Local brands of of chocolate always conjure up childhood memories--as pasalubong from parents, titas, or older siblings, or the many times you forked over prized coins to the neighborhood tindahan for a couple of precious pieces. These homegrown varieties defined our Pinoy childhood long before their imported counterparts became as accessible as they are today.
Nowadays, no matter how sophisticated and well-travelled our palates have become when it comes to this cherished cocoa confection, we will, once in a while, get a hankering for a sweet fix of these local brands--just the sight, smell, or first bite of which has the power to immediately transport us into our carefree and innocent days, like that pivotal scene from Ratatouille. SPOT.ph checked out the local supermarkets and shops and sampled the local chocolates on their shelves, familiar classics and new contenders alike--taking note of taste, texture, size and other distinct standout qualities to see which local chocolates deliver the goods. Here’s our top 10:
10. Cloud 9 Classic
Price: around P7.50 per piece
A small bar of caramel, chewy nougat, and peanuts wrapped in thin chocolate, the Cloud 9 Classic bar still has that chocolate magic--peanuts offset the overly sweet chocolate while the nougat adds texture to the usual chocolate bar. Those looking for a quick and cheap chocolate pick-me-up can count on one bar to do the trick.
Sold individually in convenience stores and in packs of 6 or more at groceries, Cloud 9 Classic has remained consistent throughout the years.
9. Goya Dark Mint Chocolates
Price: P25 to P30
Goya’s Dark Mint chocolates are circular-shaped nuggets with 9 pieces in a box. Upon opening the box and the foil that keeps the chocolate pieces fresh, a strong mint scents wafts out of the box, a telltale sign of how the chocolates will taste.
The mint taste is stronger than the chocolate flavor, and the semi-sweet chocolate is creamy, soft and smooth and easily melts in the mouth. Those who have a penchant for mint chocolates will find Goya’s version a cheap and enjoyable treat.
8. Goya Gold Coins
Price: P19-P25/ pack
Smooth milk chocolate shaped like coins and embossed with a picture of a caboose on one side, Goya Gold chocolate coins are creamy and have a melt-in-your mouth consistency, with a slight salty aftertaste. The chocolate coins’ size--about an inch and a half in diameter--are perfect for nibbling on when you’re craving something sweet, you only need a few pieces for a sugar rush.
The fun part about eating the chocolate coins: tearing off the gold tin foil packaging without cracking the chocolate in pieces.
7. Goya Milk Chocolate
Price: P16/ bar
Goya’s classic milk chocolate is a creamy, soft bar of sweet milk chocolate. Available in most groceries and convenience stores, the current Goya chocolate bars are richer in taste compared to the chocolate bars sold years ago, which had a faint taste of chocolate.
The improved milk chocolate bars have a more creamy and milky taste rather than strong cacao flavors, and is preferred by those who like their chocolates sweet instead of rich and bitter.
6. Chocolate Mallows
Price: around P16 for the snack pack (2 pieces)
These chocolate-coated marshmallow biscuits sold in its signature yellow box were popular back in the —˜80s. Available in boxes of six, Chocolate Mallows now come in snack packs of 2 and are sometimes quite hard to find in groceries.
Individually wrapped in foil wrappers, the chocolate mallows have a rich milk chocolate coating with subtle but noticeable hints of orange flavor. The white-colored marshmallow inside isn’t overly sweet and the biscuit adds texture to this well-loved chocolate snack.
5. Goya Dark Chocolate
Price: P18/ bar
Goya’s version of the dark chocolate is available in two variants: as a chocolate bar or as bite-sized circular chocolates packaged as Goya Black & White (mixed in with milk chocolates). Dark brown in color, soft and easily melts in one’s fingers, Goya’s dark chocolate does not have a strong bitter taste and is actually a tad sweet than your average dark chocolate. It also leaves a faint aftertaste of nuts, sugar and cocoa in the mouth.
Tip: Goya’s dark chocolates can be melted to create a quick and cheap alternative chocolate fondue dip at home.
4. Ricoa Curly Tops
Price: around P17 for 15 pieces
The bite-sized chocolate cups get its name from the swirly chocolate top on each chocolate nugget. Sadly, the "curly tops" now look a bit deformed. Soft, with faint traces of powder and a tendency to melt fast if left in the heat for long periods of time, the small size of each chocolate piece makes for addictive snacking---one can easily finish a box of Curly Tops in less than 15 minutes. Curly Tops have a more sweet milk taste rather than a rich bitter chocolate flavor, perfect for those who love creamy milk chocolate.
Pinoys who grew up with Curly Tops may remember the quality being better in terms of the "curly tops" being really swirly and the chocolate taste, richer. Despite the changes, Curly Tops still remains a favorite among kids and adults.
3. Ricoa Flat Tops
Price: around P34 for a pack of 30 pieces
Flat Tops, the small circular chocolates with "Ricoa" embossed on top and wrapped individually in the familiar silver and orange wrapper, are a familiar Pinoy chocolate. Available in most groceries and convenience stores in packs of 30 or more, the bite-sized chocolates can be nibbled on or eaten as a whole. Soft when bitten into, chewed or left to melt inside one’s mouth, Flat Tops are creamy with a faint milk chocolate flavor. Its sweetness borders on the less saccharine side of the spectrum, a probable reason why it takes little effort to finish off a pack.
Price: around P30 for a pack of 24
Strictly speaking, Chocnut doesn’t really fall under the chocolate category. The popular Pinoy treat which comes in small bite-size crumbly rectangular bars individually wrapped in foil, however, deserve a spot in this list because of its enduring popularity and distinct taste.
Blending the tastes of chocolate and peanut nicely with just the right amount of nutty flavors without being cloying, the Chocnut’s texture is powdery and melts in the mouth when eaten. Some like refrigerating the whole pack so it doesn’t easily crumble when eaten.
A Pinoy classic, OFWs and balikbayans often look for Chocnut to bring as pasalubong to kababayans hankering for a taste of home. The Chocnut has also proved its versatility through the years with its varied incarnations: as a flavor for hot chocolate drinks, an ice-cream flavor (previously served at the defunct Uva Restaurant and now available at Trilogy Boutique and Canteen in Legaspi Village), and even lending sweetness to cocktail drinks for the adventurous (There are chocnut-flavored cocktails at Tulipan at The Establishment and at No. 38 Sports Lounge and Grill).
1. Theo Philo Artisan Chocolates (Milk chocolate)
Price: P95/ bar
By far the priciest and has the nicest packaging in the bunch, the unassuming Theo Philo Artisan chocolates made in Davao look like gourmet chocolates and may be bought at the EchoStore. Both the milk chocolate and the dark chocolate varieties come in an artful box that reminds one of the packaging of colored pencils.
The milk chocolate variant, is medium-brown in color, smooth with no rectangle ridges found in most chocolate bars. Soft when bitten into, the Theo Philo bar is not at all cloyingly sweet. Instead, bitter notes and a rich cocoa taste greets the tongue. This bar is not for sugar junkies but for those who love the rich and robust taste of cacao.
* Retail prices of the chocolates may vary.