How chocolate “blisses” us out…
The Bliss Point started with some work by scientist Harold Moskowitz in the 1950s on how to persuade American soldiers to finish their MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). In his research he discovered that humans both have a natural sense of satiety (they know when they’ve eaten enough) and that humans also become bored with the same tastes, flavours and textures.
Moskowitz also discovered that if you combine sugar, salt, and fat with interesting flavourings and textures, we humans hit a “bliss point” and just don’t know how to stop. The result was everything from Cherry Doctor Pepper (an early success) to the likes of Doritos and Pringles where “once you pop you can’t stop”.
We are ‘programmed’ from birth to seek out and enjoy products that contain sugar, salt or fat. Eating (or drinking) any of them gives us a dopamine hit that encourages us to seek out more until we are satiated and then we stop.
However, when you combine sugar, salt and fat altogether, they act synergistically to make us want to eat more. Essentially, they override our ability to feel satiated and stop eating. For most of history this wasn’t a problem, as in nature there are no products that simultaneously contain fat, sugar and salt. But food scientists, starting with Moskowitz, experimented with, and eventually optimised, different doses of sugar, salt and fat across many products and figured out how to override the brain’s natural ‘stop’ signals.
It’s the same with many milk chocolates. When you take a bar like Standout’s Dark Milk, you can savour it. But you may still want a second (and third, and fourth!) bite. It’s the same ‘science’ and experimentation that explains why Menakao’s 44% Milk and Original Bean’s Esmeraldas Milk have a pinch of salt.
Indeed there is an argument that milk chocolate, created in the 1880s and 1890s, was the world’s first “bliss point” food. It was Daniel Peter’s perseverance, Henri Nestle’s work on producing milk powder, and Rodolphe Lindt’s conche that created the first smooth, creamy milk chocolates – and the rest is history.
(Note: the American experience of milk chocolate is a little different – and if you want to understand the “tangy” flavour they love (we are being polite), dial into one of our regular Virtual Tastings.)
Please note that this is by no means a criticism of milk craft chocolate bars. But hopefully it offers some insight as to why even dark chocolate fans find it hard to resist a few squares of milk chocolate every now and again.
Dark versus Milk Chocolate
Dark craft chocolate contains a fantastic variety of flavours – over four hundred according to recent scientific research, up there with fine wines.
Consequently, dark craft chocolate is an amazing way to explore flavour and refine our palates. It’s very nutritious. It invites savouring. One small cup of drinking chocolate or a few squares of a bar both stimulate and satiate. Sharing a couple of dark chocolates squares is the perfect end to a meal, and you normally have some left over for the next meal too.
Milk craft chocolate is very different. It also has tonnes of flavour, and it is huge fun to compare different milk craft chocolates at any time. But milk chocolate is far more “moreish”. So it’s far, far harder to resist eating more. That’s also why in our Virtual Tastings we leave the milk chocolates to the end of our tastings, once we’ve savoured everything else.