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The Shame of English Chocolate

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Foodies, like any other group of enthusiasts, love to engage in snobby one-upsmanship. Loser-ish, childish, blatant—honestly, you’d think we’d have better things to do. Here’s a typical conversation:

Foodie 1: “So, I just had the best caviar of my life—Sevruga. It was from Iran, if you can believe it.”
Foodie 2: “Really? I heard that was all contaminated with lead. Actually, I was just at an ice hotel. They had a really good caviar, hand-picked by virgins. And, you know, Beluga, obviously.”

And so it goes with chocolate, the constant chew-toy of these pathetic foodie trainspotters. When European labeling required that cacao content be stated on bar chocolate packaging, it was just enough to start a bragging race. Self-proclaimed chocoholics came out of the woodwork, having memorized the listed cacao percentages of every major brand of high-end chocolate, looking to outdo one another with ever-increasing darkness. Valrhona, Green and Blacks, 85%, 92% — suddenly, cacao was king. Overnight, it seems, the game was about numbers and darkness: bitter was definitely better

Which is the point when I became a chocolate pariah.

See, when it comes to eating bar chocolate, not only do I like milk chocolate, but I like English milk chocolate. You heard me: I like the palest, buttery-est, least bitter chocolate on the planet. And don’t try to fob me off with that American-made Cadbury either. The name’s been licensed to Hershey, it’s made in Pennsylvania and has the bendy, paraffinesque texture (and flavor) of the rest of Hershey’s evil product line. Its ingredients are different from English Cadbury. No—the American version won’t do.

When I’m jonesing for a fix, what I need is right at my local New Rochelle Stop and Shop, down at the end of the International aisle, hidden under a marker announcing, mysteriously, Irish. It’s stuff of Bridget Jones’s fantasies: the mother-lode of British chocos. Flakes, Aeros, KitKats, Galaxies, Smarties – and buttery, imported, English Cadbury bars. Even Milk Trays, those seductive personal Valentines (that I suspect are meant to share), can be found right there on Palmer Road.

Good thing, too, because I was going broke on gas and tolls running down to Myers of Keswick every week. And, even though I was kind of enjoying my lonely pariah-dom of iconoclastic chic, it looks like I’m no longer the sole English chocolate fan. This piece by Kim Severson in the Times shows how far Brit-Choc fans usually have to go to get their fix, including expensive mail; melting, chocolaty luggage; and long rides out to Manhattan or Brooklyn. Lucky us – we just need to waddle down to Palmer Road in New Rochelle.

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