Chocolate as Candy

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

The decades of the 1920s and 1930s saw the creation of such iconic American candy bars as Mr. Goodbar, Snickers, Baby Ruth, Three Musketeers, Butterfinger, and Milky Way bars. See candy bar. These candy bars, more caramel, nuts, and nougat than chocolate, came to define what most Americans considered chocolate to be. It was only with the arrival of Valrhona chocolate in the United States in 1984 (initially only for pastry and chocolate professionals, not the general public) that perceptions about chocolate began to change. Dark chocolate became an important ingredient on its own, not just a supporting actor to nuts, ice cream, milk, coconut, or caramel. In well-made flourless chocolate cakes, mousses, tarts, and sculpture-like plated desserts, chocolate had the starring role. Soon the public began to make a distinction between milk and dark chocolate. Origins and cocoa percentages began to matter. One of the first new-wave American barsmiths (as bean-to-bar producers are known) was Napa Valley winemaker John Scharffenberger, who founded Scharffenberger Chocolate with Robert Steinberg in 1996. The company was sold to Hershey’s in 2005. America’s oldest bean-to-bar chocolate company still in family hands is Guittard, begun in San Francisco by Frenchman Etienne Guittard at the time of the Gold Rush. See guittard and valrhona.