New candy bar defies heat


There were some places that chocolate bars just couldn't go -- like into beach bags destined for days in the sun, a summer hiker's backpack or the hand of a child dressed in summer whites.

But that has changed. There is a new heat-resistant chocolate bar that holds its shape and becomes "fudgelike" at temperatures up to 140 degrees.

Hershey's Desert Bars, now in national distribution, received their "trial by fire" in the desert.

One million bars were shipped to the soldiers of Operation Desert Storm. And those soldiers in Saudi Arabia became a captive "test market" of sorts.

The candy bar got thumbs-up reviews from Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf's troops, and the enthusiasm spurred Hershey officials to make the bar available to Americans for at least the hot summer months.

The 1-ounce bars, a little smaller than standard Hershey bars that weigh in at 1.55 ounces, will cost a little more.

Natalie Bailey, a spokeswoman for Hershey's, says that the milk chocolate Desert Bar will retail at 50 to 60 cents while the Hershey Bar usually sells for about 45 cents.

"The technology we had to buy [from Battelle Development Corp. in Geneva] was more expensive than usual," she said.

The bar's sand-colored wrapper with chocolate-brown print has a yellow sun between "Desert" and "Bar." Its special tropical formulation contains no unusual ingredients. Check the wrapper and you will find milk chocolate, an emulsifier called soya lecithin, vanillin for flavoring, water and dried egg whites. The 150-calorie bar has 9 grams of fat.

Ms. Bailey says the bars will not become fluid like regular milk chocolate, which melts at 78 degrees. Instead, the bars soften and become a bit more like fudge in temperatures well over 100 degrees. Some consumers have deliberately put the heat on by microwaving the bar on high for 45 seconds or less, to make it "warm, creamy and fudgey."

The technology to make good-tasting, heat-resistant chocolate bars had been available for the last two to three years, according to Ms. Bailey.

The Army contacted Hershey in September, asking the company to develop a heat-resistant bar that tasted like commercially available milk chocolate. The resulting bars were manufactured and shipped by the second week of December. "It was one of the fastest start-ups, from concept to finished products, that I'm aware of," Ms. Bailey said.

Whether the bar will be manufactured after summer's over will be determined by how well it sells, Ms. Bailey says.

In other words, if enthusiasm doesn't melt, Hershey's Desert Bar could be around for a long time.

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