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The USDA Tried to Make Milk Chocolate Healthy, May Trigger Your Peanut Allergies Instead

As a food scientist myself, it’s clear that food needs to be redeveloped around what consumers want and what is necessary for the future of food. So when research is done to help make foods healthier and utilizes something like food waste to put food back into our system, it’s a double-plus. Sometimes, that research leads to amazing results, like when carrot pulp was discovered as a healthy way to make puffy chips/Cheetos.

Sometimes, however, that research goes a little too far.

That clearly is the case with what happened on this joint study between the USDA and North Carolina State University. As reported by Quartz, the research was an effort to make milk chocolate perceived by consumers as healthier.

Researchers decided to make their chocolate healthier by putting antioxidants into milk chocolate and had consumers taste it to see if they could tell the difference. Sounds tame enough on its own, but wait until you hear where it’s coming from.

They’re extracting these compounds out of the skins of peanuts, encapsulating them with maltodextrin (which is basically converted cornstarch) to hide their flavor, and then adding that to the milk chocolate.


Photo: Phys

Don’t get caught up on the maltodextrin part, it’s the peanut concern that we’re bringing up here. Immediate concerns come from the fact that peanuts are being used as the source of antioxidants. Let’s not forget how serious peanut allergies are, like the USDA did when they performed this study. None of the tasters had peanut allergies.

Basically, the research was conducted on this new antioxidant source without even taking a look at allergenic concerns. From a food safety standpoint, allergies need to be one of the first things looked at when considering a new source for a food ingredient. What if that skin extract contains the compounds that trigger peanut allergies? That has to be considered as a first step.

Additionally, while the new milk chocolate has more antioxidants than dark chocolate does, that raises the question of how the antioxidants are lost from the milk chocolate. Milk chocolate does have a lot more milk and sugar than dark chocolate, so the antioxidant content is much lower by default. Milk chocolate is also unhealthier in that regard, since it contains a higher sugar and fat content thanks to the milk and sugar added into it.

So does adding these antioxidants suddenly make the milk chocolate healthier? The USDA was banking on that for this research, since antioxidant-rich foods are currently trending. But adding these simple compounds doesn’t change any of the caloric content, fat, or sugar in the food. We also don’t know how much this peanut skin extraction process costs, or if the antioxidant-added chocolate will be allergenic.

In simpler words, if this does become a product, dark chocolate is a healthier, natural alternative with no potential peanut allergies and much less sugar and milk. Eat that instead.


Hershey’s Brings Back Full-Sized Krackel Bars, Competes with Nestle Crunch


The long-running monopoly over crisped rice milk chocolate is finally over, it seems. For the first time since 1997, Hershey’s has decided its pint-sized, variety pack, only eaten at Halloween red Krackel bar is no longer enough to satisfy American palates. That’s right, Hershey’s has just unleashed the (full-sized) Krackel.

Already spotted at some Wal-Marts earlier this month, the new standard, XL, and Giant bars also highlight the return of real milk chocolate for the Krackel line. In 2008, Hershey’s changed the formula for several of its products to contain cheaper vegetable oil instead of more expensive cocoa butter, in doing so, sacrificing the strict FDA label “milk chocolate” for more ambiguous alternatives like “chocolate candy,” “made with chocolate,” or “chocolatey.”

For reference, competitor Nestle has continued to make its Crunch bars with milk chocolate, which just means the red and blue might finally be on the same playing field now. Ah, who am I kidding, Krackel’s still got nothing on Dibs.

Packaged Food

Be Still My Heart: Lay’s Debuts Chocolate-Covered Potato Chips


There are moments of genius that warrant the awe of the masses — a taco shell coated in nacho cheese and a blasphemous faux croissant, to name a few. Now, Lay’s Wavy Potato Chips dipped in Milk Chocolate have forever changed the snack game.

While chocolate-covered chips are a burgeoning trend among smaller companies, Lay’s is one of the first major brands to take the leap into this particular territory. Last year, Pringles rolled out with White Chocolate Peppermint, along with Pumpkin Pie Spice (of course) and Cinnamon & Sugar. While those flavors didn’t fare well (our taste buds are still cringing), we have high hopes for Lay’s more calculated approach.

The new salty-sweet potato chip will be sold for $3.49 per 5-oz bag as a Target-exclusive item. Although the new flavor is marketed as a limited-time offering for the holidays, if it sells well it could become a permanent fixture within the Lay’s lineup — with a dark chocolate version already on the grease-stained drawing board.

H/T Times + PicThx Frito-Lay


Is This a Nestle Peppermint Crunch Bar?

Take a look at the photo above. Now back at me. Now back at the photo. Now back at me. Here’s a simple question: is the photo one of a Nestle Peppermint Crunch Bar? Not exactly. But could it be even better than that? Absolutely.

Invented in South Africa (SA), Nestle’s Peppermint Crisp is a milk chocolate candy bar filled with lots of tiny, green, mint toffee cylinders instead of the traditional rice crispies. With the bar’s ends broken off, like the kids do in SA and Australia where the bars are sold in stores, these cylinders serve as the perfect straws to carry your Red Velvet Hot Chocolates and Kahlua Midnights all the way from mug to mouth, all while picking up the minty fresh goodness in between.

According to Brand Eating, the peppermint flavor is awesome, but the milk chocolate is more milk than chocolate, making the pairing between the two only so-so.

Still, this is yet another case of the rest of the world having better food than us and a sure sign that we need to stop asking Santa for Christmas presents and start asking all our local food marketing teams to shut up and take our money.

Nestle Peppermint Crisp: 6 for $20 @ Amazon

photos via Wikipedia, Brand Eating


Bobsled Brownie Flavor is Back at Baskin Robbins

Baskin Robbins Bobsled Brownie Ice Cream

Bobsled Brownie is Back! During the month of December ice cream lovers can once again enjoy the combination of butter caramel ice cream, chocolate chip blondie brownie, milk chocolate mousse ice cream and a fudge crackle ribbon. The latest Baskin Robbins flavor of the month was originally inspired by the gold-medal winning performance of Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers in the two-woman bobsled at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. Bakken and Flowers were originally coined as the 2nd-best US team entering the competition but in the end proved to be victorious. U-S-A.




Hershey’s Chocolate Unveils 4 New Chocolate Products

Four new chocolate products are fresh out the Hershey’s kitchen this Fall, starting with the Hershey’s Bliss, individually wrapped Dark Chocolate pieces with caramel at the core. Also new are new Rolo Minis, bite-sized and unwrapped versions of Hershey’s chocolate-covered caramels.

As an extension of the Drops line, the chocolate company is introducing Cookies ‘N’ Creme Drops, bite-sized candies comprised of white chocolate with cookie inclusions. Last up in the collection are Milk Chocolate with Almond Pieces, whole almonds covered in milk chocolate and coated in a candy shell.

(Thx Candy&Snack)


Cravings Sweets

S'mores Candy Bars

How much more convenient can a camping trip get with a s’mores candy bar? These candy bars are made with milk chocolate, marshmallow fluff and some old fashion graham crackers! I think they would be even better if you threw them in the microwave for a bit! (Thx NSHP)

Features Sweets

Kinder Surprise

Kinder Chocolate is one of the best things to happen in the dessert game since the invention of cake. Some of you may be asking, why haven’t I heard of such a fanciful invention? Or how come it’s not readily available to us in the United States? Because of the damn Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act! For those unfamiliar, one of Kinder’s top products is a hollow chocolate egg that maintains a fun toy on the inside. They believe it is hazardous to a child’s health to stick non-edible materials into someones food! Ha… O wait, that’s actually a good idea. But if you are fortunate enough to know people like our friend Giovanni that has unapproved FFDCA candy at his house, then you will be happy to check out this scoop!