Thursday, April 26, 2007

Save our chocolate

It appears that one of our most beloved foods has recently come under siege. The FDA is considering lowering the bar for what it classifies as 'chocolate.' All those crappy holiday knock-offs and cheap foreign candies that don that shiny, waxy coating (often referred to as chocolate flavored, chocolaty, or cocoalicious) may soon enjoy the same legal status as chocolate. No child reared in the Western world would ever confuse the two. One is chocolate, the other 'cheap-chocolate' - and we all know the difference.

Cybele May, who authors one of my favorite blogs in the Candy Blog, has been lobbying against this for some time. She has a terrific article in the LA Times explaining this gustatory affront:

It may be cocoa powder that gives chocolate its taste, but it is the cocoa butter that gives it that inimitable texture. It is one of the rare, naturally occurring vegetable fats that is solid at room temperature and melts as it hits body temperature — that is to say, it melts in your mouth. Cocoa butter also protects the antioxidant properties of the cocoa solids and gives well-made chocolate its excellent shelf life.

Because it's already perfectly legal to sell choco-products made with cheaper oils and fats, what the groups are asking the FDA for is permission to call these waxy impostors "chocolate." Because we "haven't formed any expectations."

I'd say we've already demonstrated our preference for true chocolate. That's why real chocolate outsells fake chocolate. Nine of the 10 bestselling U.S. chocolate candies are made with the real stuff. M&Ms, Hershey Bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups — all real chocolate. Butterfinger is the outlier.

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