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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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372 responses to “Are You Getting Conned By Cheap & Toxic Chocolate?

  1. I’m so glad you shared this. One chocolate you did not mention has been around almost 10 years. It is the best kept secret ever for chocolate lovers. Xocai, has the trademark for the words Healthy Chocolate because we’ve proved it. We make our chocolate with a Patented Cold-Pressed process which preserves all the anti-oxidants and nutrients in Raw Cacao. We do not add processed sugar, contains no caffeine, sweetened with Acai Berries and Blueberries. Healthy does exist and it is delicious. Samples and/or info anyone?

    1. This sounds amazing and healthy! Please share any information on this chocolate. Thanks so much.

    2. I would like to sample and spread the word through my fertility friendly product site. Gwen P g edotsoapsat

    3. I would love to try it. My kids trade all of their Halloween candy for organic candy. I am always looking for new brands to try. Thanks for posting! Where can it be purchased?

    4. I would love to try this! Some of the “healthy” chocolate I have bought before does not taste good. I hate cheap chocolate, such as Hershey’s, etc., as it tastes nasty! I spend quite a bit on “good” chocolate, such as callebaut, valrhona, and Belcolade (my favorite), because I use it in all forms, such as cocoa mass and powder for baking. I’m wondering how “good” these brands actually are now?! The Belcolade ‘Costa Rica’ I love is a 64.5% dark, made in Belgium, and the ingredients are: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, flavoring, and natural vanilla.

      1. At least you know the ingredients are non GMO. They can’t sell anything in the European Union that is GMO unless it’s labeled. Been that way for decades

    5. I would LOVE to sample this, especially because of it having no caffeine! I am very sensitive to it!

    6. Marsha, let me speak for the world of chocolate lovers… We all want to sample Xocai! Where do we send our addresses?

    7. I’ve recently made the transition to vegan/non-inflamatory/organic/non-gmo/whole food eating, and as a chocolate lover I would like to learn more and would love a sample.

    8. Yes, please would love samples — how are you giving them out? And please indicate which grocers carry Xocai. Thanks.

  2. Great info! I would also LOVE to know the ingredients in See’s Candy. They are a pretty big deal where we live and people think because it is a specific store they are better than the packaged stuff in the stores. I would love to know!

    1. They use artificial vanilla which really makes me mad! I used to love their candy, my Mom would buy me some every xmas from the mall 🙁

      1. See’s Candy is a favorite of ours, also. I checked their site for the question on the use of vanillan:
        “The use of vanillin in our products is temperature-based. Since vanilla has a much lower boiling point than vanillin, all of our high-temperature cooked products (such as brittles) use vanillin. If vanilla were used for such products, the vanilla would simply cook off and contribute no flavor to the product. Vanillin, on the other hand, can withstand high temperatures and still provide vanilla flavor. We use vanilla for lower-temperature cooked products such as creams, fudges and caramels. ”

    2. In a nutshell, the ingredients are much better than the big brand chocolate bars you find at the grocery store. They only use all natural products, however, the worst you will discover is that they use corn syrup in nearly every piece. Every See’s Candy shop has a nutritional binder packed with ingredients, calorie info, egg free list, kosher items, etc etc. Simply ask an employee and they would be happy to inform you.

      1. I’m wild about Endangered Species 88% chocolate bars. So high in cacao content that there is virtually no concern about dairy products (which I can’t digest.)
        I’ve never had any problems with ES choco.
        Beautiful, melt-in-mouth dark chocolate.
        Any feedback on Endangered Species brand?
        I’d love to know!

      2. I agree, Theo is most excellent – all varieties. They’re organic, fair trade, non-gmo (of course) and “suitable for vegans”. What more could you ask for in an indulgence? We have one square each at night.

    1. I’m no expert and don’t want to slam anyone, but not a fan of Brookside. Read the ingredients list for their chocolates — speaks for itself.

  3. Except u fail to mention how expensive one lil candy bar of the healthier version is. Thats why most wont switch.

    1. Wanda, on most web sites, you can press the Ctrl key and P at the same time and it will bring up the Print box. As an alternative, select what you want to print, copy (either right click in the selected area and select copy or press Ctrl and C at the same time to copy), then open either Notepad or if you have Microsoft Office, open a Word document and paste (either right and select paste or press Ctrl and V at the same time to paste).

  4. Why there’s no mention of Wei of Chocolate? Have you found something about them? or never heard of them?

  5. One chocolate that I love is called Theo. They are organic, non-GMO, fair trade, and have NO soy lecithin! And delicious to boot. 🙂

    1. Jessica, I don’t think they are related, but have you tried Theodent tooth paste. It tastes great and is not harmful if swallowed. I think that is important, especially for children.

  6. Have you tried any chocolate bars from They are absolute the best I have ever had.

    1. Did I mention that they are made with organic raw cacao beans, vanilla beans, and raw honey with other delicious and healthy ingredients?

  7. I didn’t mention that bars are organic raw cocoa, raw honey, vanilla beans, and other healthy ingredients.

    1. At $20 a candy bar they better be good. I found Chocorite low carb bars on Low carbs-r-us dot com. A box of 5 is around $8 so more in my price range plus I don’t eat any kind of sugar except raw fruit occasionally. They are sweetened with maltitol; a sugar alcohol that is actually good for dental health and not digested as a regular carb.

  8. Alter Eco Organic Chocolate is simply awesome! Tried all except coconut flavor one. Really good. 🙂

  9. A really good raw cacao chocolate is Sacred Chocolate, which is dairy/gluten/soy and cane sugar free. Their source of sweetening is from maple sugar. Their products are 100% organic and I love their Immuno Mushroom!

  10. I have yet to find a good organic Cacao bar that doesn’t have nuts in it and isn’t processed around nuts so I have been mixing Raw Cacao powder with coconut milk and a little Pure maple syrup. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

    1. I have been making my own chocolate bark for a while now and that’s our favorite at home. I take one cup of organic coconut oil (is there any other kind), melt over low low heat, mix in 2 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate and some semi-sweet chocolate chips, pour onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, sprinkle unsweetened shredded coconut and chopped almonds and raisins, pop in freezer for about 1/2 hour or more, break into pieces and store in a container in the freezer. when I have a chocolate craving, a small piece really satisfies. It’s not all organic, but you could make it with all organic if you can find organic baking chocolate or chocolate chips. At any rate, it’s a whole lot better than all the commercial crap out there and very cheap to make.

      1. I also make my own. It’s similar to Steffany’s recipe. I melt 1 cup of melted organic coconut oil in a bath of hot water and then pour it in an 8×8 baking dish. I add in 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds, 3 tablespoons of cacao nibs and 6 tablespoons of raw cacao powder and stir until it’s all mixed together. Sweeten with liquid stevia to taste, usually about 30 drops or so. Sometimes I add some cinnamon. I store it in the refrigerator. It goes fast around here, I make a new batch every 2 – 3 days!

  11. TAZA CHOCOLATE! Please look this up and add to the list. Amazingly delicious chocolate, organic and very environmentally conscious.

  12. Food Babe,…Bless ya,….was wondering about the product called Sweet Obsession Fine European Chocolate Dark Chocolate by it safe to enjoy!

  13. Tcho chocolates San Francisco
    What do you think of those ?

    And the whole foods brand 365 chocolates ?
    What do you think of those ingredients ?

  14. I have been buying the Simply Lite chocolate bars at Trader Joes. They contain inulin and the package says it is okay for diabetics. I love both the dark chocolate with almonds, and the milk chocolate is great as well. Just a small square a day with a cup of tea is a nice treat around 1 or so.

    Could you please comment on the above?

    Thank you.

  15. Thanks for answering.

    I have been selecting and copying into Word. Too many steps.

    It would be more convenient to have a print function that prints just the blog content … and not all the comments, advertisements, and links.

    It would be more user-friendly. Food Babe posts a lot of good content, but it’s not easily saved for future reference.

  16. I recommend chocolate from Zoe’s Chocolate Co. and Salazon Chocolate Co.

    Both companies have web sites with more information on how to order the chocolates online or locate a retail store which carries their chocolates. They are amazing!

  17. Does anyone know of a brand of unsweetened cocoa (non-alkaline processed)
    that has been reputably tested to weed out
    1. contamination by heavy metals such as lead,
    as well as
    2. using cocoa beans that are not sprayed?

  18. Dang!! With all this talk about healthy alternatives for a good chocolate bar, I’m rushing to Whole Foods to explore tasty new choices in yummy chocolate…sorry Godiva:0

  19. Theo Chocolate in my great city of Seattle offers chocolate this is truly:

    *Fair Trade
    *Made from bean to bar in small batches IN SEATTLE
    *Relationships and education in sustainable farming for growers
    *Soy Free
    *15+ Vegan Varieties
    *Small Batches
    *Confections are handcrafted

    I was surprised to find that a lot of other companies do not have the same standards. “Brookside” looks natural but is owned by Hershey, not fair trade or organic. See’s use soy lecithin. Fran’s isn’t organic. It’s important to read the label and to know where your chocolate is processed. Much of the labor is done overseas and is NOT fair trade.

      1. It’s in Fremont. They offer tours where you can see every single process from roasting to mixing in sugar and ingredients to packaging. After seeing all that goes into it – it’s the only chocolate I buy.

  20. Xocai, while deliciously healthy, is a networking marketing product. Unfortunately, like most network marketing items is over-the-top expensive. But, if you try it I’m sure you’ll love it! I’d also like to know what you think about the Endangered Species brand.

  21. What do you think of Dove Chocolate? It is my absolute favorite! I almost don’t want an answer…

  22. Just ordered one of your chocolate recommendation for butter finger. Your site taken me to Amazon and the order was completed hopefully, Food Babe benefits as well.


  23. Remember Endangered Species chocolate bars and Theos made in Seattle, WA both clean bars and yummy

  24. Sorry I didn’t read before writing. The brands I mentioned already were wrote about. They are yummy eat some of them everyday

  25. So I’m curious about European Chocolate? Since most of the “junk food” isn’t able to have many of the bad ingredients that we find here in the states, I was wondering if the European brands were any better?? I know from living overseas for a few years that even the regular Hershey’s brand etc. candy bars tasted WAY better than what you can get here in the states. I guess there are two questions there. 1. Are European brands better? and 2. Are the typical US Brands better overseas because of different formulations of ingredients? Also, has anyone every looked at the fairly new ingredient that is in chocolate now? To cut down on the percentage of expensive cocoa butter, most of the typical brands of chocolate are using PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate), a derivative of the castor bean. Basically, they are taking the chocolate out of a chocolate bar to cut down on costs. Look at the next Hershey bar you come across …

  26. Sees Candy is another holiday favorite, but I didn’t see it mentioned in the report. Is is possible to get the same kind of breakdown of the ingredients from Sees?

  27. Have you tried Noah’s Raw Chocolate? Made with organic ingredients, organic honey, diabetic friendly, and WOW is it good! to order, or in NYC at selected stores. Enjoy!

  28. We were a bit disappointed not to be included as a top pic for healthy chocolates, especially since Organic Nectars was the first to distribute a full line of coconut sugar sweetened chocolate bars! We’re a multi award winning producer of delicious raw, vegan, organic, gluten free hand crafted chocolates, gelato, sweeteners and superfoods and would sure love for you guys to know more about us! We had sent samples in the past but perhaps they got lost in the shuffle. So what’s the best way to get on your radar??

    THANKS!! Love what you do!

  29. Thank you Vani (aka: FoodBabe),
    Just found out about you & your website today 🙂
    Really appreciate your info about the horrible chocolate that’s out there and letting us know about the better (healthier) options. Although the organic brands are pricey … I think that it’s worth it since as the saying goes “You are what you eat”. If we eat healthy we are healthier and if we eat garbage food/drinks (even chocolate) we are jeopardizing our bodies to become targets to cancer and other diseases (since our bodies’ immune system becomes weaker when loaded with garbage)!
    I’ve sign-up with your website so I wont miss any posts by you & your staff. Thank you once again & keep up the great researching you do!

  30. I recently tried a new chocolate bar I bought at Whole Foods from a company called Coconut Secret. I tried the milk, white and dark bars, which are all certified organic, fair trade certified, non-GMO, soy-free, kosher & low glycemic as their chocolates are sweetened with coconut crystals. My favorite was the Peruvian Crunch, which is 70% cacao & has toasted coconut in it. Coconut Secret has a website if you want to check out.

  31. The UliMana brand is VERY clean (non-GMO, vegan, organic…) and DELICIOUS! They have several truffle flavors and also make Mana (spreads) and body butter (can’t beat using cacao butter on your body). This is a company that cares about chocolate.

  32. Came over here from your 100 Days of Real Food post. Trader Joe’s has two dark chocolate options that are soy lecithin and dairy free. One is organic and one is fair trade. They both have sugar, but are still “close to real food” options.

  33. Dear Food Babe, I LOVE this post, thank you. I live in Southern Oregon and I know a girl that makes these beautiful chocolates, one by one, by hand. All raw, natural ingredients. I have had them on special occasions sold at the health food store and they are so delicious. Fun to have a treat that is healthFULL! Have you ever tried these? Please tell me what you think:

    Thank you for all you do and your research, blesses our lives!


  34. I’m usually behind Food Babe and I know that these “no” companies do sell some chocolates with some “no” ingredients, but not every chocolate they make contains these ingredients as implied. You may not like the company but it does a great injustice to imply that ALL the chocolate that a particular company makes contains all these “no” ingredients. Looks like a liable lawsuit waiting to happen.

  35. Sorry if I missed it in the posts but I was wondering if I could find these chocolates in local markets like Whole Foods, Freshway or Trader Joe’s instead of Amazon?

  36. I love Taza Cocolate. It is local, organic and delicious. I eat their 87% dark chocolate bar sparingly.

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