Saturday, November 23, 2013

What Comes After Eight?

Well, not 'nine' if that was what you were thinking.  Nope, I am talking about that delicious paper-thin minty treat that seems to be everywhere during the holiday season: the After Eight.  Despite my affinity for very fine chocolate and bean-to-bar craft chocolate, I still cannot resist the occasional box of After Eights.

The After Eight triggers many of my Christmas holiday memories from childhood.  There was nearly always a box in my stocking or put out on the coffee table for Christmas morning.  And as I grew older, it became my own tradition to buy a box (or two) at the start of every December and devour nearly the entire box while watching a holiday tv movie. And so my love for that refreshing little chocolate treat has never wavered, nor will it, I am sure.

But occasionally a new product has come on the market that threatens to pull ol' Eighty from his 'King of Mint' pedestal. And I always try these new products because I am always looking for a new way to enjoy mint chocolate.  But yet nothing ever seems to compare to the After Eight. So then I realised that I need not compare.  Instead I should simply appreciate the new product - even if it is clearly a knock-off - for what it is and treat it as an entirely new experience.

That is what I have done with the PC 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate MINT THINS.  When these came on the market several years ago, it was clear that President's Choice was attempting to compete directly with the After Eight brand on product and price.  The box is the same size (both have 300 grams of chocolate mint thins) and on product shape and format.  The difference though, is that PC's chocolate 'thins' are not quite as thin as After Eights. In fact, they are quite thick.  Which makes the tasting experience completely different.

Do not get me wrong: I LIKE President's Choice product.  I just like it in a different way.  I enjoy the thick layer of 70% dark chocolate.  Let's face it, when you eat an After Eight, you are not eating it because you can taste the chocolate. In fact, the layer of chocolate is so thin that you are really just enjoying the texture and the mint flavour within the chocolate shell. But the PC MINT THIN is all about the chocolate.  When you take a bite, the first thing you notice is dark chocolate. But it all seems to melt together in your mouth to create the effect of a mint-flavoured chocolate bar.

So I guess my point in all this is: keep an open mind.  Be loyal to your favourite brand of chocolate, but also learn to treat new brands and knock-offs of popular brands as their own unique product.  And you might just find something new to enjoy.  I know that I have.  Now, each year when the Christmas chocolate arrives on the grocery store shelves, I buy a box of After Eights and a box of PC MINT THINS....just because I can.

So what do you think?  Can you learn to love a knock-off product as much as the original? Is it possible to love two chocolates equally? Or is one love enough for a lifetime? Feel free to answer in the Comments below.  For now, Happy Chocolate Holidays!

And get ready, it is time for some blatant self-promotion:

If you are like me and love to try all kinds of mint-flavoured chocolates, you should try my newest product, the Peppermint Chocolate TOFFLE™. I LOVE it just as much as those mint thins I talked about above (which is why I created it).  It is a mint-flavoured chocolate truffle surrounded by a chewy dark chocolate toffee. If you are interested, check it out on FoodiePages.

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