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Taste test: How Hershey’s new natural chocolate compares to the original

When the Hershey Company announced it was simplifying the ingredients in its classic milk chocolate bars and Hershey’s Kisses, I had mixed feelings. Natural ingredients may be better for our bodies, but would this new recipe make the chocolate I’ve known and loved since childhood unrecognizable?

Like many adults, I grew up enjoying classic Hershey’s milk chocolate bars and Hershey’s Kisses. I’ve enjoyed sharing the candies I loved as a child with my family, but living a long and healthy life is important to me, and I’m always on the lookout for healthier and more natural treats.

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So when Hershey’s announced it was simplifying the ingredients in chocolate, I was curious to see if these new candies that were better for me would still taste just as good as the original.

Hershey’s shift to a more natural ingredient list is a change motivated by people’s growing interest in eating fewer processed foods, even when indulging in treats.

“We started making our great-tasting chocolate in 1894 with ingredients you might find in your pantry, like cocoa, milk, sugar and vanilla, and we’re continuing that tradition today,” said Mary-Ann Somers, vice president and general manager of US Confection, The Hershey Company. “People want to see ingredients that they know and are familiar with in their foods, and we’re listening. Our commitments to simple ingredients and transparency continue with some of our most popular products — Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars.”

Along with a streamlined ingredient list, the new Hershey’s packaging comes with a scannable QR code called SmartLabel, which you can scan to get instant access to information that can’t fit on a bar of chocolate. You can access detailed information about ingredients or contact the company with comments and/or questions. You can also check for allergens within a product’s ingredient list, which is a great feature for people or families with food allergies.

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Hershey’s was kind enough to send me a bag of the newly formulated Kisses, with an ingredient list as follows: milk chocolate [cane sugar; milk; chocolate; cocoa; butter; milk fat; lecithin (soy); natural flavor]. I bought a classic Hershey’s milk chocolate bar with the old ingredient list: milk chocolate [sugar; milk; chocolate; cocoa butter; lactose; milk fat; soy lecithin; PGPR; emulsifier; vanillin; artificial flavor] for my own at-home, head-to-head taste comparison.

So how does the new Hershey’s formula compare to the old? You can’t tell a difference. It’s the same delicious flavor without the artificial ingredients.

Both had that familiar, strong chocolate flavor that’s recognizable from the first taste as Hershey’s chocolate. The texture of the new, simpler-formula chocolate is still silky smooth and melts in your mouth. The rest of my family claims they tasted no difference between the two, but I think the new recipe with simpler ingredients has a slightly stronger chocolate flavor, which was a very good thing.

I found myself going back to the new-recipe chocolate for more over the bar with the original formula, though whether it was because it really does taste better or because subconsciously I knew it was better for me, I can’t be sure. Either way, both the original Hershey’s chocolate and the new candy with simpler ingredients were delicious, and there were no leftovers in the morning.

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This year, when you whip up a batch of classic holiday treats or pick up a bag of holiday-colored Kisses to help fill your stockings, you can be sure you’re getting that same chocolate taste you know and love, just with ingredients that are better for you.

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