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Hershey's Chocolate Tasting Experience opens as latest Chocolate World attraction

Written by Lee Dussinger, Lebanon Daily News | Jun 11, 2015 9:33 AM
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Photo by Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News

Kinsey Reuwer of Harrisburg smells a piece of chocolate in the latest attraction at Hershey's Chocolate World -- the Chocolate Tasting Experience -- during the grand opening of the attraction on Wednesday.

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Photo by Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News

Jim St. John, master chocolatier for The Hershey Co., holds a flavor wheel as he talks about the different flavors of chocolate that expert tasters judge. He was on hand at Hershey's Chocolate World Wednesday for the debut of the attraction's Chocolate Tasting Experience.

HERSHEY >> You may think that you love chocolate as much as humanly possible, but The Hershey Co. wants to help you learn to appreciate it even more. 

The Hershey's Chocolate Tasting Experience, which opened Wednesday, is a Hershey's Chocolate World attraction designed to develop the chocolate tasting palate of attendees. To this end, the Hershey's Chocolate Tasting Experience functions like a class in wine sampling, exposing the participants to the terms and techniques used by professional Hershey's chocolate palateers, and then offering them several styles of chocolate on which they can try their new skills.

"There is a difference between eating chocolate and tasting chocolate," Director of Hershey's Global Retail Experience Lael Hunt said. "The goal is to understand the art of chocolate tasting."

Hunt describes the Hershey's Chocolate Tasting Experience as a peek into the product development labs in which the complex flavors of the product are crafted and finalized.

During the event, participants are taught to explore the chocolate with more than just their taste buds -- using all five senses, as Hershey's Master Chocolatier Jim St. John suggests. The sound of a chocolate bar as it breaks, for example, says a lot about the type of chocolate. The louder the crunch, the more cacao and the less milk used in making that particular bar.

The standard Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar makes little sound, whereas upon breaking, the Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate produces a noticeable crunch.

The tasting techniques participants learn involve understanding the flavor profiles professional chocolate tasters look to identify in each different style. Chocolate is characterized as either being: sweet, dairy, fruity, floral, earthy, or spicy-nutty, and each of those categories breaks down further into specific tastes such as butterscotch, sharp cheese, raisin, leather, wood, nutmeg and dozens of others.

"You may discover new flavors you didn't even know were there," said Hunt. "It's both entertaining and educating." 

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Photo by Jeremy Long - Lebanon Daily News

Kaylin Reuwer of Harrisburg listens to the sound a piece of chocolate makes when broken during Hershey's Chocolate World's Chocolate Tasting Experience Wednesday, its grand opening. Here's a chocolate secret: The less milk used, the more snap.

The four types of chocolate explored are Hershey's Special Dark, Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar, Hershey's Bliss, and Hershey's artisanal chocolate brand, Scharffen Berger. 

Participants then try out their new knowledge and use digital tablets to vote on the various tastes they notice in each piece of chocolate; display screens then tally the most frequently noticed flavors. These are then compared to the experts' answers. Through a pre-recorded presentation video, St. John reminds that no two palates are the same, and because of that, no answer is wrong. 

St. John believes that the Hershey's Chocolate Tasting Experience is more educational than the previous attractions and that it arose out of guest's desire to learn more about the chocolate they loved. 

"Guests want to enjoy chocolate and understand why they enjoy it. There is a renewed sense of understanding what's in my food and why does it delight my palate?" St. John said. 

He also believes the interest in this new attraction arises out of the artisanal food movement, citing that millennials frequently consider themselves to be "foodies."

Participants in the inaugural Hershey's Chocolate Tasting Experience Krista Reuwer and her daughters, Kaylin and Kinsey, said they enjoyed the presentation and found it to be a good learning experience in addition to simply being fun. 

"I didn't realize how much chocolate tasting was like wine tasting," said Krista Reuwer. "You have no idea that there are fruity, earth or cheese flavors in chocolate until you think about it." 

The Amazing Candy Machine, which has been operational a little less than a month, contains 15 different brands of Hershey's candy, amounting to 1.5 tons. It allows guests to create and then buy their own mixtures of sweets. 

Adult tickets for the Hershey' Chocolate Tasting Experience cost $9.95, and children's tickets cost $6.95. The event runs approximately every half hour.


This article comes to us through a partnership between Lebanon Daily News and WITF.

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