Chocolate Vs. Candy: A Delicious Smackdown

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Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

Let's Call The Whole Thing Off Source: HAMACHI! hide caption

itoggle caption Source: HAMACHI!

I grew up in a health-obsessed household; my mother used to ruin perfectly good fro-yo with wheat germ (I swear, I am not kidding...it's like "it's already FRO-YO!!!"). So on the few occasions that I could actually raid the pantry, I was stuck eating baking chocolate. Literally. Which is probably why I developed a taste for the darker, more bitter chocolates (although, who am I kidding, I would pretty much scarf anything down that wasn't wheat germ). I'm not a chocolate snob, per se (I love Cadbury cream eggs and other assorted drugstore chocolates), but I do like the richer, darker blends. Well, get this. A group of food lobbyists (get these titles: the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food Association and weirdly, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association— maybe they just eat a lot of chocolate?) are trying to get the FDA to expand the definition of chocolate, mainly to include substitutes that use vegetable fats and oils instead of delicious, nutritious, and skin-softening, cocoa butter. (Wouldn't it be funny if they expanded it to include broccoli?) This, of course, has chocolate lovers and makers up in arms... how dare they call that waxy stuff chocolate? In the words of a French chocolatier from the book, "Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light:" 'Tout ca, c'est ne pas du chocolat. C'est de la confiserie.— All that isn't chocolate. It's candy.'

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anic chocolate bar, Black & Green's Organic from Akin's Natural Foods. It has a 70% cocoa content. Though it has cocoa butter, its main ingredient is cocoa liquor. It is quite bitter, even for dark chocolate. Any comments on cocoa alcohols/liquors?

Sent by Victoria Espinoza | 3:49 PM | 4-24-2007

I think we are heading to the point that we will be allowed some chewable fiber rich tablet with vitamins and minerals and not be allowed anything else. I cannot stand to think that chocolate could be gone, because if all chocolate is altered then chocolate will be no more for the masses. I love the small businesses around me that make such fantastic chocolates. So if we have butter and margarine, then why not chocolate and something else? Most of us care to keep our chocolate pure. It's not as if we can't invent a new word for it. I suppose if some may eat it, at least let's keep it separated so we know what we are buying. It just seems like it is a sneaky way to make something else less than truthful.

Sent by Karla Schmiedlin | 3:56 PM | 4-24-2007

Once again the FDA is ready to walk away from thier responsibility to the citizens by whom they are employed. As with so many other things in our society today, it is time we all make it clear that we expect and will demand (by firing them if necessary) our Federal Employees to do the job WE are hiring them to do. Chocolate is CHOCOLATE not chocolatty.

Sent by Robert Rayne | 3:58 PM | 4-24-2007

I want candy that does not contain cocoa butter to be labeled chocolate flavoring. The label "chocolate" should be reserved for products that contain cocoa butter. I can only eat a limited amount of sweets. I refuse to eat a product that is not pure chocolate.

Sent by a drew | 3:59 PM | 4-24-2007

Seems to me that I heard some ruckus a little while ago about this re: Cadbury in the U.K. and the EU requirements for defining "chocolate" that would exclude the Cadbury product lines - is this petition a kind of backlash to that, or some kind of preemptive side-step?

Absolutely I believe that applying the word "chocolate" to products made with vegetable oils would degrade the term - I guess it's a battle of semantics? - It's for this reason that in the EU you've got new definitions e.g. Champagne can only be defined as sparkling wine from that province, and Parma ham can only come from Parma, etc.

Sent by Alice Bain | 4:00 PM | 4-24-2007

As one who has considered Chocolate a food group and a medicine for many years, I am again reminded how little value I see added by the FDA. Chocolate is Chocolate. Cocoa butter is a part of the recipe. If you replace the cocoa butter with something else what you end up with is no longer Chocolate. Does the metaphor about a silk purse and a sows' ear apply here?

Sent by Winnie in Sioux Falls | 4:05 PM | 4-24-2007

i would never support a company who would want to dupe me by making fake chocolate. the differance in taste is night and day. i don't want to read every label to find out if it is inferior.does everything in our society be dumbed down?

Sent by mkph | 4:06 PM | 4-24-2007

I'm trying to figure out how to send a comment to the FDA to protest the harmful petition that would allow the name "chocolate" to be applied to a non-traditional reformulation. The host implied that you could get to the FDA from here, but I don't see the link. Can anyone help?

Sent by Kori Kody | 4:08 PM | 4-24-2007

While the FDA is redefining the names of foods, why don't they call orange soda a fruit,potato chips a vegetable and milk shakes milk. Maybe then Americans would be much healthier. Or perhaps reason will prevail and the FDA will realize that changing the name of cheap imitation "MOCK-olate" won't make it chocolate!

Sent by John Ehrman | 4:10 PM | 4-24-2007

I assume that the main reason to change from cocoa butter to other fats is so the producers can save some money on production and increase the price gap between themselves and "real" artisan chocolates. Much like craft brewed beer, small cheese producers, local bakers and other similar businesses, small chocolate producers find themseleves fighting for their tiny fraction of market share (likely 1-3%) that the mega-producers want at all costs. Given the history of the FDA I'm sure they will approve this because in reality they could care less about the health of our country's citizens.

Sent by Alex Ganum | 4:12 PM | 4-24-2007

Why? That was the first thought I had when I heard that the FDA is considering expanding the definition of chocolate. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. My Easter basket contained See's Candies. When I eat chocolate today-the darker the better-I want real chocolate with cocoa butter. When I bake I use only good quality chocolate.

Sent by Sharon Christiansen | 4:15 PM | 4-24-2007

As a purist and someone who cares about what's in my food, I don't agree with expanding the definition to include heart clogging hydrogenated oils & to fake chocolate made of coco powder & hydrogenated oils! Give me the real thing: Chocolate!

Sent by Karen Wickman | 4:35 PM | 4-24-2007

Let's be honest. If they want to change the formulation of chocolate it won't be chocolate. They need to think of a clever name for their proposed faux chocolate. Let's make it easy on the consumer to get what they want...not harder. Marlene Benson

Sent by Marlene Benson | 4:36 PM | 4-24-2007

Does anyone remember "Olestra"? The label isn't confusing at this time, the FDA needs to leave it as it already is. Again the old wisdom, If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!!

Sent by Rhonda Link | 4:38 PM | 4-24-2007

As a firm believer in a vast and insidious right-wing conspiracy to conquer the world, I can understand why this coalition of vast and insidious right-wing businesses want to petition for this change.
But it also is clear evidence of the scheming and conniving that underpins all the right-wing strategies to take over the world. To wit: There is NOTHING in FDA regulations to prohibit manufacturers from taking cocoa butter out of their products and substituting anything else if they want to, so this petition to allow them to label cheap, watered-down, imitation product as honest-to-God, really, real scrumptious chocolate, actually is designed to and has no other function but to pull the wool over the consuming public's eyes.
The leaders of this vast and insidious right-wing conspiracy are the very ones who always scream the loudest to let market forces prevail . . . except when they think actual market forces would cut into their profits. When it comes to their profits, the only forces they want to prevail are those that will maximize them; damn our integrity, full profits ahead.
This petition is extremely unusual in that it's so obviously profit-at-the-expense-of-the-consumer, but-let's-cover-it-up-anyway-just-in-case-one-of-them-catches-on-and-spills-the-beans-on-us. One would think these business leaders were unconcerned that they couldn't possibly, in any way, be constrained from doing this. It's almost as if they believed that the FDA wouldn't dare defy them on this issue since they own so many of the politicians who set policy for the agencies regulating businesses. After all, those politicians already have cut the budgets and personnel of these agencies so much there isn't really any enforcement of regulations anyway.
Pity the poor fools who underestimate the power of the chocolate-eaters lobby. Chocolate lovers of the world, unite. Rally against this world domination of our tastebuds.

Sent by Rigan | 4:40 PM | 4-24-2007

Here is the link to the citizens petition at the FDA. I covers alot more than chocolate.
http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/07p0085/07p-0085-cp00001-02-vol1.pdf

Sent by Shane | 5:32 PM | 4-24-2007

I am horrified at the thought that my beautiful bar of chocolate could be violated in such an essential way for the sake of a bigger dividend for stockholders. However, I must in good conscience, play devils advocate for those who wholeheartedly balk calling anything without cocoa butter (CB) chocolate.

Most Americans, regardless of their opinion, know that "chocolate flavored" is code for junk. However, what do we make of high end ice cream labeled "chocolate flavored?" How do we determine from the front label which ice cream manufacturer went to the bother to create a quality product? The high end ice cream will likely be made with cocoa and/or dutched cocoa and not an iota of CB. Why? The beautiful texture afforded by CB is utterly annihilated amid the copious amounts of fat (hey its dessert!) and is thus a waste of ingredient space that could be better used for flavour. Personally, I think that chocolate ice cream should be labeled just that: chocolate.

Along the same lines, the best and most chocolaty brownies in the world are made with ground cocoa not ground chocolate. The richest hot chocolate is made with cocoa and sugar ...no CB! The texture of the whole once again undoes the texture of the ingredient.

For the same reasons that we are outraged at labeling "mock-olate" as the real thing, we should also be outraged that other staples of our cocoa bean heritage should be denied its rightful place as merely chocolate.

However, the "'horizontal' regulation" this petition requests gives unscrupulous candy makers a loophole to dupe the unsuspecting masses and make an extra buck. I am confident that reasonably quality chocolate manufacturers won't exuberantly jump onto the bandwagon as soon as it becomes legal. But, in time, when they consistently leak patrons to the lesser brands, when the lower companies are selling cheaper and making larger profit margins, when shear economics wears them down they may buckle one by one.

Perhaps there does need to be a change in labeling regulations to give certain traditional high quality cocoa products the title they deserve while preserving the integrity of the pure goodness that we all love.

Sent by Tim Dickinson | 6:14 PM | 4-24-2007

I agree that taking cocoa butter out of chocolate and substituting it with hydrogenated shortening (containing trans fats), just the fat we are finally getting the food industry to drop, is an outrage. It's just another ploy to fatten the bottom line while ignoring the health consequences. Just when nutritionists are telling us chocolate has benefits, they will be offset by trans fats. Well, I hope Swiss and Belgian chocolate will remain safe. I'd rather "Buy American" but....

Sent by Susanne Rupp | 6:55 PM | 4-24-2007

I just wrote a 2500 word response to the FDA website for input on this topic. When I hit the send button, the next page had an error, did not come up again, and all my comments (perfectly worded of course!) disappeared. Anyone else have this experience with NOT actually be able to post comments to the FDA website?

Sent by Tyler | 7:07 PM | 4-24-2007

Victoria - cocoa liquor has no alcohol in it, it's simply the paste that results when you grind up the whole cacao beans (it kind of liquefies because of the high cocoa butter content).

One of the things that I didn't bring up when on the show was that even though you'd be able to tell if your chocolate had alternative fats in it if you bought it by the bar, there are plenty of instances where that'd be difficult. Go to a bakery counter and look at the chocolate croissants or chocolate chip cookies ... then ask the counter clerk information about the ingredients, specifically what's in those chocolate chips. Chocolate is a shorthand that we all understand.

Many chocolatiers are coming out against this, I believe, for those very reasons. Consumers shun products that confuse them. When you go into a chocolate shop you expect chocolate in those chocolates! See's, Sanders and obviously Fran's all stand behind the current definitions which hold chocolate to a higher standard than the proposed ones.

(Full disclosure, that's my editorial linked there and I write www.candyblog.net)

Sent by cybele | 7:44 PM | 4-24-2007

I love the speaker's comment on how a Hershey's bar is "legally chocolate". I too think it's barely chocolate, and certainly nothing to write home about. I can't believe they want to degrade their product further. I suppose since they want to label products with vegetable fats as "chocolate", they'll next want to label vegetable fats "butter". It makes about as much sense, and yes, we WILL be able to tell the difference. It's why I buy a 60% dark chocolate bar from Trader Joes, rather than Hershey's Special Dark (a waxy monstrosity). They can keep their "real chocolate flavor" to themselves, and leave the real chocolate to the rest of us.

Sent by pat | 10:22 PM | 4-24-2007

Let's keep chocolate pure! I'm so sick of trying to decipher labels to figure out what manufacturers are hiding in their foods. And I take particular offense at the comment that the public cannot distinguish quality chocolate... I just threw out a box of chocolates last week because it wasn't up to standard! I want the "good stuff", and I want the title chocolate reserved for it only.

Sent by Christy | 10:39 PM | 4-24-2007

"Any comments on cocoa alcohols/liquors?"

Chocolate liquor is not alcoholic, it is simply the product obtained by grinding cocoa beans -- nothing more nor nothing less. Like peanut butter ground from peanuts. If you squeezed (presses) chocolate liquor, you would get cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Therefore, any chocolate with chocolate liquor (which it all must have) will have as part of it cocoa butter. Hope this helps.

Sent by Michael | 11:02 PM | 4-24-2007

I am saddened that chocolate manufacturers would like to save a buck by substituting hydrogenated vegetable oils for cocoa butter in our chocolate. Not only would this be detrimental to the taste and texture of quality chocolate, but it would mean replacing a food item that is healthy and good for you (cocoa butter) for one which is actively unhealthy and bad for you. The facts speak for themselves:
Research has shown that cocoa butter has the following benefits:
- Powerful antioxidants - polyphenols
- Neutral or beneficial effect on cholesterol
- may protect teeth against plaque.
- contains cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP), a substance that inhibits the production of the immuno globulin IgE, which aggravates symptoms of both dermatitis and asthma.
- Helps maintain cardiovascular well-being.
- contains flavonoids which may help prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the blood. Flavonoids also may prevent certain cancers.

By contrast, hydrogenated oils have the following health detriments:
- Bad for circulatory system - increases risk of heart disease
- Contribute to insulin resistance, increasing risk for diabetes
- Cause cancer (prostate, breast & colon)
- Cause lipid accumulation in liver cells

I don't know why any food manufacturer would knowingly add hydrogenated vegetable oil, also known as trans-fats, into their products. Trans fats are so unhealthy that New York City has instituted a ban on them, mandating that restaurants eliminate them from the food they serve by July 2008. Please FDA, don't make it harder on us. Don't call it chocolate if it isn't. And don't allow ANY amount of hydrogenated oils into our foods!

Sent by Cindy Sullivan, Nursing Student UCSF | 1:15 AM | 4-25-2007

As a chocolate salesman and sommelier at Chocolat Michel Cluizel, I see the confusion very clearly on a daily basis. The FDA is unfortunately flooded with facts, figures and money from the major manufacturers. The chance for real change with the definition of chocolate is dim. It will always be as confusing as it has been.

The current definitions concerning the classification of chocolate are rediculously complicated and convoluted. As an example, something called "Dark" chocolate can contain milk. So when TOTN's guest said that current chocolate is actually chocolate, she is correct by FDA standards, but incorrect by every other standard in the world.

What really needs to happen is an education of the people so that they may make a more informed decision when they buy chocolate. This is one issue easily subdued if people would vote with their money. Don't buy Mars, Hershey's, Godiva, Cadbury (currently being criminally charged in the UK). These are large, faceless, careless companies.

And they don't know the taste of chocolate from their own a**es.

Sent by Conrad Miller | 5:36 AM | 4-25-2007

They can get it changed thru the fda, but I won't buy it. No way, no how.

Sent by C. Tomlinson | 9:01 AM | 4-25-2007

Once again, business is cheapening our food supply by wanting to replace CB in chocolate. Already the candy bars are shrinking, but selling for the same or higher price. I for one don't like the feeling of being manipulated in this way. Nowadays when making an older recipe must review the list of ingredients, then consider if same size, quantity and quality is availible. I used to love Hersery bars, however, now it kind of has the texture and taste of wax, not sure what the formulation change was, but it wasn't an improvement. Also, recently I noticed that Hersery and others are selling preimum chocolate, showing how much CB is in the bar, for about $2.50 a bar, which told me they had really cheapened the regular candy. I should have known a big push was coming to reduce further. On another topic, I have now quit drinking soda because the fructose rather than sugar has ruined it. Strawberry or orange flavored soda tastes like sweet water with little or no flavor. I have discovered a soda now bottled in Mexico that still is made with sugar, it is very good. However if they find out about how it's made in the US, probably they will go the same way. Companies wonder why they lose there customer base, it's things such as this that make that happen. When they remove the quality they have been known for, customers go elsewhere to get it.

Sent by Margie Esparza | 9:46 AM | 4-25-2007

Try Lindt dark chocolate with 85% cocoa. Its great!
Chocolate needs to stay chocolate anything else is not the same.!

Sent by Caroline registered dietitian | 10:56 AM | 4-25-2007

Sum up of the petition: Quite a lot of industries especially regarding meat want permission to use "safe & suitable" substitutions in products without changing labels on packaging. One example given was to artificially create a carmel colored crust on meat to simulate the visual effect of roasting or grill without using a wood or coal fire. Currently, if something claims to be cooked by wood fire then it must indeed be cooked by a wood fire. This proposal would remove that requirement. In short these industries want to use "innovative counterparts" (read lab food, fake food, chemically cooked) instead of "traditional farm" products (read actual food grown by farmers and ranchers).

The age of the Jetsons has finally arrived! You may still be buying your nourishment at the store but someone, somewhere is pushing a button and ZAP there's food. The best part is that you won't be able to tell by the label!

This petition is about FAR MORE than our quaint little chocolate habits. This involves all of the food we eat. Hence, the half dozen meat industry lobbying groups that support the petition.

The FDA is only taking public comments through today so please let them know who you feel about what you eat.

Sent by Tim Dickinson | 1:25 PM | 4-25-2007

As a Swiss raised on Swiss and other European chocolates I find it very difficult to think of low quality products like Hershey's and such as chocolate and am appalled at the mere idea of labelling something which lacks the main ingredient, cocoa butter, as "chocolate". To me it's as if anything that glitters could call itself "gold".

Sent by Christine Turner | 4:18 PM | 4-25-2007

Hydrogenated oils are directly linked with breast cancer - even in men. States are beginning to restrict the use of hydrogenated oil as a health and safety measure. Approving the substitution of such dangerous and inferior ingredients leaves the individual voting members of the FDA, and the candy companies, susceptible to legitimate law suits. I recommend concerned citizens keep a record of the names of current FDA officials, and contact their congressmen and representatives to demand an investigation.

Sent by Chris Paige | 7:00 PM | 4-25-2007

I'm just commenting to say that I also disagree with trading out the contents. I already avoid any chocolate sold in supermarkets (not inc. Whole Foods or Trader Joe's) and I don't want to have to look at ingredients on the back of chocolate bars.

Sent by Jen S | 10:47 AM | 4-26-2007

I think Congress should not let the industry lobbies cow them down on this issue. We can't outlaw the changes in the meaning of liberalism and patriotism, etc., but we can legislate what goes into our food supply and its labeling! Let's guard our rights.

Just like many non-organically raised foods these days (I think carrots, celery and milk are 3 I know of), younger people will not know what good-tasting chocolate & other foods are like (and the rest of us will forget) if the FDA is able to change the contents / definition of chocolate. A foreign student from the Czech Republic stayed with me last fall and she said that our potatoes taste "funny" - not very good. Citizens have to start paying more attention to what is happening to our food.

This also is an issue of dividing the world into 2 classes - those who can afford quality and those who cannot, if chocolate is now "Wal-Martized".

Sent by Susan Mahoney | 5:49 PM | 4-26-2007

oh my gosh!! I say as I finish my port wine chocolate jerk nuggets, made with cocoa butter and chocolate liquer.

It's all about the "big business" lobby, bigger without regard to quality. It makes me quite sad.

It seems we are always lowering our standards- why is that?

Sent by Sarah | 8:42 PM | 4-26-2007

Please do not change regulation to allow chocolate manufacturers to substitute vegetable fats for cocoa butter in chocolate. Here are a few arguments against allowing companies to use the cheaper subsitutes:

1. Chocolate manufacturers will make even more money at the expense of consumers -- for providing no additional value.
The price of real chocolate made with cocoa butter would increase. If most chocolate products change to using vegetable oils, companies will be able to differentiate the chocolate made with cocoa butter and charge a premium over today's "real chocolate" prices.

Manufacturers will charge the same prices for chocolate when they switch to cheaper cocoa butter substitutes, realizing higher profits on lower quality products. And if consumers don't like the chocolate made with hydrogenated oils, the only choice will be to purchase the premium-priced chocolates that use real cocoa-butter.

Food conglomerates make enough profits already. Keep the money in consumers' pockets by maintaining many competing products that use real chocolate.

2. Hydrogenated oils cause health issues. Americans have many health problems already and most are not educated enough to know which food ingredients are to blame. If manufacturers are allowed to change to using hydrogenated oils instead of cocoa butter witout packaging differences or warning labels, people will unknowingly ingest hydrogenated oils.

There are health benefits to real, pure chocolate. Unfortunately, manufacturers are allowed to use cheap fillers which are not healthy for us. The FDA could benefit people by decreasing the allowances for fillers (such as hydrogenated vegetable oil) in our foods, not adding another food product to the list that can use unhealthy fillers.

3. Chocolate made by American companies is inferior in flavor and texture to chocolate made in other countries. Substituting vegetable oils for cocoa butter will degrade the quality even further. If consumers want good chocolate, our only option will be to purchase more expensive imported chocolate.

Sent by Lisa | 6:14 PM | 4-29-2007

The FDA better not change chocolate. If it does not have cocoa butter its NOT pure chocoalate. Hydronated oils, AKA Trans fats are worse than natural fats. I won't touch fake chocolate. Chocolate with oils taste aweful. Its fake chocolate.

Sent by if | 11:03 AM | 4-30-2007