I don’t like to stir things up too much around here. Last time I did that, I got my ass kicked in the comments. Truth be told, I’m a people-person and try to see the good in everything and everybody no matter what.
Heck, I’m even listening to Up With People! as I’m typing right now…
I don’t like to trash people or companies in general. But sometimes, every once in a while, someone needs to get their pee-pee smacked.
And in this case, it’s Hershey’s.
Normally I make it a point to eat the best-quality chocolate I can since the good stuff has the same amount of calories as the bad stuff. Because I live in Paris, depending on how you feel about it, I don’t eat much Hershey’s chocolate. But when you have a blog, no matter where you like, you get ‘sales pitches’ from pr folks wanting to send you products to that they hope you’ll mention favorably on your blog. I like to try new American products and since I don’t live where they’re easily found, I let the ones that sound interesting come my way.
But one French company insisted (repeatedly, against my better judgment) on sending me a food basket of goodies a while back.
When I opened the bottle of artificially-flavored coconut sugar tucked inside, one unfortunate sniff and I dumped it in the trash. (I couldn’t imagine what you’d do with it otherwise.) I later learned that that was a big mistake since my apartment reeked of fake coconut for days and days afterwards. There was also a little bottle of sugary-sweet bright-purple liquid, labeled an ‘aperitif’, whose odor bore an uncanny resemblance to mouse urine. That one I wish I hadn’t bothered to open at all.
Although I thought it might make a clever blog entry at the time, since I’m such a nice person, I decided not to write about it since I’m sure their hearts were in the right place.
Last week a package arrived from Hershey’s, who’s not only been trying to go ‘up market’ with their purchase of ScharffenBerger and Dagoba, but has been introducing ‘high-percentage’ chocolate (up to 67%), with fancy-schmancy labels boasting the names of exotic plantations as well.
I’m not going to get into the health benefits of chocolate here, since you can get that here. Although cocoa beans (not double-chocolate cheesecake, but the cocoa beans themselves) are very high in antioxidants, much of that gets lost during the fermentation. So the points raised concerning ‘healthy chocolate’ is often null. But a few enterprising companies, anxious to use the word ‘healthy’ on their packaging, have been working hard and spending a lot of money developing chocolates which retain their antioxidants so that people will buy them, thinking they’re doing someone good for themselves. (Why can’t people just enjoy chocolate? Does it have to say ‘healthy’ on it?)
One of the chocolates Hershey’s sent to me was labeled ‘Whole Bean Chocolate’. I have no idea what that means. It’s like saying ‘Whole Cabbage Cole Slaw’. Once the cacao beans are shelled and winnowed, of course you’d use the whole bean. So what’s the point of advertising that?
Another bag was labeled ‘Natural Flavanol Antioxidant Milk Chocolate’, which boasted “more antioxidants than the leading dark chocolate”. Does anyone know what the “leading dark chocolate” actually is that they’re referring to?
Since I was miffed about being made to feel like a complete idiot, and felt too biased to issue an honest opinion (in spite of my normally-cheery ‘people-person’ persona) I thought I’d get a Frenchman to taste the chocolates and tell me what he thought. He immediately dispatched with the packaging, which he said reminded him of the chocolates you get with your coffee in Parisian cafés. But once he tore open the dark chocolate, he thought it tasted pretty good.
But the milk chocolate was another story.
Europeans, in general, have pretty strong reactions to Hershey’s milk chocolate. It has a certain flavor, which is said to be because the milk used is cultured or fermented. We Americans are used to it. But to others, it’s not-so-tasty. He grimaced and put the tablet back on the table, refusing to finish it. (Which I’ll admit that I did. But I’m not proud of it.)
While I have no objections to companies promoting the health benefits of chocolate, I don’t like being made to feel like a dum-dum.
And ‘whole bean’ chocolate?
What the heck is that supposed to mean? And I don’t think putting ANTIOXIDANTS in bold letters on your packaging is providing much of a service to consumers, in spite of the “everything in moderation and as part of a healthy lifestyle” admonitions written elsewhere. I like the fact Hershey’s claims to have reduced the sugar in these chocolates and the dark chocolate makes a nice snack, even if you’re French. But if you’re looking to get healthy, I’m not so sure eating a chocolate bar is the way to get there
A better idea might be just to make very good chocolate and any health benefits could be seen as an added bonus.
You can read more about these chocolates from Hershey’s here.
Or just stop by my place.
I still have a few bags leftover.