Are You Getting Conned By Cheap & Toxic Chocolate?

15 dollars for 8 pieces of chocolate….?! That’s all I could think about on a recent trip to the mall while walking past the famous chocolatier, Godiva. Are you getting conned by this cheap & toxic chocolate company? I mean 15 dollars for 8 pieces of what? What is Godiva doing that make these chocolates so much more expensive than other brands of chocolate? Is it handcrafted? No. Is it made with organic milk and cream? No. What about real pure cane sugar? No. It must have real vanilla? No! (They actually use artificial vanilla made from a wood by-product!) And they obviously do not package their chocolate in a box made of real gold. So what is it?

It is marketing, marketing, marketing and trickery at its best!

Are these ingredients worth it?

Godiva chocolate has been tricking many of us for years into believing that paying a premium for chocolate means you are getting higher quality treats, but this can’t be further from the truth! Take a look at the ingredients in one of their chocolates and you’ll quickly realize what they’re selling are fancy-looking cheap ingredients wrapped up in a pretty gold box. How are they getting away with this? And what about all the other popular chocolate brands, are they selling us junk ingredients too?

Chocolate ingredients to look out for

Let’s be real here – eating chocolate on occasion is absolutely an okay treat – but there’s a lot of consideration that needs to be made when choosing how to get your fix. Unfortunately, our food system’s top priority is the bottom line so we need to pay attention to the ingredient label on every single product we buy. Chocolate can provide a daily dose of much needed antioxidants or it can be a chemistry experiment full of man-made artificial ingredients. I do not like supporting brands that try to trick me into buying questionable ingredients. Voting with your dollars is one of the only ways to voice disgust for the unhealthy chemicals in food, and it can also directly influence change by hitting the bottom line of the food companies that continue to sells us cheap, harmful, and potentially dangerous ingredients.
Just look at the ingredients in popular chocolate candy out there; they are despicable and it’s why I don’t buy these brands any longer, even for an occasional “treat”:

Popular chocolate bar ingredients - 1

Popular chocolate bar ingredients - 2

Hershey’s, Ghiradelli, Russell Stover, Godiva, Nestle and M&M/Mars all use unhealthy and harmful ingredients like:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Princeton University found that HFCs commonly found in candy prompts considerably more weight gain than conventional sugars and is linked to obesity. The latest statistics are startling and show that 42% of us will be obese by 2030 and obesity will be the leading preventable cause of death in America by 2019. We must do everything we can to stop this slippery slope by not consuming chemically refined sugars that make us eat more than we should.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – We don’t know for sure how much of these candy brand products are genetically modified since they are currently not required to be labeled in this U.S.A. (Hopefully that will change soon if Prop 37 passes in California!) But we do know that the consumption of GMO foods poses a serious threat to our health and has been linked to toxicity, cancer, allergic reactions and fertility issues. It’s really hard to find a chocolate these days without the ingredient “soy lecithin,” which helps keep chocolate smooth and together. Unfortunately soy is one of the most common crops to be genetically modified. And even the sugar that chocolate contains can be from genetically modified sugar beets! When buying any chocolate (or anything in general), remember to read the label just to make sure all ingredients are listed organic or Non-GMO Project verified to avoid GMO’s.
  • Growth Hormone – Chocolate usually contains dairy, which means that unless it’s organic chocolate, you are likely consuming milk from cows that have been conventionally raised with antibiotics and growth hormones. rBGH is a GMO found in cheap conventional dairy products that many of these chocolate brands use to make their milk chocolate. That means that by simply eating a piece of chocolate you or your family could be ingesting a substance that in excess levels has been reported to cause breast, colon and prostate cancers.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils (a.k.a. Trans Fat) – The 4th ingredient in Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Mint is partially hydrogenated soybean oil. This is alarming because trans fat has been shown to be deadly even in small amounts. “Previous trials have linked even a 40-calorie-per-day increase in trans fat intake to a 23% higher risk of heart disease.” 40 calories is a mere 2% of a typical 2000 calorie per day diet – and could easily be the amount of trans fat found in many types of chocolate.
  • Artificial Colors – We’ve discussed artificial food coloring a lot before, but I think it needs a little more air time, considering we are talking about chocolate – a substance that is usually white, brown, or dark brown and doesn’t actually need coloring! I was floored to find coloring in Godiva’s 8 piece gold box and Russell Stover’s pecan clusters. When companies manufacture chocolates using chemical fillers and fake ingredients that don’t have natural colors, they have to add color to trick our senses into making us think we are eating something real. The most widely used dyes are contaminated with known carcinogens, linked to cancer and known to cause hyperactivity in children. Also, watch out for “caramel coloring” that may sound natural but is not. It’s often manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creates carcinogenic compounds that are also linked to cancer.
  • Artificial Flavors – Thousands of secret food chemicals can be hidden under the label “artificial flavors.” Some of these chemicals are actually never reviewed by the FDA because they are used in such a small amount. Food company scientists develop ways to use chemically derived ingredients that turn on and off certain taste buds depending upon the end goal – changing something from bitter to sweet, and so on. Allowing artificial flavors in your diet gives these scientists the ability to mess with your senses and trick you to like, eat, and buy more fake food than you would otherwise.

Luckily for us not all chocolate is designed to trick you or have scary ingredients. There are many choices available that are delicious and actually nutritious!

Organic chocolate bars

  1. Alter Eco Organic Chocolate – This is my absolute favorite organic chocolate right now. I like to choose organic chocolate whenever possible, to lessen my exposure to pesticides. The cocoa bean, from which chocolate is produced, is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. The Dark Quinoa Chocolate bar tastes just like a “Nestle Crunch,” and the Dark Coconut Toffee bar totally satisfies your “Butterfinger” craving.  I have a hard time keeping these bars in the house… my husband and I seem to always fight over the last piece.
  2. UnReal Candy – Although Unreal isn’t certified organic, they make a point to choose sustainably sourced chocolate and use no GMOs, growth hormone or antibiotics in their milk chocolate. They’ve perfectly reinvented classic candy favorites likes M&Ms, Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups without most of the junk. Now only if they could do this for all the other candies out there like candy corn! They make perfectly sized mini-treats you can find at most drug stores and some Targets, which is why they made my Non-GMO candy list.
  3. Kopali Chocolate Covered Organic Superfoods – Their organic chocolate covered goji berries are addictive and a tasty alternative to “Raisinets.” I love goji berries because they are less sweet and more chewy than raisins and have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food. Antioxidants are very important because they fight all the free radicals and toxins you can accumulate in your body that cause aging and disease.
  4. Righteously Raw – This may be one of the most health conscious organic chocolates available on the market that actually tastes good! This chocolate is completely raw and made with several types of superfoods. You are getting 100% of the benefits from eating chocolate when it is in its raw state. Righteously Raw just came out with bite size flavors that I feel great about eating everyday with no guilt because there is no refined sugar! The mint is my favorite and reminiscent of “Andes Creme De Menthe” chocolates that are full of artificial food coloring and trans fat.
  5. NibMor Organic Chocolate – I met the founders of this whimsical chocolate company recently at a fundraiser for Prop 37 in NYC. I had honestly never heard of them or tried their chocolate before. Luckily I got a few samples to take home… and let me just tell you, they did not make it home! I ate them all on the airplane and I’ve been buying little boxes of their perfectly sized squares called “daily dose” ever since! The addition of cacao nibs to their chocolates adds a nice crunch and ups the percentage of real cacao you are getting per bite.
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123 Responses to “Are You Getting Conned By Cheap & Toxic Chocolate?”

  1. ap stewart

    Do you know anything about Neuhaus Chocolates?

  2. RON

    We buy Dove are do you rate them ?

  3. Kim

    What about Neuhaus from Belgium?

    • Mairi (to Kim)

      Belgian (and Swiss) chocolate is usually very high quality. However, I have seen soy listed as an ingredient in Lindt Swiss chocolate since their prices have come down, so I couldn’t say for sure as I’m not in a position to afford Neuhaus! I suspect that it will *probably* be good stuff, from the look of their site, though.

      Sorry I can’t be more exact, but I hope this helps nonetheless.

  4. liz

    THANK YOU for this. Really fantastic to have such a great summary. And I love the “alternatives” you mention. Fake chocolate doesn’t even taste good and the candy with preservatives give me headaches!

  5. Laura Neff

    Another *awesome* company (from what I can tell!) is Gnosis Chocolates out of NYC. Raw, organic, vegan, super high integrity, and DELICIOUS! :)

  6. Nicole

    What about See’s candy?

    • wasteofaces (to Nicole)

      YeAH! SEES! So great, but it probably needs an expose. See’s tastes far superior to any of the brands listed above.

  7. Barb

    I was wondering about Green & Black brand….some of theirs is fair trade, and some may have organic ingredients. I don’t have a label on hand to check right now (it’s too expensive for me to eat often.)

  8. Dorothy Coleman

    How about Sacred Chocolate?

  9. Emily stringer

    Wondering if buying chocolate that says made in Germany or Switzerland (although distributed here in U.S.) is better because most of Europe doesn’t put all that harmful crap in there?
    Just curious if anyone knows :)

    • Mairi (to Emily stringer)

      Over here in Europe, GMO stuff needs to be clearly labelled. Belgian or Swiss chocolate is the best – they take their chocolate *very* seriously! German chocolate isn’t rated as highly over here. Lindt Exellence (but not their basic bars) are good – the basic range contains soya (same goes for Green and Black’s organic).

      Waitrose is a good site – you can see the ingredients listed:)

  10. sarah

    Theo Chocolates, out of Seattle, has amazing chocolates!! Organic, fair trade and beyond delicious!

  11. Jenny

    What about the King of Chocolate – LINDT??!???

  12. Carissa

    I’m all for non GMO, but are any of these options peanut safe? That is one thing that Hershey does very well.

    • Luke (to Carissa)

      I honestly wouldn’t recommend Hershey’s as one to separate peanuts with care from their other chocolates. Yes, they have the money for a separate plant/facility, but do they have one?

      I’d really want you to look into those facts, just for your sake.

      There are many, many companies that produce Organic Chocolate that do take very good care of their production to stay away from (or even not produce any) nut lines.

      One thing that makes me curious…peanuts aren’t really nuts. They’re Legumes, just like Lentils. Why are people allergic to peanuts, and walnuts, but not lentils?

      • Alexandra (to Luke)

        I also find that confusing. Also, I found this interesting…my young cousin is highly allergic to many types of nuts and cannot eat regular peanut butter, however, he can eat peanut butter if the only ingredients are peanuts!

  13. Karisa

    Alter Eco 85% is my favorite chocolate! I eat it daily. A close runner up is Equal Exchange Panama 80%. And when I want something with a little extra flavor I go for Theo 70% with orange. So good!

    • Luke (to Karisa)

      There’s a new company, I forgot what they’re called but they’re organic, usually located by Green and Black and have a really lovely Coconut blend. With a medium dark body between 65-70% cocoa the crisp coconut flavor spreads lavish waves of tropical joy throughout your entire mouth. Oh, so good it is.

      Newman’s Own is propelling themselves to be a contender in the 50-75% cocoa content range. Their flavor is more subtle and milky at first, with a gentle rise to bring out the bitter notes. Yet, it is so gentle, the bitter notes are more sweet.
      It does leave a little extra to be desired. If you prefer milk chocolate but cannot find one that is mild and still organic, Newman’s Own will provide you with serenity.

      Alter Eco? I will have to try a few blends. By looking at their ingredient list, they really do make a good combination for what I’d like to have in a chocolate bar.

      Crunchy, Crisp, Hearty. Protein, Fatty, Rich -from mild nutty/oats to strong citrus fruits and roots – where does one go wrong with that selection?

  14. Julie Kuepers

    What are your thoughts on Young Living’s Einkorn Nuggets or Ecuadorian Dark Chocolessence ?

  15. Tami Paul

    mm years ago I started buying all the boys Easter candy at a local candy shop. I never did care for the chocolate you put in your month and it just sits there because of the wax. Once I put their home made in my mouth and it started to melt, I never went back to the other stuff. But now I need to look more into. Will be a bummer if I cant get my 100% edible easter basket

  16. Brooke

    What about Taza Chocolate based out of MA? I toured their factory. Good chocolate. Different texture than typically found in America.

  17. Sara L

    Thank you so so sooo much for not leaving us hanging and giving us alternatives! Especially because WHO CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT CHOCOLATE, right?! Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. robin

    Unbridled Chocolates in Marlbough NH is GMO free!

  19. Hilal

    What about organic milk chocolate, because dark chocolate is too bitter for me to eat. I know that it is good for your heart however I can’t eat it. I looked up to see if Nibmor has any milk chocolate, didn’t see one.

  20. leslie

    I’m so sad about Ghirardelli :(

  21. Shirley Pollman

    I’m suffering from Adrenal Fatigue and have changed to eat right because of you! I’ve started eating Dove Chocolate and I’m addicted!!! Help! What’s in it that keeps you wanting more??? This is so crazy!!!! I subscribe to you but couldn’t find my answer.
    Please advise. Thank you!


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