Israel: a land flowing with milk and honey or, more literally, a land filled with cranes and beautiful, shirtless youths. Israelis and Jewish Americans are immensely proud of Israel’s accomplishments, specifically its junk food, for good reason. We describe Bamba, Aroma ice cafe, and bagged “shoko” as food of the gods. But sometimes, enthusiasm for Israeli products goes too far.
With Israeli chocolate, things have officially gone too far.
When Gal Gadot was on Jimmy Fallon this week, she introduced him to one of Israel’s most popular chocolates: Elite-Strauss “cow chocolate” with pop rocks. “What is special about this?” asked Fallon, perhaps sensing he was about to be indoctrinated into one of the greatest cons in the modern world.
Reporting on Israel is painful and incredibly controversial, but it’s time to tell the truth:
Mass-produced Israeli chocolate is terrible.
It is worse than mass-produced chocolate in other countries by a significant margin.
I don’t believe in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, but I do strongly urge you to boycott and divest from mass-market Israeli chocolate.
Israeli chocolate doesn’t melt in your mouth. If you set it on your tongue and close your mouth it will stay there, preserved throughout eternity, like a Dead Sea scroll. Try to chew it and it will just kind of fleck off, so you use your tongue to push it down your throat. And then you smile, trying to believe that the condition of Herzl’s dream isn’t represented by the chalky lump that everyone is telling you to enjoy.
If American chocolate like Hershey’s is unpleasantly waxy, then Elite chocolate is like eating a Chanukah candle. I suspect that if you lined up unwrapped krembos and lit them on fire, they would burn for eight days. Israeli chocolate has a lower sugar content than American chocolate so Israelis will live longer, but those years will be filled by eating bland chocolate that tastes stale even when it is brand new and pretending that it tastes good. Unlike thick-cut, creamy Cadbury squares saturated with sugar, or exquisitely dainty, crumbling Kinder eggs, popular Israeli chocolate is characterized most by its mealiness and the fact that it kind of smells like nuts even when there are no nuts in it.
Tengo antojo de un Mekupelet pic.twitter.com/dwmzPhNO1n— נַפְתָּלִיNefito (@NeftaNut) September 26, 2017
Tastes like sadness.
Almost every single Israeli-made supermarket chocolate is either stuffed with cereal or oozing nougat. This is insane. If you ask yourselves what the average child wants, is the answer really nougat? And of all the things to cover in chocolate — caramel, peanuts, candy shells — why do the powers that be in the Israeli chocolate industry almost always choose off-brand cornflakes? One popular Elite chocolate is “mekupelet,” which you will love if you like British Flake bars but are looking for something with less cream, less sugar, and a stronger resemblance to endoplasmic reticulum.
But nothing is worse than hatcher ha’ole, the chocolate spread beloved by Israeli hostels and Jewish educators trying to lure American youth into participation like sticky, foil-covered Hansel & Gretel witches. No one who has tasted Nutella should or can accept hashahar ha’ole “cocoa spread,” which tastes like chocolate syrup mixed with gasoline. Israel is one of the most historically rich and politically and culturally complex countries in the world. It really shouldn’t need to reel children in with a congealed metallic chocolate syrup.
My grandad got me 1kg of chocolate spread from israel hahaha pic.twitter.com/ZeHOwesPG4— (m)ilan (@ilan_serjeant) June 8, 2013
Even grandfathers make mistakes
In addition it’s enraging, and somewhat humiliating, that Israel’s most famous chocolate is just called “chocolate” by Elite, and “cow chocolate,” by fans. They’re not even trying to look like they’re trying. How long do you think it took the inventor of Snickers to come up with the brilliant name Snickers? Think of the dreamy evocation of “Milky Way,” the implied crunch of “Kit-Kat,” the onomatopoetic power of “M&Ms.” I’ll give you that klik, the weird Israeli baggies of stale cereal coated in low-quality chocolate, has a resonant name. But still, they’re just little baggies of stale cereal coated in low-quality chocolate. You can easily store them in the tops of your molars and eat them later. But should you?
Klik Chocolate Pillows (Israel) review!https://t.co/3cUbV7xEnr#chocolate #candy pic.twitter.com/dXCIlk77F4— Bocandy (@GetBocandy) April 25, 2014
“Klik” is the sound your incisors will make as they break off while chewing this stale cereal chocolate.
Krembo - chocolate-coated marshmallow treats the perfect Israeli delight. pic.twitter.com/TNK4kVJxMb— Eli Dror (@edrormba) July 31, 2017
I want Israel to succeed in everything, from launching Gal Gadot into international stardom, to not committing human rights abuses, to manufacturing high quality commercial chocolate at low prices. But I cannot aid Gal Gadot in a deception that would have the world believe that popping chocolate is good.
Do yourself a favor and buy a bag of pop rocks. Buy a bar of excellent milk chocolate. Shove them both in your mouth. Then take a trip to Israel and go eat some Bamba — now that’s an amazing food.
Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny