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Valentines and Comparing Chocolate

By:  Sharon Cacho

Valentines Day brings thoughts of bouquets of flowers, special dinners and candy. Chocolate candy is nostalgic and a great way to say "I'm sorry", or "I love you." Which is the most popular chocolate? White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate?

White chocolate is produced with sugar, milk solids, and cocoa butter. This particular variety of chocolate was created in 1956 by Mars Inc. By law, since 2004, white chocolate can only be labeled as such if it contains 20% cocoa butter and 14% milk solids.

Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is produced mainly from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree. This nostalgic candy's earliest recorded use is by the Mayans circa 1100 B.C. in South America. It contains 10% cocoa butter and 12% milk solids. It is reportedly the food of the gods.

We also have dark chocolate. What is the difference between milk and dark? Where milk chocolate contains 10% cocoa butter and 12% milk solids, and white chocolate contains 20% and 14% respectively, dark chocolate contains the usual 12% milk solids, but a huge amount (35%) of cocoa butter.

Which is the most popular candy? It may come as a surprise. One survey of ten women from Baby University breaks it down like this:

The third most popular is actually a tie between white and milk with two votes each. The most popular is dark with a vote of three. There was one person allergic to all chocolates and two women that do not like it in any form.

Not like chocolate? (Shudder! How do they survive?) In fact, I do have two friends that do not like it at all. That thought amazes me. While most of the rest of the civilized world cannot get enough (with the Swiss in the lead at a consumption rate of 12.3 kg per person for the 2008 year-end total), there are actually people who do not touch the stuff!

But then we get into other areas. Dark chocolate might win in the categories of candy, but what about companies? With so many to choose from, who is the maker of your favorite? We have choices of Sees, Hershey's, Ghirardelli, Mars, and Belgium's. I really cannot help you there, for it entirely has to do with the taste buds of the individual chocolate connoisseur.

How do you feel about mint chocolate? Chocolate in smaller quantities such as chocolate chip cookies? Plain, or with nuts? Chocolate covered cherries or strawberries?

One of the greatest things about it is its versatility. You can bake it, boil it or eat it with nougat or peanut butter. You can sprinkle it, dip it, shave it or chop it into bite size squares. What is my favorite thing to do? Just let it melt in my mouth. No matter the type or form. What a delectable dilemma!

So, on this holiday, made just for chocolate lovers, just sit back and relax. Take a little break and ponder a bit about your favorite chocolate and why it is so.