Our Favorite Near-Chocolate Things, Part I

From Yoo-Hoo to carob, white chocolate to chocolate syrup, let us lift our voices in praise of near-chocolate things, which help keep us going when there's no chocolate at hand.

At first glance, an article about near-chocolate -- that is, things close to but not quite chocolate, as strictly defined -- might not seem to fit our site's extreme theme. But consider, Dear Readers, you can apply the term "extreme" in two different directions: either too much, or too little, hmm?

Hence, we have the not-quite-chocolate items like carob, Yoohoo soft drinks, white chocolate, and the like. While they may not be chocolate exactly, they can help ease our chocolate cravings. Some we've talked about in these pages before; some, however, are entirely new to X-Choc. Imbibe, if you will.

Near-chocolate by definition

Here at X-Choc HQ, we split near-chocolate into two basic categories: 1) items that contain either of the two basic chocolate ingredients, cocoa butter or cocoa itself, without actually being chocolate per se; and 2) stuff that looks and kind of tastes like chocolate but isn't, though it might be related.

White chocolate is a good, solid example of the first. True white chocolate is made mostly of cocoa butter; in fact, it has to be at least 20% cocoa butter to be white chocolate at all. So, beware the faux varieties made of chalky confectioner's glaze, which is mostly animal fat. Yummy.

Near-chocolate to guzzle

Liquid-based near-chocolate is the most common form of the Type 1 variety, and rare's the chocolate extremo who hasn't downed his or her share of it in various guises and concentrations. Let's take a little look at chocolate syrup.

As attentive readers know, chocolate syrup is basically a suspension of cocoa in liquid corn sugar. It comes in a wide range of subtypes, and it's good for all kinds of things -- ice cream, chocolate milk, cake, and squeezing directly onto your tongue if you really must.

Most cocoa-based near-chocolates, however, are made exclusively to be mixed into milk, because a number of merchandisers realized early on the appeal of chocolate-flavored dairy drinks. The popularity of Ovaltine, Bosco, Nesquik, and similar cocoa powders are proving their business models.

What's this Yoo-Hoo stuff?

We've saved pride-of-place in our discussion of Type I not-quite-chocolates for the venerable Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink, which was invented in the 1920s by a New Jersey drink manufacturer looking for a preservative-free chocolate drink that wouldn't spoil. The secret was lots of cocoa, and agitation during production.

As you reach for a tasty Yoo-Hoo during intermission, remember that it tastes best when you shake before you drink it, too. Once you've activated that mellow chocolate flavor, take a sip and move on to Part Two of this article, where we'll discuss our favorite Type 2 near-chocolate, copulate and carob.