of Snickers, it is likely that you will feel it, especially as an adult. You might or might not mind it; tastes vary, etc.

But to my mind the greater problem with this is the one that has been brought up above in this thread, for instance in #65 anyway: "First they adulterate the cheap stuff, then, somewhere down the road (five or ten years?) the midrange stuff. The premium brands they'll leave alone for longer."

The thing is, kids overwhelmingly get the cheap and midrange stuff as treats. And tastes we cultivate in our childhood about snack food tend to stay with us, even if we learn to like other things later in life. I fear children growing up while not knowing any better.

#86 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Leah@72: I didn't mean to suggest any of that (and I assumed steve@52 was a drive-by). I prefer Cadbury's to Hershey's, but that is nothing more than my own preference, and no doubt conditioned by what I grew up with. There *is* a detectable difference, which novalis maybe explains above, but I don't know that it leads to any obvious superiority. And you're right to object to people being obnoxious, obviously.

As I was saying, I actually chafe a bit at being told that the commercial stuff I like isn't proper chocolate and that I should like Leonidas or some other expensive version. I know the expensive stuff is generally higher in cocoa solids, and that it does make a difference - I've been to chocolate tastings - but I just don't like the expensive stuff. Which is a win-win, right?

clew@78: I for one have lived in the UK, the US and in Italy, and bought commercial chocolate in France, Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg too (also Canada, although it was Cadbury's and was probably imported from the UK). What people are talking about here is pretty much representative of what is available without any real import bias. But it's a fair point for when people start to generalise about Belgian chocolate being so much better.

I guess I figured that people kept chocolate in the fridge. Does it affect the taste? Hmm, this is an experiment I can run at home.

#87 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:57 PM:

The Cadbury's sold in the USA is made by Hershey.

Hershey still has "baking chocolate" which appears to be pure chocolate and NOT adulterated with milkfat [it's got the Union of Orthodox Rabbis certification on it with no "D" for "Dairy," unlike the cooking chocolate bars make by Baker's, etc., which all have a D on them next to whatever kosher certification agency inspected their facilities, if there is a kosher certification].

It recently has been distributing expensive premium packaged high cacao content chocolate bars... me, I look at the price of baking chocolate without the added sugar etc. and compare that to what the price is for the high cacao content candy bars... I also compare the price of cocoa powder (interestingly, most cocoa powder with kosher certification get an explicit or implicit "pareve"/"parve" meaning no milk products in it--lack of a "D" indicated no milk products...)

Mars/MasterFoods/Dove/etc. is no shining organization--it was one of the contributors to and conspirators in the destroy=Air-America-by-refusing-to-advertise-not-only-during-AirAmerica-programming-but-ALSO-censorship-by-pulling-advertising-completely-off-any-station-hosting-AirAmerica-programming campaigns. Hershey's does not seem to have been part of that.

#88 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Could the argument that changing the definition of chocolate is deceptive to the consumer trying to make health and spiritual choices hold up.
Or will they snip back that all you have to do is take the time to read the ingredients which lovely for those that have the luxury of shopping around sucks for those that can't.

#89 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 06:01 PM:

candle (#86): Cadbury's chocolate is made in Canada. I used to live near a factory in Toronto. The scent of chocolate is one industrial pollutant I can live with!

#90 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 06:23 PM:

Er, all it says on the ingredients list of Hershey baking chocolate bars is "chocolate." All it says on the contents of Baker's [unsweetened] baking chocolate and Nestle's, etc. is "Chocolate, milkfat"

There is no mention made of "cocoa" and/or of "cocoa butter." If the [expletive deleted]s' debasing corrupt adulterant proposal goes through, and the definition of "chocolate" changes, there would be NO requirement to mention what fats/oils are present in "chocolate."....

There are additives in things already today, that get left out of the ingredients lists for stuff people eat.... and then there is the catchall "spices" not mentioning what spices, for all sorts of stuff....

The debasers in the Executive Branch have presided over murder, rape, torture, force abortion facilitation and concealment, religious persecution (see Air Force Academy and Naval Academy...], war on false pretenses, abrogation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, atrocities against the Geneva Convention, etc. etc., etc. and now they have taken the ultimate step of adulterating chocolate.... extradition NOW to the World Court for the lot of them for crimes against humanity....

#91 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 06:36 PM:

I got roasted whole cocoa beans once and put them through a mill; it's amazing how much fat there is in them. The result was a little too direct for me, kind of D.H. Lawrencian.

#92 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Eve@37: Think of Lindt milk chocolate and Kinder Surprise chocolate. Like that.

Dear God, those poor Belgian children. Kinder Surprise chocolate always tastes like soap to me, and goes down the same way.

#93 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 06:54 PM:

debcha: fair enough. Perhaps it would be safer if we imported it to the UK? Probably my vague and bizarre Bournville fantasies about how chocolate is made are best preserved if the whole thing is kept at a distance, in any case.

#94 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 06:58 PM:

I don't like the Belgian chocolate not for the flavour which is fine but because the feel in the mouth is very clay like texture. I like my grainier Swiss it has edge. Husband is the opposite loves the Belgian for being smoooooth and calls my Swiss gritty. For baking though good German chocolate all the way; we are in agreement.

#95 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:07 PM:

My food and science class just got cancelled unexpectedly, so I'm going to share some stuff here instead:

Quotes from Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking (aka the Bible):

JC (#67): "The best storage temperature for chocolate is a constant 60-65F/15-18C, without fluctuations that would encourage the melting and recrystallization of the cocoa butter fats. [The bloom on chocolate] is cocoa butter that has melted out of unstable crystals, migrated to the surface, and formed new crystals there. Fat bloom is normally prevented by proper tempering of the chocolate in the first place."

Unstable cocoa butter crystals (what you get rid of by tempering) melt between about 18-28C (59-82F). The melting temperature of milk chocolate is 40-45C (104-113F), and that of dark chocolate is 45-50C (113-122F). So if you are going to buy a lot of chocolate and store it in an unairconditioned apartment, go for dark chocolate. If you do get a really hot day and it melts outright, it'll lose its temper and will melt at lower temperatures after that (and will be mottled and unappetizing).

Leah Miller (#72): "The milk chocolates made in Europe, England, and the United States have traditionally had distinct flavors." European chocolate is normally made with milk powder, which tastes most like fresh milk. For English milk chocolate, liquid milk is mixed with sugar and concentrated to 90% solids before being mixed with chocolate liquor, so it has a cooked, caramelized flavour (like condensed milk). In the US, the milk fat is slightly broken down by fat-digesting enzymes. "This breakdown develops a slight note of rancidity, whose cheesy, animal overtones blend well in their own way with chocolate flavor and make a positive contribution to the complexity of flavor."

anaea (#7), of the moldy fondue sauce: I am going to have to vote for 'there was something wrong with it,' based on McGee's comments about ganache (chocolate and cream): "Thanks to the initial scalding of the cream and the chocolate's sugar content, moisture-absorbing cocoa particles, and abundant microbe-unfriendly phenolic compounds, ganache has a surprisingly long shelf life of a week or more at room temperature."


#96 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:08 PM:

Leah Miller @ 60, Well, Ritter Sport is a cheap brand in Germany (about 0.50 Euro a bar) and it blows the doors off of American cheap chocolate. I did have some nasty inexpensive chocolate in Austria, I forget the brand, though.

It's all a matter of taste. If you prefer American candy bars, there's no shame in it. Personally, the only mass-market chocolats I actaully enjoy are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Cadbury Mini-Eggs. Otherwise, I usully take a pass when offered non-foofy chocolate. And, BTW, as others have said upthread, Leonidas rocks.

#97 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:39 PM:

At least they are not trying to put Olestra and it's kin in the chocolate, yet. But you can get sugar free Lint with Splenda or Nutrisweet in it, weird stuff.

#98 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 09:13 PM:

candle @ 38 -

The main reason the Modesto Bee would cover this (besides being an unreaonably good paper for a town its size -- it is one of the original McClatchy papers) is that the big western Hershey plant in Oakdale is only a half hour up the road.

#99 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 10:20 PM:

T.W. #97: I think you meant 'Lindt' rather than 'Lint'. Lint is normally sugar free....

#100 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 10:34 PM:

Worse, there is another document up for them to start controlling vitamins and herbs. Crap! Can't those people do a decent job at what they are supposed to be doing first? Like checking the food supply for melamine and salmonella?? Not to mention BSE, that they ignore pointedly.

#101 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 02:18 AM:

If you can, get your hands on Karl Fazer chocolate, from Finland. It's Swiss-style, high quality, and comes in big bars.

American made chocolates I love:
Vosges (curried Naga, ancho-chipotle-cinnamon Red Fire, smoked almond and sea salt Barcelona)
Newman's Own Organics (Milk Chocolate Crisp Rice and Sweet Dark Chocolate)
Endangered Species (Dark Chocolate Deep Forest Mint, Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs, Milk Chocolate with Cherries)
Sunspire Natural Chocolates (organic semi-sweet chips, Coconut Almond Bars and Sundrops)
Tropical Source (non-dairy semi-sweet chips)

It's expensive but I consider it my duty to expose the children in my care to very good chocolate, and to demonstrate how one eats it mindfully. We shall overlook my habit of eating handfuls of chocolate chips while reading Patricia Wentworth books. FWIW, much of my chocolate education has been the direct result of working for natural food co-ops. I recall that when one of them had a shortage of Chocolove for a little while it caused a bit of a ruckus among the members.

#102 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 03:04 AM:

Novalis #80, I had heard a rumour that American (Hershey's) chocoloate is made with sour milk because the GIs stationed in Europe during WWII got used to that taste, due to eating chocolate imported from America which had gone off slightly in transit. This sounds slightly implausible to me; can you or anyone confirm or debunk it?

Certainly I have no trouble telling the difference between Cadbury's, basic chocolate in the UK, and Hershey's, basic chocolate in the US. Fresh versus sour milk would explain that.

#103 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:13 AM:

Leah @60: Or whatever the most common, famous, inexpensive brand is in the country you obtain your chocolate of choice from

Milka, Ritter-Sport, Alpia, and the discounters' (Aldi, Norma, Penny, Lidl,...) house brands.

Which are not too bad IMO, but I've mostly upgraded to dark milk chocolates from South American cacao beans these days. For baking I use the dark Lindt chocolates -- the inexpensive brands are much harder to handle.

#104 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:32 AM:

Anticorium @92: Kinder Surprise chocolate always tastes like soap to me, and goes down the same way.

Kinderschokolade baffles me. I find most of their products too sweet to stomach, but I like the regular bars. The stuff around the Surprise Eggs just can't be the same as the regular bars, even if it looks similar -- it tastes completely different. I wonder if the plastic inside is not as taste-neutral as it should be, or if the chocolate is so thin that it spoils easily.

#105 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:43 AM:

"I'm English, and as such I crave disappointment. That's why I buy Kinder Surprise. Horrible chocolate; nasty little toy: a double-whammy of disillusionment! Sometimes I eat the toy out of sheer despair. I actually call them the Eggs Of Numbing Inevitability." -- the very splendid and worthwhile Bill Bailey

#106 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:44 AM:

Those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area who are into chocolate experimentation should duck into Fog City News on Market Street, which is a newsstand that does a nice side business in imported (and domestic) chocolate bars. 455 Market Street (at First). You can even get a frequent buyer's card which entitles you to a free candy bar with the purchase of ten: the clerks also write down which bars you buy on the card, so you have a record.

#107 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 09:04 AM:

Dagoba goodness I forgot about: Xocolatl hot chocolate mix! It's best when made with water. If you make it with milk, you lose the delicate floral notes.

Green & Black's Maya Gold hot chocolate mix, OTOH, is best made with milk, and whipped cream for the decadent.

Ghirardelli mocha hot chocolate got me through my dissertation. The stuff sold as hot chocolate is fiendishly expensive (though not as dear as Dagoba)--but the "sweet ground chocolate" in the baking aisle is the same stuff cheaper, and you can doctor it with coffee, instant coffee, or Kahlua to taste. (You also don't need 3T chocolate per cup of milk. 3t works just fine.)

#108 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 10:37 AM:

Re the Orwell excerpt way back at #55: take Proustian memory, mix with large dollop of Protestant guilt, and voila!

#109 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 12:44 PM:

TexAnne #107:

The Ghirardelli "sweet ground chocolate" as a base to which I added coffee and real whipped cream got me through my master's thesis (my diss required stronger stuff--almost pure coffee) but it did add a few pounds.

I'll take this post as a chance to say that I mostly eat Hershey's Nuggets (milk) these days because I'm still recovering from the now two-year-old incident involving too much dark chocolate and the Martian Death Flu. It's gotten to the point where I can eat a brownie occasionally, and the odd bit of dark chocolate-covered ginger, but an attempt on anything like even half a bar is still very hard on my psyche. (I was given six Schmidt truffles for Valentine's, and it took me at least two weeks to deal with them.) So yes, I'd be very annoyed if anyone screwed with my domestic milk chocolate.

I also picked up a fondness for Ritter Sport milk with hazelnut filling during my European stay.

#110 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 90

There are additives in things already today, that get left out of the ingredients lists for stuff people eat.

This is what I'm concerned with in the long term, that eventually they won't have to tell us anything about what's in the food. Right now I have a problem with anything containing MSG*, but they're only required to say "flavoring" on the label. Other people have much nastier problems: peanut allergy, soy allergy, etc. I get the impression that the food conglomerates are quite willing to consider us all acceptable collateral damage, if they can just boost their profits by 1% or so.

* MSG makes me turn red, then sweat, then gives me a nasty migraine. My wife just gets high on it.

#111 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 03:59 PM:

I finished my lunch while reading through this thread, and I just couldn't help myself; reading about chocolate so much just triggered the craving. Reaching into my desk drawer I took out the package of Droste bittersweet dark chocolate pastilles I keep there, and ate 2 of them. Very appreciatively.

Say what you like, I prefer them to Snickers any day.

#112 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Bruce #111:

I blame all of you. I just had a brownie at the coffeehouse. I can hear the scales groaning in protest, even though the weighing event is still some 17 hours in the future.

#113 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:19 PM:

I want to thank everyone who bothered responding to me, especially debcha @#95. The Milk/powdered milk/condensed milk/sour milk differences are really fascinating. I also want to apologize for flying off the handle due to a drive-by. I guess I just take my chocolate honor a bit too seriously.

Looking at those alternatives empirically, it's a wonder I like milk chocolate at all. Powdered milk and condensed milk are both ingredients I shy away from, as I find them a bit cloying in most cases. And sour milk... I'm trying not to think too hard about that.

No wonder I usually prefer dark. I'm sure a lot of the chocolatiers I patronize use the powdered or condensed milk approach when making their milk chocolate, and that's why only Hershey's does it for me in that department. Though now I'm craving some good dark truffles.

Food chemistry is massively strange and mysterious. I'm becoming more and more confident in my theory that cooking doesn't obey the laws of physics.

#114 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Ritter Sport is available at Trader Joe's in the USA. However, it is NOT inexpensive here.

=========

I just remembered that Theresa Renner's volunteerism to Boskone included donating lots chocolates from Middle Eastern countries to the con suite which were at the Dead Dog party...

#115 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:39 PM:

I find that I can't handle chocolate that appears to be *really* high quality - anything over 75% cocoa solids dries out my mouth. I have the same problem with most red wines. Are there tannins in chocolate or something?

I will forgive almost any quality problems if the chocolate in question is dark with raspberry flavoring or filling. I am only slightly less forgiving with dark chocolate and orange.

When it comes to plain dark chocolate, I like bars with the texture of Hershey Special Dark, but slightly less sweet. Lindt is a bit too creamy (although I forgive them for that when eating raspberry ganache truffles) - I think I like Endangered Species or Green & Black better.

#116 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:45 PM:

I think I draw the line somewhere around 70%. I'll raid Cost Plus sometimes - they get a lot of imported brands, some more unlikely than others (Spanish? Russian?). TJ's parking lot is a bit difficult (small spaces, narrow aisle, way too many cars: can you get claustrophobia in a parking lot?).

#117 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Shadowsong @115

I was always taught that "quality" doesn't come from cocoa solids percentage - "intensity" does. Quality comes from the beans and the manufacture process. Liking your chocolate darker (with a higher cocoa solid percentage) is much like liking you coffee black or liking your tea unsweetened - it's arguably closer to the "true" taste, and it'll get you points with the specialists, but it's all personal preference in the end. I myself drink coffee with a mutant half milk/half coffee mix.

For instance, Bonnat is very high quality chocolate. They make both milk and "plain" (dark). Both of those bars are equally high quality. One of them is darker and possibly more "pure."

Hmm, on second thought, now I'm disliking even using "pure" to describe darker chocolates. I think that's why we have the term "dark." Let's just say that having more cocoa solids makies it darker. If we want to get crazy, we can say it makes it more "intense."

#118 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Shadowsong #115

Market Basket in eastern Massachusetts has dark chocolate chocolate bars with raspberry as (relatively inexpensive) store brand. The actual manufacture I suspect is Hebert, which seems to make the unbranded chocolate fudge and penuche fudge sold in plastic containers an unbranded (used to be branded Hebert), the telltale is the hechsher from one of the Worcester, MA kosher certification agencies (Polar Beverages of Worcester has certification from the other group. I never remember which one is "the black hats" and which is the ordinary-variety-Orthodox) which is on the chocolate bars and which most Hebert products carry. [Note, Hebert was the company which came up with "white chocolate" originally, long ago, which had cocoa butter but not the cocoa powder...)

#119 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:20 PM:

TJ's has a limited selection of Ritter Sport - usually the yogurt-filled, hazelnut and butter cookie varieties. Cost Plus seems to have the full line, including marzipan (my favorite) and knusper (which I don't really understand) albeit at a higher price per bar that Trader Joe's.

It's all three to four times what it costs in Germany.

#120 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:29 PM:

I didn't think it was possible to ruin American chocolate... :-P

#121 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Is it possible for dark chocolate to still have milkfat or milk solids in it? Some people tell me it's one or the other, but I always thought it was two separate measurements: a certain amount of cocoa solids gets you dark chocolate, any amount of milk product gets you milk chocolate. So you can theoretically meet the requirements for both names in the same chocolate bar.

Of course, I may have been thinking about semisweet vs milk, which I assume would be sugar content vs milk content and may still be a "can be both at the same time" situation.

#122 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Trader Joe's has those lovely, um, almond or hazelnut-cream-filled dark chocolate bars, and a very nice dark chocolate with raisins and pecan bar that I'm eating my way through.
I remember going into the Lindt store once (the one in the Natick Mall, I think it was, had unlimited free chocolate samples out at their opening; I always wondered exactly how much they went through) and finding these dark-chocolate hazelnut-filled snail things, boxed, each one the size of a plum. Never saw them again, which was probably good because they're quite perishable (my box lasted a day, I think). They also used to have a lovely bittersweet bar with cacao nibs. I think the King Arthur flour company used to have cacao nibs in their catalog, too. King Arthur used to sell the most marvelous selection of chocolate-for-baking, all sorts of chips (mini, regular, large, candy-coated, raspberry-filled) and a good selection of cocoas. They still have a decent array of chocolate stuff, but not as good a one as they used to.
Hebert's dark chocolate I generally find a little too sweet, but I love their dark-chocolate-coated ginger and chocolate-coated pretzels.

#123 ::: Dan Janiak ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 11:02 PM:

Ok. I hated chocolate, but have seen the light. Don't make me go back to being a human being hating depressed anti-chocolate fiend that I used to be.

#124 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:06 AM:

Leah Miller @ 117

If we want to get crazy, we can say it makes it more "intense."

Extreme, that's what we should call it. Extreme Chocolate. I can see the commercial now: a couple of young, athletic people basejumping off the top of a high cliff in South America to find the tiny ledge halfway down that grows the finest cocoa beans in the world.

#125 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Joking aside, I do use chocolate as a medication at times. It reduces some of the visual symptoms and the disorientation of a migraine. Taken together with prescription medication like Imetrex, and it's almost a treatment.

But I don't feel that I have to have a migraine in order to eat chocolate :-)

#126 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 02:16 AM:

We have an excellent chocolaterie about a mile from my condo. Chocolaterie Wanders uses the best stuff (including raspberry). They mostly sell online, but I'll go pick mine up.

#127 ::: Deno ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 07:04 AM:

I love chocolate! Why should it be changed? That's right; it shouldn't!

#128 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 07:42 AM:

Today is the last day for the public to comment on this proposed change.

While what's being discussed is called a "citizen's petition," I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a citizen who thinks, "By golly, I want my chocolate to taste and feel worse!" or "What's wrong with America is that roasted food is being roasted!"

So ... comment. Tell 'em what you really think. If you haven't done it by the end of today....

#129 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:05 AM:

> It reduces some of the visual symptoms and the disorientation of a migraine.

Though we should probably take a moment here to show sympathy for those who find that chocolate is a trigger for their migraines.

#130 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:13 AM:

Bruce Cohen@125 -- What kind of chocolate do you use for migraines? And how much of it? This sounds like a treatment I could get behind.

(Although, if chocolate were one of my triggers, I guess I might feel differently -- though maybe if you're already getting the migraine, you might as well get to have the chocolate.)

#131 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Shadowsong @ 115: Yes, chocolate does contain tannins (per a Google search, not based on my own knowledge). It also appears that eating chocolate can also interfere with one's body absorbing iron from food eaten at the same time.

#132 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 10:27 AM:

Shadowsong #125 -- anytime there's a "D" next to a K, or nest to a U inside a circle, or a K inside a circle, etc., there's the possibility of milk products/butterfat/milkfat inclusion. There used to be a marking "DE" which stood for "dairy equipment" -- the production line had been used for making products with milk/milk products in them without being e.g. steamcleaning before making chocolates without intentionally added milk. It's the sort of thing somewhat like there is a note on a product saying "made in facility that processes tree nuts and milk" The manufacturers which used to use DE however dropped the E and left the D; there may or may not actually be milk derivative stuff in chocolate which doesn't list milk or casein or butterfat or milkfat as ingredients, but has a D next to a kosher certification.

In the case of most of the major manufacturer baking chocolates, though, they -explicitly- list "milkfat" as an ingredient, intentionally present.

I suppose that there are at least two contributing reasons: 1., use of the milkfat as an emulsitive, to reduce the separation of cocoa butter from the rest of the chocolate, and 2. milkfat may be less expensive than cocoa butter.

#133 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 12:42 PM:

dontmesswithourchocolate says the comment period has been extended to May 25.

#134 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 03:03 PM:

Alan Braggins @ 129

Though we should probably take a moment here to show sympathy for those who find that chocolate is a trigger for their migraines.

Yes, we should. Maybe someday migraines will be taken seriously enough by doctors in general (not just neurologists and neurochemists) that they'll be able to treat it, if only enough that eating chocolate can be made safe.

#135 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Ceri @ 130

Typically I use dark chocolate*, with as little sugar as possible (semisweet or better). If it's too sweet I can get a sugar rush, which is usually an enabler for the migraine. There'a a 'fell off the truck' discount grocery I go to every few weeks that usually has Lindt or Droste bars for a good price. Just recently I bought some 99% cocoa unsweetened chocolate chips, and I've tried those a couple of time. Works pretty well.

As for how much, it's hard to say. Usually by the time I get to the chocolate the migraine's in full bloom, and I'm not keeping really good records. Probably I eat more than I need for medicinal purposes, just because eating becomes a comforting act. I think with a Lindt bar it amounts to maybe an ounce or two. Much less for the unsweetened.


* Only milk chocolate if there's no dark around, and I make sure there's always dark chocolate in the house.

#136 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Update: According to the page at Don't Mess With Our Chocolate, the comment period has now been extended to May 25.

#137 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 05:42 PM:

I wonder how much of this is related to the 'farm' bill that I saw mentioned recently. It's certainly related to the agribusiness takeover of the term organic.

Grr.

#138 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 06:09 PM:

Comment period has been extended? You know what that means. Letters to the editor. Ink on paper.

Get the word out to people who aren't on-line.

#139 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 07:35 PM:

For those of you interested in the making of chocolate and what determines price, quality, etc, I found this review of a Dallas chocolatier extremely informative - it goes into whether or not this new company, that had gotten a lot of media attention, was actually making a product worth the price. Good stuff.

#140 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:32 PM:

Are these the same people that brought us Guacamole without avocado?

#141 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 03:07 AM:

A chocolate quote from Orwell's 1984: "Then, as though touching her waist had reminded her of something, she felt in the pocket of her overalls and produced a small slab of chocolate. She broke it in half and gave one of the pieces to Winston. Even before he had taken it he knew by the smell that it was very unusual chocolate. It was dark and shiny, and was wrapped in silver paper. Chocolate normally was dullbrown crumbly stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it, like the smoke of a rubbish fire. But at some time or another he had tasted chocolate like the piece she had given him. The first whiff of its scent had stirred up some memory which he could not pin down, but which was powerful and troubling."

#142 ::: cornpone-ality ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:20 PM:

I don't care if corn additives are used so long as the word chocolate isn't used.

How about Mock-0-Late?

Actually, I do care. ADM is a maker of corn derivative products which appear to be elevating the profile of allergic reactions to all sorts of foods which were once free of corn oil, but now highly dosed with the stuff. I suspect more than corn is involved. And I suspect as well that the "natural sweetners" ADM produces are related to epidemic levels of diabetes in this country as well.

#143 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:27 PM:

cornpone-ality @ 142

There's some suspicion that high-fructose corn syrup is involved.

I know someone allergic to corn, especially as corn alcohol. There have to be other things involved, to get through fermentation and distillation and still cause a reaction.

#144 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:52 PM:

And remember, Mexican Coca-Cola is The Real Real Thing because it uses cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup!

I checked, and you can buy all 240 11.5 ounce bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola that gusanoz.com has in stock and get it shipped UPS Next Day Air Early AM for less than $1400! That's only about fifty cents an ounce. Whee!

#145 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 09:37 PM:

In Tuesday's WashPost Business shorts, there's a report that Hershey is closing its Reading, PA plant so it can build a plant in Mexico.

And today, on the front page of the WashPost, an article on the outcry against changes in chocolate standards.

#146 ::: Mirabai ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 10:55 AM:

I always read the ingredients of the chocolate I buy. I usually don't buy chocolates with under 70% cacao.

#147 ::: devon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 02:21 AM:

Freedom of choice. Let manufacturers produce what they want. I'd personally like to try variations. A chocolate with flax seed oil would be interesting, for example. The FDA shouldn't be regulating this kind of thing at all.

#148 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 06:24 AM:

The FDA shouldn't be regulating this kind of thing at all.

Do you think it's time to remind folks what it was like before the pure food and drug laws were passed?

#149 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 07:05 AM:

devon @#147

There is nothing preventing companies from making a chocolaty food with flax oil instead of cocoa butter. They would just currently have to label it "chocolate flavored flax candy bar" or something to that effect.

This isn't a matter of freedom of choice. It's as if the government was going to say that almond butter could be labeled "peanut butter" if it contained any peanut oil at all. The fact that almond butter cannot be labeled peanut butter does not keep them from making almond butter. It helps us distinguish the two.

This isn't about them stopping someone from making something. This is about clear labeling that tells us what something IS. Don't call butter margerine, don't call rice dream ice cream, and don't call chocolate-flavored candy chocolate. It's that simple.

#150 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 01:49 PM:

I'm gonna have to ask here what else devon #147 thinks the FDA shouldn't be doing.

I raise for his delectation and discussion two things of interest: the melamine in pet food, now seen to be going into the human food chain, and the story in the NYT yesterday of substitution of poison for glycerin that made it into human medicines in various foreign countries.

#151 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Leah @ 149

Googling 'American nut butter':
Made from organically grown glandless cotton nut kernels mixed with 15% peanut oil, the American nut butter is higher in protein and lower in calories than ...

Trader Joe's was selling this during the 'Great Peanut Butter Crunch' of 1980-81. It was actually quite tasty, but they couldn't label it as peanut butter, even with that peanut oil content.

#152 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 02:12 PM:

PJ @#151

Oops! Apparently my hypothetical wasn't clear. I was trying to say "It wouldn't be wise to label other nut butters 'peanut butter.' Labeling non-cacao-solid chocolate-flavored candy 'chocolate' would be similarly unwise."

I like a lot of different and variable nut butters. I tried a cashew-based nut butter that was quite interesting recently.

I've actually seen several varieties of nut butters that aren't prepared in the same facility or equipment as any peanuts, so they're safe for peanut allergy folks to eat.

Strict labeling in this country is really good, in that regard.

#153 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Leah, I did understand what you were saying. This was kind of an example of it - it probably wouldn't sell nearly as well if it were labelled as 'cottonseed butter', though. (I'm assuming there is some FDA standard for it.)

#154 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 03:30 PM:

I've had a... portion of wakefulness today. I'm at about 27 hours now, so the reading comprehension isn't brilliant.

I have to say this whole thing has made me look more closely at foods and their ingredients, which in turn has caused me to make some new and exciting food choices. Has anyone here ever tried Trader Joe's dried, sweetened Hibiscus blossoms? They are deeply strange in texture (like a combination between plastic and a fruit roll-up) but very delicious.

I also bought a couple 70+% chocolate bars, my last trip. They were... ok, but once again I've reinforced that I prefer little local chocolatiers to impressive, high intensity pedigree chocolates. I like my chocolate at whatever ratio the bitterness and sweetness make the sourness less noticeable. Does that make any sense?

Also, who knew Dove was owned by Mars? Scary.

#155 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Lest we think adulteration and sham products are anything knew:

There's a bit in Life on the Mississippi where Twain recounts conversation between businessmen. One brags about how versatile cottonseed oil is. With a few additives, it can pass as olive oil. For that added bit of versimilitude, the stuff is shipped to Italy, rebottled, and relabeled before being shipping back to the states.

#156 ::: cajunfj40 spots something suspicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 08:53 AM:

#156 is a one-shot comment, on topic, but seems more to be there to place the URL than to participate. What's our threshold here?

#157 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 10:20 AM:

It's spam. (BTW, if folks suspect spam, say "spam" in your name. I know it gets old, but that's what we search in in the 1,000 last comment area.)

#158 ::: P J Evans sees more spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2010, 09:31 PM:

It might say something interesting, but it is a spambot.

#159 ::: Cassy B. sees Portuguese spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 07:38 PM:

I assume it's Portuguese, anyway; it doesn't QUITE look like Spanish. And it's flooding the site.

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