Sweet Controversy: Is Ruby Truly the Fourth Variety of Chocolate?

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After 14 years in the works, ruby chocolate joins the ranks of the other three main types of chocolate; dark, milk, and white. With availability skyrocketing in Japan, chocolate lovers are now able to enjoy the ruby version of their favorite sweet.

Chocolate for Millennial Taste Buds

The recipe of ruby chocolate is a trade secret, but Barry Callebaut, the Belgian-Swiss manufacturer and inventor of the chocolate, claims that the pink color occurs naturally and that there is no genetic modification involved in the process. Strong and fruity flavor, sweet and sour taste, ruby chocolate is marketed as the “Millennial Chocolate” as the confectionery maker is targeting millennials as its main target.

Sluggish Start

Barry Callebaut launched the fourth variety of chocolate at a Shanghai exhibition in 2017. At the beginning of 2018, KitKat became the first brand in the world to offer creations made with the naturally pink chocolate in Japan, and later in the same year expanded its market to South Korea, the UK and Germany. The market did not respond well and appeared to be disinterested in the new culinary adventure.

Adding to the apathy from the market, Barry Callebaut’s claims of ruby chocolate being a new variety were not met with consent from some confectioners and fanatic consumers. Although the recipe remains a secret, it is disputed that the cocoa beans used are no different from the beans used for other variations. The reason behind the distinct flavor is believed to be that the beans are not fermented, so the chocolate is left without the deep cocoa flavor we are all familiar with.

Tickle Me Pink

On the other hand, the candy aisles in large convenience stores are turning pink as the number of chocolatiers are adding ruby chocolate to their product line-up. Kabaya has added ruby covered panda-shaped cookies and KitKat has permanently added the ruby version of their wafers to their line-up. Morinaga doubled down by releasing white chocolate-covered ruby Dars, as well as pure ruby blocks.

Confectioners have also seized the opportunity to get creative with their products. Famous for its sweet buns, Kagetsudo now sells ruby-flavored Swiss rolls, and Louange Tokyo offers ruby Tarte au Chocolat in addition to ruby éclairs. For those with less of a sweet tooth, Fukui-based sweets company Hana-Echizen sells the pinkest baumkuchen, which combines the flavors of strawberry and white chocolate topped with nuts, ruby chocolate chunks and dried cranberries.

Milk Chocolate is Passé

The influx of ruby chocolate products is no coincidence. Despite Valentine’s Day being celebrated different than in the Western world, chocolate and red or pink colors are the main theme. Combine the two and you get the perfect gift for your significant other which at the same time doubles as great Instagram and YouTube material. After all, when KitKat first released their ruby chocolate bars in 2018, they did so just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Whether it is truly a new chocolate variation or merely a new flavor meant to fill a gap in chocolate for millennials during Valentine’s, having a party of flavors sealed in pink packages and made widely available is a win for the chocolate-addicted consumer.

Feature image by rosstomei / Shutterstock.com

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