British and American chocolate may look similar, but they taste very different.
American chocolate tastes “powdery,” one British colleague tells me.
It’s “too sweet,” another protests.
British chocolate, on the other hand, is said to be richer and smoother.
The flavour distinctions aren’t imaginary. They are tied to differences in recipes and manufacturing, depending on which side of the pond you’re on.
British chocolate tends to have a higher fat and cocoa content. American-made chocolate typically contains a larger dose of sugar.
According to UK rules, a product must contain no less than 25% cocoa solids to be considered “milk chocolate.” The US stipulates that milk chocolate contains no less than 10% chocolate liquor.
The differences between Cadbury Dairy Milk bars made in Britain compared with the one sold in the US, manufactured in America by Hershey, were highlighted in a 2007 New York Times article by Kim Severson.
“According to the label, a British Cadbury Dairy Milk bar contains milk, sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, vegetable fat and emulsifiers,” Severson writes. The Hershey version, on the other hand, lists sugar as its first ingredient. Its list also includes “lactose and the emulsifier soy lecithin, which keeps the cocoa butter from separating from the cocoa.”
Cadbury is a British company based in Birmingham, England. However, the Hershey Company holds the rights to manufacture Cadbury chocolate products in the US. Under this licence, however, Hershey is allowed to tweak the recipe.
Tony Bilsborough, a spokesman for Cadbury, told Severson that Cadbury ships to Hershey’s Pennsylvania factories a special mix of mashed dried milk, chocolate, and cocoa butter. Hershey takes it from there.
“I imagine [the taste comes] down to the final processing and the blending,” Bilsborough told The New York Times.
These flavour differences have become a source of stress among Americans who prefer British chocolate, after Hershey’s struck a deal last week with an importer of British products to prevent Cadbury chocolates made in Britain from entering the US.
As part of the agreement, Let’s Buy British Imports, which brings British chocolate into the US, will also stop importing British Kit Kat bars, Toffee Crisps, and Yorkie chocolate bars.