March 31, 2004
Does anyone else find that most bars of chocolate are far too thin? This seems to apply particularly to the quality bars, like Domori, Amedei and Pierre Marcolini. Presumably, they believe that a large surface area, compared to the depth, will lead consumers to belive that they are getting more chocolate for their money than the 35-80g weight of most of the decent bars.
I can understand the logic of selling anything relatively expensive in small quantities, to overcome comsumer resistance to a very high price tag, but I would rather buy a larger bar, say 150g, with thick, chunky, chunks.
Eating quality choclolate is, for many people, a highly enjoyable experience, but for me, it is sometimes marred (just a bit), by the fact that the pieces are so thin. The ones made by Pierre Marcolini are 80g, made up of 9 slender squares, which simply don't fit easily into the mouth,, ie they are too wide as well as too thin. OK, I can overcome this by biting, but I prefer to allow the chocolate to dissolve slowly, thus prolonging the sensation.
The bar I'm eating at the moment, from the Chocolate Society, is much better. The pieces are smaller and deeper, and fit happily into the roof cavity of the mouth; no pointy edges to distract from the tasting experience.
Maybe I'm on my own here, as I'm sure that the chocolatiers would have carried out market research before designing their packaging and sizing.
August 1, 2006
Actually, to be honest, I think Amedei's and Domori's bars (Chateau and 75g lines) are the perfect size and thickness. A chocolate shouldn't be too thick because in order for all the flavors to be released, the temperature of your mouth should watm the chocolate thoroughly and equally without that "cool" center. Otherwise, it still needs to arrive at body temperature, and by the time it has done that, chances are that it will be too late to discern the full flavor profile. That's why allowing a chocolate to be at room temperature before tasting is essential. You want to allow for a warm enough temperature to facilitate flavor detection and expedite full release of flavor. I'm not that big of a fan of chunkier bars because not only do they take longer to arrive at room temperature, but they tend to chunk up in the mouth, thus delaying and even inhibiting the spreading and complete coating, in addition to the flavor detection. Also, as I mentioned in another thread, thinner pieces have a larger surface area which allows for greater mouth-to-chocolate contact, and generally aids in easier and faster flavor discernment.
Sometimes, I don't necessarily think it's particularly a marketing ploy these brands use because the majority of their customers are discriminating chocolate enthusiasts who know exactly the size of the bar they're buying before the purchase is made. If the bars don't sell, then perhaps the size is too small for the higher price they're demanding. I know prices can sometimes deter some people, but when they finally do submit and buy a bar, their expectations of the bar are so high that when they find out the chocolate is not necessarily the most revolutionary of bars, they end up extremely disappointed. Besides, here in the US, the majority of fine chocolate is found online, so the customers are not limited at all as to what they can buy. 100g seems to be the general basis, but then of course 75g and even 50g is common too. 80g is even quite common too, especially with El Rey, Chocovic, Guittard, and Scharffen Berger. Some brands like to give seemingly arbitrary and odd numbers, such as 56.7g (Dagoba) or 64g (Chocolove), but given THEIR customer base and types of products, I'm not surprised to see such small bars for such a comparatively high price.
What kind of stupefies me is how a local brand such as Scharffen Berger can sell an 80g bar of chocolate for $5, but then a bar of Valrhona costs less than that. Cluizel bars are only $1 more, which is a tad more expensive, but if you think about it, size does matter in this case. Gram-for-gram, Cluizel is more expensive than Scharffen Berger (Cluizel being $1.66 per gram, and Scharffen Berger being $1.60 per gram), but SB only sells 80g bars (as well as 1oz bars for a ridiculous $2, but that's another story), and in addition to that, SB is much easier to find here, probably because Cluizel no longer has a US importer to distribute nationally (AFAIK).
Consider the following hypothetical situation:
Johann buys 4 Scharffen Berger bars for $5 each and ends up with 320g of chocolate and $20 less in the wallet. Olaf buys 4 Cluizel bars for $6 each and ends up with 400g of chocolate and $24 less in the wallet. To me, Olaf has the better deal because the difference in money is only $4 and the difference in chocolate quantity is 80g, which btw, equals the amount of one bar of Scharffen Berger. Well, it seems that Olaf really ended up buying five bars, with the fifth bar being $1 cheaper (if, of course, equated with SB's price and mass). So not only does Olaf get more chocolate (of better quality and variety, imo), but he gets it for $1 cheaper than what Johann would have spent on another bar of Scharffen Berger. But otoh, it could be viewed as a trick or a marketing scheme which forces us to actually buy more chocolate if we want an entire bar. Some brands do offer smaller versions of their big-boy bars, but they are generally more expensive, gram-for-gram. In any case, for any serious chocolate fiend, such as ourselves, this would indeed be a "deal" but perhaps not one that many would deliberate about so intently.
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