Friday, December 29, 2006

PC Suisse versus Toblerone

President's Choice here in Canada comes out with a number of products every year, a lot of frozen and prepared foods, but I want to focus on one of their offerings, which I believe has been made to directly compete, or capitalize on its popularity, with the more famous Toblerone chocolate bars, specifically its Dark version. I purchased their larger 400 g version of each of them before Christmas, and have been slowly nibbling at each of them, comparing and contrasting. Both are labelled similarly, the Toblerone is labelled Swiss Dark Chocolate with Honey and Almond Nougat, while the PC Suisse is labelled Swiss Dark Chocolate with Honey Almond Nougat, which led me to wonder how close a product they are meant to be. Both, too, are made in Switzerland. There is also a milk chocolate product from each company, for this discussion I am focusing on the dark version.

The Toblerone Dark and the President's Choice (PC) Suisse are both about the same price, I was able to buy either for about $5-6, though the Toblerone usually is the more expensive of the two. President's Choice tends to sell their product for a lower price at first, like most companies when they are introducing a new and competing product, so let us say that the prices are very similar.

If we examine the ingredient listing of either, we can see that there are differences, but that they are very similar. For Toblerone, the ingredients are dark chocolate (bitter chocolate, sugar, milk ingredients, cocoa butter, soybean lecithin), nougat (sugar, honey, almonds, glucose syrup, dried egg whites); for PC Suisse, the ingredients are unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa, honey, almonds, dried egg-white, natural and artificial flavour. President's Choice has chosen not to separate out their ingredients like Toblerone has, but we can see that the honey, almonds and dried egg whites with sugar make up the nougat in both products; Toblerone calls their chocolate bitter, President's Choice unsweetened, these terms are fairly interchangeable; what we are left with, excluding the lecithin in Toblerone's listing but not in President's Choice's, is the milk ingredients in the Toblerone product. I could not determine the cocoa content of Toblerone's product, not on their packaging nor on their website. The President's Choice states that it has 72% cocoa solids, whether the milk ingredients means that the Toblerone is less dark, less chocolatey, than the PC product, I can't determine. In other words, whether this means that Toblerone's product has less cocoa content than the PC Suisse, is up for debate. Visually, the PC Suisse looks darker than the Toblerone, it would lead me to believe that the PC product has a higher cocoa content.

The next thing that we can look at is the shape of the bar. Toblerone's familiar triangular wedge shape, made, some say, to resemble the Swiss mountains, is trademarked, President's Choice could not duplicate it, though theirs is wedge-shaped, two thinner wedges with their tops levelled off offset to each other. Because of this, the packaging is different, Toblerone's is diamond-shaped; PC Suisse's is almost rectangular.

What we are left with, if we can see that visually the two are quite similar and almost interchangeable, is which of the two is a better product, when one comes to eating it. As I've mentioned earlier, and as you can see in the pictures, the PC Suisse looks much darker than the Toblerone, it is dark brown rather than medium brown. Too, the nougat pieces of the PC Suisse are more numerous than the Toblerone, though you can see smaller pieces sprinkled throughout the whole of the Toblerone bar, while the nougat seems to be mostly concentrated along the bottom portion of the PC bar. In biting into the wedge, you can see that the nougat is more evenly distributed in the Toblerone bar, I think this makes for a better product, as the honey nougat is in each bite, rather than more chocolatey in some parts that the PC Suisse is. For you, it all depends on whether you like the nougat or the chocolate, whether this is better. Neither bars' nougat stuck in my teeth, which is good. Both bars are fairly easy to break off a wedge. The Toblerone's wedge is about a third bigger than the Suisse's; there are more wedges in the PC Suisse. The PC Suisse seems more chocolatey, it tastes darker than the Toblerone. On the other hand, the Toblerone is more creamy, this is likely due to the milk ingredients, and sweeter, but the chocolate still tastes good, and leaves a pleasant aftertaste in the mouth. The PC Suisse product is more fruity, more floral tones, in flavour, which is true of chocolate with high cocoa content. For me, it was hard to judge one better than the other, though I would give the Toblerone bar a slight edge, overall it was a better tasting nougat chocolate bar.

Now, it's up to you to decide for yourself.

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