The Good: Great taste, Easy to prepare
The Bad: Very expensive in this form, Environmental impact of packaging
The Basics: One of the surprise flavors of hot cocoa from Land O' Lakes that is exceptionally good and worth buying is Chocolate Graham Hot Cocoa.
Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics makes pretty great - if expensive - hot cocoa. Many of their flavored hot cocoas live up to the basic flavors they claim to possess, but the expense of the cocoa or the environmental impact of the packaging makes it hard for me to recommend. But every now and then, I get surprised. Tonight, as my wife and I took in our new dog - Myah, who will be helping me review more dog products! - I was in the mood for a comfort food and I tried Land O' Lakes Chocolate Graham Hot Cocoa. And wow! Land O'Lakes truly comes through in this one!
Despite the lack of environmentalism of the packaging, this beverage is surprisingly good and very easy to recommend. True to the taste of graham crackers, the Land O' Lakes hot cocoa mix is worth buying as a very different treat.
The Chocolate Graham 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 virtually everywhere I have found them 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 Starbucks.
Ease Of Preparation
The Cocoa Classics Chocolate Graham hot cocoa mix is ridiculously simple to make. Having been given a packet last Christmas, it is evident that this has a decent shelf life, as the expiration date recommended using the packet by December, 2012. 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 brown color to it and will be uniformly smooth and creamy.
At first encounter, the Chocolate Graham cocoa impressed me from the first scent. The aroma of hone graham crackers with a hint of - of all things - coconut wafted up from my mug and I immediately began to salivate, which is odd because graham crackers have never truly impressed me all that much. But the scent - perhaps because of the weird milky hint of coconut in the bouquet - made me immediately thirsty and eager to try this hot chocolate.
Fortunately, the taste was spot on. First, Chocolate Graham cocoa does not skimp on the chocolate flavor. Instead, the first sip was richly chocolatey, though it was clearly a milk chocolate flavor Land O' Lakes was striving for (and achieved). On the first sip, the graham flavor was defined mostly by a dry aftertaste with the hint of honey. I was prepared to begin panning this flavor of cocoa until I kept drinking it. With the second sip, there was more of a cinnamon flavor overwhelming the chocolate that had defined the first taste. By the third sip, the dominant taste was that of hot honey, tasting and smelling just like a graham cracker.
As such, Chocolate Graham has one of the most flavorful and interesting flavors of any of the Land O' Lakes hot cocoas. The taste seems to oscillate wildly between chocolate, honey and cinnamon - though the chocolate never completely dominates the flavor again as it did on the first taste. The aftertaste is consistently dry and while the beverage is sweet, when the flavor is mostly cinnamon, that sweetness does not come through. With a flavor that is never sugary, the Chocolate Graham hot cocoa is not much of a thirst quencher, but it is always satisfying.
Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics are hot cocoa mix and therefore not the most nutritious things in the known world, though the Chocolate Graham 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 Chocolate Graham hot cocoa has a few ingredients that cannot be easily identified. The primary ingredients are sugar, nonfat dry milk and whey. It is not vegan compliant as a result. Ironically, the coconut I smelled is possibly from the coconut oil which is the fourth ingredient. There are no flavorings in the ingredient list that would define the beverage as graham cracker flavored!
What is not a mystery is how high this product is in sugars. In each cup of Chocolate Graham Cocoa Classics, there are 140 calories, thirty of which are from fat. There are 3.5 grams of saturated fat, so while one might be tempted to curl up and enjoy this while resting, they are likely to pay for it later on! 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.
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 Chocolate Graham Cocoa Classic powder in its packet, it ought to stay usable. Given that it had 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 usually feel expensive to me, but with the Chocolate Graham flavor, I found a unique beverage that was a steal at the price. I've never had anything quite like this hot cocoa, but I know for sure that I enjoyed it enough to buy (or request it as a gift!) it again!
For other Land O' Lakes hot chocolate drinks, please visit my reviews of:
French Vanilla & Chocolate cocoa
For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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