Saturday, June 20, 2009

Choco-Lite: the chocolate bar of yore

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.


Chelc said...

Isn't it funny how much impact food can have on our lives? My family grew up on Mother's cookies - a local brand, but I'm pretty sure they sold in a lot of grocery stores. We're talking like having these cookies every day. They had a huge selection, but my favorites were the frosted circus animals that came in pink and white and had round pink and white sprinkles. Well a few months ago, Mother's closed! It was so sad. The happy ending to my story is that just last week we saw that they're back - a more limited run, but the circus animals are in it! Apparently Kellogg's or some big company like that took them over. Looks like they're keeping all the same recipes.

Sorry your Aero bar isn't up to par. I'd say better to keep the pristine memory than try to fake it with a sub-par replacement. And write Nestle - you never know! Retro food is very in right now (Coke's cane sugar version, for example).

Anonymous said...

Wow, I actually remember Choco-lite. I liked them better than the regular solid chocolate bars too. Something about the holes and the creaminess of the chocolate just made them awesomely different.


Hey Chickie said...

I can't believe you are talking about this. No one i know remembers this candy bar. Do you remember the commercial? It was a cartoon type of commercial with kids floating down a chocolate swirling river and sliding down slides of chocolate... all light and fluffy. Someone has to find the video!!! Thank you for validating my chocolate memories. Now I'm a dark chocolate kind of girl but as a kid I loved this candy. Oh and Marathon bars too.

vivzan said...

Hey Chickie, yeah, no body seems to remember this bar. It's like everyone who ever ate it got wiped off the face of the Earth except for like a handful of people. Yet, Marathon bars get remembered.

I don't remember the commercial at all, just the sign/packaging. I'd love to see it though! I'll look for it. Someone has got to have it.

I too am now a dark chocolate kind of girl but if they were to bring back Choco-lite, I'd buy up boxes of it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! Ive been trying to remeber the name of this candy bar! I just ried a Cadbury Wispa and found it to me much closer to the Choco Lite then the Aerobar...give it a try!

Jason said...

Great blog posting! - the image of the sign is from my own Flickr, and I've also posted an image of the wrapper there. I still have both in my personal collection.

The Choco'Lite was a great bar, and you're right, the Aero is not the same. The key difference, I believe, is the texture. I think the Choco'Lite included some kind of caramelizing agent, that made the bubbles a little hard, or gave them some kind of resistance, so bubbles were almost crunchy, rather than airy - which is what the Aero is.

While I'm not a big fan of the Aero, I LOVE the Aero Mint, which is a great variation on the original!

As for that Choco'Lite commercial - I actually have a 16mm Choco'Lite commercial reel. Can't say if it's the one the other poster remembers, but if/when I get it transferred, I'll post it online and probably via my Flickr pages, too. It might be a while, as I'm waiting to get it and a few other commercial reels (Marathon bar, anyone?) professionally digitally transferred.

Anonymous said...

I loved chocolite bars then and am still obsessed today. I remember them having some sort of contest or something on the wrappers and I think at one point I had at least 100 of them. I had forgotten the chocolate river but just the mention of it brought it all back. Aero is definitely NOT Chocolite. Unfortunately. Thanks for the loving tribute to one of the best candy bars of all time.

I'm Not a Plastic Blog said...

Nice to know how many people loved Choco-lite. Now if only we could convince Nestle to bring it back somehow...