Mass marketed chocolate isn’t necessarily bad – in fact some of it is downright tasty. However, since it’s easily accessible, we’re far less inclined to put it on a towering pedestal in the same way that we might with costly yet typically higher quality artisan confections that have limited distribution.
Got a Butterfinger hankering? Pine away all you want, but you’d be wasting precious energy since the flaky nutty chocolate dipped sensation can be found inside any old corner store, pharmacy, or rest stop across America.
On the other hand, the next time you’re struck with the deep dark burning desire to chow down on a Vosges exotic chocolate bar, don’t expect your dreams to come true smack dab in the middle of a Walgreen’s. Fancy-pants chocolate like that is commonly found in exclusive boutiques and amid the inventory of gourmet purveyors.
Thanks to googley-eyed chocolate connoisseurs like myself, Vosges has still managed to create a $30 million empire in spite of our country’s ongoing economic difficulties. The 14 year old company has growth on its mind, though. After receiving regular inquiries from fans about their desire to access Vosges treats a lot closer to home, CEO Katrina Markoff recognized a ripe opportunity.
Interested in maintaining the intimacy and elite nature of the Vosges brand, the chocolatier decided to create an entirely new line of slightly more affordable yet still funky-flavored bars – dubbed Wild Ophelia – which, unlike their older sibling, are available at such widespread retailers such as Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, and World Market.
Crafted with an American vibe and the same adventurous kick that has made Vosges such an enduring favorite, Wild Ophelia bars are made with U.S. sourced farm/artisanal ingredients, many of which are organic and/or natural. With flavors like New Orleans Chili and Southern Hibiscus Peach, Markoff’s main intent is to enable samplers to take a transcontinental road trip via their taste buds without suffering the sticker shock typical of comparable boutique offerings.
No matter what type of chocolate you gravitate toward, nibbling on a Wild Ophelia Peanut Butter and Banana Milk Chocolate Bar will make you a very happy camper. The rich, creamy, milky, tongue-snuggling 41% cacao base is truly excellent – high praise in light of the fact that I’m a perpetually unimpressed milk chocolate critic. The dairy-enriched backdrop is expertly blended with smooth organic peanut butter, creating a full-bodied nutty explosion that could easily carry the bar without the need for extra nibbley bits.
By throwing dried bananas into the mix, Vosges takes this bar to a whole new, must have level. Not those crummy, crunchy, flavorless banana chips indigenous to trail mix. Markoff adds GMO- and sugar-free Hawaiian sourced bananas that are hand dried at very low temperatures. The benefit? They-re pleasingly chewy and intensely banana-y – like tasty little nuggets of tropical yum.
While I feel that the bar was far too light on the banana bits (I am a firm believer that you can NEVER have too much of a good thing!), perhaps that was a random manufacturing hiccup. I already purchased a “back-up”, so I’ll find out soon enough; but what’s truly telling is that this chocolate-peanut-butter-banana treat was delicious enough for me to be a repeat customer so soon after sampling.
Nit-picking time… Information gleaned from a Wild Ophelia press release and various additional articles leads me to believe that Vosges’ baby sister is more affordable than her boutique sibling. At $7.00 for a 3 ounce Vosges chocolate bar (that’s $2.33 per ounce) and $5.00 for a 2 ounce Wild Ophelia chocolate bar (that $2.50 per ounce), a ritzy-glitzy Vosges bar ends up costing 17 cents less per ounce. Okay, so Wild Ophelia bars – while seemingly more affordable – are in fact one full ounce smaller and technically slightly less of a value than Vosges bars.
Funny thing. I would normally take issue with that kind of thing but in this case, it doesn’t faze me nearly as much. Polishing off an entire 300 calorie 22 fat gram Wild Ophelia Peanut Butter and Banana Milk Chocolate Bar â€“ regardless of common sense or budgetary concerns â€“ is something that I plan to do a lot more often. There. Just did it and my taste buds are doing the happy dance.