Why Today Isn’t a Big Holiday for Craft Chocolate
Today is Halloween. You might naturally assume this is a busy holiday for us, because of all the chocolate flowing today. Not so. Because this holiday is typically focussed on trick or treating for children and young adults enjoying a reason to dress up and get wild, spending on quality craft chocolate is not the go to for today. There is a BIG difference between the type of bean to bar chocolate we produce and, say, a Hershey bar. Let’s compare, shall we?
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar Ingredient List:
Sugar, Milk, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Lactose, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, PGPR, Emulsifier, Vanillin, Artificial Flavor
Veritas Artizen Chocolate Milk Chocolate Bar Ingredient List:
Cacao, Cane Sugar, Whole Milk Powder, Cocoa Butter
Actually, Hershey has improved its ingredients and is better than some mass produced chocolate on the market. Comparing these two ingredient lists, a couple of things stand out.
- Ingredients are listed from most to least amount in the product. Sugar is first on Hershey’s list. The sugar sweetness is primary, not the cacao.
- Because milk chocolate produced in the U.S. must contain only 10% cacao, the remaining non-chocolate ingredients fill in the rest of what makes up a commercially produced chocolate. Our milk chocolate is 50-60% cacao.
- Commercial producers put in additives like Soy Lecithin and oils to stabilize and stretch the chocolate with ingredients that are significantly cheaper than cacao. We don’t don’t put in anything but what is essential and pure to the product.
- What is PGPR? Disguised with an acronym that most people wouldn’t know the meaning of, this addition is oils. Cacao naturally has a high oil content, but again, it’s cheaper to use less natural cacao and switch it with oil. The average American’s taste buds are trained to accept that as an acceptable substitute.
- Cocoa butter is the perfect emulsifier for chocolate, because it is the pressed oil of the cacao bean, so a natural part of the chocolate. No other or non-chocolate emulsifier is required, yet mass produced chocolate is loaded with it.
- Do we know where the cacao beans in a Hershey bar come from? With so many issues thrown at us every day, it’s easy to ignore this question. The world’s largest chocolate manufacturers, including Mars, Nestle, and Hershey, source the majority of their beans from Africa. The Ivory Coast produces the largest share with Ghana being second. These countries continue to employ slave and child labor practices. Initiatives to address the problem have not been entirely successful. There has been “pledges” and agreements signed, but this is absolutely still a problem. The chocolate we are enjoying en mass is, at least to some degree, being produced at the hands of unwilling laborers and children, often in deplorable conditions. We only use cacao beans sourced from our Direct Trade partner, Royal Cacao, in Ecuador. They are working closely with local farmers to cut out the middlemen and bring up the wages and conditions for farmers.
- A Hershey bar costs under $2 and a Veritas bar costs $5…you get what you pay for.
We are in Great Company
I use Veritas Artizen Chocolate as an example of quality craft chocolate, because this is what I’m obviously most familiar with, being within my control. I believe these benefits of fine craft bean to bar chocolate are consistent, regardless of the producer. So, enjoy some candy today in celebration of All Hallow’s Eve!