What's the best chocolate (candy) you can buy in the U.S.?

I’ve heard that Brits and Euros scorn the Nestle and Hershey’s “chocolate” bars you can buy in an American gas station, even the “dark” chocolate bars, because they use a lot of fillers instead of cocoa, and corn syrup instead of cane sugar. Is that true? If so, what can you get here that is better and/or that compares with what they’re used to over there? If I buy a Cadbury’s chocolate bar at the same gas station, is that the real thing, or is it still somehow cheapened-down for American tastes or something?

I think Sharffen Berger is some of the best chocolate I’ve every ever had. It’s out of Berkeley, CA. and is a subsidiary of Hershey. It’s better than any Cadbury chocolate I’ve ever had either here or in the UK.

I think things like Valrhona are considerably “better” than Hersey’s/Nestle. Scharffen Berger is another brand I’ve heard of. I haven’t consumed either of these, so it’s entirely hearsay.

I had genuine Cadburys in the 1960s before they were sold in the US and I don’t think the American variety is nearly as good. I haven’t had the opportunity to compare both side-by-side. I expect that the modern British Cadbury doesn’t compare well to the earlier one either.

To me, there is nothing better than a plain Hershey bar (except maybe with almonds). Some, more expensive, brands have flavors and textures that I like, but they’re just different, not better. I have never liked for Nestle at all (they’re Swiss aren’t they?).

Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Belgian chocolate is pretty good.

Dove Dark is better than Hershey’s or Nestle’s.

I have been a chocolate aficionado and have tried many, many different bars from many countries. My current favorite is the Mosen Roth 85% bar from ALDI. It is, in my opinion, the best chocolate I’ve ever had–low acid, nice snap, with a very special buttery finish. Happily, it costs a quarter of what my previous favorites did.

Don’t know if it’s the best, but for widely available chocolate in the US, I go through a bag of Hershey’s Nuggets a month. The almond-toffee ones are my favorite, but I haven’t tried the dark chocolate ones. I love Cadbury and Ritter Sport bars, but don’t find them as often as the Hershey products here in Florida gas stations and grocery stores.

Does anyone know if there’s truth to the rumor that US chocolate has additives (wax?) to keep the melting point higher than European/UK chocolate? Not for cooking, but for keeping them less melted in transit and on store shelves?

Chocolate tastes vary considerably around the world. The palate for chocolate seems to be defined early on in life, so if you’re used to Hershey’s for instance, European formulations won’t appeal as much and vice versa.

But there are lots of boutique chocolateers in the US making excellent, exotic, and interesting flavors. Check out some examples in Whole Foods, or any high end retailers. If you like spicy, try Taza, especially the chili flavored bars.

Have you tried reading the ingredient labels?

I used to be partial to KinderSurprise but it was for the choking hazard/toy. I’ve had Russian chocolates a few times, not nearly as sweet as American chocolates. For my ‘medicine’ I stock 86% from Ghirardelli or Lindt, whichever’s cheaper that month.

Aside from the ingredients I recognize like sugar, milk and cocoa butter, both Cadbury and Hershey’s chocolate contained these three ingredients that I had to look up:

Soy Lecithin possesses emulsification properties. This means it can keep a candy bar “together” by making sure that the cocoa and the cocoa butter don’t separate.

Polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), an emulsifier usually made from castor bean oils, reduces the viscosity of chocolate and similar coatings and compounds. It works by decreasing the friction between the particles of cacao, sugar, milk, etc. present so they can flow more easily when melted.

Emulsifier: When water and oil are mixed together and vigorously shaken, a dispersion of oil droplets in water - and vice versa - is formed. When shaking stops, the phases start to separate. However, when an emulsifier is added to the system, the droplets remain dispersed, and a stable emulsion is obtained.

It doesn’t look like there’s a missing ingredient between UK and US chocolate, but maybe the amounts of these stabilizing compounds differs, leading one to have a more “waxy” taste/texture. I think I need to conduct field research tomorrow after lunch.

Hershey’s has a very peculiar flavor to it, because of the soured milk that is used in its formulation (at least in the milk chocolate). I happen to enjoy Hershey’s, but I did notice one day after eating it, that something about the aftertaste reminded me very clearly of vomit. Sure enough, I Googled it, and I found out I was not the only person. (And when I say “vomit,” I don’t mean that it tasted so gross that it reminded me of vomit. I mean that the aftertaste literally had that kind of bile-like flavor to it.)
Cadbury’s does not have that flavor. When people say Hershey’s is gross, I think they are very much reacting to this strange flavor.

Some manufacturers have gone to vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter in chocolate because it’s cheaper. Cocoa butter has a lower melting point and gives chocolate that great mouth feel, unlike other vegetable fats. I think that’s where the waxiness idea comes from.

When I was a kid, chocolate was chocolate; but I read something similar many years ago and decided to try different types and see if I really could tell a difference. Turns out I can. I’ll still eat Hershey’s on occasion. (And the almond-toffee Nuggets are pretty damn good.) Cadbury’s has kind of a gritty texture to me. Didn’t care too much for Valrhona. Sharfen-Berger has kind of an astringent quality to me; something I feel more than taste.

I still prefer milk chocolate. Best I’ve ever had is Callebaut. It was originally Belgian but got bought out by a Swiss company in the '90s. I don’t know where it’s made these days. I kind of ration myself on it. I only find it in one-pound blocks at Whole Foods, which are themselves broken from big ten-pound slabs.

Thats weird, because that is a large partof my objection to Hershey’s. It’s gritty. American Cadburys (actually made by Hershey) is not the same as British Cadbury’s but it is not too bad. Actually, I think some other higher end Hershey chocolate products, such as Symphony, are fine, as is Dove. Ghiradelli is good too, but not as good as they would like you to believe. It is just the basic stuff found in Hershey Bars and Kisses that is nasty. To this Brit, it is cooking chocolate, not eating chocolate. Nestle (and some of the other cheaper brands) don’t have this grittiness, but they are too sweet and not very chocolatey.

I don’t know if American manufacturers put wax in chocolate, but I think they do do something to manipulate the melting point, at least in the warmer states. Imported British chocolate does not stand up well to the southern California summer, I can tell you from experience.

As for the best American chocolate, I have no idea. There are all sorts of purportedly gourmet chocolates available (although some may be imported). I (like most people, I am sure) have only sampled a few, and they can get expensive. But, IMHO, by paying just slightly more than minimum for something like Hershey Symphony, or Dove, or American Cadbury’s, you can get something perfectly acceptable.

Dove in both milk and dark flavors is probably the best mass market chocolate in the USA, excluding harder to find products and pricey gourmet stuff.

Scharffen Berger hasn’t been made in Berkeley since 2009, which is too bad for me since I live only a few miles from where the factory was. At least I got to take the factory tour before it closed. It smelled amazing.

I like Scharffen Berger, but some people find it harsh. It doesn’t have the smooth, rounded flavor of, say, Lindt.

I’m generally a Lindt/Green&Blacks/Handmade Belgian kind of guy, and most US chocs are not to my taste, but I can tolerate See’s. I can tolerate it like a motherf…

There’s TONS of good chocolate available in the US, including a whole lot of European brands that are often the ones the people who like to compare European chocolate to Hershey’s are comparing it to (Cadbury/Lindt/etc).

You can also get higher-end brands, American and otherwise, at a lot of places. It’s not hard for me to find Vosges, Ghirardelli, and a handful of others I’m not remembering in various stores in my small town. And these aren’t fancy stores - I’m talking grocery stores, liquor stores, etc.

If I go mail-order, the sky’s the limit. Some of the best chocolate I’ve ever had is from La Maison Du Chocolat, and I can overnight that here if I want.

Another thing popping up are local boutique chocolate makers. I’m seeing some from Wisconsin show up here, and there’s at least on local person making stuff that is amazing.

Chocolate is everywhere, you just have to look.