Why are we so afraid of giving negative feedback on bad chocolate?
Chocolate is already among the sweetest things in life. No need to sugar coat it any further.
Chocolate lovers should get over the fear of being wrong when expressing their opinions (and if you are still fearful, you need to read THIS). There is no right or wrong chocolate review, so we might as well throw our 2 cents in there, start the conversation with other chocolate fellows and have fun with it. However, confidence is not the only obstacle that refrains chocolate lovers from an honest exchange of points of view. There’s more.
It’s easy to express an opinion when our taste buds give us the green light. “I like what I am tasting, of course I am going to share it!”. No obstacles in complimenting a chocolate maker or chocolatier on their great job; we all like to be seen as nice and uplifting people after all. The problem arises when we absolutely hate what we just put in our mouth. It tasted worse than dog food, but God forbid we say a single word about it!
We don’t want to be seen as those that overly criticize, are hard to please and easy to judge. There are some feelings to be taken into consideration too. Chocolate professionals put a lot of hard work in their creations, often with low profit margins and mainly driven by passion. It’s not easy to speak out “against” someone’s dedication. This is a problem though.
What we end up with is a bunch of overly kind superficial comments, because getting into details can get us in trouble and be seen as bad people. But I noticed something very interesting for me, and it might hold true for you as well.
The chocolate lovers that I admire the most are those who never bite their tongues. Even when on Instagram I tag a company in my posts, they don’t have any problem in leaving comments criticizing the creations of that brand. The chocolate company and many other chocolate aficionados are clearly listening, but these brave chocolate lovers don’t care. They kindly but firmly express their points of view no matter how good or bad a chocolate is.
I believe that we should be more like them. Here is why.
When we keep for ourselves our honest point of view on a specific chocolate product, sugarcoating our opinion whenever asked, this has bad implications for the entire chocolate community. Why? If we never spill the beans, we are doing a disservice to both chocolate consumers and chocolate professionals.
Confused Chocolate Consumers
The fine chocolate community is growing day after day. Thanks to weekly articles on the health benefits associated with chocolate consumption, consumers are getting more and more curious about chocolate. When they decide to dive into the charming world of fine chocolate, they are presented with a wide range of brands and flavors. The search for the chocolate really worth spending $10 on begins. But be reassured that they will have to spend at least half a day on the Internet before finding any negative review. Why is it so?
Again, nobody likes to play the part of the mean person. If only somebody important in the fine chocolate community had the balls, chocolate consumers wouldn’t have wasted thousands of dollars in that crappy chocolate that is labeled Mast Brothers. Easy job writing negative articles after their bad reputation was already exposed. Careful here though. I am in now way encouraging to bash chocolate products for being too smoky, acidic, gritty or having flavor notes that you don’t appreciate. Tastes are personal, and everybody enjoys different things. But when a chocolate bar is made so poorly that you wouldn’t suggest it to your worst enemy, you should speak up, or at least not lying about it.
If we want more people to jump on the fine chocolate band wagon, we need to be more sincere about our opinions. Education is key. Those who can distinguish good chocolate from bad chocolate should not be afraid to lead the way.
Confused Chocolate Makers and Chocolatiers
Like chocolate fellows deserve our honesty, so do chocolate professionals. They work all day long to provide us with our favorite food. Days of trials and errors, wasted materials, strategies to make ends meet, sweat, frustration, fierce competition. It may surprise you that many chocolate makers and chocolatiers are “self-made”, meaning that they taught themselves the insanely complicated art of working with chocolate.
The least we can do is to provide them with a real feedback dictated by the desire to see them improve every day and get closer to the success they deserve. From my personal experience, many of them welcome critiques and suggestions better than you would think. They are wise enough to listen to the voice of the market, and balance it with their own preferences and beliefs. Pretending that everything they do is “so good!” won’t help them in the long run. Honest and specific comments is what can lead them to real improvements, and to better chocolate products for us all.
In my mind I have a vision of a fine chocolate community where not only everybody supports each other, but it also resembles that group of friends that REALLY wants you to succeed, therefore will expose your weaknesses only for you to work on them.
(The premise is always good intentions. Financial interests, competition, shady strategies or other motives other than spreading knowledge and doing good should never come into the equation. And if they do, well, it’s you dealing with your karma anyway.)
Do YOU think that Bad Chocolate should be exposed?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.