With the chill of winter upon us, some days you might just want to curl up under a warm blanket with a piping-hot cup of hot chocolate in your hands. This rich indulgence can be a perfect cure for the icy winter blues with its creamy taste and comforting warmth.
This season, researchers and beverage-makers are finding new ways to make this cocoa treat taste even better. A new study by researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Oxford found that cup color can make all the difference in taste perception of this beverage, as reported by the Journal of Sensory Studies. Participants reported that the hot chocolate consumed from an orange or dark-cream-colored plastic cup, compared with white and red plastic cups, tasted best. Furthermore, participants mentioned that the chocolate tasted slightly sweeter and was more aromatic in the dark-cream-colored cup, but this effect was not as strong as the taste perception effect.
To kick off a flavorful new year, Dunkin’ Donuts launched a new hot chocolate flavor with a dark side — Dark Hot Chocolate. This new menu mainstay puts a fresh spin on this classic beverage by adding rich dark chocolate flavor, the company says. IHOP also introduced two new limited-time hot chocolate flavors, Gingerbread Hot Chocolate and Caramel Hot Chocolate, in 2012 to add some indulgent warmth to the season.
Other quick-service vendors and on-premise venues brought back seasonal hot chocolate flavors in the last few months to indulge consumers during the holiday time as well. Both McDonald’s and Starbucks brought back their peppermint hot chocolate beverages to add holiday cheer to each warm cup.
Whether consumers are cuddled up at home or craving an indulgent pick-me-up at work, the beverage industry offers plenty of ways to enhance the flavor of this winter classic.