What’s Hot in the World of Honey + Chocolate

Honey Chocolate

The holiday season is huge for chocolate lovers, but this year in particular, it's a continuation of a full-steam-ahead summer onslaught that saw chocolate sales soar. Thanks to ingredients (we’re sweet on the all-natural variety), innovation, premium products and even nutritional properties, what once may have been seen as a simple indulgence is satisfying a number of demands in the candy aisle.

Cargill’s ChocoLogic study noted that about one-third of consumers increased chocolate consumption as a result of COVID. An astounding 70% believe that chocolate has health benefits, especially dark chocolate. Only 3% report avoiding chocolate — an attribute to the timelessness of what chocolate has to offer.

The National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) 2021 State of Treating report saw chocolate sales increase 4.2% during the pandemic.

The top reasons consumers choose chocolate, according to the ChocoLogic and NCA studies are:

  • It’s a reward
  • It’s a mood booster
  • It increases energy
  • It’s a compelling comfort food
  • There’s a belief that dark chocolate is “healthier”

Chocolate makers are responding to consumer demand with organic options, bite-sized servings and better-for-you ingredients woven into chocolate candy, bars, and salty snacks that include chocolate. But the aspect that still wins out every time is flavor. Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president of research firm IRI, said in Candy Industry’s August “State of the Candy Industry” webinar that flavor and taste are the top two answers every year when it comes to studying trends.

“It’s unanimous. If you don’t have a flavor and a taste they don’t really like, you probably aren’t going to get them back,” she said.

So, what flavors are winning, and how does honey fit into the chocolate lovers’ equation? ChocoLogic found that even though 45% of consumers said they were looking for new types of products, classic flavor pairings won out. More than half chose caramel and peanut butter as favorites when paired with chocolate. Spice, herbal and botanical notes were also regarded highly. T. Hasegawa USA, chocolate and vanilla flavor development company, also took a look at the role that chocolate plays in flavor combinations.

“It’s a thrilling time to work with chocolate and vanilla because we are just beginning to realize the full potential of these familiar, yet versatile flavors,” T. Hasegawa’s Director of Sweet Technology, Ibrahima Faye, told Food Navigator. “Yes, chocolate and vanilla can deliver the classic taste we already love, but these natural ingredients boast a range of other capabilities that can add complexity to different flavors.”

With more than 3,000 unique varietals of honey worldwide, flavor combinations of honey and chocolate are endless. Further, honey is an all-natural sweetener, lending itself as an ingredient that pairs well with chocolate. Overall, honey is a delicious, complex ingredient that provides chocolate confections with balance and an intense depth of flavor, as evidenced by these made-with-honey chocolate products.

See’s Candies
’ Dark Scotchmallows are a part of a line of made-with-honey chocolates from See’s. Exhibiting all-popular caramel with a layer of See’s honey marshmallow enrobed in customer favorite dark chocolate, this classic favorite is still one of the company’s most popular products.

Photo Credit: See's Candies
Photo Credit: Russell Stover's

Russell Stover’s
Millionaires are bite-sized, boxed and classic — with a made-with-honey twist. Caramel, premium milk chocolate and honey are combined with pecans, resulting in a customer favorite since 1914.

Honey Acres’ Dark Chocolate Honey Patties are a clean label lovers’ dream. With only two or three ingredients — including honey — in the entire line of Raspberry, Cocoa, Mint and Orange, Honey Patties are gluten-, dairy-, salt-, soy- and nut-free.

Photo Credit: Honey Acres

Photo Credit: Elements Truffles

Elements Truffles’ The Classic Collection is designed for unique taste and flavor combinations to shine. All six varieties include honey — Ginger with Black Pepper, Rose with Cardamom, Orange Quinoa with Turmeric, Peppermint with Lavender, Sea Salt with Turmeric and Raspberry with Beetroot — and they are made with fair trade Ecuadorian cacao.

We want to hear from you! Have you had a chance to try any of these made-with-honey chocolate creations? What is your favorite honey + chocolate treat? Sound off in the comments section below.