When I was a kid, the refrain “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” was such a brilliant bit of marketing that it became a part of the general lexicon. After all, it made perfect sense –everybody knew that the warmth of your little paw would make chocolate melt into a gooey delicious mess in seconds, but the ingenious candy shell made all the difference.
So what are we to make of the latest news out of renowned British candy maker Cadbury upon hearing of their new “no melt” chocolate? According to information released by the company, the chocolate was created for the specific purpose of withstanding the consistently high temperatures experienced in countries such as Brazil and India; the chocolate will purportedly remain solid even if left to sit for hours in 104 degree heat. Now I get the idea of chocolate melting in the heat, and how tough that must be for the retail market – but to me, that means there’s a serious need for refrigeration and air conditioning, not for messing with the chemical make-up of the world’s most perfect food.
Forgive me for sounding impertinent, but if it doesn’t melt at 104 degrees, then what does it do inside my 98.6 degree body? And (possibly more importantly), how does it taste?
To answer the second question first, according to all involved – including the spokespeople at Cadbury – it doesn’t taste nearly as good as the chocolate that we know and love and that Cadbury is famous for. In case you didn’t grow up like me, with a clown-shaped cookie jar in your grandma’s kitchen filled with Cadbury chocolates, let me enlighten you. Cadbury has been around since 1824, when it started out selling tea, coffee, and what was called “drinking chocolate”. The company grew and evolved through the years, and in 1905 they introduced the Dairy Bar, a milk chocolate bar that had a higher percentage of milk than other chocolates, and that was absolutely the start of my own chocolate addiction. Since that time (1905, not when I was a child), Cadbury has developed many popular products including their famous peanut butter eggs sold at Easter time, and the company has also changed hands repeatedly and is now a division of Kraft Foods, an American company. The Brits objected strenuously to the idea of their iconic brand in the hands of the Yanks, fearing that the American influence would change everything. When word of this new, innovative chocolate product was delivered along with the news that it wouldn’t be sold in the UK, there was a great deal of grumbling – which was answered with the opinion that Brits wouldn’t like the candy anyway because it loses so much of its taste in the new manufacturing process that the “no melt” feature requires.
According to Cadbury’s food scientists, the only way that chocolate can be made to maintain its shape in the face of meltingly high temperatures is to make it so that the sugars in the chocolate are surrounded by less fat. Though I for one don’t really want to picture my chocolate in terms of molecules of sugar coated in fat, it somehow makes sense to me that if there is less fat, it probably won’t taste as good – after all, that’s the way it works with everything else in life, right?
As for the question of health, it seems as though I am the only one who is asking that question. I guess when you think about it, there are no changes to the ingredients … and there are plenty of foods that we eat that don’t melt at all in high temperatures but that still manage to make it through our digestive tracts without doing any harm. It’s just that the idea of chocolate not melting, whether in hand, on a sunny store shelf, or anywhere else, seems somehow wrong, against nature. Of course, that’s coming from me – the grown up kid who still remembers unwrapping those Cadbury chocolates and popping them into my mouth and then refusing to bite or swallow, choosing instead to let them sit there and slowly turn into a sort of chocolate pudding before finally swallowing. That’s what Cadbury chocolate is supposed to do …. Ooze. And the Cadbury people are right… if my Cadbury didn’t act like that, I wouldn’t buy it.