Noka chocolate: It costs more, doesn’t that make it better?

[Crossposted at dailykos]

This is one of the funniest “over-the-line” stories (and best reporting) I’ve seen in a long, LONG time. The rich folks in Texas, in part through the gold-plated auspices of Niemann-Marcus, have been paying greater-than-caviar prices for this slyly marketed but quite ordinary chocolate.

Vintages Collection (i.e., molded tablets) — Signature Box (i.e., stainless steel).
96 piece — approximately $464 per pound
48 piece — approximately $795 per pound
24 piece — approximately $1,146 per pound
12 piece — approximately $1,760 per pound
4 piece — approximately $2,080 per pound

Let’s compare that with the products of some commonly known chocolatiers. Godiva chocolates range from about $30 to $65 per pound. Joseph Schmidt chocolates range from around $30 to $55 per pound. Fran’s chocolates cost around $55 to $70 per pound. Michael Recchiuti’s chocolates run from $58 to $85 per pound. And La Maison du Chocolat ranges from about $65 to $85 per pound.

My only regret is that a “Sideways”-kind of movie wasn’t made of the faux-connoisseur chocolate buffs who made a lot of bucks for these entrepreneurs.

The piece is quite long and detailed, explaining some of the intricacies of the chocolate industry. Briefly, there are bean grows, chocolate processors, and “chocolatiers”, who basically melt down bulk chocolate, pour it into molds, and then put it in fancy boxes.

Noka has slyly implied by its statements and its evasiveness that it is not simply a chocolatier, and that its chocolate is somehow the best. In reality, as the reporter brilliantly shows, Noka seems to simply buy bulk chocolate from Bonnat, one of the many chocolate processors, whose product is by no means the highest rated.

How much does Bonnat cost? The bars I used for the taste-testing in this report were purchased from Chocosphere for $33.99 per pound. Keep in mind that this is retail pricing for individually molded and wrapped 100-gram bars. Buying the same bars from the authorized US distributor (with a minimum order of a case of 6 bars) pushes the price down to $17.82 per pound. By purchasing blocks of couverture (rather than individual portioned bars) and cutting out the middleman, I’d be very surprised if Noka is paying more than $11-12 per pound.

Noka, according to the piece, then does a rather amateurish job of melting it into candy in a modest strip mall storefront in suburban Plano, TX, but a masterful job of marketing it to snobby Texans who have too much money for their own good.
I say congratulations to the reporter, but also to the two ex-accountants who started Noka; they have both done a spectacular “take-down”.


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Filed under food/drink, gadgets, Humor, Texas

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