Major innovations have taken place in the chocolate industry in the past few years. From edible, playable records to chocolate that doesn’t melt, there’s a whole world of high-tech chocolate waiting to be discovered.
Cadbury recently introduced an “augmented reality” candy bar experience through a partnership with UK app company Blippar, which created an interactive game for its candy bars. How it works: when consumers point a smartphone at a Cadbury chocolate bar, the camera “recognizes” the packaging and launches a short game called Qwak Smack. Look out for this technology stateside, because many American companies are catching on.
Ice cream giant Ben and Jerry’s iPhone app and scannable carton lids with “Moo Vision” interactive technology enables you to invite friends to a nearby Scoop Shop, locate the nearest retail location and even find nutritional information on your favorite flavors.
Scottish baker and chocolatier Ben Milne wanted to figure out a way to help his friend’s band promote the release of their new album. After many scrapped attempts, he hit on a way to press a playable LP record out of pure chocolate. The band FOUND gave Milne the original stamper used to press their vinyl record, which he then used to craft a playable chocolate disc. This video details how he created this remarkable edible chocolate record and then broke it into pieces to share with the band. Hopefully other musical groups jump on this delicious bandwagon!
Callebaut was the 2011 winner of Food Ingredients (Fi) Europe’s prestigious “Most Innovative Food Ingredient” award for their Terra Cacao chocolates. Originally conceived of as a university research project to produce top-quality cacao in a sustainable way, the project has evolved into a way for the company to make chocolate with zero-defect beans and no “off” flavors. The results are 100 percent pure cacao beans, which are then sustainably processed into the highest quality chocolate. The fact that many chocolate companies are finally catching on to advances in science and technology to make chocolate environmentally friendly and best quality is a huge boon for consumers.
Irish company Choc-o-Bloc has patented what they claim is the world’s first non-melting chocolate. The product is called Magic Choc. The chocolate is formed into small discs, which can then be molded like Play-Doh into any form you wish. The chocolate contains oils that leave it flexible and resistant to melting. The concept is similar to the modeling chocolate pastry chefs make out of glycerine or corn syrup mixed with chocolate. Available in dark, milk and white chocolate, it seems most suitable for small children—and, of course, it’s entirely edible.
No discussion of chocolate and technology would be complete without including San Francisco-based chocolate company TCHO, whose name is synonymous with chocolate and technology. Created by the founders of Wired magazine, TCHO is one of the most technologically innovative chocolate companies in the world. Using a cloud-based system called Cropster, the company is able to interface with their cacao farm in Peru and do many of the things they would normally have to be there in person to do. The transparency of the supply chain means better communication with their farmers and more accountability when problems do crop up. In turn, this kind of system results in better quality chocolate. In addition, TCHO has developed an iPhone app to control its factory machinery and has a virtual factory world in development, where employees and customers can interact with the factory and each other.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about what’s new in the chocolate world, check out 5 Surprising Chocolate Innovations. What do you love about today’s chocolate?
Kate Steffens is a pastry chef, writer, DJ, artist, designer and all-around Renaissance woman. She is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and the University of Texas at Austin. She runs the rock-and-roll chocolate company, Straight Outta Chocolate. When she's not elbow deep in chocolate, you can find her reading, gardening, working on art projects and listening to old records.