American Chocolates: A Dilemma

A vendor dropped off some (promotional) gifts for attorneys and paralegals. Coffee mugs with his company’s logo and phone number, filled with candy. Everybody wins: my vendor gets to advertise to his customers, and he builds goodwill because, hey, we all like the candy and hey, it’s free!

The jelly beans, I totally dig those. I like jelly beans. No issues there.

But there were also some chocolates. Three “premium” chocolates: a Lindt milk chocolate truffle, a Ghiradelli almond-chipped square, and a Hershey’s dark chocolate square with bits of cranberry and almond.

I should have known better than to proceed as I did. The Swiss chocolate was rich and creamy and lusciously good. It made me want to eat another piece of chocolate. So I did — the Ghiradelli square was flavorful and pleasingly bittersweet. Not as good as the Lindt, but still a nice little burst of sweet. And now my inhibitions were out the window. The Hershey’s square tasted like sour wax by comparison, and even felt waxy in my mouth. By comparison, it wasn’t good at all.

So now I feel like an ingrate for not liking the gift of candy that my vendor gave me, and a snob for liking the imported, expensive chocolates instead of the regular kind, even the premium brand. Worse, I’m such a chocolate snob that I wish that there had been Belgian chocolates in the little gift mug because those are even better than Swiss chocolates. But these are gifts; before all of this started, I had no chocolate at all and some chocolate is better than no chocolate, right?

If you get mixed chocolates from someone this holiday season, Readers, take my advice. Save the best quality ones for last. Which means eat the American chocolate first.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Lindt truffles are mostly shortening. Seriously, dude.

    You want good American Chocolate? Candy Basket, Portland OR.

    It isn’t your fault that you don’t like natural chocolate, and prefer dutched.
    But it does make you weird.


    • I’m actually with Kim here. Lindt is gross. Which is not to say that Hershey’s is good either, but I think you’re suffering from some kind of rose-colored glasses thing here.

      • This all may be true. It was the first chocolate I had at afternoon-munchies time, and it was a truffle rather than a square of chocolate. And, I admit it, I’m snobbish and this brand’s origin in Switzerland impressed me more than did the others’ domestic origin. I’m not disparaging the Ghiradelli chocolate, either, which was tasty and rich.

        • Chocolate is something you cannot make great. You can make good, but not great. It has to do with the process of removing all the glibbering slime molds and other infectious / bad for you stuff from the beans.

          Hershey’s has excellent milk, which is one of those things that you can make fabulous.

          Of course, they also have Pennsyltuckians as beta testers. This explains a lot about what they produce.

  2. Our office is completely loaded with junk food of this ilk, provided by similar people.

    I am trying to be virtuous, but the truffles (a very popular choice) from the local candy maker are truly divine.

  3. Ghiradelli is from San Francisco. I believe the Hershey or Mars family bought it recently.

    There are good American chocolate companies but they are not produced to scale. The Europeans seemed to have mastered producing good chocolate at scale. For good American chocolate you need to be willing to spend 8 dollars or so a bar:

    • For good chocolate? I’ll pay. Good chocolate is worth it because when it’s good it’s really fishin’ good. And a high price underlines in my mind that chocolates are small, occasional indulgences, not standalone meals.

      • i can vouch for the mast bros, despite not being that into chocolate myself.

        i used to make truffles every year but i just simply cannot be arsed anymore, as our uk fellows might say.

      • $75 dollars a pound for premium chocolate. I’ll see if I can get you some names, if you’re really curious.
        But Candy Basket makes phenomenal caramels, and their mint chocolate meltaways are … unique.

    • I also hereby endorse Richard Donnelly Chocolates for those who live within striking range of Santa Cruz or who don’t mind paying to ship pricey chocolate.

      The man is very serious about his chocolate.

  4. I’ve already gorged myself on chocolate for this holiday season making little sandwiches out of the mint patties and peanut butter cups.

  5. My (ex-)company gives away these rum cakes made by a little old lady in Southern Oregon. The weigh a ton, and it’s basically, 1 part flour, 2 parts butter, 3 parts sugar and (I’m guessing here) about 100 parts rum. I once had a couple of pieces, and I felt vaguely tipsy afterwards.

    • I went to a holiday party last night where the main tipple was mulled wine “flavored” with brandy. The flavoring procedure was apparently:

      No, still tastes like wine. More brandy!

  6. “Which means eat the American chocolate first.”

    Back in my hayday, when I could eat a whole pizza in one sitting and not gain a pound, I’d usually order half-plain, half-roni. I preferred roni but enjoy cheese and like to mix and match. So, I would always save a roni slice for last, which made me feel good not only because I got to let my favored slice linger in my mouth after I was all done, but also because of my ability to forward plan.

    A few years later, I had a student, age 5-years-old. He was munching on a similarly sorted candy or snack of some kind, wherein there were different flavors. He mentioned that one was his favorite and I watched as he ate all but that one. I asked why he did this, given that he most preferred the one he wasn’t eating. “I like to save my favorites for last.”

    If ever there was a sign of genius in a 5-year-old…

    • That is correct, sir. Palm oil is something I associate with soap.

  7. My favorite is Green & Black, right now. I’ve got to be careful with chocolate, much of it triggers migraine.

    So I was going to give you a link to their website, only to discover the first page lists a recall for US made milk chocolate, peanut and sea-salt bars. Hmmm. Recall bad.

    But I realized the company has the integrity to put the recall out, customer care’s a good thing, particularly when you or your supplier screws up. (I’m figuring it’s the peanuts.) Plus, I don’t do milk chocolate. So. I’m going to go ahead and recommend Green & Black. Great dark chocolate. I usually buy an 8 oz. bar and it lasts a week or two, with three people in the house nibbling on it.

    • It’s ALWAYS the peanuts. Rats/mice love ’em.
      (Squirrels too. hence why verizon using peanut oil inside the telecom lines was a national security issue).

      • Kim, you are always good for a double take. The sentence “why verizon using peanut oil inside the telecom lines was a national security issue” may well make one of the most unlikely hex-code password bases ever.

        • Last time I wanted a hex code password to be really, really annoying…
          “Who am I? How do I know? My name is Andy!”

  8. We recently finished off a sampler of 8 types of Valrhona chocolate- each with different levels of bitterness and cacao percentage. Each was described in terms that sounded like we were at a wine tasting: earthy, fruity, nutty, oaky, etc., etc. No connoisseurs, we probably didn’t appreciate how good the various chocolates were, especially since I’ve hardly ever met a chocolate I didn’t like. The one exception would be the bad stuff that’s inside those gold foil Chanukah coins. We do know, that they have fancy/expensive chocolate shops on every other block in Paris, and that the best food we ate there was undoubtedly the hot chocolate and desserts, especially those containing chocolate. So, it seems to me that the Parisians take their chocolate tres seriously, and I suspect that some of the best stuff comes from France. Burt, I don’t know much about fine chocolate, but if you want to get into it like you have with, say, single malt scotch, French chocolate might be worth trying. Some of your commenters seem to know their chocolate, so I’d be interested in their opinions.

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