Do most people have a strong sense of taste? I can eat something once and 1) remember the flavor(s) for life and 2) for the most part, identify the ingredients and duplicate it myself.
I bring this up because when I was a kid, between the ages of 5-8 and still lived in Queens, NY, I was obsessed with a particular chocolate bar. My dad, who worked at an airport, would bring home Toblerone and m&m's all the time, but there was one chocolate bar that I liked better than all the rest. It was a thick bar with tiny bubble holes throughout. I can still remember how it would crumble in my mouth and had a rich sweet flavor, dense and airy at the same time. After taking each bite, I'd look back at the bar and study the holes. It was my first food obsession.
One day, I remember going into the candy store, looking and not finding it. I asked the salesperson and found out that they stopped making it. I didn't believe it, so we walked to a different store I knew. Found it there but then eventually, they too told me it was discontinued. And then, it was gone from every store I knew once carried it.
We eventually moved to Florida and I didn't stop looking for it. How does a chocolate bar get discontinued? I'd go back to New York to visit my Grandparents and search in vain. Over the years, I never forgot the chocolate bar but I had forgotten the name. I'd mention it to people and no one knew what I was talking about. No one had ever eaten or remembered eating a bar like that. How could that be?
In the last couple of years, I started hearing about a chocolate bar called Aero from the UK and Canada that had tiny bubbles in it. The name didn't ring any bells, but I wasn't 100% certain that it wasn't my childhood chocolate bar. Since it's not a bar that's produced in the U.S., I couldn't find it at regular shops and I didn't make a big effort to locate it. Frankly, I assumed it wasn't sold here at all. But, when I went to Economy Candy a few weeks ago (an old time candy shop on the Lower East Side) and saw it, I decided to give it a shot.
It wasn't the same. While it pleased me to see tiny bubbles when I looked back at the bitten bar, the flavor wasn't the same. It didn't have the same "give" when I bit into it, and the flavor wasn't as sweet. After finishing and staring at the wrapper, I decided to google Aero and find out more about it. Quite possible it was the chocolate bar, but after 30 years and the move towards lower quality ingredients, it could have morphed into this.
That google search eventually led me to Choco-Lite! And, Choco-Lite was the chocolate bar! More googling led me to a photo of an original display (via JasonLiebig's flickr):
Which I totally remembered instantly!! Turns out, Choco-lite was discontinued back in the late 70s due to poor sales (what?!) and Nestle, who made Choco-lite, claims Aero is the same thing. I also found a bunch of folks who remember Choco-lite!
Eating the Aero bar made me miss Choco-lite so much, made the memory of the flavor, along with the happy, early memories of my childhood, so much stronger but also bittersweet. My happy childhood and the candy bar were both gone by the time I was eight, and both were things I yearned for while growing up.
Will I eat another Aero bar? I'm undecided. What I want is Choco-lite. But, like so many things in life, I can't ever have it again.