Shops are bastards. There you are, with your basket of moderately healthy food heading for the checkouts. And right before it is rack after rack of chocolate bars and snacks. Forget worrying about Facebook knowing all about us: Tesco has known our weaknesses all along.
Yes, I guess I will buy that big bag of Maltesers. I mean, I deserve it, as I’ve had a hard day living in an era where food is plentiful, working conditions are broadly safe and where I get paid to sit at a desk rather than do anything that involves actual hard work. In some ways, it’d basically be a bad idea not to buy the Maltesers, right?
That’s right. What I’m saying is that in the modern world it is basically impossible to be healthy. But perhaps instead we can be… at least marginally healthier?
What if when presented with everything from Mars to Matchmakers, we knew which was the healthiest option to pick? I mean, it isn’t going to beat a slice of lettuce, but we’re talking relatively.
So we decided to find out.
Cooking Up The Data
To find out, we took our dataset from Ocado. We downloaded data on all 699 chocolate products listed in their chocolate section, and stored each in a database along with the number of calories for each product - something which nearly everything has listed, as this is a legal requirement. (Though, nerd note: annoyingly this isn’t machine readable, so we had to manually clean the calorie data, which was exactly as tedious as it sounds.)
To make the comparison fair, we’ve normalised each calorie count to kcals per 100g. This allows us to accurately compare, though it should be noted that different types of chocolate are sold in different quantities/weights. A Cadbury Creme Egg, for instance, is 40g - whereas a Double Decker is 54g. So this comparison is based on the (not entirely realistic proposition) that you’re eating 100g of whatever the product is. And let’s face it, it’s blindingly obvious that a tiny “treat sized” bag of Cadbury buttons is going to be less bad for you than a large slab of Galaxy.
The only other caveat is that while we got these numbers from Ocado, there is still some variation. Weirdly, different sizes of the same thing often had slightly different calorie counts per 100g - but in these cases, we’ve just picked one at random to represent that type of chocolate.
Food For Thought
So what’s the healthiest chocolate, and what’s the most unhealthy? We took our list and filtered it down a little bit - it is still extensive, but now only includes the stuff we think you might stand a good chance of finding in a normal newsagents or in a petrol station.
So the prize for healthiest chocolate goes to Fry’s Turkish Delight - which is just 363 calories per 100g, way less than every other chocolate on the list. Perhaps this isn’t surprising, given that it is mostly traditional Turkish Delight, and merely surrounded by a thin layer of chocolate.
Here’s a graph showing some of the most popular chocolates and how they stack up. What’s interesting (if unsurprising) is that it clearly appears that the less chocolate there is in a chocolate bar, the healthier it is. Compare the likes of Rolos and Twix, which both have fillings, to Dairy Milk, Galaxy Smooth Milk, and Twirl - which are basically all just solid chocolate.
So what’s the least healthy - or most unhealthy - chocolate? In second place, it is Kinder Surprise - it turns out that the surprise is that it is really bad for you, even if you don’t eat the plastic egg at its core. Coming out on top though (of this limited selection) is Lindt’s Lindor milk chocolate. It turns out that you really do get what you pay for: when you buy fancy chocolate, you’ll get extra calories too, with an amazing 606 calories per 100g according to Ocado’s figures.
Here’s the full list. Don’t worry about where it refers to a “pouch” or “multipack” and so on - remember, it is normalised to 100g.
Yes, reading this post back made us hungry too.
James O’Malley is Interim Editor of Gizmodo UK and tweets as @Psythor.