They cannot all be winners

My friend Larry gave me this German bar around Thanksgiving of 1998.

The milk chocolate was the typical bland, gritty, overly-salty milk chocolate. And while I like minty creams, but this was plain and very sweet (surprising for a European candy, which tend to be less sweet than ours). I appreciated the gift, but this bar went into my “thumbs-down” pile.

BTW, I have no idea why there are raspberries on this label. There is no fruit of any kind in this bar. Maybe they are a serving suggestion, such as “please eat one square of this chocolate along with some fruit to wash it down”.

More liquor and chocolate

I have already professed my love of liquor and chocolate, so I was pleased when my friend Larry gave me this beautifully-wrapped bar from Italy.

I love amaretto, and I really enjoyed this take on adding liqueur to chocolate in the form of alcohol-flavored “crumbles”. I am not sure what a crumble is, but they are very tasty. And look, another ship on the wrapper!

Beautiful labels

Many of the labels I post on here are nice functional labels. They indicate what type of chocolate they contain, where it is from, and what ingredients are used to make it. But sometimes I run across a label that I find more than functional.

This dark chocolate from Spain was given to me by my co-worker Jesse, from his trip to Spain a few months earlier. I didn’t eat it for a while, because I liked to look at the label. I have always been intrigued by lithographs, and in fact, the first piece of art I ever bought was a lithograph of a sailing ship. So this label was both pretty and nostalgic for me, and I finally ate the chocolate (which was a little dry by then but still very good) comforted by the knowledge that the wrapper would be secure in my collection.

I hope you like it, too.

My first Scharffen Berger

My co-worker Mark traveled a lot. One summer day in June he returned from a weekend in San Francisco with this bar.

This bar is my first ever taste of Scharffen Berger. This is a VERY good dark chocolate. They made it in San Francisco in small batches with antique copper equipment from Germany. This bar is the reason I made this label collection in the first place, to remind me of some of that fantastic chocolate I have eaten. I could say I was honoring the chocolate, but I was really reminding myself of the which bars were the good stuff. Scharffen Berger is the good stuff.

Unfortunately in 2005,Hershey bought Scharffen Berger, and in 2009 they fired everyone in the San Francisco factory and moved production to the mid-west. I haven’t eaten Scharffen Berger since then. I am sad about the company, but it was a wonderful eleven year love affair.

Pocky!

One of the QA testers, Evan, handed me this chocolate candy one day at work.

This is one of many of the kinds of Pocky that exist. Pocky are basically chocolate-covered graham sticks. They are very popular chocolate treats in Japan, but I had never heard of them before Evan gave me these. Men’s Pocky are the dark chocolate version, and of course, they are my favorite. I have tried others, like milk chocolate, banana, and coconut, but nothing beats Men’s Pocky.

BTW, that’s a big chocolate smear on the wrapper. It was a warm winter day here in California when I got these, and the chocolate had begun to melt. There were more smears, but I got most of them cleaned off.

Swiss chocolate from Spain

Another co-worker traveled to Spain over Christmas break in 1997 and early 1998, and Jesse gave me this bar in February when he returned to the States.

This Swiss chocolate was excellent! And don’t let the cow on the wrapper fool you. This was very dark chocolate, and its texture was very smooth and the taste was…earthy. As my palette for chocolate was evolving, I began to notice that I could discern small differences in dark chocolate, with such adjectives as earthy, spicy, or fruity springing to mind as I ate them. I imagine this sensation is what wine drinkers must enjoy, and as much as I’d like to compare the experiences, my sulfite allergy prevents me from ever enjoying wine. Even a sip will give me a roaring headache.

Chocolat Japon

My co-worker Mark (who traveled quite a lot) gave me this wonderful chocolate bar from Japan.

It was quite delicious and like many Japanese candies, it was not very sweet. I suspect the cacao percentage was quite high, but it was not listed anywhere on the wrapper. This bar would begin my love affair with Japanese chocolate, which would culminate with my discovery of one of favorite chocolates of all time, as well as some of the funniest wrappers I have ever seen.