There’s one thing many Americans and Europeans can agree on: Chocolate is delicious. The problem? What Americans consider tasty chocolate is the kind that sends Europeans running to the toilet.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
From the Start
A curious commenter posted in an online British forum, “I heard that Europeans find American chocolate tastes like vomit. Is this true?” Europeans rushed in to share their reactions after trying American chocolate.
Cocoa vs Fake
“In the UK, chocolate tastes like cocoa,” explains a Brit. “American chocolate tastes so manufactured and fake.” They point out that Americans load their food with chemicals. “It’s actually scary.”
“It tastes terrible,” agrees another about American chocolate. They point to a chemical added to chocolate in the U.S. that’s also present in vomit.
The Vomit Chemical
There’s scientific backing to the vomit chemical claim. Whittaker’s Chocolate, a family-owned New Zealand company, explains that American chocolate tastes like vomit to those who aren’t used to it because some manufacturers add butyric acid to their recipe. Butyric acid is a compound found in rancid butter, other milk products, and vomit.
Many Europeans specifically pointed the finger at Hershey’s chocolate for tasting like vomit. Other sources echo this, with Mental Floss publishing a piece on how Hershey says they don’t add butyric acid to their chocolate. On the surface, that’s true, as butyric acid isn’t listed on Hershey’s chocolate ingredient list.
Breaking It Down
Since milk contains butyric acid, it’s possible that Hershey’s chocolate tastes like vomit to many Europeans because of milk undergoing lipolysis. Lipolysis is the process of the fatty acids in milk breaking down, which produces more butyric acid.
A potentially high presence of butyric acid in many American chocolates compared to European chocolates isn’t the only reason Europeans turn up their noses to US chocolate bars. As Mental Floss describes, the British company Cadbury often includes more cocoa and less sugar in their product compared to American chocolate.
Since Cadbury heats the milk for their chocolate at higher temperatures, there’s a distinctive caramelized note in Cadbury chocolate that’s uncommon to encounter in American chocolate.
Even though Americans can purchase Cadbury chocolate in the US, it doesn’t mean they’re getting the British recipe. An American describes US-made Cadbury chocolate as “repackaged garbage,” and a European commenter agreed. “British Cadbury is different.” The BBC confirmed that the recipe for US Cadbury chocolate differs from that in Europe.
Hershey is a classic American chocolate brand. As such, American companies producing cheaper chocolate often try to replicate its flavor while saving money. For this reason, Europeans who try non-Hershey chocolate may also be repulsed by its taste.
From an American
An American added to the online forum conversation, saying Hershey’s chocolate “taste[s] good to Americans because it’s what we know as chocolate.”
Another American commented that they 100% agree that Hershey’s chocolate tastes like vomit. “Especially the milk chocolate.”
Not All Bad
After accusing American chocolate of tasting “like sour/gone-off milk,” they backtracked. “I have just remembered Ghirardelli’s. I do really like that!”
Taste Bud Check
American chocolate “doesn’t taste like vomit to me,” observes a European. “It’s the lack of taste altogether that is off-putting.” It isn’t all doom and gloom for this American chocolate eater, though. “The US has some really good chocolate. It’s just that the stuff we end up tasting is basically Hershey’s.”
All About the Feel
“To me, the problem with American chocolate is that it has a waxy feel to it,” said a European who doesn’t appear to mind the taste. “It’s probably designed not to melt in the heat. Which means it doesn’t melt in your mouth either. And melting in your mouth is the whole point of chocolate.”
A European commenter describes being “shocked” upon eating American chocolate for the first time. They recall, “It wasn’t so much vomit tasting, more of a plastic nothingness.” In their opinion, “The marketing is a lot better than the taste.”
Where’s the Chocolate?
One commenter is confused about how American chocolate can be called “chocolate.” They ponder, “As far as I can tell, it’s just sugar and emulsifier and a pinch of cocoa as a gesture to qualify its name.”
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