New Ghirardelli LUXE Milk Chocolate

Have you heard? Those lovely chocolatiers, Ghirardelli, have come out with a new line: LUXE.

In clean, white packaging (these bags are paper instead of the traditional foiled-printed plastic) the banner touts what should be a reassuring label, “All Natural,” but what it really makes me wonder is–what wasn’t natural about the regular Ghirardelli we’ve been eating all these years?

In CVS, the other day, I happened upon a display that featured bags of both the LUXE line as well as a variety of classic squares. Unfortunately, of the unfilled variety they only had a dark chocolate (which showed no additives different than the LUXE line’s soy lecithin, a common emulsifier) and the rest were filled with various goos (tasty goos, as goos go, and I don’t make a habit of turning them down when offered). This made direct comparison of milk chocolate to milk chocolate impossible. The filled chocolates (caramel was the one I examined) did show corn syrup and other ingredients that some consider unnatural, but that’s just as likely to be from the filling as the chocolate (separating the components out would have helped).

Another unfortunate fact is that I’ve been unable to find a shred of nutritional data on Ghirardelli’s website, or even a complete ingredient list for each of their products–the individual packages give a mailing address to send off for the information.

So, what’s a girl to do? Luckily I had to go grocery shopping last night so I scouted every Ghirardelli package I could find, searching for the nasty un-naturals. Um, I don’t get it: I looked at dark chocolate squares, milk morsels, semi-sweet morsels and on down the line. The white chocolate baking chips did contain palm kernel oil, for what it’s worth, and the Vanilla Dream squares did have an extra preservative for the vanilla itself. Curious.

But how does the new line taste?

Ghirardelli LUXE Chocolate Samples

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a sample of each of the LUXE Classic Milk, Almond and Hazelnut chocolates. Todd and I gave them a thorough tasting the other night and this is what we thought:

Todd Jenn
Milk -Smooth
-Kind of different flavor compared to Hershey or Dove
-Creamy
-Rich
-Definitely different, but that’s to be expected
Hazelnut -Nutty flavor
-Chocolate itself tastes different
-Nuts dominate (not necessarily a good thing)
-Very nutty
-Like a crunchy Nutella
-Chocolate really sticks to your teeth, doesn’t dissolve as quickly
Almond (Todd’s allergic to almonds so Jenn got this one all to herself) -Almond flavor is present (of course) but not overpowering
-Nuts seem to be more finely chopped than the hazelnuts were
-Flavors blend so well!

I’m not sure Todd would choose this version of Ghirardelli over the styles we’re used to but I absolutely loved the Almond flavor, enough to buy a bag at the store. At approximately $0.53 a piece, it’s an indulgence worthy of the name, but perhaps that’s as it should be.

Back to that whole ‘All Natural’ thing for a moment. If (as far as I can find) the current Ghirardelli chocolates are not all that un-natural, what’s the point of this new line? Is it lacking those fillings that require all the preservatives and syrups and so forth? Is there a difference in the chocolate itself? Maybe, there could be a formulation change but if ‘All Natural’ is what they’re selling, this sounds like an advertising gimmic and not a new, innovative product line.

What still concerns me is the lack of nutritional data and ingredient lists on the website. Sure, I found most of what I needed in the store but only because I was already planning on going–and it was hardly their entire product line. I shouldn’t have to send away for this data or do more than a few mouse-clicks on their site to find the information I required to fully evaluate this product.

As far as I can see, they have nothing to hide but the omission makes me suspicious. I would encourage (as much as one, lone blogger can) a company with as rich a history as Ghirardelli has, to consider updating their site to tell the consumer exactly what she needs to know.

You want your customers to think how great your product is, right? Not wondering what you’re not telling them.

~~~oOo~~~

As stated, I was provided 3 pieces of chocolate to sample and review. The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own except where expressly noted (seriously, do you think they would pay me to say what I just did?).