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Hershey's milk chocolate is the candy many of us know from childhood. Its familiarity is one reason why Americans generally prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate.
We put our panel through their paces in a blind test of five milk chocolate bars: Hershey's Milk Chocolate (starting at 56 cents/1.55 oz., Amazon); Cadbury Dairy Milk (starting at $1.68/3.5 oz., Amazon); CVS Absolutely Divine Belgian Milk Chocolate (starting at $2.29/3.5 oz.) and Whitman's Sampler (starting at $9.99/12 oz.; 42 cents a piece); and Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate (starting at $1.79/three 1.5 oz. bars). Just for fun, we threw in a more expensive bar, Michel Cliuzel Lait 45% (starting at $6/2.5 oz., Amazon), which our panelists declared the best milk chocolate of the bunch. They justified their votes by saying the texture is rich and creamy and the taste is very chocolate-y, not overwhelmingly sweet, and there's a hint of caramel that lingers and deepens without getting bitter.
Back in the Cheapism range, Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate scored second place in the cheap milk chocolate category. Our panel described the taste as solid and very milky and not cloyingly sweet, and said the bar melts in the mouth slowly. Some testers detected a weird undertaste that seemed almost chemical, which is surprising given the absence of preservatives or artificial ingredients.
We tested the American (as opposed to the British) version of the Cadbury Dairy Milk bar, which is made by Hershey's. (Sugar tops the ingredients list for the American bar while milk holds the top spot in the British bar.) Our tasting panel decided the Cadbury Dairy Milk bar is neither too chocolate-y nor too sweet, that it's "melty" and smooth, creamy and thick; one said it was almost sticky. The tasters at America's Test Kitchen applauded the texture but pronounced this milk chocolate bar too sweet.
The iconic Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar certainly claims lots of devotees, but not among our panelists. They said it tasted familiar but didn't measure up to the other cheap milk chocolates in the blind tasting. The consensus opinion declared it excessively sweet with a waxy texture, although there's a pleasant chocolate flavor that lingers and it melts easily. One chocolate blogger considers it more candy than chocolate.
While Hershey's might be reserved for an immediate chocolate fix in the absence of other alternatives, the same can't be said for CVS Absolutely Divine Belgian Milk Chocolate. Our panel decided this bar has virtually no flavor other than sugar, and noted the presence of an acrid undertaste. Moreover, this milk chocolate bar is very thin, melts too fast, and leaves no lingering chocolate taste. Divine? Not.
Good Cheap Chocolates
Trader Joe's Box of Chocolates
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Don't Bother Cheap Chocolate
CVS Absolutely Divine Belgian Milk Chocolate
Far from being divine, this chocolate bar is excessively sweet and has almost no chocolate taste.
Whitman's Sampler Review
Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Review
Trader Joe's Box of Chocolates Review
Cadbury Royal Dark Chocolate Review
Lindt Lindor Truffles Review
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