Chocolate Redux

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    Reese’s peanut butter candies have taken many forms over the years. Here, a man tries Reese’s Minis in 2011. (AP)
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    The new plant-based Reese’s peanut butter cups (The Hershey Company via AP)
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    The makers of Toblerone are stripping images of Switzerland’s famed Matterhorn and the Swiss flag from the treat’s packaging. (AP/Alastair Grant)
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    An employee wraps a giant Toblerone chocolate bar in Bern, Switzerland. (AP/Keystone, Martin Ruetschi)
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    Dairy cows graze on rolling green hills in the Emmental region of Switzerland. Milk from Swiss cows is used in Switzerland’s famous cheeses and milk chocolates. (AP/Mark D. Carlson)
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Change is in the air. Established companies are revamping some tried-and-true products. But the quest to make foods healthier can sometimes make them less tasty. (Looking at you, McDonald’s french fries!) Now two chocolate brands are undergoing changes. But will the new versions measure up?

H.B. Reese concocted Reese’s peanut butter cups in 1923. For 100 years, the wildly popular candy has dabbled with shapes (eggs, trees, hearts, footballs), portion control (thin cups), add-ins (potato chips, pretzels, toffee, and more), bars and muffins, the famous Reese’s Pieces, as well as zero-sugar cups and other calorie-cutting options.

Reese’s cups are getting yet another makeover. A new plant-based line is made with oats instead of milk, “to meet the changing needs of some snackers,” reads the website.

Researchers say even candy lovers are looking for products considered healthier. The trend seems especially true for younger consumers. For them, that often means fewer animal-based products, says market research firm Euromonitor.

But candy fiends, beware! Ditching dairy won’t cut calories: A 1.4-ounce package of vegan (made with no animal or animal-derived ingredients) Reese’s cups have 210 calories—the same number as a 1.5-ounce package of regular Reese’s cups. Plus, food blogger Marnie Shure’s assessment of the plant-based Reese’s is that it’s all the calories without the comfort: “Without dairy, what you miss in a plant-based cup is the ‘goo factor’ that makes so much chocolate candy so much fun.”

Few countries take chocolate as seriously as Switzerland, where confectioner Theodor Tobler invented Toblerone 115 years ago.

Mondelez International, owner of the Toblerone brand, is crafting changes of another sort. They’re removing images of Switzerland’s famed Matterhorn mountain and the Swiss flag from Toblerone’s triangle-shaped packaging.

The labeling revision is because some of the chocolate’s production is moving outside the country. Later this year, Toblerone will begin producing some chocolates in Slovakia. Wages and cost of living are much lower there than in Switzerland.

The move is a no-no in a nation that carefully guards its “Swissness.”

Toblerone brand owners say they must alter packaging to obey strict Swiss laws. The laws protect the status of Swiss manufacturing—from knives and cheese to watches and chocolate.

Many people perceive the “Swissness” title as a standard of quality. To qualify, at least four-fifths of the raw materials in a product must come from Switzerland. Plus, the processing that gives a product its “essential characteristics” must occur in Switzerland.

What do you think? Will the changes be good for the future of chocolate? Or would you prefer the originals?

Why? Trends and businesses adapt to changing markets. Those changes may have to do with customer preferences, costs, fads, and necessities.