NOTE: This test was originally conducted in 2009, so some of the brands used at the time were actually American or European as stated. The corporate changes that have happened in the intervening years are discussed at length in the comments section, as is the fact that Galaxy is the made by the same company as Dove (which is pretty obvious now when you look at the wrappers side-by-side, but we didn't know that at the time, lol). The results are still the same. Enjoy!
I had a discussion with a friend a while back about chocolate, and whether or not we could actually distinguish the difference between them – specifically, American and European chocolates. We both said we might have difficulty telling brands of chocolate apart, but that noting the difference between American and European chocolate should be relatively simple. Well, this discussion happened before we decided to go to England, so we thought it’d be fun to have a blind taste test while we were there. Shortly before I left I bought four American chocolate bars: Hershey’s, Dove, Ghirardelli and Godiva. While in London I picked up three European chocolate bars: Galaxy from the UK, Lindt from Switzerland, and Luxury from Belgium.
First, let me state that this was not a hardcore scientific series of tests, just two people having some fun with sugary stuff! However, I’m a stickler for honesty, so I tried to keep it real – all the chocolate bars were simple milk chocolate. No dark chocolate, no extra flavors like orange or mint, and no nuts of any kind; just regular milk chocolate. To prevent either of us from identifying the chocolate by the size and mold of the brand, pieces were broken off in roughly equal sizes. I gave pieces of chocolate to my friend to eat while blindfolded, and then after switching the order around he did the same for me. Also, for more Integrity Brownie Points, to cleanse the palette we ate saltine crackers after each piece of chocolate, washed down with water. In any case, after hours of wandering around London doing tourist stuff, we decided to have a bit of a rest. Armed with all the aforementioned products and a blindfold, we put our taste buds to the test….and here are the results:
Europeans have been saying for years that their chocolate is better than the Americans, and I’ve always agreed with them; chocolate from Europe always seemed creamier to me. However, before we get on to those differences, let’s discuss the four American brands I obtained. I chose Hershey’s because it’s the most popular chocolate in the country, and I picked the others because they’re supposed to be “high quality” chocolate. Godiva, for example, is usually found stocked to the ceiling at higher-end department stores, while Ghirardelli and Dove can be found at your local Walgreen’s – but with a bigger price tag than Hershey’s, Mars or what have you. I’d never tried Godiva or Dove before, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to correctly identify all of the brands! My friend got a couple of them mixed up, but that was no big deal – what was most telling was which one we thought was best and worst. Hershey’s came out the big loser of the lot; it’s much more sugary than the others, and two sets of taste buds soundly rejected it. I was shocked to find that Ghirardelli, which I’d always held in high regard, tasted a lot like Hershey’s but with less sugar. Godiva was marginally better, but we both greatly preferred Dove; it just tasted so much better. It was creamy, flavorful – it seemed to have a higher cocoa content than the others, and was definitely not as sugary. Final result: Dove was the clear winner, by a landslide!
I couldn’t find any French or German chocolates while I was in London, which was a pity because they make good chocolate too. However, we worked with what we had available – Galaxy (UK), Lindt (Swiss) and Luxury (Belgian). Lindt bars can easily be found in the US, and many American stores also carry Belgian chocolate, although perhaps not that particular brand. I had never tried Luxury or Galaxy before, and neither had my friend, so we went into this test completely impartial. We both correctly identified the brands, but Galaxy was the worst of the three. I can’t even describe what specifically was wrong with this chocolate, yet I couldn’t help noticing that every food store I visited in England had Galaxy bars on the shelves; it would seem that this is the UK version of Hershey’s. While it’s most definitely not as sugary as its US counterpart, there is something else in this bar that detracts from the cocoa and milk, but neither of us could figure out what it was. Out of these three brands, both my friend and I hated Galaxy, but Luxury and Lindt were another story. Both were huge improvements, and the defining characteristic seemed once again to focus on creaminess and the amount of sugar. Luxury seemed slightly sweeter but we both preferred Lindt, although my friend in particular seemed surprised with Lindt; he expected it to be better! Final result: Lindt rocks.
American vs. European
In this test, we put an American chocolate up against a European chocolate, one at a time. Since we started with four US bars and three European ones, we immediately pulled Hershey’s out of the test to even it out. The challenge then changed to – which is from the US and which is from the EU, and which tastes better? I paired the chocolates as follows:
Dove vs. Luxury
Godiva vs. Galaxy
and Ghirardelli vs. Lindt
My friend paired them up in this manner:
Ghirardelli vs. Luxury,
Dove vs. Lindt
and Godiva vs. Galaxy.
We correctly identified which was American and which was European on the Dove/Ghirardelli/Luxury/Lindt pairings, but we both got Galaxy and Godiva mixed up. That match-up was particularly interesting as neither one of us actually liked either of those bars, but this series of tasting underscored the overall feeling we had about US vs. European chocolate – the Europeans are just better at this. While Dove was hands down the best American chocolate, all the European ones tasted better than it, including Galaxy! Final result: European chocolate rules.
1) Lindt (Swiss)
2) Luxury (Belgian)
3) Galaxy (UK)
4) Dove (US)
5) Godiva (US)
6) Ghirardelli (US)
7) Hershey’s (US)
ProDigit on January 29, 2018:
I made a mistake, Godiva isn't Belgian after all; since Callebaut just continued selling.
I just distinctively remember a time when callebaut chocolate was harder to find in the stores.
Callebaut chocolate is similar but just under Leonidas chocolate, and somewhere between the common chocolates and the quality ones.
Leonidas is a common quality chocolate that's sold mostly in pralines.
ProDigit on January 29, 2018:
I'm from Belgium, and never even heard of the chocolate brand 'luxury'.
I've also looked up top Belgian chocolates, and could not find any reference to 'luxury' brand chocolate.
Also, Godiva is Belgian, not from USA.
They might have a US branch, that makes their chocolate different.
I understand the review isn't done in a professional way, as you've tasted 'milk chocolate'. Milk chocolate has less than 50% cacao in it, and thus you're probably just tasting the additives, like milk, nuts, sugars, other oils, etc..
The best chocolate to compare flavors, is dark chocolate.
In Belgium, the highest ranked chocolate is 'Cote d'Or'.
After that, Leonidas, Godiva (former Callebout) and then the other brands.
I would put Lindt equal to Leonidas chocolate, or the second best.
The way chocolate is rated, is more than just flavor.
Texture (needs to feel silky smooth); Dove, Cote d'Or, and Leonidas do well in this.
Is the texture even, or grainy? A good texture for a chocolate bar, is one where the entire bar is the same color; no ground pieces, no air bubbles inside.
Oily, chocolate should not taste, or feel oily in the mouth.
A saying of M&Ms also is true for chocolate: "It should melt in the mouth, not in the hand".
Flavor: Do you taste more than just sugar? Do you taste the flavor of chocolate?
Smell: Does the smell of chocolate smells burned, sweet like candy, or just rancid to you?
Color: Does the chocolate look like chocolate, or more like hardened diarrhea? You'd be surprised the color some cheaper chocolates have!
And really good chocolate, also has grades of dark chocolate; like 60% dark, 70%, 80%, 90% dark, ....
And then test, which chocolate you can comfortably munch with the highest cacao content...
Person on November 05, 2015:
My co-workers and I just did a blind taste test between Galaxy(UK) and Dove(US). While they are supposed to be the same, they taste different. There are slight differences in the nutrition information. I suspect the main difference in taste might be the dairy sourcing.
Chelsea on November 07, 2014:
The Dove brand is sold as Galaxy outside the U.S. (they are the same)
Polish Dude on October 20, 2012:
Hey guys, you need to get more info before you start testing. Only Dove and Hershey's are American brands. And what is more, Galaxy is European version of Dove. But I like the results. I'm European, who has spent some time in US and I can definitely say that European chocolate is better. It's not just about creaminess, but general taste. Hershey's is one of the worst chocolate bars I've ever tried. For me it didn't taste like chocolate, but rather some chemical choco-like crap. This is quite surprising how chocolate market is neglected in US. Not many brands and existing ones are not good. My country (Poland), which has about 40m citizens, has more internal chocolate brands than whole US. And it's pretty much like that in most European countries I believe. Shelves with chocolate is full of different brands - Polish ones and those from other countries. Lindt is good, that's right. Thank you for comparing these bars. I've always thought Godiva is delicious, as it costs so much :)
Anastasia Talen on October 10, 2012:
This was fun reading! I live in the UK and I like Galaxy chocolate, but it's nowhere in the same league as Lindt or Luxury. It's a cheap sweetshop chocolate bar, its competitor is Cadbury dairy milk, rather than the more expensive bars, which could be why you tasted the difference.
Swiss has always been my favourite, although I have a friend in Belgium who sends me delicious packages to try and change my mind!
Ldrtchbrd (author) from Pennsylvania on September 07, 2012:
Joelle, as I mentioned earlier in the comments, Godiva USED to be a Belgian company. It was bought by Campbell's Soup in 1967 and was an American company up until 2007 when it was bought by a Turkish company. So sayeth the oracle Wikipedia. :) So, when this test was conducted (2006), it was American.
Scunnerous, the choice to use milk instead of dark chocolate was my idea, I just prefer it. :) I was also surprised to see Ghiradelli near the bottom, I thought they were better than that, but when you compare it (and Hershey's) against these European brands there's a huge difference.
Scunnerous on September 03, 2012:
I'm surprised to see a chocolate comparison focusing on milk chocolate; to me it's already tainted chocolate. I haven't tried Lindt milk chocolate but I really dislike the over-dutched flavor of their dark chocolate, something which may be somewhat masked by the "milk" flavorings. I'm also surprised to see Ghirardelli at the bottom of the pile next to Hershey.
Another of my pet peeves is the "trace" amounts of nuts which is often quite a distinct and noticeable "trace", something I notice more in Godiva products than in Ghirardelli - not much, compared with the mass-produced brands, but it's there. I'd be interested in a similar dark chocolate comparison but to me Ghirardelli is certainly my favorite.
Joelle on August 12, 2012:
Godiva is Belgian :-)
Ldrtchbrd (author) from Pennsylvania on July 01, 2012:
Stacey & Jennifer - the Dove & Galaxy situation is very much like Lindt & Ghiradelli. Just because they're OWNED by one company does not automatically mean they are MADE in the same place. This works for many other products, as well - look at Coca-Cola! It's the same name all over the globe but it's not made in one single factory. The multiple production facilities use local ingredients which may cause slight differences in taste (the original version of this taste test also included a separate cola test, using a two bottles of Coke - one from the US and one from Europe).
Of course, the best way to know where the products are made is to look at the label - and I no longer have the Galaxy bar label from the picture above. Guess I'll have to go back to England, eh! :)
PS. - Stacey, I have tried See's, they're a bit too sugary for me, but I've yet to try Trader Joe's. Must make a special trip soon! :)
Jennifer Ashby on May 07, 2012:
Just wanted to say: dove and galaxy are the same. Just called different things in different countries. Both are a product of mars. :)
Stacey on May 04, 2012:
Another American chocolate that is surprisingly good is Sees. Try it sometime!
Stacey on May 04, 2012:
One additional note: Trader joes chocolate is Belgium chocolate.
Stacey on May 04, 2012:
I love your taste test. Sounds really fun. I've been doing a similar thing with my nephew, much less organized and official tha yours though. We both like Trader joes milk chocolate bars or Lindy best too. Just thought I should mention to you that dove is sold in the UK with the Galaxy label-it's the SAME thing! I love chocolate and I love most candies. I like non- chocolate/non-melting candy for my purse specifically and in Europe, Paris in particular, I couldn't find anything except chocolate ANYWHERE! Oh well thanks for sharing your results. Fun.
frenchcandystore.com on April 19, 2012:
I love Godiva but it is a shame that the selection of chocolates is not so great. They almost all taste the same. I am a chocoholic and I am from France, so I love that you compared the chocolates from all thoses countries because I do maintain that the taste of chocolate is very different from one country to another even if it is the same brand!!
Bobby the Duck on April 01, 2012:
I really enjoy Ghiradelli and Godiva! They are awsome! (:
Ldrtchbrd (author) from Pennsylvania on December 22, 2011:
Ghiradelli may be OWNED by Lindt, but it's the US division, and the chocolate is made in California. Thus, it is a US chocolate.
There are Lindt-name products that are made in the US, too - specifically, the Lindor truffles. Of course these are the ONE Lindt items I don't like! LOL! There are some truffles made in Europe, but the rest of the Lindt products, as far as I can determine from looking at the labels, are European. :)
acr on December 22, 2011:
Ghiridelli is European. It is owned by Lindt.
Ldrtchbrd (author) from Pennsylvania on December 01, 2011:
Actually, lol, Godiva USED to be European! The company originated in Belgium but was bought by Campbell's Soup in the 70's. Then in 2008 it was sold to a Turkish firm. So now it's neither American NOR European. Figures. :p
lol on December 01, 2011:
godiva is european.
Horse Feathers from Indiana USA on May 29, 2011:
The pretzels on my blog come from a shop in Pennsylvania.
Ldrtchbrd (author) from Pennsylvania on May 29, 2011:
HF - absolutely! Some smaller shops can produce much better chocolate than those that are mass-produced. We must keep looking for great chocolate! :)
Horse Feathers from Indiana USA on May 29, 2011:
There different "grades" of chocolate from store bought to the smaller gourmet shops in the US. Having never tasted European chocolate I can't compare but I do enjoy these finer chocolates. Visit my blog http://findshopandbuyherechocolate.blogspot.com/
I can't believe there is any chocolate better any were.