In a post recently I commented on the difference between a chocolate maker and a chocolatier. Some took the post the wrong way. Some thought I devalued the role of a chocolatier purely because they don’t turn beans into chocolate. But that is to misunderstand the point completely. My point may have been better framed as “you can’t spend awesomeness when most people want other stuff.” In other words, there is horrendous amounts of money to be made out of chocolate that won’t win any taste awards. With all fairness, there can be no greater case in point with my good friend Richard O’Conner as he as changed the focus of his chocolate business.
Its’s a truism to state that you can have all the finest chocolate in the world. Stuff that makes chocolate aficionados week at the knees. But if not enough people want to part with their money they’ll you’ll be in the crap. Richard started producing his own chocolate, with some rave reviews and I’ll be taking a look at that range of Chocolate and Love bars soon, but the ones I’m reviewing today caught my eye. They’re unashamedly gimmicky. They’re treats and they’re presents. They’re not meant to be taken seriously. They’re a bit of fun. They won’t be entered into the International Chocolate Awards (with a straight face at least).
Richard was kind enough to send me ten bars of these canine and feline-themed bars with each stylised as famous characters of mainly from the big screen. I do believe that these will work most excellently in a retail environment where people can stand there and ask their friends if they can name the characters. I just love the concept.
But these chocolate bars also prove another point I made in THAT article. The packaging includes the line “finest milk chocolate” – what the finest milk chocolate is I couldn’t possibly guess, I’ve not tried it all. But I am sure Richard would proffer the view that it quite possibly isn’t this. And to be honest, I’d willingly accept that.
So, I had a piece and was left with a clear opinion, but thought I would ask the resident milk chocolate lover what she thought, just for clarification. After thinking about it she exclaimed: “it doesn’t taste very chocolaty, just sweet”. In all my years of reviewing chocolate I could never have come up with a description as accurate or as succinct as that. It is profoundly precise.
I’m no real milk chocolate fan, and certainly no fan of chocolate with hazelnut paste or butterfat. What’s more, it appears to contain less than 10% cocoa mass despite having at least 32% cocoa in it. But that won’t stop a huge number of people buying and enjoying this chocolate. That’s one thing I’ve learned, and is often forgotten, I know what I don’t like, but I fully understand I’m in a small minority. The Christmas and birthday present buyers will buy this in their droves. Tourists at gift shops will lap it up. Put simply it is a mistake to purely see chocolate for as a medium of culinary pleasure. Ten minutes in a bumper car can be just as entertaining as a ride in a Ferrari – if that’s your thing.
Now, would I have any of the other nine bars? It’s unlikely. But I have a friend whose family will love them. And at the end of the day, that’s all that counts.