Friday, November 4, 2005

Head to Head: Target vs Trader Joe’s

Everyone’s talking about Choxie. Probably half of you reading this right now are here because of a Google search for Choxie. Under a huge marketing blitz, Target is running national commercials that feature go-go dancers extolling “Cha-cha-cha Choxie. Chocolate with Moxie!” They’re having free tastings this weekend (Sunday, November 6th from 1-5 PM at all locations).

A couple of weeks ago my husband picked up some new candy at Trader Joe’s called “Slate of Bliss.” Very cool, I thought. Then I went to Target and saw the SAME thing under their Choxie label called simply “Thin.” As Trader Joe’s is well known for their repackaging of food under its own label, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. The Choxie is $2.50 a package, the Trader Joe’s is $1.99 ... a 20% savings. The biggest question is who makes the candy for both Target and Trader Joe’s? Actually, the biggest question is ... is it any good?

Since the packaging is identical (a clear cellophane inner wrapper and a matte cardboard box) and the sizes (2.5 ounces) and flavors are similar (Trader Joe’s carries only two flavors, both are included in the Choxie line, but Target has added selection on top of that) I’m going to treat them all the same.

 

Slate of Bliss -  Espresso and Milk Chocolate: I’m not sure why I’m starting with this one, because I was most disappointed with it. The milk chocolate base is sweet (32% cocoa solids) and has that European milk chocolate taste. On top are crushed Arabica espresso beans. The beans are crunchy and of course taste like coffee. They’re not bitter, but definitely have a lingering taste to them and oodles of caffeine. 7 out of 10.

 

Choxie - Toffee Ginger Thin: I’m a ginger nut, and I love toffee too, so I had high hopes for this. I was a little leery of the milk chocolate base though from the description, as I thought the sweet toffee and crystallized ginger would be set off better by semi-sweet chocolate. The label does not say how much cocoa solids are in the chocolate, and it’s definitely a different chocolate blend than the espresso Slate of Bliss. The milk chocolate is not as dairy smooth, but very sweet and lacks a chocolate punch. The toffee is nice, but I didn’t think there were enough bits on it and the ginger chunks were few and far between (when breaking the whole thing into 8 pieces, two ended up without ginger). 7 out of 10.

Slate of Bliss - Cacao Nibs and Dark Chocolate: I’ve had a few premium bars this year that have cacao nibs in them, and I really enjoy them. They’re like nuts, only chocolate! This bar has a wonderful cocoa aroma to it. Smoky and roasted with a slightly fruity fragrance. The chocolate here is only 54% cocoa solids, but instead of being overly sweet, it has a wonderful creamy cocoa butter melt. The chocolate is smooth with no hints of grainyness and the nibs give it a punch to highlight the nice apricot and cherry notes to the chocolate. 9 out of 10.

Choxie - Peppermint Marbled Crunch Thin: The sassiest of all the packages, this one is exactly what you’d expect from looking at it. A rich semi-sweet chocolate with a little marbling of white chocolate on top and some crushed peppermint candies. There’s no indication of the cocoa solids on this one, but with Sugar as the first ingredient of the chocolate, I suspect it’s less than 50%. The chocolate is slightly more astringent than the chocolate in the Slate of Bliss Cacao Nib one, but the light bitter/dry finish helps to buoy the lighter note of the mint. Though the bar smells mostly minty, it’s definitely chocolatey on the tongue. 9 out of 10.

Now, there’s been some talk in the comments section of this blog about BruCo being one of the company’s that’s making Choxie (I suspect that Choxie is made by several different candy manufacturers to Target’s standards). I don’t know BruCo well enough to comment on that. The two BruCo bars I’ve tried were not at all similar to anything that I’ve seen as part of the Choxie line. I’ve also heard that Vosges is making some of the candy (specifically the chocolate bars and some of the truffles - especially since the flavor of Vosges’ Red Fire Bar is similar to the Choxie Hot Chocolate Bar), but again, I have no confirmation on that. No matter who makes the stuff and my opinions on the flavor combinations, it’s all good quality with fresh and real ingredients.

UPDATE (11/15/05): I got an email from a very helpful reader that pointed me to Veritas Chocolatier who makes something called True Flats which looks EXACTLY like the Trader Joe’s Slate of Bliss packaging shape and of course the flavors.

Related Candies

  1. Choxie 3 Ounce Chocolate Bars
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  3. Candy Source: Chocolates a la Carte
  4. Equal Exchange: Espresso, Mint & Nibs
  5. Choxie Champagne Truffles

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:34 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewChoxie (Target)Trader Joe'sChocolateCoffeeGingerNibsToffee7-Worth It9-YummyUnited StatesHead to HeadTarget

Comments
  1. Cybele's avatar

    Anonymous said…

      Thanks for this wonderful review.

      I agree the dark chocolate w/nibs TJ’s “Slate of Bliss” bar is much better than the espresso milk bar.

      Can’t wait to try the peppermint Choxie bar!

      Have you tried Fran’s Chocolates from Seattle, WA? Wanted to hear your take on them.

      Also Recchuiti Confections chocolates from San Francisco are wonderful. (Better than Fran’s)

      Did you try the Choxie champagne truffle in that 7 pack yet? Just curious of what you thought.

      I tried the Vosges ‘Gatsby’ champagne truffles (they are for Valentine’s Day) and thought they were very good. Maybe that is the same one in the Choxie box? But those other flavors are not made by Vosges. Humm…

      Look forward to reading your reviews.

      Have a great weekend.

      November 04, 2005 10:30 AM
    Jeremy said…

      After reading your review on Choxie the other day, I went to Target and got some for myself. I grabbed the Hot Chocolate bar. It was really good chocolate, but not very hot. Oh well, the Lemon Raspberry one was fantastic too! I hope everyone starts making high-quality chocolates like this soon. Maybe we’ll see the advent of a “fancy” Hershey’s bar in our local Minit Marts!

      November 04, 2005 11:24 AM
    Cybele
    Cybele said…

      I’m heading to Target tomorrow morning and may pick up some truffles (I’m going to a different store since the one in Eagle Rock seemed to be out of some stuff a couple of weeks ago). I was going to use the artisanal tiles as a decoration for a dessert plate for a fancy dinner tomorrow night. I’ll post photos!

      jeremy - I’ll try the other chocolate bars soon. It’s a huge line of candy, so it’s going to take me a while to get through it!

      November 04, 2005 1:21 PM
    Jodi
    Jodi said…

      The only Choxie thing I’ve tried is the chocolate and peanut butter covered toffee popcorn. It’s really good, sweet, and sticky. My husband brought it home for me, hoping to use the container for part of a Halloween costume. That didn’t work out, but I’m enjoying consuming the contents!

      November 04, 2005 5:48 PM
    Anonymous said…

      D’OH!!!
      I just lost 15 pounds, and I *had* to click over to your wonderful site! I am already planning a trip to Target to check these out (in very small bites).

      November 04, 2005 5:50 PM
    Michal said…

      The espresso & milk chocolate I wouldn’t enjoy either, too strong for my taste.
      Don’t know about coffee, I do love toffee, but I can’t imagine what the ginger chocolate combination is like, because I never tried it before. Does it work well?
      I see that See’s make Glaced ginger. Have you tried it?
      I think that combined with cocoa nibs, bitter on their own, a “mere 54%” cocoa solid content shouldn’t make for an overly sweet chocolate. It sounds just right, actually. They kind of look like mini chocolate chips, by the way… I like the fact that the chocolate isn’t completely overpowered by the mint in the peppermint crunch variety.
      Great photos for all 4 bars!
      Good luck with your fancy dessert tomorrow! grin
      *did you get my mail?

      November 04, 2005 6:25 PM
    Marvo said…

      I wish I had a Target and/or a Trader Joe’s here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There’s so much awesome stuff. But I’ll be in LA during Thanksgiving weekend, so I’ll definitely stop by both places and pick up stuff to review.

      November 05, 2005 12:58 AM
    lisa said…

      Wow, I guess I didn’t pay very close attention to the Choxie commercial—I thought it was a chocolate scented body spray!

      November 05, 2005 5:43 PM
    Anonymous said…

      I think Choxie tastes a lot like Lake Champlain Chocolates.

      November 07, 2005 4:27 AM
    Tricia said…

      Drat, I missed the free Choxie tasting on Sunday! Oh well. I did, however, buy the “hot chocolate” bar earlier in the week, spurred on by your review. Although I couldn’t detect any spicy-heat from the chipotle powder, I really REALLY liked the cinnamon essence. I would definitely buy again (and might try my hand at homemade cinnamon truffles…)

      Our Trader Joe’s doesn’t seem to carry that line of chocolate, too bad. However, they have chocolate covered ginger that I really like (and my husband declared “too weird”, which meant I got to eat it all, bwah ha ha…). Have you tried that, Cybele, since you enjoy ginger so much?

      November 08, 2005 6:34 AM
    Bryan said…

      The other day when I was on my usual bi-monthly Target run, I saw the Choxie stuff being sold. I was thinking, what the hell is Choxie? Thanks for answering that… I’m going to have to go check it out now.

      November 11, 2005 11:54 AM
    eecue said…

      OMGI8TMMFC

      “Slate of Bliss - Cacao Nibs and Dark Chocolate”

      so tasty.

      The fiance like the milk chocolate better, but I love the little nibs. I have normally been a milk chocolate person, but I really love this dark.

      November 15, 2005 3:32 PM

    Comment by Cybele on 11/16/05 at 2:05 pm #
  2. I’m usually a big fan of chocolate and mint things. I bought the peppermint marbled chunch thin bar toady and didn’t really enjoy it. The chocolate just wasn’t good.

    Comment by Jamychael on 10/21/06 at 5:15 pm #
  3. Cybele's avatar

    allison - I’m not sure Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate is in the same league. This review was about two mass-manufactured candy products, not boxed fine chocolates. If you were to compare C4 with See’s, then I think it’d be apples to apples (and I’d like to know WHY you think that).

    Comment by Cybele on 10/08/07 at 9:00 am #
  4. Target-Shame on you!!!

    You took away my favorite chocolate of all time

    The Dark Chocolate Mini bars in difference flavors of fruit & nuts.

    Please bring them back, or tell me where I can get them.

    Comment by Susan on 5/18/10 at 9:46 am #

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