Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

by TammyJo Eckhart

Are you sure what you’re eating is chocolate?

I run a blog called “The Chocolate Cult[1]”, and we’ve tested products from 201 different brands and companies in our five-year history.  We have a fairly broad definition of chocolate and chocolate-related products — if it contains at least one ingredient that comes from the cacao tree or the cocoa bean, we consider it to be “chocolate.”  However, when it comes to foods, candies, and drinks, we also prefer more pure or simple ingredients; the shorter the ingredient list, the better, in our experience. Most of the samples we are sent to feature are chocolate — white, milk, or various degrees of dark — but some are not.

Why does that matter?

It matters if you care about what you put into your body and where you spend your money.  While you may want to believe that companies in the USA are forced to be honest, the fact is that unless someone files a complaint, the amount of oversight in the food industry is relatively low (you can thank your Congress for that, since they oversee spending).  Time and again we see food and drink recalls on our newscasts; the Chocolate Cult has a weekly update on these matters.  From these constant recalls, it is clear to see that the US government is not strictly enforcing the regulations that exist.

Now, let’s be fair.  The simple fact is that businesses in the USA must, legally and practically, be focused on making profit.  However, in the name of profit some business owners will lie or mislead, subtly decreasing the percentage of chocolate and cocoa in their products, adding in potentially harmful or at least unnecessary ingredients, and even cutting costs through lax hygiene standards at their kitchens and factories at the expense of your safety.  But in the end it isn’t the companies’ job to protect your health; that’s your job.

Step One in protecting yourself and getting the best value for your money is to know what is and is not chocolate.

Many countries have food regulations – not all, but many.  While it is the job of the food producers and sellers to know what these regulations are, it is your job as the consumer to know as well. How can you trust what a label says if you don’t know what it should or should not say?

The Food and Drug Administration is the USA’s federal agency that oversees food and drug regulations, and this is where you need to turn first to learn about chocolate and cocoa regulations for products sold in America.[2]  If you consume chocolate or cocoa from other countries you’ll need to check their regulations; they are not the same.  Not only are there federal or nationwide food regulations, but individual states also have food regulations that you may need to be aware of.  Finally, differences in chocolate are a reflection of local or regional tastes and traditions, which is why Swiss chocolate seems creamy, German chocolate seems buttery, and Mesoamerican chocolate seems spicy.

According to FDA regulations milk chocolate and white chocolate are limited by how much chocolate liquor (in the case of milk chocolate[3]) and how much cocoa butter (in the case of white chocolate[4]) they contain, as well as what added ingredients are allowed.  The FDA does not have a definition for dark chocolate, though they do list regulations for several other chocolate and cocoa variations. Please do check out the regulations to be aware of what you should be looking for if you want to enjoy or use chocolate.

Product labels generally express the amount of an ingredient as a percentage based on weight, so you will see products labeled “45% chocolate liquor” or “70% cacao.” By law the label must list the ingredients in order of greatest to least in the product.  Simply by checking the ingredient list you can get a good idea of whether a product meets FDA standards, but not all companies reveal everything on their labels, even if they are legally required to do so.

Perhaps in later months I’ll talk about the legal definitions of other types of chocolate. But for now, let’s look at one type of chocolate that repeatedly fails to meet FDA standards and that tends to be the most misleading of those we are sent to feature on The Chocolate Cult: white chocolate. By FDA regulations, at least 20% by weight of white chocolate’s fat content must come from cocoa butter.  It may also have “nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners,” a long list of dairy ingredients, “emulsifying agents,” antioxidants, whey or whey products, and several spices and flavorings that do not imitate ”the flavor of chocolate, milk, or butter.”  The legal code gives percentage information for all of these allowed ingredients, but just knowing which ones are allowed at all can help you determine if a product is white chocolate or not.

The most common problem with “white chocolate” that we find is the addition of palm oil.  Aside from ecological questions or health concerns, this is simply not one of the allowed ingredients.  In fact, any fat or oil that is neither cocoa butter nor one of the listed dairy products is illegal if the manufacturer sells the product as “white chocolate.”  Frankly it is also unnecessary, given that there is no upper limit on the amount of cocoa butter the maker could add if it really needed a more buttery flavor in its white chocolate.

Remember, your body and your wallet are directly affected when you buy “chocolate” or “cocoa” products.  In order to protect yourself and your loved ones, and to get the best quality for your money and not just the greatest quantity, you need to know the facts.

 

Check out TammyJo Eckhart at thechocolatecult.blogspot.com

InspiredTheChocolateCult

 

Check out TammyJo Eckhart at thechocolatecult.blogspot.com

 

[1] http://thechocolatecult.blogspot.com/

[2] http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=163

[3] http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=163.130

[4] http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=163.124

 

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Joe Melville, one of the owners of Candy.com, and his fiance, Jen, tied the knot last weekend! The East Coast wedding was picture perfect, and, as expected, the candy buffet was magnificent and full of surprises.

Sharon Chase from Princess Sharon Events of Boston styled the aqua, purple, and silver sweets table, and made it look like a queen’s jewelry box with opulent serving vessels.

Candy.com Wedding

 

One of many unique touches were personalized Necco Sweethearts with sayings like, “Jen & Joe,” “Love is Sweet,” and “Forever & Always,” as well as their wedding date.

Personalized Necco Sweethearts

 

To get guests seated creatively, the Melville Candy Company (the groom’s other fun family business), made personalized pops with edible names and table numbers.

Lolli Numbers

 

The Melville Candy Company also created sparkling purple mustache lollipops. The fun pops were displayed on a bed of lavender foiled chocolate balls and could be used as photo props.

Purple Mustache Lollipops

 

Wedding guests were treated to custom wedding cake-shaped cookies, layers of beautiful purple and white Jordan Almonds, purple rock candy sticks, and a treasure trove of turquoise, lavender, purple, white, and cream jelly beans.

Custom wedding cake cookies

 

Every guest got to fill a glass mason jar with candy as a wedding favor. The jars were beautiful! Each one was topped with a silk purple flower and personalized with an “M” for Melville.

Candy Jar Wedding Favor

 

Congratulations to the sweetest couple, Jen and Joe!

And, a HUGE thank you to so many wonderful industry friends who made this wedding incredibly unique and memorable. We love you all:

Styling and Photography: Sharon at Princess Sharon Events
Personalized Necco Sweethearts: Alyssa and Jeff at MyNecco.com
Gourmet Jelly Beans: Herm and Terri at Jelly Belly
Hard Candies: Eric and Darlene at Atkinson’s Candy
Custom Wedding Cake Cookies: Philip and Rebecca at Monaco Baking Company
Jordan Almonds and Chocolate Lentils: Lesley at Koppers Chocolate
Sixlets, Candy Pearls, Gumballs, Foiled Chocolates: Phil, Paul, and Julie at SweetWorks
Chocolate Coins in Purple Foil: Gerrit at Gerrit Verburg
Jordan Almonds: Joe and Mark and the entire crew at Kimmie Candy
Rock Candy Sticks: Sam at S.P. Enterprises
Flipsticks: Rich and everyone at Warrell Corporation
Mustache Lollipops and Custom Seating Pops: Everyone at the Melville Candy Company

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March Madness is just days away, which means spring wedding, baby shower, and Easter season is about to be in full bloom. The Candy.com team has been busy scouting new products for spring and there are plenty.

Here is a look at some of the headliners …

 

FLOWER POPS

Flower Pops
Blue, orange, green, white, blue, red, and assorted Flower Pop lollipops are perfect for candy buffets, weddings, parties, party favors, popping into cupcakes, creating candy bouquets, and a million other things.

Each candy flower measures approximately 1.5 inch wide  x 1.5-inch high and sits on a 7.5-inch flexible plastic stick. The pops come individually wrapped inside an 8-piece 2.5 oz. peg bag, and there are 72 pieces that ship in each order.

 

CANDY  LUNCH BOXES

Candy Lunch Boxes
Fill these candy-themed lunch boxes with respective Nerds, Dots, Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Daddy Pops, and Junior Mints, and you’ll get an A+ for creative gifting.

RAINFOREST GUMMY FROGS

Rainforest Gummi FrogsNew Rainforest Gummi Frogs are not only adorable little buggers, but they’re also gluten-free! With their shock-and-awe neon coloring, these candy frogs are great for spring parties … and placing on your coworker’s desk chair.

 

FASHIONABLE  TRUFFLE BARS

 Seattle Chocolates

If Tory Burch were to design a line of chocolates, this would be it. The fashion-forward Dark and Milk Truffle Bars from Seattle Chocolate are sublime for many reasons, including color, design, flavor, all-natural ingredients, Seattle roots, and fun factor. Who wouldn’t want to surprise Birthday Cake Batter Truffle Bar with colorful confetti pieces sprinkled throughout? Or a box of sunny yellow Milk Chocolate Truffle Bars to brighten up a dull Monday? Yum!

 

4 NEW GUMMY BEARS

 

Four New Gummy Bears

Single-color candy is all the rage for candy buffets and now there are four more color and flavor options. Gummi bears (5-pound bulk) in White Strawberry-Banana (opaque white), Black Cherry (black), Mighty Mango (yellow), and Pink Grapefruit (light pink) are ideal for adding a pop of color to any tablescape.

 

BARNYARD GUM TAPE

Barnyard Gum

What does the cow, pig, and sheep say? Bubble Gum! Pop the top on these farm animals for a whole roll of gum tape. Cute party favors for barnyard bashes and farm-themed birthday parties.

 

LINDT LOVE BUNNIES

 Lindt Gold Love Bunnies

Two classic Lindt Gold Bunnies locking lips in an Easter Basket. Three words: Adorable Easter Gift. The 3.5-oz. love nest is finished with spring green bow, so you don’t even have to wrap a thing.

 

PEEPS RAINBOW POPS

Peeps Rainbow PopsIt’s yellow, green, pink, and blue Peeps Chicks on a stick! Far better than corn dogs or deep-fried Twinkies, Peeps Rainbow Pops scream, “Put me in your Easter basket.” Our set comes in a pack of four, so everyone gets to devour the rainbow … one color at a time.

Click here to see ALL that’s new for spring at Candy.com.

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The folks at Weight Watchers are all about “no forbidden” foods and even post on their Web site that “there’s plenty of room for treats and extras.”

With a point system that takes into account height, weight, age, gender, and exercise level, daily points average between 20 and 40, and can rack up pretty quickly depending on what’s consumed.

To see the point levels candy generates, I scoured the Web for candy point lists and created a compilation of everyday and Easter candy (see below) from blog1, blog2, and blog3.

Interestingly, 35 Jelly Belly jelly beans equal a mere 3 points, while 10 Hershey’s Kisses put 7 points on the board. Most fun-sized bars fall between  2 and 2.5 points. Not bad if you can stop at two!

Weight Watchers Candy Points

Easter Candy
Brach’s Robin Eggs (6 pieces) = 4.5 points
Cadbury Caramel Egg (1 egg)  = 5 points
Cadbury Chocolate Egg (1 egg) = 4.5 points
Cadbury Creme Egg (1 egg)  = 4 points
Cadbury Mini Eggs (12  eggs) = 4.5 points
Dove Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny (6 oz.) 1/4 of the bunny  = 6 points
Hershey’s Candy-Coated Milk Chocolate Eggs (4 eggs) = 2.5 points
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans (35 pieces) = 3 points
Lindt Lindor Mini Eggs (3 eggs) = 2.5 points
Milky Way Egg (1 egg) = 5 points
Peeps (3 pieces) = 3 points
Snickers Egg (1 egg) = 4 points

Everyday Candy

Abba Zaba (1 fun-size bar) = 1.5 points
Almond Joy (2 snack-size bars) = 4 points
Almond Roca (3 pieces) = 5.5 points
Andes Thin Mints (8 pieces) = 5 points
Atomic Fireballs (3 pieces) = 1.5 points
Baby Ruth (2 fun-size bars) = 4 points
Big Hunk (1 fun-size bar) = 1.5 points
Bit-O-Honey (6 pieces) = 4 points
Blow Pop (1 pop) = 1.5 points
Butterfinger (2 fun-size bars) = 4 points
Cadbury Crème Egg, 1 egg (1.3 oz) = 4 points
Candy Corn (22 pieces) = 3 points
Caramello (2 fun-size bars) = 4 points
Dots Fun Size (2 fun-size boxes) = 2 points
Dove Dark Chocolate (5 pieces) = 5 points
Dove Milk Chocolate (5 pieces) = 5.5 points
Dubble Bubble Gum (2 pieces) = 1 point
Dum Dum Lollipops (3 pops) = 1.5 points
Good & Plenty (33 pieces) = 3 points
Heath Bar (5 fun-size bars) = 6 points
Gummy Bears (14 pieces) = 3 points
Hershey’s Almond Bar (2 fun-size bars) = 5 points
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar (2 fun-size bars) = 5 points
Hershey’s Kisses (10 Kisses) = 7 points
Hot Tamales (1 fun-size box) = 1 point
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans (35 pieces) = 3 points
Jolly Rancher Hard Candy (2 pieces) = 1 point
Kit Kat (2 fun-size bars) = 6 points
Life Savers 4 fruit-flavored candies = 1.5 points
LOOK Bar (1 fun-size bar) = 1.5 points
M&M’s Peanut (1 fun-size pack) = 2 points
M&M’s Plain (1 fun-size pack) = 2 points
Marshmallow Peeps (5 Peeps) = 3 points
Mary Janes (6 pieces) = 3.5 points
Mike and Ike (1 fun-size box) = 1 point
Milk Duds (4 fun-size boxes) = 4 points
Milky Way (2 fun-size bars) = 4 points
Mounds (2 fun-size bars) = 4 points
Necco Sweethearts (1 fun-size box 1 oz.) = 2.5 points
Nestle Crunch (2 fun-size bars) = 4 points
O’Henry (2 fun-size bars) = 5 points
Pay Day (1 fun-size bar) = 3 points
Raisinettes (3 fun-size boxes) = 4 points
Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups (5 pieces) = 5 points
Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (4 eggs) = 4 points
Reese’s Pieces (51 pieces) = 5 points
Skittles (27 pieces) = 2 points
Smarties (4 rolls) = 2 points
Snickers (2 fun-size bars) = 4 points
Snickers Eggs (1 egg 1.2 oz) = 4 points
Sour Patch Kids (16 pieces) = 3 points
Spree (15 pieces) = 2 points
Starburst (8 pieces) = 3.5 points
Sugar Babies (2 fun-size pouches) = 4.5 points
SweeTarts (15 pieces) = 2 points
3 Musketeers (2 fun-size bars) = 3 points
Tootsie Caramel Apple Pop (1 lollipop) = 1.5 points
Tootsie Pop (1 lollipop) = 1 point
Tootsie Roll (2 snack bars) = 2 points
Tootsie Roll Midgees (6 pieces) = 4 points
Trident Sugarless Gum (1 stick) = 0 points
Twix (1 fun-size bar) = 2 points
Twizzler (1 fun-size bar) = 4 points
Warhead Sours (5 pieces) = 1 point
Werthers Original (3 pieces) = 1 point
Whoppers Malted Milk Balls (2 fun-size boxes) = 5 points
York Peppermint Patties (3 fun-size patties) = 3 points

If you have candy items and corresponding points to add to this list, please comment!

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