Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Are you awake?

Sleepy?  Eat some milk chocolate. That will give you a sugar rush and a minuscule caffeine boost which will last for, oh, five minutes or so. The truth is, there is just not enough caffeine in your average milk chocolate bar to keep you energetic for hours. So why not try the new, caffeinated 'Awake' chocolate bar that just hit store shelves all across Canada?

Awake's website makes it clear that the target market is the average Canadian student. A video overview on the product shows students in the library sleeping, students going on a road trip and students just doing those fun things that students like to do (ahhh...I miss those days). Basically, 'Awake' is promoted as a caffeinated product that will help you wake up during the 3:00 p.m. lull, study alertly, party for longer and basically have fun for as much time as possible.

Since being showcased on Dragon's Den (yes, that's right, that hit Canadian business idea show that paved the way for the American show Shark's Tank....that show) the Awake chocolate bar has quickly moved into retail stores across Canada, including Loblaws, Shopper's Drug Mart, Shell, PetroCanada, BulkBarn and more. I purchased a bar at Valu-Mart on Manitoulin Island, in Northern Ontario, which clearly shows the reach of their distribution network.

With 230 calories per bar, this chocolate is very comparable nutritionally to the average chocolate candy bar sold in major retail chains.  The difference?  The price is higher.  I believe I paid over $2 for mine.  But I suppose that is about the average price for a standard cup of coffee these days. So if you prefer chocolate to coffee, I suppose that is a good deal.  Personally, I prefer to eat my chocolate while drinking a hot, dark roast coffee. So I think that "Awake" would just be an over-buzz for me. But looking back at my university days, I think I probably would have purchased a handful of Awake bars to bring to my study mates during those crazy 'weekend special' projects that tested our ability to stay awake for 48 hours.

The taste?  Well, to me it was very sweet. In my younger days, before I discovered bitter chocolate and high percentage milk chocolate, I might have liked this flavour. It compared to the flavour of those inexpensive foil-wrapped milk chocolate Easter eggs or perhaps a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar (I haven't had one in many years, but Awake tasted the way that I remember Hershey's taste). In fact, the nutritional information is fairly comparable to a Hershey's bar of about the same size.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
When I saw the episode of Dragon's Den, I thought: "Why do we need a caffeinated chocolate bar, certainly there are many brands out there with espresso ground up in the bar?" Instantly, I thought of Ferrero's branded chocolate called Pocket Coffee from Italy, but available in Europe.  It was all over France when I lived there in 2004 and 2005. Pocket Coffee is a chocolate shell with a shot of sweetened espresso in the centre, which bursts into your mouth when you bite into the chocolate. That is the closest thing to having a coffee and a chocolate at the same time - without the need for buying coffee and carrying around a hot cup. The locals did not much like the concept of 'carry away' coffee in France when I was there (I'm not sure if things have changed since or if Starbucks has influenced habits as they have in other areas of the world). I got many, many strange looks whenever I carried a coffee around on the few occasions where I could find one for sale in a take-away cup. So if I wanted a caffeine fix but had no time to sit down and drink the coffee 'properly', Pocket Coffee was my best bet.

Since coming back in 2005, I've often thought of Pocket Coffee and wondered why we do not have such a thing here in North America.  But then, we are not ostracized when we carry a coffee onto the subway or a bus in North America.  We are free to buy a coffee and eat a chocolate bar on the run!

So I wondered why on earth we would need a chocolate bar with caffeine in it....but with no actual coffee? I suppose, unlike me, there are many people out there who do not like the flavour of coffee and who do not drink it.  But they like chocolate. So the makers of Awake wanted a  chocolate to taste like chocolate, but have the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Okay, so I get it. I may not be a repeat customer, but I get it.

So if you are one of those non-coffee drinking students, age 18 to twenty-something who needs a caffeine boost every now and then (Awake recommends eating one every 3-to-4 hours, up to 2 bars daily), check out the Awake chocolate bar currently at a Canadian retailer near you. And non-Canadians need not worry, I suspect the whole world will soon be 'Awake' with this chocolate brand.


  1. That's really interesting. I will say that since I went off of coffee (April 2012), and I have chocolate past 6pm I do have difficulty sleeping.

    I also remember being way more sensitive to calories in uni, but then again, I was a coffee addict back then.

    I've worked with a chocolatier to come up with a similar concept for a running race that I produce - a truffle shot, except we're using super healthy ingredients to give a nourishing boost of energy.

    1. That truffle shot sounds great - wish I could try it! I am the same as you with the caffeine and chocolate in the evenings. But definitely more sensitive to calories now! I sometimes miss how much I used to eat in University with never a thought about it...

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Hi, I was wondering how your Truffle Shot are? I live in Peru and there aren´t functional chocolates only nutritional bars from Maca, Quinua, etc, do you have a website? Regards

  2. Sweet Chocolate. That was a lovely post. You are indeed an inspiration, surely for me.

  3. Lis,
    I would really like to send you a Kaffee Chocolate bar. I was falling asleep at my desk a week or two ago and was feeling really, really awful- I didn't want to eat my inventory but just thought there was no other option. It woke me up! A miracle!!!! E-mail me, please, at emma@zimt.ca so I can get you some treats- to wake you up. Zimt's Double Chocolate Macaroons taste fantastic with an almond milk latte. Yummmmm!

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  6. That's really interesting. I like chocolate Vietnam hair

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