/ Doug's Chocolate Republic /
Review: Ghirardelli Toffee Interlude
Ghirardelli Toffee Interlude
Posted: 11 October 2011
This a tasty bar, no doubt, and I'd leave it at that. It's tasty in the same way Snicker's and M & M's are tasty. Superb chocolate isn't needed; it's the combination of the chocolate with the fillings (plus the cheap price) that yields the addiction. The best way to put it is that Ghirardelli's Toffee Interlude is a premium version of Snicker's or M & M's. It's better made average-quality chocolate.
price/gram: USD 0.043
Cocoa %: 60
Last week, an old, old friend
I hadn't seen in almost 17 years showed up in Thailand.
We'll call him Burma Mike because Burma is where I met him,
in December 1994. Burma Mike and I traveled
together throughout a Burmese police state today's travelers
to Burma can merely fantasize about. We kept in touch
via snail mail during those pre-internet days. He
invited me to his wedding in 1997, with his return address
on the top lefthand corner of the envelope. I
was sorting through 3 years' worth of mail upon my return to
the US in 1997, and this envelope got tossed inadvertently. Burma
Mike's surname is among the most common in the U.S., and
Mike isn't exactly a rare name either. It looked like
this contact was buried in the sands.
Until Burma Mike got in
touch with me via Facebook a year-and-a-half ago. Got in touch is more like
he sent me a friendship request. Thereafter, we
exchanged almost zero personal contacts. We were,
according to my article on
just virtual friends and may have remained so ad infinitum
if Burma Mike hadn't written me at the end of September that
he was headed to Thailand from his home state of Washington
and wanted to get together. Yes, it's possible for
virtual friends to resume the status of real friendships if
personal contact is actually resumed, something becoming ever
rarer in this age of smartphones and superficial social
Burma Mike asked if he could
bring over anything. I mentioned the formation of the Chocolate
Republic and hinted that he may bring a few
over with him. A few bars turned out to be 29, all
from U.S. West Coast states (California, Washington, and
Oregon) plus 5 packs of fruit covered chocolates and
miniatures. He also brought over 9 packs of Seattle
roasted coffees, but I don't yet run a Coffee Republic to
A number of bars in the
package were Ghirardelli. When I left the U.S.
in 2005, I was not all that fond of Ghirardelli. To
the uneducated chocolate-loving masses, Ghirardelli is
considered a premium brand. I had seen Ghirardelli in
the mid Noughties use hydrogenated oils and vegetable fats. No real premium brand would try to
sneak these inferior ingredients in. I
disliked Ghirardelli because I considered it a poseur,
acting chic and elite without putting forth the efforts to
The company has a lot of
cachet value in the United States. San Francisco, its
home base, worships it. There is a Ghirardelli
Hotel and a Ghirardelli Square. Ghirardelli is the
USA's second oldest
chocolate operation. Whitman's is the
oldest. Ghirardelli's history has the European touch.
The company was founded by Italian chocolatier Domingo
Ghirardelli. It has history. It's been
around since 1852. The story has romance. Ghirardelli
sailed to Uruguay while young to work in coffee and
chocolate businesses there before showing up at the Gold
Rush in the late 1840's.
Plenty of fans chime
Ghirardelli's praises, as if the company is an innovator.
Perhaps it was when Domingo was in charge. Sorry,
mates. It ain't now. Ghirardelli
hasn't been an independent operator since 1963. Golden
Grain Macaroni Company, makers of rice a roni ("a San
Francisco treat"), bought them out in the year the
James Bond flick From Russia With Love came
out. In 1986,
Quaker Oats took control of Golden Grain. In 1992,
Quaker dumped Ghirardelli onto a private investment group.
For 30 years, it didn't look like anyone valued quality
chocolate making, just the Ghirardelli brand name. In
1998. Lindt, the multinational Swiss-based choco-maker,
slurped up Ghirardelli and has owned them since.
manufacturing unique combination bars like the Toffee
Interlude back in my chocolate exploratory phase in the
early 2000's. I can only surmise that parent Lindt has
tried to position Ghirardelli higher on the pecking order of
American chocolate manufacturers with the boom in artisan chocolate
manufacturing in the mid Noughties. There are actually
taster notes on the back of this bar, European style, which read "This
slightly sweeter dark chocolate is blended with abundant
crunchy toffee and caramelized almonds, both adding buttery,
rich caramel notes and flavor and textural highlights.
With a seductive, yet soothing aroma, this bar has a complex
texture and blends the perfect balance of sweet and salty
Let's call the taster notes a
cheap grab at credibility in the elite range. Think of
the taster notes in the way you'd think of a trailer trash
couple trying to use words in conversation they'd just
memorized out of the thesaurus. This a tasty bar, no doubt,
and I'd leave it at that. It's tasty in the same way
Snicker's and M & M's are tasty. Superb
chocolate isn't needed; it's the combination of the
chocolate with the fillings (plus the cheap price) that
yields the addiction. The best way to put it is that
Ghirardelli's Toffee Interlude is a premium version of
Snicker's or M & M's. It's better made average-quality
chocolate. Sorry, Ghirardelli groupies. We call
a spade a spade in this Republic.
The bar is composed of 60%
cocoa solids, but the chocolate itself, divested of its
"crunchy toffee and caramelized almonds", isn't all that
complex, and the only thing seductive and soothing about it was that
loved it; and when she loves something, her mood improves
and she becomes seductive and soothing.
Would I eat
this bar again? Absolutely. Would I tell others
it was some of the finest chocolate on the planet?
Only if I were being paid off handsomely by Ghirardelli.