The Good: Tastes good, Easy to prepare
The Bad: Very expensive in this form, Environmental impact of packaging, Not strongly raspberry.
The Basics: While Raspberry & Chocolate Cocoa Classics from Land O' Lakes taste wonderfully chocolatey, they do not live up to anything like a raspberry flavor.
One of the nice things about having a wife who loves trying new things - at least for a reviewer - is that I get to experience a number of new products pretty constantly. Because my wife enjoys finding new things she thinks I will enjoy, I benefit and my review volume stays pretty consistent and high. Because I travel so much, my wife tends to make me little care packages and she seems to miss me pretty constantly when I am not around. Recently, when we were in Michigan together, but she was off doing her own thing, she gave me a little cocoa care package featuring a favorite of mine, Mint & Chocolate Cocoa Classics hot cocoa mix (reviewed here!). She also picked up and included some Raspberry & Chocolate hot cocoa mixes because she is trying to get me to broaden my culinary horizons.
The thing with this flavor of Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics is that it is good . . . but it is not a great flavor that actually bears the strength of the fruit flavor that it claims to. As a result, it is far more average and the expense of the packets in this form drag it down into "not recommend" territory, which might seem like a surprise, but for the fact that I have standards I stand by and there are plenty of other flavors in this line that taste amazing and like what they claim to.
The Raspberry & 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 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 Dunkin' Donuts.
Ease Of Preparation
The Cocoa Classics Raspberry & Chocolate hot cocoa mix is ridiculously simple to make. Having picked up a packet ten days ago (in 2011), this is a product to stock up on as the expiration date recommended using the packet before February 2013. 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 Raspberry & Chocolate hot cocoa is an excellent idea that is executed with only middling success. While the expense might seem stifling, chocolate raspberry is an increasingly popular flavor that seems to be the focus of many premium products in both chocolate and hot chocolate. So far, it seems like Land O' Lakes has benefited by being the only fish in the sea in this way. The Raspberry & Chocolate hot cocoa immediately strikes the consumer with a scent that is richly chocolate and very much what one expects to smell from raspberries. It has the scent that is easily identifiable to anyone who likes shampoos, perfumes and skin care products intended to smell like raspberries (somewhat different from actual raspberries, but this is pretty much the industry standard). This immediately prepares the consumer for a taste experience that is richly raspberry.
And that is likely to leave the consumer disappointed the moment it cools enough to taste. The Raspberry & Chocolate hot cocoa is exceptionally weak in terms of raspberry flavor. In fact, it does not taste raspberry or even fruity at all. The taste is a smooth, chocolate flavor that has a very milky texture to it, especially as the beverage cools. The scent is overwhelmingly that of raspberries, but the taste is solely chocolate.
That said, the chocolate flavor is a good one for anyone who likes milk chocolate. The taste is light and chocolatey and hot this beverage is delicious . . . just not terribly raspberry flavored and as a result, it seems awfully expensive for a raspberry chocolate premium hot cocoa drink.
Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics are hot cocoa mix and therefore not the most nutritious things in the known world, though the Raspberry & 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 Raspberry & Chocolate 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, there is nothing even resembling a raspberry or raspberry flavoring in the ingredient list, so it is little surprise that it is so un-raspberry flavored.
What is not a mystery is how high this product is in sugars. In each cup of Raspberry & Chocolate Cocoa Classics, there are 140 calories, thirty of which are from fat. There are three 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. 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 Raspberry & 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 and the Raspberry & Chocolate is delicious, but it fails to meet my most basic litmus test, which is "does it taste like what it claims to?" In this case, the answer is a resounding "no." It might be good, but for the expense, it is reasonable for consumers to expect better, more flavorful hot cocoa that actually tastes, not just smells, like raspberry.
For other hot chocolate drinks, please visit my reviews of:
Land O'Lakes Chocolate Supreme
Land O' Lakes Chocolate & Caramel Cocoa
Forrelli Rich Chocolate Hot Cocoa
For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.