Creating new chocolate recipes is a lot of fun. But once you have the perfect confection, the next step is to give your new creation a name. How do you choose a good name, though? And is it really even that important?
I remember reading in an ancient scripture once that our name is like a thread tied about our finger to make us mindful of the virtues of its meaning, and maybe, in some spiritual way, even guide us towards whatever errands we came to do in this world. This powerful message conjured up again recently as I came across a scientific study linking names to just about every aspect of our lives – our choice of profession, where we live, whom we marry, the academic laurels we earn, the stocks we invest in, the job opportunities that open up to us, even the quality of our work in those jobs. It’s really uncanny, and it got me thinking.
If our names can have such a profound influence on our personalities, could the way we name our chocolates influence theirs?
Turns out there’s an entire science to our relationship with food, which deals with how social and environmental cues factor into our perception of what we eat and how much satisfaction we derive from it. Smart restauranteurs use principles of food psychology to their benefit all the time – from making customers wait just long enough to whet their appetites (without losing their tempers), to employing visual illusions (such as Delboeuf) that make small portion sizes appear bigger, and fiddling with words in their menu, often creating such elaborate food descriptions as to put even romance novels to shame.
But what exactly is this new language of creative food labels? Let’s go out for a night on the town and indulge in some good food and good-natured menu banter to find out. First stop: Hauz Khas – Social. I’d like to order a margarita, but why settle for a plain old margarita when I can have the newfangled Two Lost Souls Swimming in a Fish Bowl? Are you up for A Game of Sling next? Two cocktails down and those names start to look even more appealing. But let’s not get carried away, we’ve got work to do. Next, let’s head out to Khan Market – Chili’s Grill & Bar. Can I have a veg burger please? Oh, I’m sorry, I meant the vegetarian craft burger served with house-made garlic dill pickles and home-style fries with an order of crispy handcrafted onion rings. For that long a name, this better be the best burger I’ve ever had. If you have a sweet tooth like I do, then this night isn’t over yet. Last stop: Connaught Place – The Junkyard Cafe for a quick bite of their Crazy Carrot Cheesecake.
Menu space, just like the retail space in Delhi, is a scarce commodity. So you can be sure that not a single word on those menus is used without a reason. Studies show that restaurant customers are more likely to order food and find it tasty if it comes with a descriptor. Chili’s “vegetarian craft burger,” for example, trumps barebones “veg burger”, and we prefer fries if they’re touted as “home-style” and onion rings if they’re preceded by “crispy.” Associations that evoke positive emotions like love, nostalgia, nature, beauty, or playfulness greatly influence our perception. You may not be much of a carrot person but the “crazy” in the cheesecake definitely calls out to the adventurer in you.
A name packs a lot of punch. In the case of chocolate, the name gives it a sense of identity, adds to its appeal, and makes it conspicuous among other options. A good name may lead the consumer to the back story of the chocolate or your inspiration behind it and is a great opportunity for you to market yourself and your creations. There are innumerable ways in which you can choose a specific name for your chocolate. I’ve outlined a few of these that I like to use or have seen being used by famous chocolatiers and chocolate makers. I hope you’ll find some inspiration in them if you ever feel stuck while naming your latest creation.
As chocolatiers, if we create the music with our chocolates, then the names and descriptions become the lyrics. Sometimes the music is great but it’s got the the wrong lyrics, and that can derail the entire effect of the song.
KEEP IT SIMPLE : The name Raspberry Peanut Butter White Chocolate Cup is very clear about what you can expect in this chocolate. It is a white chocolate shaped in the form of a cup with a peanut butter ganache and flavours or pieces of raspberry. This is a very literal approach and, when in doubt, it’s a great route to go. Here you are just naming the chocolate what it is: think Fruit & Nut Milk Chocolate Bar, Lemon Lavender Truffle, and Pistachio Cherry Bon Bon. With this type of name the customer knows what to expect because it is right there in front of them. I can almost taste either just by hearing the name, and most of us are familiar enough with these ingredients and the different types of chocolates that we have a good idea of what these variations will taste like. Basic pralines, truffles, and ganaches are an inspiration for many new variations and it is perfectly acceptable to name your new recipe with one of these bases. Simply put together the chocolate’s flavours and features.
SET IN PLACE : A timeless classic, the Cadbury Bournville is a fantastic and simple mix of a chocolate and the place where it comes from – a small village located on the south side of Birmingham, England. Naming a chocolate after the geographical location it was created in or inspired by is another popular option. Godiva’s Chantilly is a white chocolate praline named after the chateau of Chantilly in France because its ganache is based on a signature whipped cream recipe believed to have originated there. Vosges Haut-Chocolat’s exotic dark chocolate collection has a truffle infused with sweet Hungarian paprika, which is why it is presumably named Budapest. If you’re using single-origin chocolate, it’s quite common to a give your confection a name after the source of the originating cacao. Iceland’s Omnom Chocolate has an award-winning milk chocolate bar called Milk of Madagascar, named appropriately to highlight the provenance of its beans. If using locale names is a bit blasé for you, jazz it up by incorporating some sort of local lingo to indicate the influence of the region on your recipe. Instead of calling his confection Indian Tea, Jacques Torres, aka New York’s favourite “Mr. Chocolate,” christened his spiced tea infused milk chocolate Chai Tea.
STRIKE A CHORD : When it came to its coated wafer chocolate variant, Nestle zeroed in on the sound that the crunchy treat makes as you pop it in your mouth, and named it Nestle Munch. To rub it in, they hired Virat Kohli for the promos, showing him biting into the bar with a thunderous crunch! All that noise gave Nestle exactly what they were craving for: the sweet taste of success. Sound guides us every moment of the day, so it’s only natural that words connected with sounds should have a strong bearing on shaping our taste expectations. Star endorsements notwithstanding, you can still use the power of sounds to trigger memories and emotions that elicit the right flavour connections with your chocolate. Think about the action or the quality of the sound with words such as yummy, snap, crunch, crackle, pop, snap, drip, nibble, gobble, and kiss. Hershey’s Kisses, anyone? If you really want to go over the top, you can even try musical terms such as how Vosges Haut-Chocolat has with their chocolates named Blues, Gospel, Funk & Disco, and Soul & Motown. Are you going to be the inventor of the next Rumba, Rhapsody, Nocturne, Rap, and Harmony range of chocolates?
PAINT A PICTURE : “Have you felt Silk lately?” Sometimes the best way to name a chocolate is through its visual and tactile qualities, as in the case of Cadbury’s soft, smooth, creamy bundle of joy – Dairy Milk Silk. Look at your chocolate closely, paying attention to its colour, shape, and texture. Does it have any distinguishing features, things that you’d like to highlight? Sensory details about how your chocolate tastes, feels, or looks can paint a vivid picture and bring your creation to life in the consumer’s imagination. Take, for instance, the Midnight Reverie from Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark line of chocolates. I can almost feel the abstraction of being lost in a deep chocolate fantasy, the metaphoric midnight beautifully accentuating the darkness of the chocolate. Can you? If the most interesting thing about your chocolate is its shape, you may decide to focus on that. UK’s luxury chocolate shop, Hotel Chocolat has a milk chocolate filled with succulent Kirsch-soaked cherries and a layer of nibbed hazelnuts, which they call a Bûche (French for a log), highlighting both its woody flavours and semblance to a chunk of wood.
PLAY WITH WORDS : “Two for me, none for you.” Ever wondered how Twix got its name? It’s an ingeniously shortened version of the description of the bar formed by combining the words “twin” and “biscuit (bix)”, alluding to the fact that each package contains not one but two chocolate covered biscuits. Similarly, the largely meaningless Toblerone will make a little more sense when I tell you that it was invented by the Swiss chocolatier, Theodor Tobler. The bar’s name is a portmanteau of his last name “Tobler” and the Italian dessert “torrone”, which is a type of nougat containing honey, sugar and nuts that forms the inspiration for the recipe. Borrowing words from foreign languages in yet another trick in the book. In the case of Dairy Milk Silk Caramello, the word “caramello” is simply Italian for caramel, which is the center-filling in this chocolate. When it comes to creative labels – tweaked up words, made up words, wrong spellings, foreign terms, funky grammar, shorthand, slang and pun – all is fair in the name of chocolate. As long as you don’t tell your fifth grade English teacher about it!
Chocolate is not a food that we buy just to satiate our hunger; it is the very stuff of our lives – personal, physical, spiritual, and sociable. To justify a name, you’ll have to tread beyond the shallow waters and take a deep dive into your motivations behind each creation to isolate the relevant, enduring, and emotive points of the morsels you’ve moulded into existence. Slowly, but surely, the names will reveal themselves to you. If you believe in them.
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet opines the fact that Romeo being a Montague (sworn enemy of her family, the Capulets) means nothing at all. After all, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, I’ve got news for you Juliet. My Harpic Rose Powerplus bottle with the words “disinfectant cleaner” isn’t quite as sweet at all. Had you asked Romeo to change his last name before introducing him to your family, the play’s ending could have been very different.