The Good: Tastes good, Easy to prepare
The Bad: Very expensive by the single packet, Environmental impact of packaging
The Basics: Delicious, but not particularly nutritious, expensive and comforting for lovers of cocoa or mint, Land O' Lakes Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa is a winner!
My wife is a real sweetheart. Last year, on one of our trips out to Michigan, while she was engaged in much drinking (her 21rst birthday), I was left for long periods of time on my own to write and eat. Because I was essentially a fish out of water - and I frequently barricaded myself into the bedroom we were staying in to write while she was out with all of her friends - she surprised me by picking up a "care package" of snacks and drinks for me to enjoy. Her thought, it seems, was comfort food for me as I worked and she picked some of it up with the intent that I would have more to review both on the trip and now that we've returned home. She's a sweetie.
One of the many things included in her care package was a collection of Land O' Lakes Cocoa packets and she knew I would gravitate immediately toward the Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa mix. She was right. As astonished as I am by the expense of these Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics packets, it is hard to deny that she pegged me perfectly with loving the Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa.
The Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa mix is part of the Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics premium hot cocoa line. The mix comes in a 1 1/4 oz. sealed foil package and is a pretty delicious mix. Each 1 1/4 oz. packet is a single serving and these bear a relatively high price tag - not only in Michigan - of approximately three for two dollars. For a single mug of cocoa, this is expensive when compared to other make-at-home products, but about on par with getting a cocoa at a place like Caribou Coffee.
Ease Of Preparation
The Cocoa Classics Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa mix is ridiculously simple to make. Having picked up a packet five days ago (in 2009), this is a product to stock up on as the expiration date recommended using the packet before February 2011. Because it is sealed and has some artificial preservatives in is, this is likely to last virtually forever unopened. A single serving is the packet and six oz. of water. There is no measuring of the product involved!
As a result, preparation is ridiculously simple. The top of the envelope has a perforated edge and one need simply tear open the top, which is quite easy, and pour the contents of the packet into a mug that is at least eight ounces large. Then, simply pour hot water - near boiling, but not actually boiling as boiling water cooks the ingredients as opposed to simply dissolving them - over the powder and stir. Stir the powder until there are no blobs of chocolate powder visible in the water or giving resistance from the bottom. The beverage will have a light purple-brown color to it and will be uniformly smooth and creamy.
Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa is an excellent idea that is well-executed. While the expense might seem stifling, chocolate mint seems like one of the most basic and delicious flavors to me, so it seems odd that other companies would flee from the flavor so fast. And yet, Land O' Lakes take it on and they succeed. The Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa immediately strikes the consumer with a scent that is richly chocolate and subtly peppermint. In fact, the bouquet is so subtle that my nose was not able to immediately identify the mint scent. The scent is not strong at all, outside the chocolate aroma.
I experienced about two seconds of disappointment when I first consumed the Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa because I am one who absolutely loves mint. In fact, when I make ice cream, I've been told my chocolate mint is "too minty," to which I would shrug and respond, "Well, then, I guess I like mint more than you do." My point here is that I like mint that sits up, smacks me around and says "howdy, I'm the mint you love!" This hot cocoa does not do that.
Instead, the consumer is treated to a smooth, chocolate flavor that has a very milky texture to it, especially as the beverage cools. There is about a two second delay before the mint flavor cuts through the milk chocolate flavor to tickle the tongue. The flavor is clearly mint and it blends well with the chocolate so it is not merely an aftertaste and it does not overwhelm the chocolate flavor of drink. So, unlike something like Ghirardelli Mint Chocolate Squares where one either tastes MINT or chocolate depending on how one is consuming it, this blends together well and becomes a true mint chocolate taste experience. The flavor is a little less minty than I - as a mint extremist - might like, but it is hard to deny that Land O' Lakes managed to get the flavor balanced perfectly in these packets!
Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics are hot cocoa mix and therefore not the most nutritious things in the known world, though the Mint & Chocolate flavor could be far less nutritious than it is. While I am used to reviewing things like all natural teas where the ingredients are all easily pronounceable and recognizable, the Mint & Chocolate hot cocoa does not have too much that cannot be easily identified. The primary ingredients are sugar, nonfat dry milk and whey, which means it is straight out for the Vegans! Ironically, there is nothing even resembling a mint leaf or mint oil in the ingredient list, so how Land O' Lakes gets this tasting so much like peppermint is a mystery.
What is not a mystery is how high this product is in sugars. In each cup of Mint & Chocolate Cocoa Classics, there are 140 calories, thirty of which are from fat. There are 2.5 grams of saturated fat, so while one might be tempted to curl up with this in front of a winter fire, they are likely to need to run it off come Spring (my partner and I found much more enjoyable ways to work off the calories!). While there is no cholesterol, a consumer gets 11% of their recommended daily allowance of salt out of a single packet of this beverage! There is a little protein, but not enough to live off this. In other words, this product is not a nutritious food product. But it is good!
This product contains soy and milk and because there are no notations on it, one must assume it is not Kosher or gluten-free.
So long as one leaves the Mint & Chocolate Cocoa Classic powder in its packet, it ought to stay usable. Given that it has an expiration date almost two years away, one assumes it will last quite a while and dissolve appropriately when one attempts to use it. The packets, for those of us who consider the environmental impact of such things, are terribly wasteful and expensive. The foil/plastic wrappers are not recyclable anywhere I've been.
Cleanup is very easy as well. If the product spills while dumping it into the mug, simply wipe it up or brush it up with a dry or damp cloth. If it has already been reconstituted with water into hot cocoa, simply wipe it up. Light fabrics are likely to stain if this gets on them, in which case consult your fabric care guide to clean it up.
Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics are expensive for what one gets, but the Mint & Chocolate is delicious and comforting when one wants a warm drink. Here Land O' Lakes has a distinctive advantage; as the only one - of the major food brands - on the market with a mint chocolate cocoa product, they can afford to charge the customers and the environment what they wish. And yes, at least for the customers, it's worth it!
For other drinks, please check out my reviews of:
Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows
Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation Cocoa
Celestial Seasonings Chocolate Caramel Enchantment tea
For other drink reviews, please visit my index page for lists of all I have reviewed – updated daily!
© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.