The Chocolate Cult

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Do You have an Easter Candy Stash?

At the beginning of March, I had a feeling...actually as a historian I could look at pandemic and worldwide illnesses and know we were unlikely to have the Easter 2020 we'd been planning with our group of 12 friends for almost a year. So when I went to the grocery store a couple of time, and when my family went on their own a couple of times, we got candy that we know at least one, two, or all three of us love. Below is my video of my Easter Candy stash that have been hiding from everyone until our post Easter luncheon.



How many of you have also built up an Easter Candy stash this year?

What is in your Easter Candy stash?

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Are these Better Bars?

Bob's Better Bar -- Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Oats
There was one type of this Bob's Better Bar that had chocolate it when I went to our local Fresh Thyme. Unfortunately the coupons to get two free bars came right after our community started promoting social distancing so things were a bit weird in the grocery store. Luckily the staff helped me find the bars quickly so I could get in and out with two Peanut Butter Chocolate & Oats bars. I received two coupons for free bars of Bolt's Red Mill Bob's Better Bar; not a freebie coupon plus a two dollar off coupon.  No other form of compensation was received in exchange for sharing my experience.

Opened Bob's Better PB, Chocolate, Oats Bar
The first thing I notice about the bar is how much it looks like other natural snack bars I've tried in the past. Very dark in color, a sort of unbaked or uncooked look to it, and lots of visible oats. Second, I noticed that the scent is strongly peanut butter; I get no cocoa or chocolate even though it has real chocolate chips (made with chocolate liquor and cocoa butter) and cocoa (processed with alkali) in it. The bar is soft but not too soft, the oats and the other ingredients all stick together well so there are no crumbs but it is easy to bit into and chew. As I chewed, I noticed that the flavor of the bar changes; the chocolate comes out more strongly than the peanut butter and the oats stayed subtle not becoming dominant as often happens in this all natural bars.

One bar has 220 calories so this is a good option for breakfast or a snack, though it does have a lot of sugars compared to fiber and protein in my opinion; obviously it has fats, chocolate unless it is only cocoa powder has a fats but they tend to be good ones. If you are concerned about allergens this has oats and peanuts as well as chocolate. The wrapper says the bars are non-GMO but also gluten free yet whole grain... I guess oats count as whole grains, too. Interestingly, I also see rosemary extract on the ingredient list, too, and I wonder how that flavor is enhancing things because I couldn't pick it out if asked.

I did like these bars, the flavors were more balanced than similar products we've tested here on The Chocolate Cult but I still wanted more chocolate flavor.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

14 Facts about Duncan Hines

When I think Duncan Hines, I think cake mixes, do you?

But the brand came from a man named Duncan Hines and today, March 26, in 1880, he was born. Some folks believe he would change several aspects of the culinary world. Keep reading if you'd like to learn more about him.

Duncan Hines 1946
#1: Hines was a traveling salesman who could barely cook. When would he have had time to become a cook let alone a chef while traveling across America in the 1920s through the 1940s? He did, however, need to eat, and that meant he ate at a lot of restaurants. However, he needed to watch his costs while he kept up his energy and his health. Given the decades of his work, this meant he had to deal with the Great Depression, too, which must have only made his job more difficult on all levels.

#2: Hines (with his wife's help) published guides for travelers. As he traveled in the early 20th century, he kept a list of where he ate and where he stayed. In 1936, he out a little booklet entitled Adventures in Good Eating that sold so well that he published an updated version each year until 1954.

#3: Food safety was a prime concern for Hines. He kept a notebook with him and said that he checked the kitchens of places that he ate. I wonder how he managed to get chefs and owners to let him back there but given the decades maybe they welcomed any attention and didn't want to risk losing a customer by saying "no". He also claimed that he checked the garage for the restaurants.

#4: In 1938, he out a book focused on hotels called Lodging for a Night that help hotels and motels to the same standards for travelers. His wife, Florence died that same year.

#5: Even though he was not a cook, in 1939, his Adventures in Good Cooking (Famous Recipes) and the Art of Carving in the Home was published. The recipes came from the various restaurants in his guide. You can check it out here.

#6: "Recommended by Duncan Hines" became a badge of pride for hotels and restaurants and they hung up signs declaring that they were in his guides. Yes, Hines charged places a fee to hang these signs as well as selling the signs themselves.

#7: In 946, Life ran an article about him and the changes his persona was helping to push in American homelife. I think WWII and the gender challenges it created also played a bit role, too.

#8: In the late 1940s, he partnered with Roy H. Park to form the Duncan-Hines company that started putting Hines' face and name on various new types of food items that were popping up in grocery shops across the country. While Hines brought his experiences with restaurants and hotels, Park brought in his marketing expertise.

#9: The first successful Duncan Hines product was Ice Cream! Within the first few years, Hines' name and image was on about 250 types of convenience foods and cake mixes weren't among them!

#10: When Duncan Hines cake mixes were introduced, that type of packaged mix had been around for some time. What made their brand different was that it required fresh eggs. It was so popular, that it quickly captured half of the market.

#11: Hines-Park quickly focused on baking mixes because of the cake mix success and followed it with pancake and muffin mixes.

#12: Hines may have targeted the housewife with his mixes and food items, but he wasn't a great guy according to his words and reports from his three wives. His nasty streak was purely sexist because he also had a bad reputation from men who worked with and for him as well.

#13: In 1957, Hines-Park sold their business to Procter & Gamble. As of 2018, Hines' brand is owned by Conagra Brands.

#14: Hines died on March 15, 1959. While he was born into poverty in 1880, he died a very wealthy man.

Sources Consulted in this Article:

Mashed
About Us
Food and Wine
NPR
Restauranting Through History
UNC
Wikipedia

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