Info Details
Country USA   
Type Nibs   (Lot # 110509)
Strain Nacional   (?)
Source Ecuador   (San Jose Del Tambo)
Flavor Crossover   
Style Retro-American      
Askinosie, ever so studious with the history of chocolate, plunders the headquarters at Hershey’s, the issuer of ‘Field Ration D’ to American GIs during WWII – a top secret weapon in the allies’ war against the original axis powers of evil. Whether dropped behind enemy lines as a civil engineer or at the front lines in the trenches, it provided vital ground support for the troops in Europe. Their generals understood Napoleon’s maxim: “an army marches on its stomach” (which the Corsican painfully learned to his chagrin in a bitter winter in Russia).

The D-Ration bar was the original ‘melts in your mouth, not in your hands’ (candy-coated M&Ms™ were introduced years later), reaching a melting point around 120ºF, some 25 or so degrees higher than regular chocolate. The cocoa butter—a type of fat derived from cocoa beans—primarily determines a chocolate’s melting point. So one technique to achieving a higher melting point simply plays with the proportions, starting with a reduction in cocoa butter. Then just add solid fillers (as Hershey did originally with oats) to soak up some of the fat, or use other stabilizing agents to keep the bar rigid. "Heat-resistant" meant the bar could withstand both withering battlefield temperatures & incoming enemy fire to stop evil in its tracks. To seal the deal, the bar came in a poison-gas proof wrapper!

Top military brass presented Hershey’s with one other criteria: that it taste “like a boiled potato” lest it was so good our fighting men would be tempted to eat them rather than save them when most needed in an emergency. Given its track record, this was an easy objective for Hershey’s to meet.

Indeed, the company exceeded expectations.

Resistance was immediate.

Completely unappetizing, jaw-breaking tough & bitter, hard as a bullet-proof flack-jacket tasting of clay, the D-Ration was universally detested, often discarded or traded to unsuspecting dupes. U.S. troops called it ‘Hitler's Secret Weapon’ for its side-effects on GI (in this case for Gastro-Intestinal) tracts.

Its only real use? Promoting dysentery.

Still, it reminded the guys & brought home what they were fighting for: their sweethearts, sisters, & mothers left behind.

Rather than desert the mission, decades after WWII the Army contracted out an even higher heat-resistant bar that could withstand up to 140ºF, dubbed the ‘Congo Bar’.

Likewise, Askinosie is never one to abort a mission. The ‘N’ in these N-Rations stands for how they Nibble the taste-buds off, then just Nukes 'em. These "Jungle Bullets' are infinitely more digestible. Moreover, they never melt! Yet small enough to put in the chest pocket & slip thru airport security.

If only terrorists were armed with these, the world could fly in peace. Imagine.
Appearance   4.4 / 5
packed in a military-type canister suitable for transporting munitions (RE: hand-grenades)
Color: dark Malliard brown on the outer shells with some rusted oxide interiors (no matter the roast, the shade calls into question just how ‘Nacional’ can these beans be)
Surface: smooth considering; very little fuzz or striations
Temper: flat (as expected)
Snap: n/a
Aroma   1 / 10
tour tropicale: papaya, pineapple, fuchsia, camu-camu, bananas, Amazon grape (Pourouma cecropiaefolia), sweet birch, bamboo, swaying palm fronds, yucca & coconut milk... all crop-dusted in light cocoa spray + floral radials (sweet acacia, hibiscus, & peppery nasturtiums)... really no end to the plaudits... just reeking-good
Mouthfeel   13.1 / 15
Texture: semi-soft crunch (pretty malleable to the chew)
Melt: micronizes into an evenly consistent gruel
Flavor   44.6 / 50
the tour continues... take the flash Aromatics & add lasting nuts (black walnut, peanut, beechmast) + more substantial greening of the palate (bay leaf, yerba maté, unripe banana & mango peels, sweetgrass [Heirochloe odorata], dock & rocket herbs) -> balsam & a rich grilled portobello to simulate sirloin -> gentle bittering along the edges -> blunders into a volatile pitanga resin, then grinds down into a soiled patch (sprouting radicchio & watercress bitters) -> springs back up with breadnut apparition -> unsweetened balsamic vinegar; aftaste re-intros those fleeting florals (including vanilla orchids) & chicle laid out on bamboo
Quality   18.3 / 20
Unadorned; minus the crutches of any additives whatsoever, or the add'l steps of the chocolate making process. Feels of very little contrivance. But a lot goes in to achieving that outcome. Just the basics involve a good ferment, clean drying, exceptionally winnowed & honest roast which lets these Nibs speak for themselves – in volumes - forming the natural extension of a vertical tasting for San José del Tambo seeing how Askinosie has already treated the origin with a White, a Dark, a Dark with Nibs, even a White with Nibs, & now these - just Nibs. A Dark-Milk must be close behind.

Only trouble - the welcome notes come early & fast while the lingering ones harshen over the progression & last... & last... with nary a flicker of cocoa flavor. Still, quite tolerable overall – somewhat benign in pockets, suggesting good bones & genes of relatively even disposition – with patience rewarded in a superb after-taste.

Among Askinosie’s most handsomely finessed roasts yet. And it has to be so; otherwise, these Nibs (as with most cacáo types) could rip the tongue up.

ING: cocoa nibs

Reviewed Autumn 2010


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