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Let’s embark together on this deliciously decadent adventure through the best American chocolate brands out there (and where to buy them). As Willy Wonka accurately put it, chocolatiers are the music makers and the dreamers of dreams.
The United States is the no. 1 chocolate producer on the planet. As such, it’s home to both iconic manufacturers — whose bars and confections you’ll find all over the world — and fantastic local shops making god-tier chocolate.
Well-known American chocolate brands
These chocolatiers are so powerful they’ve created confections that are now bigger than the American chocolate brands behind them.
As fancy as your tastebuds might have become as you grew up, I’m sure you have countless sweet memories with Hershey’s chocolates.
The small town in Pennsylvania where the company’s headquartered used to smell like chocolate until the main factory closed in 2012. Still, Hershey’s remains among the largest and most traditional American chocolate companies.
We could’ve gone with Hershey’s wonderful bars (some are even organic). Yet the emblematic teardrop chocolate sizes that have turned into Hershey’s defining symbol seemed like the only possible choice.
A package with about 420 delicious and creamy chocolate kisses can either make the best gift ever or help create sweet memories with your loved ones!
There’s more than one reason Reese’s Cups are the best-selling candy in the US of A. The winning combo chocolate+peanut butter filling and the one-of-a-kind texture (more crunchy than creamy) make two. The other reasons are up to your tastebuds!
Kit Kats were first introduced by Rowntree’s, a British company. Today, they’re produced everywhere else by Nestlé. But because Hershey’s Kit Kats even taste different (better maybe?) we’re treating it as American chocolate.
The four-finger milk-chocolate-covered wafers are simply some of the best chocolate snacks on Earth, period. The limited editions, like the Mocha Crème and Chocolate Duo, are to die for too.
We had a hard time picking which Mars products we’d highlight, as the family-owned conglomerate manufactures classics like Snickers, Bounty, and the namesake Mars bars. Yet we’re confident you love the ones we settled on.
Mars owes some of its global presence to a family feud; Forrest Mars Sr., heir to the company’s founder Frank C. Mars, opened a branch in the UK against his father’s wish and went on to expand the business and develop new products there.
M&M’s are what a happy childhood tastes like! “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand” has a raison d’être, by the way. M&M’s were developed with a candy encasing to allow soldiers to carry chocolate around in warm regions.
That’s not the only thing, though, that makes M&M’s the perfect on-the-go snack —they’re outright delicious!
Caramel shortbread is as British as it gets, so it’s not really surprising that one of the most famous American chocolate bars was actually created by Mars UK.
Improving an already marvelous dessert must have seemed almost impossible at the time, but coating it in chocolate did just that.
The 3 Musketeers bar is what the rest of the world calls Milky Way (which, in the U.S., is what Mars bars were named). You know the deal, then: velvety chocolate hiding a fluffy whipped mousse core. Yum!
Ferrara’s history is an all-American story: founded by Italian Salvatore Ferrara in Chicago back in 1900, it prospered so much throughout the 20th century that Italian colossus Ferrero bought it out in 2017.
When Ferrero acquired Nestlé’s candy line in the U.S. the following year, it handed over to its subsidiary the production of two famous American chocolate bars:
Butterfinger, one of the best American chocolate bars on the market, was first launched in 1923 and has become a staple since. Talk about peanut butter awesomeness coated in chocolatey perfection!
It seems like crispy chocolate is somewhat old-fashioned nowadays, as it’s not too easy to find. Yet Crunch’s spotless and explosive mix of milk chocolate and puffed rice is second to none in that department!
Classic American chocolate brands
These American chocolate brands may not be that popular abroad, but they’ve been around for so long they’re all-time favorites back home.
4. Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
In my humble opinion, Ghirardelli produces the best chocolate in the United States. The company is known for two different squares: the plaza where its historic factory is located in San Francisco and the divine confections they sell.
Ghirardelli was founded by Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli in 1852. While Lindt & Sprüngli (which is of course Swiss) has owned it since 1998, it remains one of the quintessential American chocolate brands.
To me, though Ghirardelli is one of the best American chocolate brands out there, this is quite simply the greatest chocolate in the world.
I wasn’t really crazy about either dark chocolate or salted caramel until I tried these. Before I knew it, I couldn’t help keeping a lifesaving bag in the pantry!
Despite my passionate defense of Ghirardelli’s salted caramel dark chocolate squares, do yourself a favor and try all the other squares to decide which one(s) you love the most.
You’ll get dark chocolate+raspberry, dark chocolate+mint, milk chocolate+caramel (believe it or not, not too sweet), and 60% cacao (no filling) squares.
5. Tootsie Roll
Back in 1907, Austrian immigrant Leo Hirschfield came up with the first American candy to be individually wrapped.
While the iconic taffy (i.e. a softer, chewier toffee) is to this day one of the best-loved confections in America, it’s far from the only delicacy produced by the namesake company.
Tootsie Rolls deserve a warning rather than an introduction: they’re highly addictive! Luckily, the 3-pound (1.36-kg) bag is a decent-sized supply. Check out the other varieties available, including Juniors (longer rolls), and snack-size bars.
A theater box’s worth of soft caramel bites coated in milk chocolate? You might as well count me in! Or, alternatively, you can get the Junior Mints, which are even more classic.
6. Boyer Candy Company
Pennsylvania is America’s chocolate capital. Besides giants like Hershey’s and Godiva’s American factory, the state’s also home to lots of smaller manufacturers that are just as traditional. That’s definitely the case with Boyer.
Although Boyer has had a few owners across its 80+ year history, it’s always kept its relatively small size and great quality.
Think of Reese’s, but fill the chocolate cups with marshmallow creme. I’m not a fan of peanut butter, so this is my kind of treat. Mallo Cups are Boyer’s signature sweets and were introduced in 1936, the year the company was founded.
Clark Bars were originally manufactured by Necco, which sadly went bankrupt in 2018. Then Boyer acquired the production rights. The chewy peanut butter center is coated in yummy milk chocolate.
Craft American chocolate brands
The U.S. has been witnessed a boom in craft everything over the last 20 years; chocolate is no exception. So take a look at these gourmet American chocolate brands for a few delightful discoveries.
7. Seattle Chocolate
The Seattle area is a major hub of artisanal food and alcohol, and Seattle Chocolate is one of the trend’s forerunners: it’s been around since 1991, when Nirvana was all the rage.
The company’s packaging is simply stunning. That, coupled with the bars’ rich and explosive flavor, turns Seattle Chocolate products into the ideal gift.
Start off easy with Seattle Chocolate’s crunchy toffee and sea salt milk chocolate bar. They call it a “truffle bar” for a reason: the texture is so smooth the chocolate melts in your mouth. Non-GMO and kosher-certified, for the win!
After Seattle Chocolate has convinced you of its worth, move on to this mouthwatering dark chocolate trio. Espresso, salted almond, and sea salted chocolate bars can liven up any rainy day in Seattle (i.e. any day).
8. Sephra Chocolate
A chocolate fountain is the ultimate chocolatey goodness. If that’s just what you need to impress family and friends at your next get-together, then Sephra is what you’re looking for.
Though less than 20 years old, it stands on an equal footing with other premium chocolate brands devoted to chocolate melts and chips for baking.
On top of its extensive chocolate division, Sephra boasts its very own line of supplies and equipment for waffles, crepes, and pancakes as well.
Add tons of class to your fondue with these Belgian dark chocolate chips by Sephra. They’ll ensure fragrant and creamy results and taste amazing with basically any fruit or cookie you might want to dip into your fountain!
Granted, this is not Belgian chocolate, but it’s still high-quality meltable chocolate and great value for money. Also, bags last for 12 months and are microwaveable for your convenience.
9. The Good Chocolate
In case Ghirardelli is too mainstream for you, there’s an untold amount of independent California chocolate makers to discover; The Good Chocolate is one of them. It lives up to its name by specializing in organic, sugar-free, and (predominantly) vegan chocolate.
The brand could hardly be any more Californian: it was created in 2014 by two friends who, while looking to do away with sugar in their own diet, took to experimenting with roasting cacao and blending together natural sweeteners like Erythritol and Stevia.
Only one (the 54% dark milk) of the bars on this offer isn’t vegan. The other five are 65% cacao mixed with delicious spices (ginger, salted almonds, mint, and Himalayan salt), plus The Good Chocolate’s signature dark chocolate. Yum!
These bite-sized squares are great to share with the crew. Each has exactly 37 calories, so you won’t even feel guilty for eating them — unless you eat the whole box, which is something I would do.
Order either the 6-variety pack or one with your favorite flavor from within the same options as their chocolate bars.
10. Theo Chocolate
Yet another chocolate factory hailing from Seattle, Theo was named after the hero that made it all possible — not the founder, but Theobroma cacao, i.e. its majesty the cacao tree.
Theo’s was the realest chocolate I’d tasted in a long time when I visited their shop in Fremont, Seattle’s hottest neighborhood. And the coolest thing about it is that it’s organic and fair-trade-certified.
This is a beautiful way of falling for Theo: trying all their finest flavors at once. Highlights in this 10-bar sampler include the 85% pure dark (not for the faint of heart), the 70% coconut dark, the 55% salted toffee dark, and the 45% pure milk (the sweetest one).
I challenge you to not eat a 4-ounce (113-g) package of these cookie bites in one sitting. You don’t have to worry, though: you’ll get six of them anyway. Apart from organic, they’re also vegan. These 55% cacao snacks are what dreams are made of.
11. Vosges Haut-Chocolat
Even Vosges’ name gives off gourmet vibes. Their chocolate is pretty unique as well: at Vosges, you’ll find oddball spices mixed into the top-notch bars and truffles, including matcha, parmesan, and bacon.
Those of us with less adventurous tastebuds can revel in flavors like coconut ash and banana (which is still quite exotic). The Chicago-based company is hands down one of the best luxury chocolate brands in America
Bittersweet chocolate in all its glory: Vosges’ 67% cacao bar is made with 12-month aged Manchego cheese and dried Montmorency cherries. Because this is a 3-ounce (85-gram) package, it’s best for buyers who are trying Vosges for the first time.
I guess there is after all something more stereotypically American, chocolate-wise, than a batch of brownies: mixing bacon into your chocolate.
If that’s your thing, help yourself with Vosges’ superb smoked uncured bacon bars. This offer comes with a 45% and a 62% cacao bar.
US chocolate is not so notably gourmet as Belgian chocolate, but it’s more than worth celebrating — and indulging in! —, especially given how easy it is to buy American chocolate online.
There are American chocolate brands for every taste, which makes the U.S. a chocoholic’s paradise (if a slightly unlikely one at that).