"The weather outside is frightful" may be a line in a popular Christmas song, but anyone truly familiar with negative-degree temperatures and words like "blizzard" and "black ice" will tell you that when it comes to frightful winter weather, the holiday season is just the beginning of a long haul.
When facing night after chilly night, keeping a glass-half-full attitude can be a real challenge. In such cases, it's helpful to at least have something rich, warm, and delicious in your glass — like, say, a good cup of hot chocolate.
While it's not difficult to make a perfect rendition at home (seriously, you'd be surprised), there's nothing wrong with going the store-bought hot chocolate route. That is, of course, unless you wind up buying a brand that makes something more akin to thin, watery chocolate pudding mix.
To that end, eight editors from The Daily Meal blind-tested 10 popular hot chocolate brands, ranging from nostalgia-producing Swiss Miss to high-end selections like Godiva. To level the playing field, and to give each competitor the opportunity to perform to the best of its ability, all of the test samples were made with whole milk, save the fat-free Swiss Miss, which was made with non-fat milk. Taste test criteria included everything from consistency and texture (was it grainy or velvety smooth?) to taste and chocolate flavor (did it taste more like sweet milk or liquid candy bar?).
Check out the results below — the brands are listed from best to worst (scores are based on a 100 point scale) — then check out the slideshow for full commentary.
Starbucks9 ounces/$7.0081.80%Godiva13.1 ounces/$12.9580.60%Trader Joe's12.5 ounces/$2.9973.50%365 Organic10 ounces/$3.9972.60%E. Guittard10 ounces/$7.9972.25%Swiss Miss, Fat-Free4.4 ounces/$3.1972.25%Ghirardelli12 ounces/$7.4972%Swiss Miss7.3 ounces/$2.4970.80%MarieBelle12 ounces/$20.0070.60%Nestlé7.12 ounces/$3.3966%