I listed to a great podcast the other day on one of the most notorious drug dealers of the 20th century: Rick Ross. He built the largest crack cocaine empire in American history. He did business in every major city throughout the US for over a decade. For those who don’t are familiar with crack, it is a smokeable form of cocaine, that came into the underground marketplace during the 1980’s. Dealers typically purchase large amounts of cocaine (powder) by the key (1 kilogram) and process in-house. Processing typically involves baking soda and/or ammonia and heat. Often adulterants are added such as laundry detergent, laxatives, boric acid, talcum powder, and other stuff you don’t want to know about. There is however a tradeoff when you cut crack: purity. Dealers have the flexibility to modify their pricing structure based on how they process their product.
So is this any different from the chocolate industry? We have a few large companies (dealers) who distribute most of the chocolate throughout the world. Many chocolatiers (smaller dealers) purchase chocolate from the large guys. They melt down semi-processed ingredients (cocoa mass, chocolate liquor, cocoa solids) and cut it with cocoa butter, sugar, and other adulterants such as lecithins, emulsifiers, and salts. Chocolate as we know it has always been an adulterated cut version, only a reflection of real chocolate unadulterated. Hence, the plethora of cheap chocolate floods the marketplace with everyone trying to get a piece of the same pie.
A true chocolate aficionado or a veteran drug user can tell if a product is cut or adulterated. The layman or average consumer often has no clue. Fat, sugar, and salt often dominate the palate and how we think about food. Unadulterated chocolate disappeared in the middle of the 1800’s with the invention of the cocoa press by Coenraad Johannes van Houten. For over 200 years a cut version of chocolate (crack) has dominated the marketplace and minds of consumers. It is only recently that a resurgence of bean to bar chocolate has found footing and has started to gain traction in the minds of consumers in American and beyond. Consumers are waking up to a new experience of chocolate. Some love it and others hate it. For many novices that sample unadulterated (clean) chocolate there is often no going back to what they were familiar and comfortable with in the past. It’s often not comfortable at first, for we are blinded by conditioning, but over time it slowly grows on you.
Today you now have a choice when it comes to purchasing chocolate. I challenge you to try unadulterated (clean) chocolate if you have never tried it before. It might change your life.