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Good chocolate is healthy. How to tell if it is real or fake

In the US alone, chocolate sales top $138 billion a year, and, according to market analysts, is expected to grow to more than $182 billion by 2025. During the month of October alone, Americans spend around $2.6 billion on Halloween candy.

When combined with holidays such as Easter, Valentines Day and Christmas, Americans are still nowhere near the top global consumer list. While Americans are large chocolate consumers, Switzerland and Germany are the two largest country consumers with the average Swiss consuming 20 pounds a year and the Germans, a healthy 17.8 pounds. On average, Americans consume about one pound per year.

Some of the world’s largest chocolate companies include American companies Mars Wrigley and Hersey Co, Ferrero Group, Mondelēz International, Japan’s Meiji Co Ltd and Ezaki Glico Co Ltd, Switzerland’s Nestlé SA and Lindt & Sprüngli AG, along with the UK’s Pladis and Orion Corp of South Korea.

These 10 companies satisfy the world’s sweet tooth by making everything from chocolate bars to biscuits, cookies, pies, ice cream, wafers, gum, fruit snacks and candy and have numerous plants worldwide. Under these brands are dozens of other well-known sweet treat names like M&Ms, Galaxy, McVitie’s, Ulker and GODIVA, Snickers, Skittles, Kinder and Nutella, Pocky, Oreo, Milka, Toblerone, TUC and Cadbury.

Since not all chocolate is created (or priced) equal and not all companies are of the same quality, how do you know, maybe aside from price, what is real chocolate (couverture chocolate) and what is not real? There are a few quick key ways (while you’re standing in the checkout line) to tell if the bar you’re eyeing up is real or not.

Products that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils such as palm, soybean or cottonseed oil on the packaging are not considered quality since these are compound chocolate products that are not only harder to digest, but can also increase cholesterol levels. Companies who use vegetable oil rather than cocoa butter do so to be cost effective.

To determine the quality of your chocolate look for cocoa mass, which should be the first ingredient on the underside of the package. Cocoa mass is what gives chocolate its color and chocolatey taste. Producers who use cocoa powder to substitute cocoa mass, do so to reduce price.

Cocoa butter should also be high up on the ingredient list. It should be the second or third ingredient listed since real chocolate requires rich cocoa butter to produce that melt-in-your mouth texture. The absolute fastest way to tell is to look for palm kernel oil. If the chocolate product you’re looking at has it listed as an ingredient, it is adulterated fake chocolate.

You can also tell by eating it. Fake dark chocolate will leave you with an unpleasant waxy taste and texture.

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