The Dairy Milk Cult

The chocolate cult is big enough to sustain several powerful, independent factions. There’s the cacaoheads, obsessed with capturing the subtle delights contained in different types of cacao beans. But, not all serious chocolate aficionados are back-to-the-farm foodie purists. The New York times has an entertaining article on devotees of English candy bars, especially the legendary Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. While you can get US versions of Mars bars and Dairy Milk, they are different, and in the view of these purists, pale imitations of the native bars. (Quoth a friend that is a certified milk chocolate snob: “the US version is terrible”) Some fans will smuggle the bars from the UK, and some specialty stores stock the purist version.

Where do the differences come from? The UK bars appear to have more dairy content, with milk the primary ingredient, while the US version is mostly sugar. This makes (predicatably) the UK bar softer and easier to melt, since there is more milk fat interrupting the cocoa butter fat matrix. The UK version is also “illegal” chocolate in the US, since it contains vegetable fats, which are not permitted under FDA rules, but are under EU definitions of chocolate. The US version contains lactose (milk sugar), which may be added in attempt to get the characteristic Hershey’s taste into the chocolate.

I can’t think of many other foods, outside of wines and liquors, where small changes in ingredients and processing can inspire people this kind of devotion.

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