HERSHEY’S Chocolate Syrup… What is it? …Really!?

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There are many ingredients in the foods we eat everyday that are in many ways, completely unknown to us. Chocolate syrup is a pretty simple thing. At it’s most basic form, chocolate syrup, as we know it, should contain only 5 ingredientsWater, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Somehow these companies and our own government (by way of regulations) have seen fit to expand that to include a bunch of other stuff as preservatives, emulsifiers and other artificial things. It is to the point that reading the label for this basic item becomes more like a chemistry assignment in school than an eating/cooking activity.

Side Note: I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t compete with your car for fuel (maybe said by Michael Pollan), and that’s exactly what we’re doing when we eat most of these items. You may not know it but of the ingredients below, 3 of them are derived from corn, which is increasingly where our gasoline is coming from thanks to government subsidies and other interests…[steps down from high soapbox to a slightly lesser soapbox]

I have taken the time to track down (no easy task) the actual ingredients used in Hershey’s® brand Chocolate Syrup, explain them a bit and add a little commentary along the way (I’ve checked some off brand syrups as well and found the exact same ingredient list). Feel free to compare this to the recipe we now use and have recently posted ingredients/instructions for making your own at home. It should be said that companies that make such prodcts aren’t wholly to blame. Our own gov’t has placed many regulations and restrictions that force certain preservatives/ingredients on products. We should all know more about what our elected representative government is doing on our behalf to make us one of the most unhealthy countries in the world today (Tiffany’s Chocolate Syrup Recipe Here)

Read the itemized list of ingredients with full description by clicking the “Read More” link below.


1. High fructose corn syrup (corn)

  • Also known as: isomerized syrup, levulose-bearing syrup, fructose syrup.
  • Commercial source: vegetable, almost always with a bacterial- or fungal-derived component involved in its processing.
  • Used in: carbonated beverages, candy, processed meats, hamburger, ice cream, canned fruit, frozen desserts, dairy drinks.
  • Definition: Corn syrup which has been chemically treated to make it sweeter.
  • Source: http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

Made up of 55% fructose, 45% glucose, which are both sugars, just in a cheaper arrangement than real sugar.

The corn industry says that it is ok in moderation. Here’ s two problems with that

  1. It’s in everything, just go to the grocery and count the items that don’t contain HFCS. The fact is, you can’t get it in moderation because almost every processed food contains it.
  2. A princeton study recently found that HFCS specifically increases the risk of obesity. http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/

2. corn syrup (corn)

HFCS is made from corn syrup by converting the dextrose (another sugar) into fructose, which is sweeter.


3. water

Hopefully they don’t mess this up anyhow…just water please


4. sugar

We’re going to assume that this follows the standard definition of plain old “sugar” on a label meaning that it is a refined sucrose sugar obtained from sugarbeets or sugar cane.


5. cocoa

No reason to suspect anything other than regular cocoa being used.


contains 2% or less of:

6. potassium sorbate (preservative)

  • Also known as: sorbic acid potassium salt.
  • Commercial source: mineral-synthetic.
  • Used in: cheeses, bread, beverages, margarine, dry sausage, fish, dried fruits, margarine, sherbet, maraschino cherries, tomato juice, pre-peeled carrots, wax cucumbers, chocolate, fresh fruit cocktail, macaroni salads, cheesecake, pie fillings, artificially sweetened jellies and preserves.
  • Definition: A common yeast and mold inhibitor in many foods.
  • Source: http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

Not considered an incredibly harmful preservative though it is a synthetic.

Following quote is from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/are-there-potassium-sorbate-dangers-and-side-effects.html

“Prolonged use of the preservative could lead to allergic reactions, nausea, diarrhea and nutrient loss in food.”

From the LiveStrong foundation website http://www.livestrong.com/article/31559-potassium-sorbate/#ixzz0sA7ykN7o

“It also has several commercial applications in the coatings, rubber and personal car product industries.”


7. salt

benefit of the doubt here…regular table salt most likely


8. mono & diglycerides (emulsifier, source…unknown?)

Mono-glycerides (emulsifier)

  • Commercial source: vegetable, synthetic, or animal (cow- or hog-derived).
  • Used in: bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, confections.
  • Definition: A common food additive used to blend together ingredients, such as oil and water, which normally do not blend together.
  • Source: http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

Di-glycerides (emulsifier)

  • Commercial source: vegetable or animal (cow- or hog derived).
  • Used in: bakery products, ice cream, beverages, chewing gum, shortening, margarine, peanut butter, confections, whipped toppings.
  • Definition: A common food additive which is used in conjunction with monoglycerides, the latter of which are used to blend together ingredients (such as oil and water) which normally do not blend together.
  • Source: http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

9. polysorbate 60 (emulsifier)

  • Also known as: polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate.
  • Commercial source: Typically a composite of animal, vegetable, and synthetic substances.
  • Used in: powdered processed foods, beverage mixes, chocolate coatings, frozen desserts, cakes, dry mixes, doughnuts, artificial chocolate coatings, nondairy whipped cream and creamers, salad dressings not containing egg yolks, vitamin supplements.
  • Definition: A common food additive used to blend together ingredients, such as oil and water, which normally do not blend well.
  • Source: http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

10. xanthan gum (corn)

  • Also known as: corn sugar gum.
  • Commercial source: vegetable.
  • Used in: dairy products, salad dressings, sauces, baked goods, pie fillings, beverages.
  • Definition: A widely used and versatile vegetable gum which is sometimes used as a thickener.
  • Source: http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

11. Vanillin (an artificial flavor).

  • Commercial source: synthetic.
  • Exists in: vanilla extract, potato peelings.
  • Used in: butter, margarine, chocolate products, desserts, ice cream, baked goods, root beer, liqueurs.
  • Definition: A synthetic flavoring used as a substitute for vanilla extract.
  • Source: http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

Synthesised vanilla flavoring made from Guaiacol which can be found in the Guaiacum plant or Creosote (the stuff that gets stuck in your fireplace chimney that causes housefires).

From wikipedia:

“Guaiacol is produced industrially by methylation of catechol, e.g. using potash and dimethyl sulfate:”

…Not even going to touch what that could possibly mean. A scientist or chemist or biologist is way better suited to explaining that one than I. Let’s just say that it is not a naturally occuring substance like say, Vanilla extract itself…


Now, if you’re like me, after reading something like this I never want to purchase or support those products…So again, here is Tiff’s recipe for homemade chocolate syrup. (Tiffany’s Chocolate Syrup Recipe Here)

Recap of Sources used and some extra resources

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