Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Chocolate elitism

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  • ARVNranger,

    An age-old tactic applied by Cadbury is to shrink the weight of a selling unit while maintaining the facing area presented on the shelf (ie the package is made less deep). Supermarket sales, and buyers' behaviour while trapped in these places, are the subject of extensive analysis and exploitation. The marketeers have worked out all the plum positions in which to place their products (eg shelves at eye level, ends of aisles) and the various suppliers fight like cats and dogs to get their products into these spaces. They've also worked out, some time since I should imagine, that humans are generally poor sensors of absolutes but extremely acute in sensing relative differences. In the case of a 'thick' 250g block vis-a-vis a 'thin' 200g block the buyer is not likely to notice that weight is different when the apparent size (of the 2 dimensions visible) is the same. They *will* notice that the 'thin' block is 15% cheaper. The proportions are pertinent - 20% reduction in product moved but only 15% reduction price = significant improvement in margin. This is like Farmers putting up their prices up 20% the week before a "15% Off Sale". Hmm.

    Disclosure: I worked for Nestle during the '90s - another evil corporation from which I got time off for good behaviour.

    Since Nov 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Martin,

    Peanut slabs are a childhood taste that has followed me ever since.

    If I had a dollar for everyone of the beasties I have eaten...I would wander out and buy some more!

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 187 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Since it's Friday (it is Friday, right?), here's Macca & band performing for 20 minutes on top of the Late Show marquee yesterday.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    I really miss Mexican chocolate - the stuff with the evil chillis in it

    May I recommend Lindt's chilli chocolate? It is dangerously easily available - our local dairy has it.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I think the Old Gold range is actually better than the Whittaker's dark chocolate - there's something a bit off about the 72% Ghana, though I couldn't tell you what. But Dairy Milk has been crap for *years*.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    actually it was the Lindt's that I was referring to as being excessively wimpy ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    actually it was the Lindt's that I was referring to as being excessively wimpy ....

    I prefer to think of it as subtle ;-)

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    A topic dear to my heart. Fond rememberings of the fresh-made chilli hot choc drink at the Chocolate shoppe in Parnell Village. Parnell has to be useful for something, right?

    Nothing wrong with Grouse, James, but darker choc does work rather well. And better with the red wines too.

    Don't have to go all the way, but for those who like it really dark, I recommend the Rapunzel organic fair trade 85% or perhaps the 70%. Their 55% plus almonds is also divine.

    Some of those Shoc dark ones look interesting too. I've never tried 100%, let alone shattered nibs of cocoa bean.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • andrew r,

    Actually I thought the guy from Whittaker's on the tv was cool . Very old school in a Wily Wonker kind of way . The other guy was all PR briefed, friendly cheese smiles etc zzzzzz . We need more of those old fellas on the box. Cosed eyes is quite a good look . Sleepy even .

    auckland • Since May 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    We need more of those old fellas on the box. Closed eyes is quite a good look.

    Thank you, Andrew. I am told it shows thoughtfulness. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Rik,

    Phillippe's (along with almost all other NZ artisan chocolatiers) uses imported chocolate from Barry Callebaut (http://www.barry-callebaut.com/aboutus) to make their chocolates. ie. They don't make chocolate, they make chocolates. Which means that while some people are saying "I really like the Schoc 70% bar" or the Bennetts/Devonport Chocolates/de Spa/Makana or whatever brand you identify with, the sad truth is that they are all the same base product melted down, tempered and molded by different people. So unless you are enjoying one of the "flavoured" bars (and why would you?!) there should not be any discernable difference. Except I think Makana uses a base chocolate from a french guy (Michel Richart?) based in San Francisco. I noticed Phillippe's had some Koko Samoa in store the other day - now that tastes like chocolate (if you don't mind it gritty and a bit smokey).

    As I understand it, there is only one company left in NZ that makes chocolate "from the bean" and that is Whittakers. Having said that - I don't think their chocolate even tastes like chocolate - it tastes too much like coffee (maybe they over-roast it) but I know a lot of people that do like their flavour.

    I think it is time there were some controls put on what can and can't be called Chocolate - the Cadbury Dairy Milk bar is firmly in the Confectionary camp whereas a true chocolate bar containing only freshly roasted Cacao beans and a small amount of sugar is "real" chocolate. And most people have never tasted anything like it.

    Russell - next time I fire up the roaster (and associated equipment) to make some chocolate I will drop some round for you to compare.

    Since Jun 2007 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Closed eyes is quite a good look.

    My dad does it when interviewed on TV. It's always eyes closed - camera cuts to him - eyes open and come up and begin answer all at once. I don't think it looks great, but it must annoy the hell out of editors trying to cut it out.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Some of those Shoc dark ones look interesting too.

    I had a look at that site. All the products are $10.90 but how much do they weigh? it doesn't seem to say that anywhere.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    I suppose it had to happen, given that Cadbury's has been doing their Old Gold brand for some time, and needed a point of difference between that and its other brands. You'd think they'd make the OG better rather than the DM worse, though.

    So the Old Gold range hasn't changed? I've been steering clear of that too since this fracas emerged, but if it's still the same then I might go back to indulging in a bit of Jamaica Gold as a cheap & cheerful treat.

    But really, with all the smaller brands out there, there's not much need to eat either Cadbury's or Whittaker's.

    Some of those Shoc dark ones look interesting too. I've never tried 100%, let alone shattered nibs of cocoa bean.

    I've tried both at Schoc, and the 100% is utterly inedible. Even the cocoa nibs seemed sweeter. Think of it as an ingredient rather than as something to eat in its own right. Mind you, I've been gradually nibbling away at a block of 90% from some obscure Polish brand (found at the Russian deli in Kilbirnie), and it's austere but very tasty.

    while some people are saying "I really like the Schoc 70% bar" or the Bennetts/Devonport Chocolates/de Spa/Makana or whatever brand you identify with, the sad truth is that they are all the same base product melted down, tempered and molded by different people.

    Do they do their own conching? Would that make a difference?

    unless you are enjoying one of the "flavoured" bars (and why would you?!)

    Because they're awesome? As much as I can enjoy sipping a good gin on its own, I also love martinis, gimlets and the odd negroni; similarly I often enjoy the flavour combinations that can be made with chocolate and unexpected ingredients rather than remaining a purist.

    Also, while they may use the same base product as other local artisan producers, can I just give a little mention of Melting Perfection? Especially their Balsamic Vinegar & Honey truffles.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Tempering chocolate properly is a pretty important part of making it good, I understand. All to do with crystal formation and the temperature at which it will melt (in your hand, or in your mouth).

    All of this, of course, is making the siren song of the office vending machine that much harder to resist. If we're talking cheap and cheerful, the old Pixie Caramel is pretty hard to beat if it's not too cold.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Closed eyes is quite a good look.

    Can't help but be reminded of this (from 00:40):

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Nathaniel Wilson,

    Oh, and on the subject of chocolate. Green & Black's 70% cocoa dark chocolate is the perfect addition to a well made short black.

    That'd be the Green & Black's owned by Cadbury I take it?

    http://www.cadbury.com/ourbrands/featurebrands/Pages/GreenandBlacks2.aspx

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Russell - next time I fire up the roaster (and associated equipment) to make some chocolate I will drop some round for you to compare.

    That would be great!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Waugh,

    You want chocolate snobbery? Course you do. Now you can buy Schoc on-line. The strawberry and black pepper is awesome.

    That is a nice flavour but you need the lime chilli for the win! :-D

    Oh, and on the subject of chocolate. Green & Black's 70% cocoa dark chocolate is the perfect addition to a well made short black.

    That's been on special at the local supermarket (NW Miramar) this week $3.19 a block for the 70% block.... Goes amazingly well with Tuatara Porter....... The combo has been doing too good a job of converting the missus to dark beers lol

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 98 posts Report Reply

  • Rik,

    Do they do their own conching? Would that make a difference?

    No they do not Tom - conching has already been performed on the base that Callebaut supplies. I find that the roast imparts more flavour than the conch.

    And you are right, there is nothing wrong with flavoured chocolate - it's just that it would be a waste of a unique single plantation, single origin chocolate so better done with something like Callebaut.

    Tempering chocolate properly is a pretty important part of making it good, I understand. All to do with crystal formation and the temperature at which it will melt (in your hand, or in your mouth).

    It is important to the look and mouth-feel of the chocolate, not to the flavour.

    I'm not saying that there is not an art to being a chocolatier (there most certainly is), I'm just pointing out that chocolatiers do not generally make chocolate (which a lot people think they do).

    Since Jun 2007 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Goes amazingly well with Tuatara Porter

    Forgot that dark chocolate also likes black beer. Especially Miners or Monteiths. Mmmm.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I will drop some round for you to compare

    I am available if a third opinion would be useful. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Katie Brockie,

    I've just returned from protesting about Cadbury's use of palm oil at the annual Jaffa Race. (Not using the palm oil at the Jaffa race - you know what I mean).
    We were a small, quiet and orderly bunch, holding up posters of Orangutans and handing out leaflets. However, once the road was closed off we were no longer allowed to hand out leaflets because "It was now private property", so we had to move.
    What was funny was that one of us offered a cop some chocolate and he said "great!", but then refused it when he saw it was Whittakers, then later as the cops left, they were all carrying huge packs of Cadburys.
    Many of the people we gave pamphlets to actually supported the cause already which was great.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Gordon Paynter,

    If every bar has a glass and half of full cream milk, and the size of the bars has dropped from about 250 grams to 200 grams, does that mean there is proportionally more milk in the chocolate?

    Wellington • Since Dec 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    And stop closing your eyes on television

    I think you might be being a little harsh there Russell, he did seem to have some sort of medical condition thing going on wih that left eyelid.

    No worse than the way Miriama Smith talks out the side of her mouth either and she's a paid professional broadcaster.

    Regarding the Palm Oil thing, the guy from Cadbury's was claiming their Palm Oil is "sustainably sourced". Is that possible ? Bit like the Kwila decking issue ? How would the consumer "really" know.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

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