The Sweet Mysteries of Chocolate Syrup

As a fan of chocolate in all its many forms, you've probably wondered how chocolate syrup fits into the equation. Well -- here it is, in a nutshell

It's tempting to think of chocolate syrup as little more than liquefied chocolate, but even a casual acquaintance with the stuff will reveal that it isn't, really. Sure, it's similar, and it may contain some cocoa; but so do Ovaltine and Yoo-hoo, and no ever accused them of being chocolate (not really, anyhow).

While any well-educated choco-extremo is quite aware that solid chocolate as we know it wasn't invented until the 19th century, the real, pure liquid version isn't nearly as fluid or as sweet as the syrup, and the texture's not quite the same. So what's the dealio? Read on, and learn the syrup's sweet secrets.

Chocolate rain

Basically, the chocolate syrup we buy to pour on our ice cream and use to jazz up our drinks does contain cocoa, but like milk chocolate, it's mostly sugar -- in this case, high fructose corn liquid sugar, one of the sweetest (and most fattening) substances known to the food industry.

A few other ingredients are included, but most are emulsifiers and various unpronounceable chemicals that help preserve the goo and improve the flavor. Make no mistake -- commercial brands are basically corn syrup with a dash of cocoa, sometimes with a small amount of vanilla as an enhancement.

A star is born

The first commercial chocolate syrup appeared in 1926, when Hershey's unleashed it on an unsuspecting world for soda-jerks to splash into milk shakes, malts, and egg creams. When it was a hit on the commercial front, they started selling it in cans for home use -- and it took off from there.

Since then, it's become a favored dessert topping, and it mixes particularly well with milk to form that most sublime of dairy drinks, chocolate milk. Manufacturers have continued to tinker with the formula, producing flavored and low-fat versions and (our favorite) a variety that forms a hard shell when poured on ice cream.

Homemade's best

In keeping with our X-Choc traditions, we're happy to offer an easy-peasy chocolate syrup recipe for your consideration. It uses table sugar instead of corn syrup, but the only reason the manufacturers use that anyway is because it's cheap. You'll love this version, too, guaranteed.


½ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup of sugar
¾ cup of water
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract


Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl and boil it all for about 2-5 minutes, stirring it rapidly the whole time, until it starts to thicken. Then remove it from the heat, let it cool, et viola -- deluxe chocolate syrup, made to order.