A chocolate bar? Or a candy bar?

Technical Editor, Clay Gordon, investigates the world of confectionery semantics and how this impacts the candy production process on a global scale.

As I rush headlong towards my first anniversary as Technical Editor here at International Confectionery Magazine, I made the time to take a look back over the past year and noticed I’d written two articles about how important it is to define terms and understand what is meant when we use them. 

The first of these was for my article on the topic of sustainability last June. There is no one agreed-upon meaning and use of the term “sustainable” globally, and the insight my article explored was that different audiences think about sustainability differently, making it important to know what those differences are, and where they are different, to make effective communications possible. A one-message for all markets is going to miss the mark somewhere. 

In this past January’s issue, I embarked on a similar exploration of the word “ethical” in the context of sourcing cocoa. Is there consensus about what it means? (Spoiler alert: No, there isn’t.) What do I mean when I use the term? What do you mean when you use the term? If I use the term one way and you are using a different definition, then if we don’t actually sit down and talk with each other we may think we’re talking about the same thing and communicating effectively when in fact, we’re talking past each other. 

The topic of word usage and definition – the theme of this article – came up during a story with the Editor and Publisher of International Confectionery as we were discussing what I would write. As an American I was talking about candy and chocolate bars the way I understand those terms to mean while the Brits on the call were talking about chocolate and candy bars the way they understand them to mean in the UK (or England? Is the usage even consistent across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales?). 

And I apologise in advance for the digression, but what is “That Friday Feeling,” anyway? As an American I simply don’t get the reference. And should I even mention the confusion between ‘chocolate’ and ‘chocolates’? (I did, and I can’t and won’t take it back.) 

Having identified a communications gap, and with the permission of the Editor and Publisher, I set myself the challenge of reaching out to colleagues around the world – in Denmark, Belgium, Morocco, South Africa, an American who’s spent time in South Korea, and a Brit– to provide their input on what constitutes a candy bar and what constitutes a chocolate bar. 

I asked my unscientifically selected panel (How unscientific? I just realised all but one of them come from what I think of as the chocolate side of the business and just one of them has manufacturing experience in chocolate confectionery.) the following questions:   

  • What do you mean (as someone living in …) when you use the phrase “candy bar?”  
  • What are some examples of candy bars?  
  • What are some examples of not-candy bars?  
  • Do you think your usage is the common usage in your country?  

Read more of this article in our latest edition here: March 2022 Single Issue form – International Confectionery Magazine (in-confectionery.com)

Media contact

Roshini Bains,
Editor, International Confectionery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922
Email: editor@in-confectionery.com

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