Too Much Chocolate?

woman biting chocolate barPortland bean-to-bar maker Woodblock announced that 24 January will be the date when it holds the championship of chocolate chomping. Possibly a world record may be at stake.

As a public service (?) for potential contestants they posted training videos


It seems undoubtedly a good publicity stunt, but a contest that celebrates cacao quantity over quality does beg the question: can anyone eat too much chocolate? “Too much chocolate” might make for a cute cookie advertisement, but it’s also pretty much an absolute truth that too much of anything kills the enjoyment, and in this case also can threaten the overindulger’shealth. To unbeg the question: yes, it is possible — as well as stupid — to eat too much chocolate.

Oddly, people brag about their overindulgence. There is even a recipe jetsamming about internet seas for Too Much Chocolate Cake that has as its base a pre-mixed devil’s food cake recipe, raising with flares an objection including the irony of there not being enough real chocolate in the TMCC.

Obviously, the Chocolate Chomping Champion will have bragging rights, but those rights come with an overly eerily similar to the fish from Spongebob who really, really, really gets excited that chocolate bars are for sale:

Perhaps there should be a contest to discover how much is the right amount of chocolate to eat, to find that moment immediately prior to eating too much. Maybe it has something to do with types of chocolate or percentages.

Probably not …

#chocolate #businessadvice #marketinghype #recipes #contests

Happy (Chocolate) New Year…soon

chocolate ideal picSkipping over holiday pieces (at least for the time being) let’s talk 2015 and chocolate trends.

This fruit of the gods is a tried and true pleasure, a long-time luxury with an incredible history that has its ups and downs (as in “white” chocolate).

Still, somehow, great is not good enough. The search is always on for the new, the trendy, the tomorrow. Why? Something about human nature not worth trying to understand here.

Anyway, hearing the breath of Janus getting closer, the most important new year news will definitely be that the “we’re running out of chocolate” hysteria is overblown. The world market is changing, but don’t panic yourself into hoarding a domesday supply of drugstore crapchoc in your apocalypse shelter … yet.

As support for keeping calm, Big Chocolate is planning to still go about its business. Barry Callebaut predicts it will be crunch, acidity and shimmer making chocolate pop, and is expanding its sourcing footprint by moving into Chile, among other new growth territories. Cargill posits transparency in labeling, leading to the PR spin highlighting that what was “bad” with chocolate is actually “healthy” for you. Everyone is fighting over the Chinese market, and there is a frothingchocolate and tea trend. Finally, going all in on the mercenary, restaurateurs are focused on how to cobble a few more bucks per 2015 table with the sales pitch that restaurant chocolate is for sharers.

Rather than look to the business world for guidance, the new year could be the time to confront the difficult facts in chocolate’s backstory such as child slavery in the chocolate fields. Not the worst resolution for the new year is — in the spirit of the gods who first planted cacao seeds on earth — to resolve to help in ways big or small.

Perhaps with conscience salved it will make the search for the new and novel even more enjoyable. Trends are, of course, concepts that enough others have discovered so the idea has spread and one can feel like an insider before masses partake and “it’s, like, soooo over, yesterday, deceased, and penny-eyelidded.” Quirky chocolate-related foodish ideas that recently popped their heads out of the corners of cuisine and might (or might not) take off include
cinammon mini-biscuits with chocolate gravy, and cocoa baguettes.

Those wishing to conspicuously consume for 2015, should keep on the lookout for more fancy-schmanzy, you-are-buying-story-much-more-than-taste chocolate bars such as the current $100 and $260 options.

If the trend thing is too much and you would rather not yet look forward and perhaps learn from history in order to repeat/not repeat it, here’s a quick look at where the science and culture of chocolate is so far:

#chocolate #2015trends #HappyNewYear #BigChocolate #foodies

Beginning with Charlie and Chocolate

chocolate booksA new Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book cover appears gratuitous, not least because the book biz is hurting enough without shooting itself in the face with artwork.

But maybe it is genius?

Perhaps it’s a diabolical plan to spend a bit for a new, outrageous cover in the British market that is so off-putting as to inspire worldwide publicity and drive book buyers to pony up for other copies of Charlie? It may be the fiftieth anniversary of the title, but that doesn’t mean it can’t use a bit of push to get off the shelves. (Maybe instead of the ugly cover they should have made more of the lost chapter?)

In that spirit, our rose-colored-glasses, glass-half-full selves are inspired to note a few more books about chocolate that deserve their own push as holiday buying season opens up. Having started with Charlie, we’ll note that piggybacking on the anniversary celebration is Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, a miscellanea of information on how the book came about.

On the subject of books for kids, there is a new picture book for young (to be) reader, The Cookie Catastrophe, and a new title for libraries and schools, Chocolate (Explore!), as well as a young readers’ mystery, Secrets at the Chocolate Mansion .

With any luck for embattled publishers, readers of that Secrets will age into exploring further the niche chocolate has in the mystery genre. Current queen of the genre, Johanna Carl (who kindly answered questions here) is newly represented in her Chocoholic Mystery series by The Chocolate Clown Corpse. Also new is the initial “Chocolate Covery Mystery,” Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates], which situates bad happenings in a small chocolate shop in Maryland.

Regarding small and unexpected things, there is a recently released chapbook of well reviewed poetry built around a rhapsody on chocolate, This Is Belgian Chocolate: Manifestations of Poetry.

Not last. Never least. There are words to be read about chocolate as food. Consider sharing Chocolate: 90 Sinful and Sumptuous Indulgences, which includes a particular coffee-chocolate cake celebration. Recipients will also be grateful for The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book, which includes background on the Toll House Cookie creation myth; a print adaptation of lessons from the Ecole Grand Chocolat Valrhona in Chocolate Master Class: Essential Recipes and Techniques; a recap in pictures, notes, chef profiles and recipes of the 2011 World Chocolate Masters Competition in A World of Chocolate; and a revelry of mini-masterpieces to bring to life at home that comes with its #foodporn…

as trailer for celebrichef Will Torrent‘s new book, Chocolate at Home.

From controversy to food porn via chocolate-inspired poetry. Honestly, publishing has seen worse days.

#chocolate #books #foodporn


chocolate shreds balls sticksPerhaps the best piece of business wisdom — certainly an item from the Top 5, and yet usually ignored — is that a customer who presents a problem is one ready to buy more stuff and gives  the company a chance to cement greater loyalty.*

In that spirit, and with the hope that #BitterChocolate will soon apply only to actual high-percentage-cocoa-solid and low-percentage-sugar “baking” chocolate, noted here are some current, saddening challenges for the world of chocolate.

  • Cacao fruit needs to be picked in West Africa and sent into processing without using child slavery, a tragedy recently brought to the fore again with the current case against Hershey, Cargill and ADM.
  • Ebola has to be contained and then cured so that its concentric circles of misery don’t damage the reputation of Ivory Coast caca and create Ghanaian smuggling cartels
  • The income cacao harvesters derive from their cacao fields has to increase so it will be easier for the Peru government to help farmers transition to coffee and chocolate from coca
  • While quality control gets ever more complicated, it still doesn’t excuse letting chocolate get exposed to pork — particularly not for chocolate heading to Muslim countries or for having lead and cadmium leech into anyone’s product
  • Finally (not, not really) there is the ongoing threat and potential for price fixing and collusion among Big Chocolate as they search for higher corporate profits.

Just a reminder, you always have the choice if the bad news is too sad to bring into your life a bit more Scandal, in this case the Japanese rock band with the catchy pop tune Bitter Chocolate

which it should be noted has nothing to do with chocolate, bitter or any other sort, but is just your “typical,” J-pop, #GrrlPwr, teen break-up lament.

*1) Of course, you have to convince the customer that the problem is satisfactorily resolved.
2) Briefly and with all typical caveats about generalizing, the biz-theory is that if unhappy customers don’t tell you the problem they may never come back, instead spreading their unhappy story to friends/acquaintances/social media contacts. Unhappy customers made happy, not only come back, but statistics say they’ll buy even more than before, and are more likely to become loyal, brand ambassadors who share the story of how the company cares so much about its customers that it goes out of the way to fix the bad.
3) While it may be easiest to lie and say the problem is fixed, it’s best to actually fix it not just for them, but all other customers as well … don’t worry there will be other problems so you will never run out of opportunities to grow the business by building from the foundation of customer problems and problem customers.

#chocolate #businessadvice #BigChocolate #Scandal #JPop #politics

Chocolate Trendy Data Foodie Frenzy

chocokeyboardThe current IBM ad campaign highlights a chocolate, soybean, apricot burrito concoction. Its conceit is that taste is just the sum of correctly connected data points, in this case via the company’s “Chef Watson,” not yet out of Beta and available primarily to foodie sites like Bon Appetit.

However, is concocting the counter-intuitive recipe using chocolate something that needs to be left to Big Data? This, after all, is still a collective that can’t seem to define itself without confusing a goodly portion of its audience.

Is this the cabal to which we want to leave the all-important task of mouth-pleasuring?

After all, chefs using just their own taste buds seem to be doing just fine coming up with mind- and palate-expanding chocolate preparations. For example, we’ve recently come across Chocolate Shawarma, Avocado Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Cake with Zucchini, and Chocolate, Peanut-Butter Covered and Prosciutto-Clothed Grilled Bananas!

Chocolate in a burrito is certainly no more imaginative than that. Maybe this big data and chocolate thing can be written off as some sort of “trend” that will hover those beginning of 2015 looking-forward (?) lists and then mostly disappear. (By way of review here are PopSugar trends to look out for in 2014, and those on this year’s horizon according to mega chocmeister Cargill, which did not include price increases or that, thanks to it, we would see the trend of the consolidation of big chocolate.)

Or maybe it’s not even worth noting once, just another ephemeral result of corporate thinking, which as an example of where that track can lead to has somehow given us microwavable chocolate chicken curry from Iceland.

Take the chocolate burrito for what it’s worth. The moral of the ad, apparently: There’s no accounting for taste, even when it comes to chocolate.

#chocolate #recipes #advertising #bigdata

Chocolate Wealth Vs. Taste

$1 million chocolateThe focus of much of the world’s attention — at least in terms of chocolate billionaires — is on newly sworn-in Ukrainian (and Roshen’s chocolates) President Petro Poroshenko. Noteworthy: he is not in a financial/taste-satisfying class all his own. Other chocolate billionaires populating the Forbes list of the world’s richest include Italy’s (and Nutella’s) Michele Ferrero, with an estimated $27 billion collection of chocolate moolah, and the Virginia sibs John, Forrest Jr., and Jacqueline Mars (as in Milky Ways,Snickers, M&Ms, etc.) who weigh in collectively at about $60 billion.

Other than making us big-bucks-envious, however, those aren’t the most interesting chocolate billionaires… or based on much of what they have built their fortunes on the ones with the greatest taste. Those with the greatest attraction are usually small blobbish balls of (usually but not always milk) chocolate, caramel and crunch (various nuts, rice cereal); they can also be brownied. There is a bit of tradition that they not just be inflation-adjusted, but actually differ from “chocolate millionaires” in that the millionaires get their crunch with shortbread cookie and not nuts. However, inside “the Google,” recipes for the millionaires and billionaires are all mixed up (something we can never imagine happening on a Forbes list), with pretty much anything involving caramels and chococolate and some kind of crunch .

Oddly, and with what we can only assume is an unintended slight at either very wealthy people (or a particular order of shelled reptile), to some these billionaires/millionaires are also turtles.

Anyway, we’d be happy to be the subject of the generosity of the people, but are currently working on some new recipes … and, of course, the correct naming.

Chocolate and Cheese, If It Please

chocolate & cheese adIt seems there is a day to celebrate nearly everything chocolate (Thursday was National Chocolate Chip Day; see the Almanac for more). But ’tis untrue. There are still chocolate and cheese combos to honor.

Actually, there are a host of chocolatish delectables more , but this particular un-embraced celebration is brought to the forefront by the recent announcement from British grocerpalooza Tesco that they are expanding their chocolate-cheese offerings. The first thought is “why?” The taste of a good chocolate is distinct with undertones and subtle aroma notes. That taste of heaven makes for an unlikely fit with a delicious bit of cheese, often a standout highlighted by esters and overtones on display like the new girl trying to stand out and drum up a bit of business in Amsterdam’s Rossebuurt. Of course, the answer turn is easily discovered with a quick Google (as most answers are): lots of folks love this sort of thing — whether it is the idea or actual flavor will not be argued here, today.

Particularly when you are trying to steer a few piastres into the till it seems worthwhile to accept that since people like chocolate and people like cheese — not necessarily the same people for both categories, but with enough overlap — there will be experimentation. Folks with enough biz-smart will pimp some of the results despite a culinary natural selection process un-guaranteed to bring about best in breed(ing). Consider, for example Philadelphia Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese spread courtesy of Junk Food Guy.

There will be Frankencheeses you can make at home like the chocolate cheese ball or outlier indulgences such as Paula Deen’s chocolate cheese fudge or Trader Joe’s chocolate cheddar, which appeal to some tastes or others.

Anyway, while it isn’t our cup of cocoa, kudos to everyone who embraces the idea of chocolate and cheese (and that other “c,” Capitalism), with a particular shout out to the Wisconsin dairy industry. On the soft-sell side they offer a a guide to chocolate/cheese pairings and for the harder sell they market their Valentine’s Day chocolate cheese delights (?!).

Back to Tesco’s announcement. We sympathize with why you might not want publicly to own up to such taste. However, for those at home with tastebuds stirred to the point of yearning, consider tossing together a chocolate cheese sandwich or batch of parmesan chocolate cheese crisps to quiet them down.

Was the Golden Ticket Really Necessary?

How Are Today’s Chocolatieres Promoting Their Products?

Ryan Bennett, Guest Writer

By now, everyone is familiar with Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and whether you saw the original movie from the 1970s or the 2005 remake, or enjoyed the book that’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, you probably fell in love with the idea of owning your own chocolate factory, too.

You’re probably familiar with the premise of the story: Mr. Willy Wonka, “the most amazing, the most fantastic, the most extraordinary chocolate maker the world has ever seen” came up with the stellar idea to release Golden Tickets in Wonka chocolate bars. These Golden Tickets would grant five children access to his chocolate factory, and, in a surprise twist, one of the children would be invited to join him in running the company.

The Golden Tickets proved to be a clever marketing strategy, boosting Wonka’s sales tremendously. “And now the whole country, indeed, the whole world, seemed suddenly to be caught up in a mad chocolate-buying spree, everybody searching frantically for those precious remaining tickets. Fully grown women were seen going into sweet shops and buying ten Wonka bars at a time, then tearing off the wrappers on the spot and peering eagerly underneath for a glint of golden paper. Children were taking hammers and smashing their piggy banks and running out to the shops with handfuls of money.”

But we don’t have any Golden Tickets in the real world, and manufacturers and chocolatieres need to find other ways of promoting their products. While the appeal of chocolate as a delicious treat is already enough to entice consumers everywhere, manufacturers are in a race to see who can come up with the most ingenious and innovative ads.

While most chocolate advertisements follow the general example shown by Carre de chocolat above, showcasing the breathtaking and euphoric effects of chocolate, some seek simpler methods to promote their products.

Product developers know that packaging comes first and foremost. After all, when a consumer walks into the chocolate aisle, they 1) approach familiar brands, and 2) reach for brands that have attractive packaging. A common trend seen in the packaging of chocolate products shows simple, minimalistic design, in which the word “chocolate” remains the star. Colors remain neutral, with shades of brown varying based on the type of chocolate being sold.

Most manufacturers, however, have begun adding a touch of elegance to their products. Sleek silver and gold line the packaging of chocolates and chocolate products, and on the off chance that a chocolate bar is decked in a color other than brown, black or cream, you can be sure that the colors remain elegant and sophisticated, if not seasonal.

Many manufacturers have also begun turning to stranger combinations of flavors for their products. Following the Kit Kat craze that saw dozens of strange chocolate combinations enter the market, now other companies have also started relying on less conventional chocolate flavors, tying these into crowdsourcing and charity events. Anyone for chocolate-covered sun-dried tomatoes? Everything from broccoli to sweet potatoes and even squid has been paired with chocolate.

This has inspired desserts from around the world to be created. Chocolate éclair hotdogs, chocolate and cauliflower cakes, and even mayonnaise chocolate cakes have been developed. 2012’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning saw Chocolate and Orange cakes being sold by M&S and raising thousands of dollars for Macmillan Cancer Support. Renowned chef Jose Garces also sold specialized chocolate cakes in his restaurants to raise money for his charity foundation, offering flavors like spicy chocolate cake and passion fruit sorbet and chocolate.

Of course, all this is just the icing on the cake. Chocolate remains a malleable market, and it’s going strong. Studies show that 91 percent of females and 87 percent of males still love chocolate, and the sales of seasonal and boxed chocolate products are expected to expand by 13 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Choco-Click Here

no pregnancy - chocolateChoco click bait. Chocolate porn. It’s not the only thing driving traffic to Huffington Post (or as enormous as sin such as not paying writers even as they rake in enough Benjamins that they could without sweat put one in a writer’s g-string instead of so many more stuffing into Arianna’s designer bags.

It’s admittedly a small and personal crusade. And not that we’re necessarily jealous (okay, we would like the traffic), but what the Cupid Alley Chocolatieres website probably needs is a regular series of posts featuring lol cats with Hitler mustaches explaining how eating chocolate guarantees eternal fabulous love and sex, while [stereotype alert!] ladies lose weight in the wrong places and gents gain muscle in the right ones.
Maybe it would help to regulary add some Justin Bieber and Amor de Chocolat

or info on One Direction like news of their Candy Bar

or some food porn with a celebrity spin like a chocolate almond cherry cake coated in a cherry cream cheese buttercream added to an almond cake with a toasted almond cream cheese buttercream slathered in white chocolate fondant that was hung upside down for Kaley Cuoco’s wedding to tennis pro Ryan Sweeting.

Anyway, we’re working through ideas. Suggestions welcome.

Will We Call Them Chocoffs?

choco-chipsEveryone, it seems, says they love chocolate. But could America love chocolate as much as we seem to love football … and could we love it in the same way?

What if there were televised spectacularish playoffs for chocolate, similar to our inexorable yearly slog to pro football’s SUPERBOWL next Roman numeral , which will have its shadow money-college bro beginning next year? Can we live with ourselves with one “winner,” particularly if it means we have to face that we prefer crappy to better chocolate?

Would we be happier with a fancy/schmancy competition in the spirit of the International Chocolate Awards — a sorta country-franchised competition whose 2013 winners were high-brow chocolatiere’s from around the globe able and willing to invest in the competition?

Most likely, should choco-playoffs happen, the popular choice will be along the lines of the current football model: big names with the biggest wallets. For this year, maybe a Hershey vs. Cadbury match-up. There could even be a lead-up to the finals in the same way that the NFL tries to dominate all media conscious (and even takes over a Manhattan boulevard for four days as part of the hype) with its competition where technology and buzz is almost as important as taste.

Someday soon we may settle down one winter weekend day or night and be mesmerized as Hershey’s 3-D printed kisses

battles clothing-sensed Cadbury Chocolate

in some sort of reality show chocolate taste test.

Back to the idea of watching playoffs: No doubt, in the running for snacking food will be chocolate guacamole (this CG recipe vegan and gluten free — other than your chips — and courtesy of Amy Layne, @damyhealth).