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The term “mockolate” is used derisively to describe candy products made with cocoa solids, but no cocoa butter. Legally, such products cannot be labeled as “chocolate,” but instead must be called “chocolate candy,” “chocolate coating,” or some variation thereof, so that consumers understand that cocoa butter is not present. Mockolate is typically produced by companies trying to cut costs, since cocoa butter can be extremely expensive, and many companies feel that keeping the size of familiar candies the same is very important, even if the ingredients must change to keep costs down.
Real chocolate includes both cocoa solids and cocoa butter, the two components extracted from the cacao bean when it is crushed in preparation for making chocolate. Making chocolate is actually a very complicated process, as the components are first separated and then carefully blended back together in varying amounts, along with other ingredients, to produce the desired chocolate product. The cocoa solids contribute much of the flavor, while the cocoa butter adds the rich, creamy mouthfeel which people associate with chocolate.
When mockolate is produced, cocoa solids are blended with another source of fat, typically vegetable oil. According to producers, mockolate tastes the same as true chocolate in blind taste tests, but some foodies disagree. They claim that mockolate has a flat, greasy flavor and lacks the mouthfeel of true chocolate. Many have also pointed out that mockolate doesn't have the same nutritional profile as true chocolate, and that it can contain harmful fats and oils.
The battle between mockolate and true chocolate has led to attempts by the chocolate and candy industry to attempt to overturn the labeling rules which force them to clearly identify mockolate. Consumers and high-end chocolate companies have reacted poorly to these proposals, under the argument that this could infringe upon consumer choice. Whether or not mockolate and chocolate are identical, opponents argue, consumers should be able to select whichever version they prefer. This labeling argument reflects a larger dispute about food labeling which is raging in many countries as people struggle with issues like genetically modified organisms, country of origin labeling, and humane labeling.
Because many people have a negative perception of mockolate, companies often use misleading labeling so that consumers believe they are buying real chocolate. When companies switch from chocolate to mockolate, for example, their product packaging may remain the same. Indications that a product contains mockolate include the use of very small letters describing “chocolate cream,” “chocolate coating,” or “chocolate candy” in the product, rather than prominent lettering boasting “chocolate” or “milk chocolate.”