Why Does American Chocolate Taste Bad? | Friars

Why does American chocolate taste bad is a question often asked when travellers from the UK partake of some chocolate, ‘over the pond’. There’s no doubting just how different it is from our own chocolate offerings. Routinely described as ‘sour’ and ‘tangy’ tasting by those newly introduced to the American brands.

Some go as far as to suggest it smells of vomit! Really, vomit scented chocolate? Surely not?

Well, maybe they are not too far off the mark as to just why American chocolate does taste so bad to us Brits. We can’t imagine there is a market for such a delicacy, but there obviously is, in America. But firstly a little bit of background may shed some light.

One American chocolate brand you may have heard of is Hershey’s. When the original Hershey, Milton, began manufacturing chocolate, he encountered the problem of his dairy content curdling slightly. Instead of wasting this curdled dairy ingredient, Milton set about dehydrating it and continued with its use in his product resulting in a rather unique flavour. This also goes some way towards telling us, “Why does American chocolate taste so bad”? We all know of that curdled milk moment from our own experiences so we can begin to understand why it is that American chocolate does taste so bad.

That said, the reception of this tangy tasting bar was pretty good and it became very popular, as it is still today, in America anyway. But how does that tangy, slightly sour taste come about in the American chocolate bar?

Where Does That Vomit Description Come From?

So, there is a belief amongst some experts in the industry, that companies such as Hershey’s put their milk through a process called ‘controlled lypolysis’. Scientific as it is, the result is that fatty acids in the milk are broken down and this produces butyric acid. Hershey’s chocolate then, shares a chemical that gives vomit it’s distinctive smell and unforgettable taste. The company themselves have neither admitted nor denied they undertake this process we should add, or that their chocolate contains butyric acid.

Some other American manufacturers are believed to simply add butyric acid to their chocolate to replicate that Hershey’s taste. Did you know other foodstuffs that share the butyric acid experience are Parmesan cheese and maybe unsurprisingly, rancid butter? If this is not quite turning you towards imported chocolate from the states then would it help to know that some of their best known varieties also contain genetically modified ingredients? No. Thought not. To be fair, GM products have things in their favour in the quest to feed the world. However, there are some who believe the modifications result in combinations we were never designed to eat and process. Still, thats another subject for another day.

Why Does American Chocolate Taste So Different?

Why does American chocolate taste so different from our own brands then? Well one factor is the high sugar content in the American versions. Importantly, regulations in the two areas differ greatly too. For example, in America, milk chocolate has to contain a minimum of 10% chocolate liquor, whereas in the UK, our ‘superior’ chocolate (we believe it is so), must contain a minimum of 20% cocoa solids before it can be considered milk chocolate. Thats quite a difference between the two types of chocolate to begin with. It also explains why our own bars are so much creamier tasting with a higher milk content instead of a higher sugar content. In these ever more health conscious times, huge sugar contents are not going to win over anyone wanting to enjoy the pleasure of a fine chocolate bar whilst not wanting to fill up on unwanted calories and sugars.

Generally speaking then, the two things that really don’t sell American chocolate to us UK (apart from a distinct shortage in our outlets), is the above mentioned ‘vomit taste and smell’. For most of us that alone would seal it, but for more selective palates it isn’t helped by the much higher sugar content which sacrifices the creamier aspect of milk chocolate for sweetness to the point of saturation.

In reality, the test would be to buy it and try it. At Friars we are very confident you’d prefer our own chocolate and probably return for more. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to be ill and throw up, we’re guessing you’d be recalling that experience now and thinking, “American chocolate? Maybe not”. If you have never had that experience ask yourself this.

Why does American chocolate taste so bad? Why does American chocolate taste so different? Well…………

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