Observant readers might be wondering why I’m writing about Christmas 2010 chocolates that you couldn’t possibly buy in January 2011. There is method (of sorts) in this madness, I assure you.
These “Chocolate Tasting Club” chocolates were a Christmas gift from my lovely friend Pollyanna, and they were interesting enough to me that I wanted to write about them.
You see, The Chocolate Tasting Club is actually a Hotel Chocolat venture, but seemingly not one they like to talk about. In fact, the only mention of Hotel Chocolat is on the protective plastic sheet covering the chocolates inside the box.
The “club” operates on a subscription basis. Pay your membership fee and every month you get sent a new offering along with a scorecard to rate the chocolates.
The chocolates themselves are (as far as I can tell) simply repackaged Hotel Chocolat offerings. A couple even have the Hotel Chocolat ‘HC’ logo embossed on them. We’ve actually written about most of them before, so I’m not going to do an in depth review here, but they’re a nice mix of dark, milk and white chocolates with lots of alcoholic and fruity varieties.
It’s the way they’re sold that interests me most. Given Hotel Chocolat’s upmarket branding, it’s a little odd that The Chocolate Tasting Club is advertised on television with the cheesiest, most cringeworthy mini informercials imaginable. Lucky for you, the only version I can find on YouTube has no sound, because that really is the worst part.
I asked a couple of friends who have experience of The Club what they thought about it. One said that they hated every single chocolate they tried, while the other was more positive, saying she enjoyed regularly getting a random selection of things to try that she wouldn’t have normally bought.
There’s no doubting I’ll get through all the chocolates in this box without complaint, so I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that irks me about The Club. I think perhaps it’s because it reminds me of the music & video club I joined many years ago. They sent you free movies and promised you a great deal to start out with, but made their real money by relying on the fact that most people were too lazy to ever cancel their subscription.
I’ve no idea if that’s what’s going on with The Club, but it has that vibe about it. For me, the fact that they chose not to use Hotel Chocolat branding just reinforces that feeling.
Do you have experience of The Chocolate Tasting Club or similar clubs? Have I got this completely wrong? I’d love to hear your feedback, good or bad.