Why is Russian/Polish mass-market chocolate so much better?

I have had mass market chocolate from America, Canada, England, and Israel. All of it, crap. Well, not crap, really, but the American candy all has nice sounding ingredients, but tastes waxy, the Canadian, and the English candy comes in more varieties and taste nicer, but still is crap by comparison, and the Israel seems to be pale imitations, and even tastes pale.

In contrast, I have gone to a Polish, or maybe it was Russian grocery store, and the chocolate there was fantastic. There was small, prepackaged, wrapped chocolate in bins, which, thought all different types, cost exactly the same per pound, all quite tasty. In addition, there was chocolate bars, sold for .50s, which where just fantastic. Nestle made one of them, so why can’t they make such good one here? Now, judging from what few labels I can read, they use the exact same ingredients as we do, but I suppose they must use higher grade chocolate. I plan to save up my money, go there, and buy a ton of it.

P.S. I am unable to tell one label from another. Also, has anyone seen a site extolling the virtues of Russian candy, and/or a general candy website which indentifies foreign candy by label? I would love to see such a site.

They can make them like that here, they just choose not to.

Mass-market chocolates in different countries are formulated to what tastes best to the majority of people in that market. Different countries apparently have very different tastes when it comes to chocolate, I don’t know if they know why. You (like I) happen to be stuck in a market where the most popular tastes don’t match your own.

I prefer Swiss and New Zealand chocolate, but I have never tried Israeli or Polish. You may be more in line with the formulations for those markets.

The above seems to make perfect sense…

Except in America, that is. I remember when candy bar were .50, even in vending machines. Now the price varied wildly, depending on where you by them. I blame this on the WWII sugar shortages. If I recall correctly, prices failed to drop after the crisis passed, and we see the results today. Thus, I believe that while England is giving the english what they want, and Israelies get what they want, we americans get sour-milk chocolate, because… Why, exactly?

Everyone else, Speaking to Scott: “Welcome to last week, it’s called what the market will bare.”

I’m confused as to what you are saying. I believe that the US public likes the taste of Hershey’s and the like. Other taste combinations don’t sell as well. The concept holds perfectly well in America.

It’s certainly not dictated by the prices of commodities like sugar and milk. Where did you get the idea that price factors into the formula for chocolate in the US. Candy is incredibly cheap.

Uh, how could it not? Cite? While the price of candy doesn’t fluctuate at the point of purchase, the profit margins sure as hell do with rising and falling commodity prices.

I would assume that the price of candy is set such that fluctuations in the commodity prices, seasonality and inflation (among other things I’m sure) will affect the margin on the candy, but insure that the candy is always profittable.

IME, most chocolates use high fructose corn syrup rather than sugar. Cecil handled the hfcs vs. sugar thing recently and determined that the price was an issue.

That doesn’t mean that it’s price/profit margins aren’t dictated by the raw commodities that go into it.

I agree, commodity prices are reflected in the price of candy. But in general, people don’t appear to buy candy based on charging $.99 or 1.09, it's not a staple item. If a candy bar was noticably better tasting and cost only .10 more (random number, no idea about ingredient prices) I don’t think it would be a bar (ha!) to success in the marketplace.

And if it is a problem in the US market, why wouldn’t it be a problem in other markets? Commodity prices around the world would have the same effects. The only way I could see this effecting US candy would be if US sugar/milk prices are kept so artificially high that using them would price candy out of the reach of most people. But since candy appears to me to be extremely cheap (you can get whole bags of mini candybars for $1.00) that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Some interesting links:

http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-NG.asp?id=53016 - Note that there are gov’t rules about using vegitable fats in place of animal fats. This would certainly have an effect on the taste.

http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/choc.htm - Some people really like chocolate

My experience with Russian chocolate was with a bar that had a very high cocoa butter content, and very low cocoa solids content. The result was a very creamy, buttery chocolate with rather little flavor–I was not impressed at all. So, I don’t know what you mean about Russian chocolate being better, unless you just like cocoa butter.

My preferred chocolate is Michel Cluizel 85%.

If that is an accurate description, then I suppose I have no taste, exactly like what I accuse fellow American consumers of. However, I don’t think so. As I recall, what I had was extremely chocolaty tasting. Personally, when I went to England, all the milk tasted more “real”, so I liable to place the blame on America products being weak sauce, because of a combination of American consumers not knowing anything different, and fear of change.

P.S. Michel Cluizel 85%? At $4.75 , that can hardly be consider to be on the same wavelength as .50 bars. Anyone else here that goes shopping in Russian Markets who has seen what I am talking about?

Well, not a Russian market, but behind my house is a little grocery store that carries a lot of ethnic foods, mostly mexican, middle-eastern, indian, and eastern european. They have a lovely Wall of Chocolate that routinely carries Milka (originally a german or austrian company that was bought by. . . Nestle (I think)), Alpine Swiss, and a bunch of eastern European chocolate. The prices are comparable - something like $.79 for a bar approximately 12 oz (1.5 times the size of a regular hershey bar ?), and the chocolate is excellent. High cocoa solids AND butter content, chocolate alcohols (which IIRC are like distillate which concentrates the flavor). Smooth, creamy, chocolatey, and the dark varieties are fantastic.

We’ve become the family distributer for chocolate, sending it to people around the country whose chocolate access is more restricted.

I had the opportunity to try Syrian chocolate from a coworker who brought it back. From how Scott described Israeli chocolate, I suspect it was made with a similar process. Pretty “pale” in look and flavor.

I guess tastes just differ. None of the Russian chocolate I’ve ever tried has been very good. It tasted chalky to me. This includes stuff my husband has brought home from trips abroad as well as stuff my MIL has obtained, presumably from some store here in the US that carries Russian foods.

These chocolates, are they about a fingerlength? And sold from a bin by weight? And some have city names - Odessa, Moscow, New York (which has a rainbow effect when you slice it)? And other names are Russian or forest themed? And there’s a few rounds, like Squirrel, which has a dark green wrapper and nuts in it?

Those are made in New York City. I can’t remember the name of the company. I’ve never seen them outside of a Slavic delicatessen, of which there are exactly zero in my home state. I would gladly kill to get some more of them. They are quite tasty.

No idea how they’re sold, shorter than a finger length. One type has a picture of a lobster on it. :confused: Doesn’t sound like the same kind you’re thinking of. Can’t hold a candle to, say, a Lindt truffle.

Well, a few of them are. However, many are cone shaped, while others are bell shaped, and still other’s are rectangles of varying sizes. Some are sold by the pounds, while other, which look more like standard chocolate bars, but taste better, are sold individually.

You say a company in NY makes some? Then perhaps I can locate them and ask what makes theirs some much better, via a politely worded letter.

Same here, with Polish chocolate. I grew up in a Polish household (and been in Poland many times) and we’ve always had the stuff around. Chalky is exactly the adjective that comes to mind. Not good at all, at least not the domestic brands.
German chocolates are substantially better and the best, of course, are the Belgian or Swiss chocolates.

Is alcohol an ingredient in Russian chocolates?

Whoops, all this time, it turns out I have never been to a Polish Grocery Store in my life. Buncha Flatlanders they are, too. :slight_smile: The Polish Language uses English letters, or romanji’, or Unicode, or whatever the hell you want to call it, while Russian uses… um… Cyrillic ? Am I pronouncing that right? :slight_smile: