Tag Archives: chocolate bar packaging

jcoco

Many years ago, there was an ice cream store in Boston that had huge marble slabs where they mixed in all sorts of various candies, cookies, fruits, nuts, etc. into your choice of ice cream. It was such a great idea that it has since been copied in a big way by Cold Stone Creamery and others. The real skill with adding ingredients to a base, whether ice cream or chocolate, is knowing what works with what and when to leave well enough alone.

Jean Thompson, the owner of jcoco, knows her chocolate; especially, when it comes to add-ins. She has a knack for discerning which textures and flavors enhance each other, all of which is evident in her new line: jcoco.

Before we get to the chocolate, let me say I love a business with a mission statement; especially, one that has a humanitarian bent. Here’s a quote from Jean herself:

“We love tasting chocolate and inventing unique flavors, but what’s most important to us at jcoco is the way that food connects us. Giving back to our community is at the heart of jcoco’s mission. To that end, every time you purchase a jcoco product, we will give a fresh, healthy serving of food to someone who would otherwise go hungry. Your everyday indulgence makes a vital difference to someone in your community! Our current partners are Northwest Harvest, the Food Bank of New York, SF-Marin Food Bank, and The Greater Boston Food Bank. We are looking to establish partnerships wherever our products are sold, from Seattle to Los Angeles, and Chicago to New York.”

Of course, no amount of generosity makes a product good. Luckily, jcoco’s chocolates are really delicious. But, even before you tuck into them, there’s the packaging. They offer two different ways of indulging: the jcoco mini gift set with all their flavors, or larger envelopes housing three one ounce separately wrapped bars. The chocolate is wrapped in a shiny, copper colored foil and then in a glossy cheerful paper. Either would make a great gift.

Here’s a run-down on the flavors:

Peanut strawberry baobab in dark chocolate. This luscious bar has only 10 grams of sugar yet feels very indulgent as your palate goes from crunchy peanuts to little chewy jewels of baobab, strawberry, apple, plum, and black carrot juice. It may sound exotic, but the flavors and textures come together in a crave-worthy way.

Black fig pistachio is loaded with nuts and organic fig pieces in dark chocolate.

Vanuatu coconut pecan offers another lower sugar choice, though this time in milk chocolate. Shaved coconut flakes party with toasted pecans for an indulgent ride. Jean’s milk chocolate hails from the tiny island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific and is terrific.

Edamame sea salt in milk chocolate allows the crunch of roasted edamame to languish in a super creamy chocolate.

Agave quinoa sesame really pops with glazed quinoa and sesame in milk chocolate. I loved the two different textures riding shotgun with that lovely, desserty chocolate.

Cayenne veracruz orange really stopped me in my tracks, as white chocolate is not my go-to choice. Here, though, the orange oil and chili really spice up the chocolate, leaving you with a creamy, citrus, slightly heat-filled experience.

Noble Dark is a 72% Belgian chocolate studded with chocolate covered nibs. Once again, the texture is marvelous.

Trader Joe’s 70% Dark Chocolate Bars with Caramel

What entrancing, lovely, fanatsy-like designs these boxes sport. I don’t know about you, but I get plenty of seriousness in a typical day, so whimsey goes a long way. These enchanting watercolors of planes with wings, and other trippy images seemed to set the stage for contemplating chocolate’s ability to transport me from the mundane into realms of gustatory nirvana.

I tried both of their dark caramel filled bars. The one with Black Sea Salt was infused with subtle smokey notes from the Hawaiian lava beds whence the salt is sourced. The 70% dark chocolate’s slightly fruity notes complemented the silky, runny caramel beautifully. Unfortunately, the bar is poorly designed, so when you try to break off one of its eight squares, caramel drips out. An unnecessary mess, as a better design would preclude this. I strongly advise eating every little bit, which requires a plate. Despite that problem, the confection was just marvelous. All the flavors and textures catalyzed each other producing an experience far larger than each on its own could possibly provide. The rendition with Coconut is equally delicious, but different, as it had chewy bits of coconut in every bite.

I have eaten a few of these caramel bars and still find them tantalizing. Considering their high luscious quotient, they have a fairly low sugar content: 13 grams per half bar, or 43 grams. Last but not least, they sell for $1.99.

Chocolate Bar Packaging

The time has come the walrus said to talk of many things… (From The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll)

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. That’s the topic here, but, sometimes, I stray from the actual products to other aspects crucial to one’s gustatory enjoyment.

Good packaging is an essential ingredient to my chocolate experience. I am not talking about aesthetic appeal, lovely art work, beautiful ribbons, colored foils, or tricked-out boxes.  While these all enhance my joy, they are not always directly related to the basic package. How user-friendly is it?

When a bar comes in a paper wrapper with a paper liner that you have to tear open there’s little incentive to save some for later. One might think the company will sell more chocolate that way, but not necessarily.  I like being able to return to an unfinished bar and find the remainder in pristine condition.  In addition, I enjoy some measure of crumb containment while eating.  We all know how chocolate splinters.  Every time you break off another piece those little shards scatter.  Packages that allow you to sever your portion off neatly, and contain the rest have my allegiance.

Green and Black’s bars are an examples of a bar with an inner liner and a folded paper wrapper.  I find these a royal pain. Typically, the inner wrapper tears raggedly and the outer paper will not re-fold well. If you’re consuming the whole three ounce bar in one sitting, that’s fine, but how many people do?  And, even if that’s your habit, how appetizing is it to look at chocolate sitting in a sea of torn paper? This design also makes stacking half-eaten bars messy, and adds to my mild dissatisfaction upon returning to them, no matter how delicious they are.  

Dolfin uses a re-sealable plastic pouch that keeps your bar neat and fresh. Beschle employs an elegant cardboard envelope for its Quizas line, helping me save some for later.

Askinosie’s packaging is an envelope with an opening at one end.  The clear inner liner keeps everything organized, while the outer pouch allows you to come back and enjoy much of the original experience, i.e. the initial anticipation of something intact inside.  

Seeds of Change has a new twist. They use a cardboard envelope with three individually wrapped mini bars inside.  Attractive and utilitarian. 

L.A. Burdick uses a beautiful wooden box containing three cello-wrapped bars.  These transparent sleeves are just great. They allow you to see exactly how much chocolate you have left while re-closing and re-opening easily. Burdick’s packaging definitely enhances my enjoyment of their delicious chocolates. 

Those flat cardboard boxes with inner foil liners are fine, too. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just functional.

Of course, the chocolate itself is of paramount importance, but why can’t we have both: fabulous quality in a user-friendly format? 

A slightly innovative solution may lie with Velcro: an attractively designed plastic, or plastic-lined pouch with a tiny Velcro closure. This would eliminate the need for two layers of packaging and allow for ease of re-opening.

Note: My e-friend, Kerrin, who has an award-winning food and travel blog: mykugelhopf.ch, made the following comment after reading the above piece:

“…every bar of chocolate, the paper opens on the bottom, so you open that–and then break through the foil, but the chocolate is facing down. Doesn’t that bother you? It drives me crazy! I always turn it over to see what it looks like before breaking into it. Every bar with foil and paper is like that.”

Yes, Kerrin, it does irk me.  Let’s hope someone reads this and changes a few things.