This Little Piggy Tastes Like Chocolate...

Remember the days when a chocolate bar would be plain or with nuts? If you were raised on Cadbury, you'd get raisins thrown into the mix for fun, but the choices were simple and few.

The 21st century has big things in mind for chocolate; in just a few years, brown bars have morphed from plain to "infused," with everything from bread crumbs to wasabi powder making an appearance on the ingredient list. To wit: Dagoba (now owned by Hershey) does bars filled with raspberries and rosehips, goji berries and currants and the calming duo of lavender and blueberries.

Now Dasher and Dancer and Piggy Von Blixen... (Kim O'Donnel)

But by far the most esoteric I've seen and sampled come from Vosges Haut-Chocolat, the Chicago-based company owned by Katrina Markoff, for whom a primary inspiration is the music of the late Bob Marley. Markoff's line of 14 bars, which launched in August, 2007, includes far-out combinations such as dried olives and white chocolate, ginger, wasabi, sesame seeds and dark chocolate -- and perhaps, the one that stops everyone in their tracks -- milk chocolate and applewood-smoked bacon.

While researching the world of bacon for a recent blog post, I got wind of Vosges's "Mo's Bacon Bar," ($7.50) but stopped short of buying one for a variety of reasons, including culinary trepidation.

But last weekend, while perusing the aisles at my neighborhood Whole Foods, I stumbled upon Vosges's latest baco-bit: The
chocolate flying pig, a bacon-studded and smoked salted piggy made of solid milk chocolate that is attached to a purple ribbon cord, like a soap on a rope. Now this was just too strange to ignore, even at a very steep 13 bucks (for 1.5 ounces, no less), but hey, somebody's gotta do it.

After several minutes wrestling with the plastic wrapping, I finally extricated my piggy from its pink box and took a bite out of her leg (aka the ham). A fan of salty and sweet (I adore chocolate covered pretzels and fleur de sel caramels), I had higher hopes for this swine, but honestly, she left me unimpressed, with a lardy mouth feel that needed a palate cleanser pronto. I wondered, as I nibbled on Markoff's Creole bar, with chicory and cocoa nibs, if darker chocolate would have been a better match?

So here's what I want to know: Do you think chocolatiers should be putting everything but the kitchen sink into their creations or leave a good thing alone. Take the wacky choco poll and weigh in on this debate. Oink, oink.

P.S. If you don't live near a Whole Foods, all Vosge bars (and piggies) are sold online.

By Kim ODonnel |  March 13, 2008; 7:27 AM ET Chocolate
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I think this could have been good if done right.

Posted by: TdoubleB | March 13, 2008 8:23 AM

The Vosges Barcelona bar with gray sea salt is fantastic.

Posted by: Arlene | March 13, 2008 10:04 AM

For Valentines, my husband bought me a stack of chocolate bars from Whole Foods. I've been exploring the varying tastes and find I like the Lake Champlain dark chocolate hearts best, although Sjaak's vegan caramels are wonderful. (Caramels for those who can't eat dairy!! Taste like nearly the best caramels made with cream.)

Posted by: Repatriated expat | March 13, 2008 10:19 AM

Mo's Bacon Bar is better - it has a higher cocoa content and it has smoked salt as well as bacon- it's pricey, but a little nibble is all you need, so one bar lasts a long time. I have see recipes for chocolate chip cookies with bacon. Haven't tried them yet, but I am intrigued

Posted by: mmmbacon | March 13, 2008 10:24 AM

I've eaten Mo's Bacon Bar and think it's quite good. But, that may be because it allows bite-size tastes, rather than the large, piggish chunks. I've also tried the exotic bar sampler from Vosges. A few misses, a couple delicious hits. My first encounter with this company was the Fire Bar, chocolate, cinnamon and chile peppers. Still the best option from Vosges, in my opinion.

Posted by: M Street | March 13, 2008 11:06 AM

the bacon bar is great, salty and sweet. what better combination?

Posted by: rachel | March 13, 2008 11:17 AM

I LOVE chocolate and I LOVE bacon, but somehow this just sounds incredibly wrong to me. I guess I should try it before I judge, but I don't see myself paying that much for a chocolate bar I don't think I will like.

Posted by: Sweetie | March 13, 2008 11:33 AM

Am I the only one who feels like Hershey's Kisses have significantly improved in quality since Hershey got involved w/ all these boutique chocolate brands?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2008 12:26 PM

I've never had this pig-shaped chocolate, but the Mo's Bacon Bar is delicious, especially in a tiny-square portion size.

Posted by: Vienna | March 13, 2008 1:54 PM

I'll stick to Lindt Excellence 70%, thank you.

Posted by: David Lewiston | March 13, 2008 3:01 PM

Why not support locally? There's an absolutely delicious chocolatier here in Alexandria. Kingsbury Chocolates is a local shop with an amazing array of tastes. Yes, they have the normal flavors also, but they have monthly specials like Garam Masala, and Tobacco. My favorite is a spicy dark chocolate & Chipotle truffle. Lavender, honey, cosmopolitan... (ok I haven't seen bacon yet) Go! Try!

Posted by: Go Local! | March 14, 2008 4:22 PM

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