Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Chocolate Review: Theo's 70% Mint

By Benjamin Skipper

I love mint. It's positively my favorite flavor and aroma. I just love how, given the perfect intensity, it has the power to make the entirety of my head feel cool and icey, right from the center of my brain to the edge of my skull. After my Project is finished I'll probably do more cooking with mint in actual herb form, so be prepared for that. It is naturally to be expected, then, that mint chocolate would be one of my favorite treats and would be most catching to my attention. This time I'm taking Theo's 70% mint chocolate into consideration, which is also soy-free (for those concerned about it).

So far on this blog I've only done one review for a mint chocolate, Endangered Species 72% mint, and that considered in conjunction Green and Black's 60% mint and New Tree's 73% mint with green tea. My conclusion then was that ES was the clear winner, as G&B's is too sweet and New Tree, while offering a high mint intensity, is simply too expensive to enjoy on a regular basis. Endangered Species' mint, then, has been my favorite chocolate in the whole wide world since. How does Theo compare? Quite frankly, it doesn't.

Just about everything about this bar makes it inferior to the the three competitors above. It has ugly packaging, an ugly bar design, and a trio of flavors that's unimpressive and absurd. It's only culinary virtue is that it has a good mouthfeel, a sort of medium-like crunchiness that is comparable to ES' version but softer. In comparison to Theo's orange this bar is definitely harder and not as fragile -- it doesn't shatter like glass upon eating -- but only subtly so. With its other vices in mind, the mouthfeel amounts to nothing.

Oddly enough, this bar offers a trio of flavors instead of the two you would anticipate. I certainly love the experience of a complex bar, but the flavors here are absurd and don't go together. The mint tastes the same as you would find in the ES version and is of the same intensity, but the chocolate note itself is much weaker and thus too mild. The third attribute makes no sense: rye bread. Out of curiosity and impatience I took a few bites of this bar right out of the fridge before the official tasting and thought I was mistaken at my interpretation, but when I let it warm up and went about the official task I confirmed that I was correct: There is absolutely a very noticeable attribute of rye bread in this. The note itself is slightly stronger than the mint and cacao attributes, so there's no way you can miss it. It wasn't strong enough to arouse in me any actual sense of displeasure, but it is nonetheless unwelcome and unfitting for a bar of mint chocolate. It doesn't necessarily ruin the experience, but in conjunction with the weak cacao it's enough to leave one unsatisfied.

I can't think for certain as to how this flavor note could have made it into this bar. I don't store bread in my fridge, my other chocolates stored in the same fashion picked up no such attributes, and it was shipped in the same box as Theo's orange; I think the most likely culprit is the manufacturer itself. I don't know whether this was intentional, but it should be fixed. Theo does make a bread and chocolate variety, so it's possible that cross contamination could have happened, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say the problem is with the recipe itself.

There are no grounds on which I can think to validly recommend this bar. Even that it is soy-free is a virtue erased by the weak chocolate and out-of-place rye. Endangered Species' version has no such odd flavors, has a pleasantly sweet and mildly assertive chocolate note, and has better packaging and bar aesthetics. Endangered Species is still the clear winner in my book and continues to be my favorite, so do well to pass up this Theo bar.

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