American chocolate tastes distinctly different than the chocolate made in Belgium, Switzerland, or Britain — and, more often than not, British people accept the flavor as inferior.

American chocolate tastes bad because it often contains butyric acid. This is the same compound that gives vomit and rancid butter their repugnant flavors. Butyric acid is produced due to the decomposition of fat, and humans dislike it because it signals that meat has spoiled.

While it is possible, and even probable, for the milk of different cows to taste differently, there is little consensus about whether that alone can explain why American chocolate tastes so different.

For many Americans, its distinct, acidic taste is just the way chocolate should taste. Anything that does not taste good has some distinctive taste, and presumably, this is why Europeans are so reluctant to taste U.S.-made chocolate.

American Chocolates Contain Rancid Butter

The rancid butter is what makes it so. There is no bad-tasting chocolate, but the mass-produced American ones are much more acidic than their European cousins. Hershey’s chocolates (and a few other American brands) are considered bad taste in European countries. These areas often have the best chocolates in the world, such as those made in Belgium, Switzerland, France, and Germany.

These differences in taste have been a source of distress for Americans who favor British chocolate after Hershey’s finalized an agreement with a British product importer last week that prevented British-made Cadbury chocolate from entering the United States.

The differences between the British-made Cadbury Dairy Milk bars and those sold in America, made by American-based Hershey, were highlighted in a 2007 article by Kim Severson for The New York Times. That American brand, by contrast, holds the right to manufacture the best American-made Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars.

According to Tony Bilsborough, Cadbury Dairy Milk spokesperson, Cadbury supplies this American brand’s Pennsylvania factories with a specific mix of evaporated dried milk, chocolate, and cocoa butter. Compare ingredients of Cadburys UK chocolate bars with those of Hershey’s.

On the Difference in Milk Chocolates

For this question, let us assume that most people mean milk chocolate and are likely to compare bars like Cadburys Dairy Milk (for European chocolate) to brands like Hershey’s, which are examples of American chocolate. ‘

There is likely to be some actual difference in taste between American Hersheys Milk Chocolate bars and British Cadburys Milk Chocolate bars, though not the difference that people typically assert; that difference has roots in the chocolate giants’ respective histories of WWII. The American and the Europeans used different amounts and fat contents of cocoa butter and cream in their chocolate.

As a result of lower sugar concentration, Americans are recognized for lighter, sweeter chocolates with milk, while Europeans regard their chocolates as virtually bitter. The significant difference in flavor is because the Cadbury Milk Bar contains 23% cocoa, as opposed to the 11% cocoa found in the U.S.-made Hershey bars, resulting in the Cadbury Bar having a darker, richer taste.

Two chocolate bars with identical amounts of cocoa nibs or fats- the combined combination of solids and fats- could have different tastes and feels if one used 10 percent cocoa butter while the other used 50 percent.

The Chemistry of American Chocolate Production

American chocolate also contains higher sugar levels than other chocolates, leading to acidic flavors. The acidity in American chocolate is caused by a fermentation process used during production, with the edge that results from chocolate being derived from more complex flavors. Butyric acid is a substance with a pungent smell, and American chocolate taste cannot compete with the bitterness in European treats.

The cause of Hershey’s acidic finish is the presence of butyric acid, the same chemical responsible for vomiting rancid flavor and odor. Hershey’s chocolates are reported to contain butyric acid, also found in Parmesan cheese, tart yogurt, and vomit. Hershey’s has never said whether or not its chocolate contains acid or whether Hershey’s uses a process called controlled lipolysis — but chocolate experts say that chocolate flavor points toward using controlled lipolysis.

The article says Hershey’s intentionally puts its chocolate through lipolysis, giving it that rancid flavor. In other words, the secret method is probably what gives Hershey’s chocolate the acidic taste the British hate but the American is used to. The chocolate is sampled and tested several times during these processes to ensure it tastes as it should.

Variations in ingredients–types of beans, the content of cacao, milk, sugar, flavors added (such as vanilla), emulsifiers, and so forth–and various steps of the chocolate-making process–fermentation, roasting, milling, conching, and so on–can have a profound impact on the taste of the end chocolate product (Severson, 2001; 117-126). For Hershey’s, this is also about maintaining a classic flavor Americans have grown to love.

Believe it or not, Hershey’s is so protective of its formula, as American chocolate companies essentially sought to mimic the taste of Hershey’s, even long after better preservation methods became available.

As a result of Hershey’s new methods, other American chocolate companies began implementing a process that would not only keep the chocolate but also provide it with this distinctive flavor. In 1930, Hershey’s plant implemented the milk strategy used in chocolatextending its shelf life. Rather than choosing products that would increase chocolate quality, resulting in higher overhead costs, the American brand chose products that would last. Chocolate companies do not comment on their chocolate-making processes for proprietary reasons, and it is clear the tart taste is likely due to a substance called butyric acid.