Since Zug.com died a rather abrupt death, I figured I should mirror my work here. Also, this way I can pretend they’re new updates. Excuse the terrible formatting, I felt like putting in effort to fix it would be an insult to the original work. Also, I didn’t want to put in effort.
I’m a big fan of gourmet foods. Wait, no I’m not. I’m a big fan of watching TV shows about gourmet foods. I love watching Top Chef, but if those plates were placed before me, my reaction would be:
Some of these gourmet and outside-the-box foods seem a little arbitrary. Gourmet wines, cheeses, and meats? Sure. Gourmet salts? Uhhh. There might be a difference between a $20 bottle of soy sauce and a $2 bottle, but guess what: it’s going to make your food salty either way.
So when I recently noticed how many gourmet chocolates were crowding the shelves, I had to try every one of these strangely-flavored chocolates, no matter how frightening or disturbing, and report back with what they taste like. I wanted to know if gourmet = gimmick, or if gourmet = good.
Safeway Select Dark Chocolate with Lemon & Pepper
This immediately seemed like a creepy idea, since I first thought of “Lemon Pepper,” the seasoning you add to foods that is usually just 95% salt.
This is just my poor photo-taking skill … you don’t actually have to squint to eat this bar.
The chocolate is a mild dark, with pieces of crystallized lemon and black pepper. I was expecting a much more acidic flavor, but the crystallized lemon added a mild sweetness that went well with the dark chocolate, like Tony Orlando and Dawn.
I didn’t get any pepper at first, but it showed up after letting the chocolate sit in my mouth for a while. Some of these chocolates really do benefit from those pretentious food snob methods, like letting it melt in your mouth. This technique doesn’t work as well for Skittles.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 3 – Pepper is an odd ingredient, but is actually rather common in the Bizarro gourmet chocolate world.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 7 – The chocolate is good, and the ingredients work well, even if they did just fall off a spice rack.
Chuao Spicy Maya
Another poor photo, but let’s pretend like it’s in 3D.
Speaking of peppers, we come to our first entry that utilizes the element of spiciness. I say “first entry,” which implies I have others that are also spicy, but I don’t actually remember. Most of these chocolates were purchased in an order that must have made the chocolatier think I was drunk out of my mind. Orders as strange and haphazard as this one are usually only seen on eBay at 3:00 a.m. when people spend $2,000 on Masters of the Universe figures to replace the ones their parents gave away.
The “Spicy Maya” bar, which sounds more like a stripper’s name, is a dark chocolate bar with pasilla chile, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. I assume that based on the name, they are paying tribute to the Mayans’ first chocolate creations, which were often spicy chocolate concoctions. I assume this because it says so on the back of the wrapper.
Do not be alarmed that this bar is covered with pupil-less eyes, staring at you.
The bar itself looks interesting, with a cocoa bean design stamped on the chocolate. The uneven stamping means it breaks into uneven pieces, allowing you to give bigger or smaller pieces to people, depending on how much or how little you like them, or how greedy/gluttonous you are.
For a bar named “Spicy Maya,” however, it isn’t very spicy. Neither did it contain bits of ancient Mayans. False advertising!
Weirdness (Out of 10): 4 – It wasn’t very spicy, so it wasn’t very strange. Though it would be a fun bar to give to a little child who can’t handle the heat.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 7 – All the flavors worked well together, though I think the claims that it would “arouse my senses” fell a bit short. The only thing it aroused was my temper.
If you’ve been waiting for weird, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. What food is more shocking, more polarizing, and more scandalous than breadcrumbs?
I take it from your silence that breadcrumbs aren’t the controversial item they used to be.
Like the other Chuao offering, the bar’s design is a nice assortment of cocoa beans. Or possibly the pods where the hatchlings grow in the movie Aliens. Which would imply that the breadcrumbs will burst forth from your chest in a gory spectacle.
The bar itself is a dark chocolate, with breadcrumbs and sea salt. Sea salt is one of the hot chocolate add-ins du jour, since adding salt to a sweet dish amplifies the sweetness. Also, adding salt to a salty dish makes it saltier. FYI.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 6 – Sure, chocolate and bread go together well (ask a cupcake). But if you’re going to make a “wacky” chocolate bar, the fact that breadcrumbs are so, well, boring, makes it even weirder.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 8 – The chocolate was good, and the breadcrumbs acted as wimpy (but tasty) versions of nuts.
Komfort Chocolate Ramen Noodle
For true authenticity, this bar contains 350% of your daily recommended sodium intake.
There seems something inherently wrong with using ramen noodles, a staple of people who can’t afford better food or just enjoy eating garbage (I’m in the latter category), in gourmet chocolate. This bar of chocolate costs as much as thirty packs of Oodles of Noodles.
My first question was, “Did they use a flavor packet?” Thankfully (or sadly, depending on how violently salty and/or rancid-fish-tasting you like your food), they didn’t use any seasoning bags. Even though it was only plain ramen, the ingredients list wasn’t void of questionable and scary ingredients. Sodium or salt makes an appearance in various ways six times!
One thing I appreciate about the bar is its simplicity. Simple label, simple description. All they say is: dark chocolate with ramen noodles. They don’t bother wasting words on things such as, you know, why? Why ramen noodles? Why didn’t you include the dehydrated peas and pieces of beef?
For maximum consumer appeal, have the ingredients in your chocolate resemble escaping maggots.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 8 – It’s ramen noodles. In chocolate.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 8 – Good quality chocolate with a mild crunch and a ramen aftertaste that’s actually quite appealing, even if you’re not living in a van.
Vosges Black Pearl Bar
The bar got slightly less weird when I realized those weren’t fleas.
Are they making these flavors because they think they’ll taste good, or just throwing things together so comedy writers will try them?
The Black Pearl Bar consists of dark chocolate, black sesame seeds, ginger, and wasabi. And, to its credit, that’s all it contains … no weird fillers. Aside from the sesame seeds, ginger, and wasabi.
A picture of a woman shopping on a bar of chocolate: we have reached the zenith of female stereotypes.
I’ll get right to the point: this bar was really good. The sesame seeds are nice, giving a crunchy contrast to the bar; the ginger goes well also. My disappointment was the wasabi.
I don’t think I’ve ever had real wasabi — most restaurant “wasabi” is just horseradish, mustard, corn starch, and green dye. Unfortunately, I was expecting that familiar kick of horseradish. Instead, the milder wasabi was used here, and served to compliment the chocolate, rather than assailing my sinuses with a four-alarm wasabi fire.
The nerve of this company!
I noticed that wasabi, sesame seeds, and ginger are all sushi accoutrements, so I made this bar into sushi. I had no rice or vegetables, so I’ll call my sushi “deconstructed,” which is a word they use a lot on cooking shows.
(Image source: US Airways in-flight dining promotional brochure)
I despise all forms of seafood, so it was a miracle I even had canned sardines on hand.
Surprisingly, this did not taste as good as it looked.
The idea that you could close your eyes and let the flavors combine into what could be called “sushi” didn’t quite pan out. It was more a case of letting the flavors combine into what could be called “microwaved garbage.”
Weirdness (Out of 10): 6 – The usage of real wasabi took away the spicy novelty this could have had.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 9 – Very good stuff. I miss the days when the only way I ate this was plain, without canned fish.
Chocolove XOXOX Chilies & Cherries
Going with the “less is more” approach to wrapper design, I see
I would normally assume that a company named “Chocolove” that also had three X’s in its name would manufacture body paint or edible underwear. Instead, they manufacture high-end chocolate. They still keep the sexual overtones by describing the chocolate as “exciting,” “stimulating,” and having “chili flavors.” It even has a love poem inside the wrapper entitled “The Kiss”. I started to read it, but there were too many words with “e” replaced by an apostrophe, so I couldn’t be bother’d.
That’s either a heart, a cherry, or an ass.
The chocolate itself was very good: the dried cherries gave it some chewiness, and the peppers provided an overall heat rather than an intense spike. Still, I couldn’t help feeling I would see this bar on an episode of Law & Order: SVU sometime soon.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 4 – While spicy chocolate might not be the norm, it’s not too unusual anymore.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 7 – It tast’d quite good, although I don’t think their claims of being stimulat’d by the peppers were to be perceiv’d.
Theo 3400 Phinney Coconut Curry
Chocolate companies have finally heard our cries of “More turmeric!”
Right off the bat, I’ll give this bar credit for specifying a serving size of ONE BAR. Most “gourmet” bars list a bar as about eight servings. As if you’re going to bite off one square of chocolate, then yell, “Wow, I’m stuffed!”
It’s either really good or really bad, depending on which taste wave you’re currently riding. At first, it’s an initial reaction of shock, laced with mild disgust. I love curry, but my mind could not process curry chocolate. Then you sort of get it, and start to really like the taste. Shortly thereafter, you realize you have a mouthful of New Delhi, and you spit it out.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 8 – I’d seen a lot of chocolates with peppers, salt, and other odd ingredients, but never curry. Also, my fingertips seem to be stained yellow from the turmeric. I hope people believe that explanation.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 6 – This bar is the food equivalent of trying to hang out with your real friends and your work friends at the same time. The chocolate was good, the curry was good. The chocolate and curry together is just an uncomfortable night for everyone.
Komfort Chocolate French Toast
Unfortunately, their budget for pictures on the wrapper ran dry.
Since French toast is sugary, I was expecting this bar to be ridiculously sweet, and it did not disappoint. Actually, it did disappoint, but sweet Lord was it sugary.
Not pictured: sassy waitress refilling your coffee while dropping this in front of you.
Instead of using breadcrumbs, the hottest trend of this decade, Komfort used bagel chips. Which sounds awesome, but the bar was just way too sweet to handle much at one time. Some might argue that not being able to eat an entire bar of chocolate is a good thing, but I think those people are underachievers.
The inclusion of bagel chips made me realize that a dark chocolate bar with pieces of pumpernickel bagel chips would probably be off the charts amazing. But instead, we have an oddly soft bar with the sweetness of shotgunning three packets of Sweet’N Low.
Also, it didn’t taste like French toast.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 5 – A pretty straightforward concept that could have worked, if only they had drenched it in maple syrup.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 3 – Just way too freaking sweet. Have the insulin ready!
Warning: Do not eat this while consuming Coca-Cola.
Good news: if you have a desire to have your “throat warmed” by an “explosion” of the “wild side of chocolate” that “playfully tingles and pops,” you are in luck! Or suicidal.
The Firecracker bar is dark chocolate, chipotle, salt, and Pop Rocks. They call it “popping candy,” but we know what that is … and who it killed.
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Pop Rocks by themselves — do you chew them or just let them sit there? This is why I avoid certain foods; I just don’t know how to eat them. I never eat Nerds because they confuse me. They’re too small to chew, and too painful to swallow whole. Plus, they’re named after my friends.
I’d give this bar a round of applause, but it makes the noise for you.
This is probably my favorite bar in the whole experiment. The chocolate, peppers, and salt go together perfectly, the best sweet/savory balance of all my test bars. But the Pop Rocks are the real star, perfect for annoying people. While my wife is trying to use the computer or watch TV, it is endless fun to sit there with my mouth hanging open, emitting a constant stream of loud snaps and pops. It’s never been easier to passively enrage those around you.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 8 – The Pop Rocks didn’t make the bar “weird” as it did “unique.” Also, “annoying”!
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 10 – Everything tasted good, and my stomach didn’t explode.
Komfort Chocolate Tortilla Lime & Salt
I know what you’re thinking: “With Cinco de Mayo only nine months away, what chocolates should I be stocking up on?” Here is your answer.
Komfort’s Tortilla Lime & Salt takes all the ingredients no one ever requested, and turned it into a bar. Is this one of those instances where it sounds so odd it just might work? No.
The first problem is it’s the same semi-mushy milk chocolate from their French Toast bar. Next, the whole thing tastes like lime zest. I love limes, but usually because I associate them with ingesting gin.
The tortilla pieces are way too small, though on the bright side, at least the tortillas were plain and not nacho cheese flavored. I probably could have tolerated Cool Ranch.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 7 – An interesting and bizarre concept that fails to get executed. Someone should get executed for this disaster, though.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 3 – Lime-y mushy chocolate.
Vosges Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar
I’m glad to see Mo from Nickelodeon’s GUTS is finding work.
Well, it’s the last bar, so I might as well go out with a bang.
Upon unwrapping the bar, the bacon smell is clearly evident. It might not be kitchen-at-IHOP levels of bacon aroma, but there is definitely more bacon smell that you want in your chocolate.
I had high hopes for this bar due to the story on the packaging. Katrina, the founder of the company, tells a story of her childhood breakfast. Apparently at six years old, her breakfast consisted of chocolate chip pancakes and bacon.
If you are bitterly jealous of her childhood, you are not alone.
Then she mentions how some of the maple syrup would get on the bacon, voila, sweet plus salty, the rest is history. Or, rather the present. The present in which I am confronted with a chocolate bar with bacon in it.
Okay, no more procrastinating, time to eat the chocolate covered pig rind.
I guess technically you could put this on a salad.
I placed a big piece in my mouth, letting it melt as I braced for impact. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered it was … good(?)(!). Really good, as a matter of fact.
The little bacon pieces are crisp, which alleviated some of my fear that there would be fat globules suspended in the bar. They’re also spaced well so you get enough bacon flavor to notice it’s there, but not too much where it turns into Baconettes.
Well, I’m confused. I was hoping for a big, disgusting finish, but instead I got a really good bar. How disappointing. Not for Katrina, however, who will now have more money for pancakes and bacon thanks to this stellar review.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 10 – If there comes a time where bacon and chocolate is a widely accepted combination, it will prove we have taken our national bacon obsession a bit too far.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 10 – Absolutely fantastic. Now they just need to introduce a chocolate covered Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich.