Since Zug.com died a rather abrupt
death, I figured I should mirror my work here. Also, this way I
can pretend they're new updates. Excuse the terrible formatting, I
felt like putting in effort to fix it would be an insult to the original
work. Also, I didn't want to put in effort.
I'm a big fan of gourmet foods. Wait, no I'm not.
I'm a big fan of watching TV shows about gourmet foods. I love
watching Top Chef, but if those plates were placed before me, my
reaction would be:
Some of these gourmet and outside-the-box foods seem a little arbitrary.
Gourmet wines, cheeses, and meats? Sure. Gourmet salts? Uhhh.
There might be a difference between a $20 bottle of soy sauce and a $2
bottle, but guess what: it's going to make your food salty either way.
So when I recently noticed how many gourmet chocolates were
crowding the shelves, I had to try every one of these
strangely-flavored chocolates, no matter how frightening or
disturbing, and report back with what they taste like. I wanted to know
if gourmet = gimmick, or if gourmet = good.
Safeway Select Dark Chocolate with Lemon &
I guess Garlic and Dill didn't make the final
This immediately seemed like a creepy idea, since I first thought of
"Lemon Pepper," the seasoning you add to foods that is usually just
This is just my poor photo-taking skill ...
you don't actually have to squint to eat this bar.
The chocolate is a mild dark, with pieces of crystallized lemon and
black pepper. I was expecting a much more acidic flavor, but the
crystallized lemon added a mild sweetness that went well with the dark
chocolate, like Tony Orlando and Dawn.
I didn't get any pepper at first, but it showed up after letting the
chocolate sit in my mouth for a while. Some of these chocolates really
do benefit from those pretentious food snob methods, like letting it
melt in your mouth. This technique doesn't work as well for Skittles.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 3 - Pepper is an odd ingredient, but is
actually rather common in the Bizarro gourmet chocolate world.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 7 - The chocolate is good, and the
ingredients work well, even if they did just fall off a spice rack.
Chuao Spicy Maya
Another poor photo, but let's pretend like
it's in 3D.
Speaking of peppers, we come to our first entry that utilizes the
element of spiciness. I say "first entry," which implies I have others
that are also spicy, but I don't actually remember. Most of these
chocolates were purchased in an order that must have made the
chocolatier think I was drunk out of my mind. Orders as strange and
haphazard as this one are usually only seen on eBay at 3:00 a.m. when
people spend $2,000 on Masters of the Universe figures to replace
the ones their parents gave away.
The "Spicy Maya" bar, which sounds more like a stripper's name, is a
dark chocolate bar with pasilla chile, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. I
assume that based on the name, they are paying tribute to the Mayans'
first chocolate creations, which were often spicy chocolate concoctions.
I assume this because it says so on the back of the wrapper.
Do not be alarmed that this bar is covered
with pupil-less eyes, staring at you.
The bar itself looks interesting, with a cocoa bean design stamped on
the chocolate. The uneven stamping means it breaks into uneven pieces,
allowing you to give bigger or smaller pieces to people, depending on
how much or how little you like them, or how greedy/gluttonous you are.
For a bar named "Spicy Maya," however, it isn't very spicy. Neither did
it contain bits of ancient Mayans. False advertising!
Weirdness (Out of 10): 4 - It wasn't very spicy, so it wasn't
very strange. Though it would be a fun bar to give to a little child who
can't handle the heat.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 7 - All the flavors worked well
together, though I think the claims that it would "arouse my senses"
fell a bit short. The only thing it aroused was my temper.
Sea salt is a much more popular term than the
alternative: shark sweat.
If you've been waiting for weird, here's what you've been waiting for.
What food is more shocking, more polarizing, and more scandalous than
I take it from your silence that breadcrumbs aren't the controversial
item they used to be.
Like sands through the hourglass, so are the
ingredients in our chocolate.
Like the other Chuao offering, the bar's design is a nice assortment of
cocoa beans. Or possibly the pods where the hatchlings grow in the movie
Aliens. Which would imply that the breadcrumbs will burst forth
from your chest in a gory spectacle.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find their
Risotto flavor in stores.
The bar itself is a dark chocolate, with breadcrumbs and sea salt. Sea
salt is one of the hot chocolate add-ins du jour, since adding
salt to a sweet dish amplifies the sweetness. Also, adding salt to a
salty dish makes it saltier. FYI.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 6 - Sure, chocolate and bread go together
well (ask a cupcake). But if you're going to make a "wacky" chocolate
bar, the fact that breadcrumbs are so, well, boring, makes it
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 8 - The chocolate was good, and the
breadcrumbs acted as wimpy (but tasty) versions of nuts.
Komfort Chocolate Ramen
For true authenticity, this bar contains 350%
of your daily recommended sodium intake.
There seems something inherently wrong with using ramen noodles, a
staple of people who can't afford better food or just enjoy eating
garbage (I'm in the latter category), in gourmet chocolate. This bar of
chocolate costs as much as thirty packs of Oodles of Noodles.
My first question was, "Did they use a flavor packet?" Thankfully (or
sadly, depending on how violently salty and/or rancid-fish-tasting you
like your food), they didn't use any seasoning bags. Even though it was
only plain ramen, the ingredients list wasn't void of
questionable and scary ingredients. Sodium or salt makes an appearance
in various ways six times!
One thing I appreciate about the bar is its simplicity. Simple label,
simple description. All they say is: dark chocolate with ramen noodles.
They don't bother wasting words on things such as, you know, why?
Why ramen noodles? Why didn't you include the dehydrated peas and pieces
For maximum consumer appeal, have the
ingredients in your chocolate resemble escaping maggots.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 8 - It's ramen noodles. In chocolate.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 8 - Good quality chocolate with a mild
crunch and a ramen aftertaste that's actually quite appealing, even if
you're not living in a van.
Vosges Black Pearl Bar
The bar got slightly less weird when I
realized those weren't fleas.
Are they making these flavors because they think they'll taste good, or
just throwing things together so comedy writers will try them?
The Black Pearl Bar consists of dark chocolate, black sesame seeds,
ginger, and wasabi. And, to its credit, that's all it contains
... no weird fillers. Aside from the sesame seeds, ginger, and wasabi.
A picture of a woman shopping on a bar of
chocolate: we have reached the zenith of female stereotypes.
I'll get right to the point: this bar was really good. The sesame seeds
are nice, giving a crunchy contrast to the bar; the ginger goes well
also. My disappointment was the wasabi.
I don't think I've ever had real wasabi -- most restaurant "wasabi" is
just horseradish, mustard, corn starch, and green dye. Unfortunately, I
was expecting that familiar kick of horseradish. Instead, the milder
wasabi was used here, and served to compliment the chocolate, rather
than assailing my sinuses with a four-alarm wasabi fire.
The nerve of this company!
I noticed that wasabi, sesame seeds, and ginger are all sushi
accoutrements, so I made this bar into sushi. I had no rice or
vegetables, so I'll call my sushi "deconstructed," which is a word they
use a lot on cooking shows.
(Image source: US Airways in-flight dining
I despise all forms of seafood, so it was a miracle I even had canned
sardines on hand.
Surprisingly, this did not taste as good as it
The idea that you could close your eyes and let the flavors combine into
what could be called "sushi" didn't quite pan out. It was more a case of
letting the flavors combine into what could be called "microwaved
Weirdness (Out of 10): 6 - The usage of real wasabi took away the
spicy novelty this could have had.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 9 - Very good stuff. I miss the days
when the only way I ate this was plain, without canned fish.
Chocolove XOXOX Chilies & Cherries
Going with the "less is more" approach to
wrapper design, I see
I would normally assume that a company named "Chocolove" that also had
three X's in its name would manufacture body paint or edible underwear.
Instead, they manufacture high-end chocolate. They still keep the sexual
overtones by describing the chocolate as "exciting," "stimulating," and
having "chili flavors." It even has a love poem inside the wrapper
entitled "The Kiss". I started to read it, but there were too many words
with "e" replaced by an apostrophe, so I couldn't be bother'd.
That's either a heart, a cherry, or an ass.
The chocolate itself was very good: the dried cherries gave it some
chewiness, and the peppers provided an overall heat rather than an
intense spike. Still, I couldn't help feeling I would see this bar on an
episode of Law & Order: SVU sometime soon.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 4 - While spicy chocolate might not be the
norm, it's not too unusual anymore.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 7 - It tast'd quite good, although I
don't think their claims of being stimulat'd by the peppers were to be
Theo 3400 Phinney Coconut Curry
Chocolate companies have finally heard our
cries of "More turmeric!"
Right off the bat, I'll give this bar credit for specifying a serving
size of ONE BAR. Most "gourmet" bars list a bar as about eight servings.
As if you're going to bite off one square of chocolate, then yell, "Wow,
This bar smells like the inside of an Indian
It's either really good or really bad, depending on which taste
wave you're currently riding. At first, it's an initial reaction of
shock, laced with mild disgust. I love curry, but my mind could not
process curry chocolate. Then you sort of get it, and start to
really like the taste. Shortly thereafter, you realize you have a
mouthful of New Delhi, and you spit it out.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 8 - I'd seen a lot of chocolates with
peppers, salt, and other odd ingredients, but never curry. Also, my
fingertips seem to be stained yellow from the turmeric. I hope people
believe that explanation.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 6 - This bar is the food equivalent of
trying to hang out with your real friends and your work friends at the
same time. The chocolate was good, the curry was good. The chocolate and
curry together is just an uncomfortable night for everyone.
Komfort Chocolate French
Unfortunately, their budget for pictures on
the wrapper ran dry.
Since French toast is sugary, I was expecting this bar to be
ridiculously sweet, and it did not disappoint. Actually, it did
disappoint, but sweet Lord was it sugary.
Not pictured: sassy waitress refilling your
coffee while dropping this in front of you.
Instead of using breadcrumbs, the hottest trend of this decade, Komfort
used bagel chips. Which sounds awesome, but the bar was just way
too sweet to handle much at one time. Some might argue that not being
able to eat an entire bar of chocolate is a good thing, but I think
those people are underachievers.
The inclusion of bagel chips made me realize that a dark chocolate bar
with pieces of pumpernickel bagel chips would probably be off the charts
amazing. But instead, we have an oddly soft bar with the sweetness of
shotgunning three packets of Sweet'N Low.
Also, it didn't taste like French toast.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 5 - A pretty straightforward concept that
could have worked, if only they had drenched it in maple syrup.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 3 - Just way too freaking sweet. Have
the insulin ready!
Warning: Do not eat this while consuming
Good news: if you have a desire to have your "throat warmed" by an
"explosion" of the "wild side of chocolate" that "playfully tingles and
pops," you are in luck! Or suicidal.
The Firecracker bar is dark chocolate, chipotle, salt, and Pop Rocks.
They call it "popping candy," but we know what that is ... and who it
I don't think I've ever eaten Pop Rocks by themselves -- do you chew
them or just let them sit there? This is why I avoid certain foods; I
just don't know how to eat them. I never eat Nerds because they confuse
me. They're too small to chew, and too painful to swallow whole. Plus,
they're named after my friends.
I'd give this bar a round of applause, but it
makes the noise for you.
This is probably my favorite bar in the whole experiment. The chocolate,
peppers, and salt go together perfectly, the best sweet/savory balance
of all my test bars. But the Pop Rocks are the real star, perfect for
annoying people. While my wife is trying to use the computer or watch
TV, it is endless fun to sit there with my mouth hanging open, emitting
a constant stream of loud snaps and pops. It's never been easier to
passively enrage those around you.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 8 - The Pop Rocks didn't make the bar
"weird" as it did "unique." Also, "annoying"!
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 10 - Everything tasted good, and my
stomach didn't explode.
Komfort Chocolate Tortilla Lime & Salt
Marketing lesson #1: chocolate packaging
should not be green
I know what you're thinking: "With Cinco de Mayo only nine months away,
what chocolates should I be stocking up on?" Here is your answer.
Komfort's Tortilla Lime & Salt takes all the ingredients no one ever
requested, and turned it into a bar. Is this one of those instances
where it sounds so odd it just might work? No.
Staying with the Mexican theme, this probably
will taste much better after a few shots of tequila
The first problem is it's the same semi-mushy milk chocolate from their
French Toast bar. Next, the whole thing tastes like lime zest. I love
limes, but usually because I associate them with ingesting gin.
The tortilla pieces are way too small, though on the bright side, at
least the tortillas were plain and not nacho cheese flavored. I probably
could have tolerated Cool Ranch.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 7 - An interesting and bizarre concept
that fails to get executed. Someone should get executed for this
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 3 - Lime-y mushy chocolate.
Vosges Mo's Dark Bacon Bar
I'm glad to see Mo from Nickelodeon's GUTS is
Well, it's the last bar, so I might as well go out with a bang.
Upon unwrapping the bar, the bacon smell is clearly evident. It might
not be kitchen-at-IHOP levels of bacon aroma, but there is definitely
more bacon smell that you want in your chocolate.
I had high hopes for this bar due to the story on the packaging.
Katrina, the founder of the company, tells a story of her childhood
breakfast. Apparently at six years old, her breakfast consisted of
chocolate chip pancakes and bacon.
If you are bitterly jealous of her childhood, you are not alone.
Then she mentions how some of the maple syrup would get on the bacon,
voila, sweet plus salty, the rest is history. Or, rather the
present. The present in which I am confronted with a chocolate bar
with bacon in it.
Okay, no more procrastinating, time to eat the chocolate covered pig
I guess technically you could put this on a
I placed a big piece in my mouth, letting it melt as I braced for
impact. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered it was ...
good(?)(!). Really good, as a matter of fact.
The little bacon pieces are crisp, which alleviated some of my fear that
there would be fat globules suspended in the bar. They're also spaced
well so you get enough bacon flavor to notice it's there, but not too
much where it turns into Baconettes.
Well, I'm confused. I was hoping for a big, disgusting finish, but
instead I got a really good bar. How disappointing. Not for
Katrina, however, who will now have more money for pancakes and bacon
thanks to this stellar review.
Weirdness (Out of 10): 10 - If there comes a time where bacon and
chocolate is a widely accepted combination, it will prove we have taken
our national bacon obsession a bit too far.
Deliciousness (Out of 10): 10 - Absolutely fantastic. Now they
just need to introduce a chocolate covered Jimmy Dean breakfast