Chocolate-obsessed blogger's exposé on costly candy, Noka


BB reader Egg Syntax says,

Noka makes obscenely expensive chocolate ($2080/lb in small doses). This superb exposé from a very, very serious chocolate geek reveals that they buy widely-available chocolate and remold it at up to a 6,956% markup. Excellent reading and a good reminder that price is often not proportional to quality.
Link to "What's Noka Worth?" on dallasfood.org.

I can't speak to the veracity of the claims in this exhaustive (10! part!) investigative series, but I couldn't stop reading it. I don't even care much about the subject in general -- I hardly eat sweets at all, myself -- but the scientific references and geeky specificity made this a riveting read. It's more about economics and the psychology of luxury goods than chocolate alone.

Reader comment: Steve says,

I just recently purchased chocolates as a gift. It was a six pack for $10. That's about $1.70 a chocolate. This is to say, chocolate is expensive. The price per pound listed in the article is deceiving because that's the type of mark-up you get when you sell products in such small amounts. Plus, you don't buy those types of chocolates by the pound. Anyone who really enjoys chocolate would be more than willing to spend up to $2 or $3 for a piece. I thought that blogger came to some ridiculous conclusions.
Ethan Anderson says,
I read the Dallas Food article in question a few days ago, and while the author does occasionally fail to take into account the fairly standard practice of marking up an item if sold in small quantities, the end conclusion is far from invalid, as reader Steve commented. Noka is re-selling chocolate to which they have added no value at a considerable markup, even when similar or same quantities are involved. The chocolate in question was purchased by the author from Chocosphere.com, who offers the exact chocolate mentioned in the article for $7.50 per bar. Indeed, the author notes, "So, if you buy Noka's 48-piece Vintages Encore box for $100, you're getting about the same amount of chocolate you would have gotten by buying one 100-gram Bonnat bar at a retail price of $7.50. That's a markup of more than 1,300% over the retail price."

Just because reader Steve bought an unidentified $10 box of chocolates doesn't make his argument valid (if anything it makes it worse), and he doesn't appear to have read the article in question, as his criticism is addressed directly in the original piece.

Egg says,
Steve said, "The price per pound listed in the article is deceiving because that's the type of mark-up you get when you sell products in such small amounts. Plus, you don't buy those types of chocolates by the pound. Anyone who really enjoys chocolate would be more than willing to spend up to $2 or $3 for a piece. I thought that blogger came to some ridiculous conclusions."

I think that Steve is missing the point. When we compare Noka's prices for a four-piece box to, say, Recchiuti's, we see that Noka's price is 60% higher, and you only get 1/7 the amount of chocolate. This would perhaps be justified if there were something extraordinary about Noka's chocolate (or if they were adding a great deal of value to it) but, as the article exhaustively demonstrates, there's not.

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  1. This is some mighty fine and thrilling investigative reporting! (seriously)

    If only reporters could do something of this quality and depth for say, a certain military quagmire?

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