I know you’ve been wondering – which instant hot chocolate mix is the best? Should I spend more for the expensive brand? Or stick with the store brand?
Well, we did the hard work so you wouldn’t have to. Yesterday while snow (ice) bound in our house for Day 2 of the great non-snow of 2017, we tasted and critiqued three of the top grocery store brands of instant hot chocolate. Here is what we found.
We started with three boxes of instant hot chocolate mix, all three “with marshmallows” and made each one with both water and with milk. Because the instructions all said to use either milk or water, and sometimes you just run out of milk.
The three brands we started with were:
- Kroger store brand dutch hot cocoa mix with mini marshmallows
- Nestle Rich milk chocolate flavor cocoa with mini marshmallows
- Swiss Miss Marshmallow Madness hot cocoa mix
Taste Test Results:
Visual Presentation – All of the mugs looked pretty similar at first, but the marshmallows really made the difference here. Not surprisingly, the Swiss Miss Marshmallow Madness mug had lots more mini marshmallows. They also melted more slowly. The marshmallows in the Kroger brand mix were gone almost immediately.
Water vs. Milk – No surprise here. The hot chocolate made with milk tasted better across the board. It had a much creamier texture. The water-made mugs stayed hot longer, and they also started hotter, since I used boiling water from the tea kettle, also, the marshmallows melted more quickly. But the big surprise was that among the water-mixed mugs, there was a clear favorite. The Nestle brand was much better with water than the others.
Marshmallows – I’ve already mentioned that the store brand marshmallows melted almost immediately. I think because there were so few of them. The Nestle marshmallows seemed just about how I remember them from my own childhood – fairly numerous, and melty, forming a marshmallow barrier across the top that you pretty much sipped up immediately. The Swiss Miss brand though – whoa. They weren’t kidding with the “madness” label. The mini marshmallows were bright colors and there were LOTS of them. However, they reminded us all of the marshmallows in Lucky Charms cereal – super sweet and even a little crunchy. They actually made it difficult to taste the hot chocolate, and they were really bad in the water-mixed mug. Alex said they tasted like Lucky Charms in water – which is to say, not very good.
The Winner – Clearly, we chose our favorite hot chocolate out of the milk-mixed batch. The Nestle brand was the clear winner. We all agreed that the chocolate flavor was better, it didn’t taste watered down, and the marshmallows complimented the cocoa rather than over powering it. Also, you’ll recall that of the water-made mugs, Nestle was our favorite as well. This is the brand I’ll be buying from now on.
Price – I took photos of each of the brands in the store the day I went shopping for these. I thought it was important for us to compare like boxes by price as well as flavor. And guess what? The Nestle box was the cheapest, coming in at $1.00 per box!
So there you have it, folks. Your neighborhood family doing the hard work of tasting different brands of hot chocolate just so you can serve YOUR family the best. Now get out there and do some shopping so you can enjoy your own hot mug of cocoa! Don’t forget the whipped cream!