Starbucks introduced a new lineup of seasonal drinks this week, which are chocolate-flavored for Valentine’s Day. Sounds romantic. Yet reader Kelly noticed something when reading a news article about them: the drinks were described as containing “chocolatey chips,” but why not chocolate chips? What makes the chips not chocolate?
It’s not just cutesy advertising-speak. This is all the federal Food and Drug Administration’s fault: the food cops have standards for what products can call themselves “chocolate,” and the chips that Starbucks melts into these beverages and uses in other ones don’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with them or that they aren’t delicious, but it does mean that they can’t have the word “chocolate” on the label.
Products like this can be called “chocolatey,” “chocolate-flavored,” or “chocoriffic” (no one actually uses that one, but maybe they should.)
Specifically, the standard published by the FDA for “sweet chocolate,” which the Starbucks chips would be, is this:
Sweet chocolate contains not less than 15 percent by weight of chocolate liquor complying with the requirements of 163.111, as calculated by subtracting from the weight of the chocolate liquor used the weight of the cacao fat therein and the weights therein of any alkali, neutralizing, and seasoning ingredients, and multiplying the remainder by 2.2, dividing the result by the weight of the finished sweet chocolate, and multiplying the quotient by 100. The finished sweet chocolate contains less than 12 percent by weight of total milk solids based on those dairy ingredients specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, exclusive of any added sweetener or other dairy derived ingredient that is added beyond that amount that is normally present in the specified dairy ingredient.
Chocolate liquor is the ingredient that you get from grinding up cacao nibs. What this means is that “chocolate” has to contain a certain percentage of actual cocoa bean. That’s all. The Starbucks chips, meanwhile, aren’t designed for chocolate snobs to savor: they’re for melting down to make hot chocolate and grinding up in frozen drinks.
“This is the best recipe for ease of melting in our Molten Chocolate handcrafted beverages and blending into Frappuccino Blended Beverages,” a Starbucks representative explained. What’s in them? There is, at least, a lot of chocolate in there.
Confectionery Coating (Sugar, 100% RSPO Palm Kernel And Palm Oils, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla, Milk), Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Cookie Crumbs (Unbleached Unenriched Wheat Flour, Sugar, Palm And Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Chocolate Mass, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor), Chocolate Mass (2%), And Salt.
If you can think of any other food products that can’t legally be called the thing that they taste like (picture processed cheese food or skim milk in Florida), let us know!