A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    We've got artificial banana flavouring. We've got artificial vanilla essence. We've got the capability to synthesize new chemicals and polymers. We can literally make E. coli spit out Insulin.

    So why haven't we been able to create E. coli that create artificial cocoa butter?
    Last edited by Accelerator; 2022-01-14 at 12:31 AM.

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    We already have artificial chocolate... it's usually called white chocolate!

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Actually it's usually called "carob", and it's not that good a match. But then, neither is artificial banana flavour when compared to real bananas.
    Last edited by Khedrac; 2022-01-14 at 07:47 AM.

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    Actually it's usually called "carob", and it's not that good a match. But then, neither is artificial manana flavour when compared to real bananas.
    There are few things I find as distasteful as anything that is "banana-flavoured" that is not actually banana.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    Actually it's usually called "carob", and it's not that good a match. But then, neither is artificial manana flavour when compared to real bananas.
    Carob is not synthetic - it is just a different plant with kinda, sorta similar flavour, if you squint your taste cups just right.

    I would guess that what gives cocoa its taste might be more complicated (for example a mixture of many substances) or it is not yet commecially viable to pursue the method of synthesizing it.

    Artificial vanilla essence was very simple as it all boiled down to a single substance. The key to banana flavour was also a single, specific substance. Insulin is a highly sought and very expensive medical supply, so it was very much worth it to find a method of creating it artificially.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    But then, neither is artificial banana flavour when compared to real bananas.
    That's because artificial banana flavor was designed to taste similar to the banana cultivar that was popular at the time, and said cultivar was subsequently wiped out by disease and replaced by a somewhat different tasting cultivar.
    Last edited by InvisibleBison; 2022-01-14 at 08:58 AM.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    That's because artificial banana flavor was designed to taste similar to the banana cultivar that was popular at the time, and said cultivar was subsequently wiped out by disease and replaced by a somewhat different tasting cultivar.
    Which is actually a fairly cyclic event as pretty much all bananas in the international trade are from seedlings coming in the end from a single chosen tree multiplied over and over. So once there is a disease capable of affecting those industrial bananas, it spreads like a wlidfire.
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    Batcathat's Avatar

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    That's because artificial banana flavor was designed to taste similar to the banana cultivar that was popular at the time, and said cultivar was subsequently wiped out by disease and replaced by a somewhat different tasting cultivar.
    There is some disagreement on the matter.

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeadMech View Post
    There are few things I find as distasteful as anything that is "banana-flavoured" that is not actually banana.
    Have you tried chocolate-flavoured ice-cream?

    Seriously, the stuff they made when I was a kid was nothing short of awful.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    A few weeks ago, I was in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, and saw "Special K, with chocolatey pieces". See, they couldn't call them "chocolate pieces", because they weren't chocolate: Chocolatey, apparently, is a substance made from cocoa powder infused in some other high-melting-point fat instead of cocoa butter. In other words, what you're calling "artificial chocolate".

    It wasn't a very good approximation. I suspect that they could do better, but I also suspect that an actual good approximation to cocoa butter would be more expensive than the real thing, which defeats the whole point.
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    We already have.

    Strictly speaking, 'compound chocolate' [cocoa powder + butter + sugar] is artificial. This level of 'fakeness' can increase if said compound is 'extended' by replacing some cocoa with carob and the butters with margarine. Sugar already had a 'substitute' - sugar beet [this one being such a good one we don't even see it as one now] or perhaps corn syrup. You can tell this when you eat very cheap chocolate - lots of subsitutes and lots of filler.

    Here's an interesting article from 1989 [!] talking about the subject.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...660-story.html

    However, I shall argue that it's simple economics which has halted it's development and rollout. Natural cocoa is cheap and plentiful enough that the artificial variants are not viable as a product. Ersatz, after all is about making shift with what was on hand when the normal items were not an option...
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    A few weeks ago, I was in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, and saw "Special K, with chocolatey pieces". See, they couldn't call them "chocolate pieces", because they weren't chocolate: Chocolatey, apparently, is a substance made from cocoa powder infused in some other high-melting-point fat instead of cocoa butter. In other words, what you're calling "artificial chocolate".

    It wasn't a very good approximation. I suspect that they could do better, but I also suspect that an actual good approximation to cocoa butter would be more expensive than the real thing, which defeats the whole point.
    Europe enacted some laws on the subject years ago. You can sell a product as chocolate, as long as 95% of its vegetable fat content is cocoa butter (there's a list of which other fats are allowed for the 5%). Some see it as a step down in chocolate quality, but it's also true that chocolate creams need something other than cocoa to "feel" right, like the traditional hazelnut oil in the Gianduia chocolate.

    Nutella is a famous variant of Gianduia cream that uses too much hazelnut and palm oil compared to cocoa to be sold as chocolate in Europe.
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  13. - Top - End - #13
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blobby View Post
    Sugar already had a 'substitute' - sugar beet [this one being such a good one we don't even see it as one now] or perhaps corn syrup.
    Considering that sugar beets are one of the two primary sources of sugar we have, I would not call it a substitute honestly.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Yeah, sugar from sugar beets is exactly the same thing as sugar from sugar cane. You could call HFCS a "substitute", or worse, any of the various noncaloric sweeteners, but sucrose is sucrose.
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    Considering that sugar beets are one of the two primary sources of sugar we have, I would not call it a substitute honestly.
    Sugar beet originated as a substitute for sugar cane, which at that point primarily was supplied by the West Indies and Brazil - and thus in the hands of the French, British and Portuguese. The first real fillip to the industry came during the Napoleonic Wars, when the British held a near-monopoly of cane production and blockaded continental Europe.

    So I say again. 'Sugar beet proved such a good substitute we don't even see it as one now'. Partly because the substitute has taken over the original to the extent we think of beet as sugar.

    [C'mon... you literally quoted my answer to a point you then made... *rolls eyes*]
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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blobby View Post
    So I say again. 'Sugar beet proved such a good substitute we don't even see it as one now'. Partly because the substitute has taken over the original to the extent we think of beet as sugar.

    [C'mon... you literally quoted my answer to a point you then made... *rolls eyes*]
    Should we roll our eyes right back at you? That sugar beet was a substitute for sugar cane, I don't think is in dispute. That the sucrose from sugar beets was ever seen as not actually sugar (in the English language), is much less clear, and requires evidence. Statements about sucre or Zucker aren't quite the same thing.

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Okay, that's technically correct. I grant that. But....

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    Yeah, sugar from sugar beets is exactly the same thing as sugar from sugar cane. You could call HFCS a "substitute", or worse, any of the various noncaloric sweeteners, but sucrose is sucrose.
    No, it's not *exactly* the same. Chefs, bakers etc will say there's a little bit of difference between them regarding taste etc.

    'Cane sugar' was the original 'sugar'. Beet came along later.
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  18. - Top - End - #18
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blobby View Post
    No, it's not *exactly* the same. Chefs, bakers etc will say there's a little bit of difference between them regarding taste etc.
    They may say there's a difference, but that doesn't mean there is a difference. Has anyone demonstrated the ability to reliably tell the difference between sugar cane sugar and sugar beet sugar in blind taste tests?
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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blobby View Post
    Okay, that's technically correct. I grant that. But....



    No, it's not *exactly* the same. Chefs, bakers etc will say there's a little bit of difference between them regarding taste etc.

    'Cane sugar' was the original 'sugar'. Beet came along later.
    Chemically, there is no difference between the sucrose that comes from cane and beets, there might be different impurities in the unrefined sugar, but once it's refined there is no difference whatever, there are almost no impurities in white sugar, it's 99.999 % sucrose.
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  20. - Top - End - #20
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    Mr Blobby's Avatar

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    I'm no way able to really understand the scientific reports Mr Google has shown on me on the topic, but the main thing which was a take-away from it was that yes, folks can tell the difference between cane and beet if it's presented in a relatively 'natural' form - ie such as a topping on a churro. But there's not much in it, and even less when you're cooking.

    Which is why I said it was a substitute which turned out to be an excellent alternative.
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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blobby View Post
    I'm no way able to really understand the scientific reports Mr Google has shown on me on the topic, but the main thing which was a take-away from it was that yes, folks can tell the difference between cane and beet if it's presented in a relatively 'natural' form - ie such as a topping on a churro. But there's not much in it, and even less when you're cooking.

    Which is why I said it was a substitute which turned out to be an excellent alternative.
    No. The same thing is not a substitute for itself.
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    But it isn't the exact 'same thing'. Pretty close, and when developed further even closer. But not identical in every respect.
    Last edited by Mr Blobby; Today at 12:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blobby View Post
    No, it's not *exactly* the same. Chefs, bakers etc will say there's a little bit of difference between them regarding taste etc.
    Wine tasters also say they can taste all kinds of things about wines, but which has not been shown when they don't know what they are drinking.

    While cooks and bakers probably are the most familiar with sugar, they still have previous expectations how something will taste if they know what ingredients went into it.
    It tastes better or worse because they want it to taste better or worse. Not because it's different.
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    I haven't looked too closely into who wrote this article and who funded them, but it seems to say there's a difference in how cane and beet sugar behave in the kitchen:
    SUGAR, SUGAR / Cane and beet share the same chemistry but act differently in the kitchen

    Here's a few papers from the National Library of Medicine - PubMed (have these papers been peer-reviewed? I don't know):
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25124655/: Blind Study: cane sugar and beet sugar smell differently, but taste nearly the same if wearing nose clips
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25308166/: Blind Study: the sugar types are more obvious in syrups, less obvious in cookies
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25308071/: Mixed Study: People significantly prefer orange beverage with cane sugar over beet sugar when they know which is which, less so when they don't.
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    I don't know if it's still true with what's on the shelf nowadays, but: About 17 years ago, I was having trouble with a candy recipe. The sugar wasn't reaching the right consistency after cooling from the target temperature back to room temperature. The recipe was written for cane sugar, and I was using beet sugar. I searched the local supermarkets and bought a bag of pure cane sugar, and it worked exactly as the recipe said it should.
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    Default Re: Why haven't we made artificial chocolate yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by gomipile View Post
    I don't know if it's still true with what's on the shelf nowadays, but: About 17 years ago, I was having trouble with a candy recipe. The sugar wasn't reaching the right consistency after cooling from the target temperature back to room temperature. The recipe was written for cane sugar, and I was using beet sugar. I searched the local supermarkets and bought a bag of pure cane sugar, and it worked exactly as the recipe said it should.
    The difference is in the number of neutrons in the atoms of carbon.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucrose#Cane_versus_beet

    It is difficult to distinguish between fully refined sugar produced from beet and cane. One way is by isotope analysis of carbon. Cane uses C4 carbon fixation, and beet uses C3 carbon fixation, resulting in a different ratio of 13C and 12C isotopes in the sucrose.
    This is an almost homeopathic level of difference.

    The possibility of impure sucrose cannot be eliminated, but unlike salt I am unaware of any commonly used additives.
    Last edited by halfeye; Today at 04:48 PM.
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