The Sweet Oddity of Weatherproof Chocolate

What the heck is weatherproof chocolate? Well, we'll tell ya.

The concept of weatherproof chocolate might sound weird -- or perhaps we should say "extreme"? -- but it's got its adherents. As any backpacker will tell you, chocolate is one of the best easily-portable foods you can have with you when you're out on the trail, given its energy density, taste, and nutrient content.

The problem is that unless it's cool out, your chocolate is likely to melt all over the contents of your backpack before you can eat it -- it usually liquefies between 77º F and body temperature. Fortunately, though, someone's on the ball, and they've invented chocolate that won't melt easily under outdoor circumstances.

Good stuff, Maynard

Also called "backpacker's chocolate," weatherproof chocolate comes in several forms. Probably the most popular type is the version produced by Hammond's Candies. They've taken chocolate and coated it in colorful wax. Several varieties are offered including dark chocolate, peanut butter, and orange chili!

The chocolate itself isn't the everyday kind you find in Hershey's and Mars Bars. This is a type of chocolate ganache, similar to fudge. It will, of course, soften a bit in the heat, but the wax will keep it in place. Once it cools down, you can just cut off a slice, peel off the wax, and eat. It runs about $10 for 3 ounces or so.

More good stuff

The weatherproof chocolate from the kitchens of Santa Fe's Chocolate Smith comes in similar flavors, coated with Dutch cheese wax -- you can even get wax-coated rounds that look just like Gouda. They call their gourmet chocolate filling "paté." Like the Hammond variety, it's more like fudge than regular chocolate.

Chocolate Smith's backpacker's chocolate comes in six Southwestern-influenced flavors, including Sunset Orange Paté, Mucho Ancho Paté, and Nuts and Berries Paté. Their tasty treats will cost you $8.50 apiece -- but you won't begrudge the expense when you need a treat at the top of that next hill.

Danger, Will Robinson!

There are several concoctions that are sometimes called heat-resistant chocolate, backpacker's chocolate, or military chocolate that's as about as far from real weatherproof chocolate as you can get. In fact, you're liable to get sick if you try to eat it when you're hot and hungry.

The best you can say for the stuff is that it's edible. Probably the earliest military brand was "Field Ration D," which Hersey's developed for our GIs back in the 1940s. It was more oat flour than chocolate, sadly. Modern military chocolate still exists and stays firm up to 140º, but folks report that it doesn't taste much better.

Then there are chocolates made with high corn-sugar content. While they do taste better than the military types (good enough, in fact, that we'll probably do an article on the newest versions soon) they won't melt in your mouth and can seem a tad oily -- not stuff you'll ever mistake for real gourmet weatherproof chocolate.