A Chocolate Snob’s Favorite Winter Drink

Hot Chocolate Taste Test


The leaves have almost left the trees, cold fronts are on their way, and the news is predicting snow in the next couple of weeks. That can mean only one thing — It’s time to stock up on HOT CHOCOLATE!

As a chocolate snob, I disagree that Swiss Miss or Nestle should even be called hot chocolate. More like chocolate flavored water. And don’t even get me started on the “light” varieties. (See “Mindful Eating: 5-Star Desserts“)

Land O Lakes has been my go-to chocolate for many years now. It is readily available at most grocery stores (which is one of my biggest challenges as a chocolate snob). It is rich, creamy, and delicious. A little  piece of heaven on a cold winter’s night that satisfies even my most urgent chocolate craving.

But last weekend, while perusing chocolate at the new Hy-Vee on 151st street, we ran across Stephen’s hot chocolate. The price was similar, and it had a guarantee: “The best hot chocolate you’ve ever tried or your money back!”

Blind taste test time!

My entire family participated — my discerning husband and my enthusiastic children, a six-year-old girl and a nearly nine-year-old boy. We put stickers on the bottom of 4 identical mugs so we wouldn’t know which mug was which until after the test. Then we made the cocoa, mixed them up, and started tasting.

The first thing I should note, out of a sense of honesty, is that the blind taste test didn’t work as well as it should have because even me (I’m severely visually impaired) could tell that Stephen’s was a darker chocolate than Land O Lakes. But I went forward, trying to be as honest as possible.

I began with my tried-and-true Land O Lakes, which tasted just as delicious as I remembered. One counter-clockwise shift later, I had a mug of Stephen’s in my hand. And … I LOVED it!

Since Land O Lakes is the richest hot chocolate I’ve ever had (I did grow up on Swiss Miss and Nestle), it was hard for me to imagine a richer hot chocolate. But Stephen’s is. The margin isn’t staggering or anything, but Stephen’s topped Land O Lakes on richness.

Land O Lakes is slightly sweeter than Stephen’s, and even now I am not entirely certain which one I like better. I think Stephen’s by a hair. These are both EXCELLENT hot chocolate options that I highly recommend for the upcoming winter. For my part, I plan to buy whichever is on a better sale.

My son, almost 9, seemed to think Stephen’s was quite a bit better. After our initial taste-testing we checked which was which; he grabbed both Stephen’s mugs and refused to give them up! My 6-year-old daughter didn’t have a preference, she just wanted marshmallows already. 🙂

In conclusion, I am pleased to report that there are excellent hot chocolates in the world. Buy them because I can’t support the industry all by myself!

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