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The Chocolate Taste Test
NOTE: This test was originally conducted in 2009, so some of the brands used at the time were actually American or European as stated. The corporate changes that have happened in the intervening years are discussed at length in the comments section, as is the fact that Galaxy is the made by the same company as Dove (which is pretty obvious now when you look at the wrappers side-by-side, but we didn't know that at the time, lol). The results are still the same. Enjoy!
I had a discussion with a friend a while back about chocolate, and whether or not we could actually distinguish the difference between them – specifically, American and European chocolates. We both said we might have difficulty telling brands of chocolate apart, but that noting the difference between American and European chocolate should be relatively simple. Well, this discussion happened before we decided to go to England, so we thought it’d be fun to have a blind taste test while we were there. Shortly before I left I bought four American chocolate bars: Hershey’s, Dove, Ghirardelli and Godiva. While in London I picked up three European chocolate bars: Galaxy from the UK, Lindt from Switzerland, and Luxury from Belgium.
First, let me state that this was not a hardcore scientific series of tests, just two people having some fun with sugary stuff! However, I’m a stickler for honesty, so I tried to keep it real – all the chocolate bars were simple milk chocolate. No dark chocolate, no extra flavors like orange or mint, and no nuts of any kind; just regular milk chocolate. To prevent either of us from identifying the chocolate by the size and mold of the brand, pieces were broken off in roughly equal sizes. I gave pieces of chocolate to my friend to eat while blindfolded, and then after switching the order around he did the same for me. Also, for more Integrity Brownie Points, to cleanse the palette we ate saltine crackers after each piece of chocolate, washed down with water. In any case, after hours of wandering around London doing tourist stuff, we decided to have a bit of a rest. Armed with all the aforementioned products and a blindfold, we put our taste buds to the test….and here are the results:
Europeans have been saying for years that their chocolate is better than the Americans, and I’ve always agreed with them; chocolate from Europe always seemed creamier to me. However, before we get on to those differences, let’s discuss the four American brands I obtained. I chose Hershey’s because it’s the most popular chocolate in the country, and I picked the others because they’re supposed to be “high quality” chocolate. Godiva, for example, is usually found stocked to the ceiling at higher-end department stores, while Ghirardelli and Dove can be found at your local Walgreen’s – but with a bigger price tag than Hershey’s, Mars or what have you. I’d never tried Godiva or Dove before, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to correctly identify all of the brands! My friend got a couple of them mixed up, but that was no big deal – what was most telling was which one we thought was best and worst. Hershey’s came out the big loser of the lot; it’s much more sugary than the others, and two sets of taste buds soundly rejected it. I was shocked to find that Ghirardelli, which I’d always held in high regard, tasted a lot like Hershey’s but with less sugar. Godiva was marginally better, but we both greatly preferred Dove; it just tasted so much better. It was creamy, flavorful – it seemed to have a higher cocoa content than the others, and was definitely not as sugary. Final result: Dove was the clear winner, by a landslide!
I couldn’t find any French or German chocolates while I was in London, which was a pity because they make good chocolate too. However, we worked with what we had available – Galaxy (UK), Lindt (Swiss) and Luxury (Belgian). Lindt bars can easily be found in the US, and many American stores also carry Belgian chocolate, although perhaps not that particular brand. I had never tried Luxury or Galaxy before, and neither had my friend, so we went into this test completely impartial. We both correctly identified the brands, but Galaxy was the worst of the three. I can’t even describe what specifically was wrong with this chocolate, yet I couldn’t help noticing that every food store I visited in England had Galaxy bars on the shelves; it would seem that this is the UK version of Hershey’s. While it’s most definitely not as sugary as its US counterpart, there is something else in this bar that detracts from the cocoa and milk, but neither of us could figure out what it was. Out of these three brands, both my friend and I hated Galaxy, but Luxury and Lindt were another story. Both were huge improvements, and the defining characteristic seemed once again to focus on creaminess and the amount of sugar. Luxury seemed slightly sweeter but we both preferred Lindt, although my friend in particular seemed surprised with Lindt; he expected it to be better! Final result: Lindt rocks.
American vs. European
In this test, we put an American chocolate up against a European chocolate, one at a time. Since we started with four US bars and three European ones, we immediately pulled Hershey’s out of the test to even it out. The challenge then changed to – which is from the US and which is from the EU, and which tastes better? I paired the chocolates as follows:
Dove vs. Luxury
Godiva vs. Galaxy
and Ghirardelli vs. Lindt
My friend paired them up in this manner:
Ghirardelli vs. Luxury,
Dove vs. Lindt
and Godiva vs. Galaxy.
We correctly identified which was American and which was European on the Dove/Ghirardelli/Luxury/Lindt pairings, but we both got Galaxy and Godiva mixed up. That match-up was particularly interesting as neither one of us actually liked either of those bars, but this series of tasting underscored the overall feeling we had about US vs. European chocolate – the Europeans are just better at this. While Dove was hands down the best American chocolate, all the European ones tasted better than it, including Galaxy! Final result: European chocolate rules.
1) Lindt (Swiss)
2) Luxury (Belgian)
3) Galaxy (UK)
4) Dove (US)
5) Godiva (US)
6) Ghirardelli (US)
7) Hershey’s (US)