Since I had the worst chocolate ever in yesterday's entry, I thought I'd mention a new and delicious chocolate today, one that inevitably will cause fights.
The new Snickers & Hazelnut bar is terrific, if you like Snickers and if (and that's a large, macho if) you like hazelnuts.
This has become quite the thing, because people who like hazelnuts like them, but people who dislike them HATE them. Why?
In a word: Coffee.
When I was a wee tot, hazelnuts attracted no strong feelings. Brazil nuts were more likely to set brother against brother than hazelnuts. The first time I remember tasting one was in a chocolate candy, and I thought it was great. But that was before hazelnut coffee became a thing.
At one point in the 1980s, flavored coffees became huge across this great land of ours. Many flavors were tried, everything from amaretto to chocolate to orange to mint to sardine (maybe not so much the sardine), but two came to rule the field: vanilla and hazelnut. And hazelnut coffee, unlike vanilla, is extremely pungent.
I don't know why nut scents travel so far, but they do. Anyone who's been in a big city at yuletide when vendors are roasting chestnuts, or been near a nut-roasting place in the mall, knows that you can smell that stuff for half a mile. It's so potent that many people with peanut or nut allergies fear that they can get an allergic reaction from the odor. Fortunately, as Nemours tells us, "allergic reactions just from breathing in small particles of nuts or peanuts are rare because the food needs to be digested to cause a reaction. Most foods with peanuts in them don't allow enough of the protein to escape into the air to cause a reaction. And just the smell of foods containing peanuts won't produce a reaction because the scent does not contain the protein. In very rare cases when people do react to airborne particles, it's usually in an enclosed area (like a restaurant) where lots of peanuts are being cracked from their shells. The person inhales and then swallows the protein, which can lead to a reaction when the protein gets digested." Still, I would expect that the strong nut or peanut smell is disconcerting for those who suffer dangerous allergic reactions.
The backlash against flavored coffees seemed to begin in stores like the A&P and fine coffee establishments where beans were fresh-ground on the premises. Just as a garlic bagel makes all the other bagels in a bag into garlic bagels, so too would a pound of hazelnut coffee beans turn every bean run through the grinder afterward into hazelnut coffee. Hazelnut lovers became the lepers of the coffee world. If it weren't for the invention of the Keurig pod, I think violence might have broken out.
But the Keurig did not magically appear in offices overnight. Which meant that hazelnut fans who used shared coffee facilities once again wore a target on their backs. Because even if you had a dedicated Mr. Coffee for those Hazel Nuts (as I imagine they called themselves), the room would invariably smell like hazelnut coffee.
My wife hates hazelnuts because years ago some idiot burned a pot of hazelnut coffee in her office, leaving the pot on with a little on the bottom and reducing the hazelnut java to a goopy, oily, smoky mess. They almost had to evacuate to get away from the stink. Since then she's hated hazelnuts, hazelnut coffee, and everyone who drinks hazelnut coffee.
I didn't work at that office. I still like hazelnuts, and I really enjoyed this Snickers. I'm not a fan of flavored coffees, though, although I don't feel like throwing punches over them.
But if your garlic bagel gets in the same bag with my cinnamon raisin, things are gonna get fisty.