Hershey's Air Delight: Molecular Gastronomy in a Candy Bar
In 1935, long before Ferran Adrià, Grant Achatz, and Wylie Dufresne could have thought it up, a British confectionary company called Rowntree's patented a technique for aerating chocolate resulting in tiny air bubbles forming inside the finished product. The resulting texture made the chocolate bar taste lighter, feel creamier, and seem to melt on the tongue faster. Sounds like an El Bulli invention. The so-called "Aero" bar was acquired by Nestlé and is sold around the world in many flavors.
In 1987, I was on my honeymoon in London and, I swear, one of the things my darling wife and I remember most besides discovering each other (don't laugh) was discovering a candy bar, manufactured by Cadbury and introduced to the UK in 1983 called the Wispa. Even more than the Nestlé Aero, the Wispa was seemingly lighter than air and we were in chocolate heaven. Not regretting even for a moment choosing London over Hawaii as our honeymoon destination, our friends wondered why we came back singing Hawaiian native Don Ho's "Tiny Bubbles." Not to mention why we smuggled back with us an entire suitcase full of Cadbury Wispa bars.
In 2003 the Wispa was temporarily discontinued leading to near rioting in the UK (only kidding). But it did lead to a massive Internet grassroots protest that eventually forced Cadbury to bring back the insanely popular bubblicious chocolate sensation. People were literally screaming for a Wispa.
Though I can still satisfy my Wispa cravings while simultaneously getting my wife in the mood by buying Wispa's at Myer's of Keswick or Tea and Sympathy, my two favorite British ex-pat grocery shops, good old American Hershey's chocolate has finally gotten on the bubble chocolate bandwagon. The recently introduced Hershey's Air Delight candy bar comes even closer to replicating the Wispa than the original Nestlé Aero, which I often settle for when I can't find Wispa. The Air Delight even comes in tiny Hershey's Kisses, though you lose some textural pleasure, as you can only fit so many tiny bubbles in a Kiss. Never before in the history of American chocolate has nothing but thin air tasted so good.
But I have to give ultimate credit to the influence of the British. During the severe shortages during World War II, American GI's made friends with British women by giving them Hershey bars, which apparently were government-issued to them. Cadbury and Nestlé have more than returned the favor. I recently discovered another chocolate import made by Cadbury called simply "Flake," which as its name implies, is crazy good. Now I know what to buy my wife for our wedding anniversary.