10.06.2010

A Chocolate Experience

photo from my Flickr
I bought my first Vosges chocolate this week. It's a chocolate bar. Blood Orange and Caramel Bar is the official name.

I didn't really notice the caramel part because I got distracted by the words that really hooked me: blood orange, hibiscus flowers, and 70% cocoa.

Those words promised me a little bitter taste of dark chocolate, with aroma and flavors of citrus and hibiscus. Perhaps there would be orange bits and red hibiscus petals. Lovely.

As I grabbed the bar off the shelf at my local Whole Foods, on one of my occasional (rare) visits, I turned it to look at the package, branding, and features in a quick glance-over. I noticed there was a photo of a pretty young woman on the back, whom I assumed was the founder. I'd have to give it a closer look at home.

I went home and immediately nibbled a piece. Which was hard. Yes, it can be hard eating. Why? It's gooey inside. There's a filling. I was disappointed. It's difficult to cut up in the squares it's divided in. It's too creamy. I can't tell where the hibiscus is. I'm not a happy camper.

Upon closer inspection of the box today, as I was nibbling a piece of chocolate at work, I realized there's a bio paragraph accompanying the founder's photo I noticed at Whole Foods. A photo of the young woman who founded Vosges. How very...LinkedIn. Pushy? Maybe. But why is the photo and biodata there?

Now when I use the word biodata, rather than background or info, it's cause that's what it is folks. It starts: "After graduating from Vanderbilt University..." Is this candy bar aimed at men? If so, then the pretty girl photo and biodata brings sexiness and intellect together to create an appealing draw to male consumers. Cause I'm pretty certain the pink box certainly would otherwise turn them off. But what if you're a woman just interested in expensive, extraordinarily-flavored chocolate? Kinda like me.

she's hot but are we supposed
to date her or eat her chocolate?
I mean...just look at the back of the box. her bio is practically longer than the "How to Enjoy an Exotic Candy Bar" paragraph. By the way, if a product is frou frou and contains 70% cocoa, that kinda makes it a chocolate bar and not a candy bar in my book.

I was a little let down by the flavor too. I can't help but notice a little salty caramel taste as soon as the citrus wears down a little after the first bite. The caramel kinda kicks in full force. It's a nice frou frou caramel though, it's soft and fluid, and salty. Like French sea salt caramels. I'm still struggling to believe the barest taste of the essence of hibiscus that's in here somewhere. I know it is, but I just thought it would be more prominent. The salty caramel is blocking it out.

I can't help but feel that the layout on the back here could be tons better. I mean, where's the layout? This looks like a beginner designer's homework project. There's strange use of text boxes, space...things are kinda squished together and shaped in odd sizes. We're sacrificing effective packaging layout in favor of what...strange instructions for how to eat the frou frou chocolate and learning about the founder's college? Hmm.

I think this brand could benefit from the Japanese gift-giving philosophy. In Japan, gifts are meant as a ritualistic gesture of respect and thanks. The exterior of a gift is usually wrapped in beautiful, simple but colorful, and thick wrapping paper. It's immaculate. Yes, I think that style and grace would totally kick this chocolate up a few notches.

Oh well. Had to give it a whirl. I paid over $7 by the way. Was I expecting too much? I broke one of my own rules expecting to get blown away. I guess I know better now.

Ever been disappointed by "what could have been" when you try out a new luxury brand or frou frou treat?