Americans are the Top Chocolate Lovers
Americans are the number one chocolate lovers in the whole world so it is not a surprise that chocolate is the favorite flavor preferred in the US. Over 70% of Americans prefer that chocolate to be milk chocolate. By and large, it is women who consume over 60% of all chocolate in America. No surprise then that a box of chocolate is the number one chocolate gift on Valentine’s Day. In fact all sorts of chocolate gifts are popular on Valentine's Day; gourmet chocolate baskets, chocolate covered roses, a beautifully packaged bag of chocolate truffles.
The average American shows chocolate love by eating between 10 and 12 pounds a year. The first American chocolate company was Ghirardelli, established in San Francisco in 1849 by Domingo Ghirardelli, an immigrant from Italy by way of Uruguay, then Peru, and finally lured to California by the gold rush...where he first sold tents to miners and then chocolates.
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A great selection of chocolate, candy and gourmet gift baskets and towers for under $30 make an amazing and wallet-friendly gift.
Favorite Chocolate Poll
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Americans and their Chocolate
So how do Americans like to eat their chocolate? Well as already mentioned, the average American chocolater lover likes their chocolate to be milk chocolate, but we also prefer to eat chocolate with nuts, raisins or nougats. There’s a growing number that prefer dark chocolate, a smaller number that like their chocolate with a soft filling of praline or fruit or even a cream filling. Lastly there is a cult-like devotion to white chocolate.
Top 5 Chocolate Bars of 2009
Snickers. The top selling chocolate bar in the US for years, was originally created in 1930 and is manufactured by Mars, Incorporated. Originally named after the Mars’ family’s favorite horse, global sales of the candy bar have grown to $2 billion annually.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups was created by in 1928 by H.B. Reese, a former worker at Hershey.
Kit Kat, was originally created in England but is licensed to be made in the US by The Hershey Company.
Butterfinger, was originally invented by the Curtis Company of Chicago in 1923, and was acquired by Nestle in 1990.
Milky Way, was created as early as 1923 by Frank C. Mars an early founder of Mars, Inc. and was the first filled chocolate bar. The early Milky Way bar was supplied with chocolate from The Hershey Company.
Factory and Store Photos by Flightkeeper
The Growing Popularity of Premium Chocolate
As Americans’ taste for chocolate continues to become more sophisticated, artisanal chocolate companies have grown in favor. Here are the current top 5 premium chocolate makers in America. They all use natural ingredients and no preservatives. A great travel idea would be for the chocolate lover to go to the city and visit their factory and sample their wonderful premium chocolate.
LA Burdick Handmade Chocolates was established in New York City in 1984 and was originally available only in fine restaurants and caterers, but as the company grew, they relocated to Walpole, New Hampshire and now make their chocolates available to everyone.
Christopher Norman Chocolates, also established itself in New York City in 1994 and is known for its artistically decorated chocolates that are hand-painted.
MarieBelle New York, established the year 2000 in New York City by Maribel Lieberman. The company is well known for their Aztec Hot Chocolate.
Lake Champlain Chocolates started with a chocolate truffle that was created in 1983 by a pastry chef working at The Ice House Restaurant on the Lake Champlain waterfront in Burlington, Vermont.
Romanicos Chocolate is famous for its artful flair and use of tropical fruit with their chocolates. The company was founded by Venezuelan transplant Alejandra Bigai in Miami, Florida. Try their Chocolate Sushi, beautifully boxed, it mimics the look of various types of Japanese sushi but it's still all about chocolate and candy.
Chocolate's main ingredient is cacao and originally grew wild in the Americas. Traditionally thought to be cultivated first by the Mayans, scholars now believe that an earlier civilization, the Olmecs, started cultivation and were the first chocolate lovers. Such was the importance of cacao that it was used as a form of currency before it was used as an ingredient. The Mayans grounded up cacao beans with spices to make a frothy drink. They believed that the cacao was a gift from the gods. What do Americans believe about eating chocolate? The American consumer believes many things; chocolate is a great morale booster and revitalizes your body and spirit. Further Americans believe it is good for the heart and cardiovascular system, contains anti-cancerous ingredients, and eating chocolate enhances memory. I would say that these are all good excuses to continue enjoying chocolate and its delicious melt in your mouth sensation.
How to Make Chocolate
Is there a premium chocolate shop in your city? Why not drop in and find out more about what's happening in the premium chocolate world. When I visited Portland, Oregon I went to Cacao. There I talked to Tai, a true chocolate lover, who was very enthusiastic to discuss everything chocolate. There's a lot going on in the chocolate world, more than you realize. He gave me samples of different kinds of chocolate made from cacao beans cultivated in different parts of the world, a chocolate bar mixed with fried bacon (umm, okay...), white chocolate made with goat's milk (interesting but a little gamy), after which I had a sip of my friends hot drinking chocolate. Drinking chocolate is not the same as hot chocolate. It's really chocolate in a liquid form, and the flavor was very intense. Tai said that this was a popular way to have chocolate in Belgium. It was a great afternoon, I learned more about gourmet chocolate in one afternoon than I would think possible and I went away with some (pricey) chocolate bars with some interesting flavors but still very yummylicious. Cacao is located at 414 SW 13th Avenue.
Lake Champlain Chocolates Factory has a tour on the hour where a representative will talk about Lake Champlain Chocolates, its history, their premium chocolate products (love their hot chocolate mixes) and seasonal promotions and current news. Call the factory first for current dates and times before you go. You can see the factory through the glass and see how they make their yummy chocolate treats. One advantage to visiting a premium chocolate factory is that you get a chance to buy their imperfect chocolates at a discount. They still are the same yummy products but were considered imperfect because it might be smaller than average or has a funny shape or some minor defect that makes them not pass the quality control that the company has set as compared to the "perfect" ones you see at stores.
Chocolate lovers all across America, explore your own town and find out what delicious chocolate adventures are in store for you.
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