Chocolate's Therapeutic Effects
June 29, 2009 8:04pm CST
The evolution of luxury chocolate brands explains the resilience of certain companies this year in spite of (and perhaps due to) the current general economic downturn. Experts say, people are splurging on their taste buds and driving wholesale candy sales numbers to record heights. Yet, as consumer palates and buying interests become more sophisticated, chocolate manufacturers are offering more than candy. A top seller in tablets according to industry experts is a company called Choclatique. Co- Founder Ed Engoron views the experience of consuming deluxe confectionaries among the few "affordable, immediate, indulgent luxuries." He believes a desire to escape stressful times make many families actually increase their high-end consumption. Spouses might want an easy way to spoil their partner, moms can award a special treat to their children and bosses can thoughtfully recognize a job well-done. If you can't afford to take them out, try giving them a "Truffle Cake" or "Crème Brule" bar from Swiss based Lindt's "Petits Desserts" collection, which reads like a ritzy restaurant menu without the hefty price tag. Knowing that presentation counts, Bloomsberry & Co. markets their design-imprinted on milk and dark chocolate bars as gifts. Each bar's striking package is distinguishable by the holiday or event being celebrated. Some examples are the royally purple, "Queen" bar or "I Love U" bar. Beautifully decorated wrapping papers and boxes along with funny, thematic notations, make even an everyday treat seem festive. Taking a different approach, Choclatique's stylish swirl-patterned chocolate artistically enhances the appearance of their tablets or larger-sized tapestries. Another strategy is to pack in the nuts and fruit with content sometimes as high as 20% of total weight. Elite chocoholics, however, know such simple inclusions and typical fillings have become fairly passé' and utilize other candy enhancement methods. Chocolate makers are mixing unusual flavors, using fancy ingredients or obscure refined inclusions to edge out the competition in this lucrative market. Just consider some of the exotic things companies like Lindt and Vosges Haut-Chocolate are adding: chili, papaya, jalapeno, pomegranate, plantains, bacon, wasabi, mushrooms, olives, and goji berries! Surprisingly, "Mo's Bacon Bar" is Vosges' biggest seller. Those who want their candy to be a healthy extravagance are also finding more choices. Bars with ever higher cocoa content and infusions of herbs, spices and teas are launched each year. Ghirardelli's "Luxe" and "Intense" bar lines are between 60-72% cocoa. Q91 by Choclatique has 91% and one of Lindt's "Excellence" bars is 99% cocoa. Even the Mars Corporation is touting premium chocolate's therapeutic effects. The confectionary giant is hoping for success from new lines of their popular Dove bars. "Dove Beautiful", which is made with vitamins and minerals to keep skin moist and healthy. An additional product called "Dove Vitalize" contains plant, cocoa extracts and B vitamins, designed to boost energy and regulate cholesterol. Manufacturers in this rarified category employ a myriad of unique techniques to convey exclusive affluence. So, is it an entrée? Dessert? Treatment? Unique packaging and rich ingredients are changing perceptions of what candy can offer us. One thing's for sure, these aren't your average chocolate bars.