Prowling the carefully arranged rows of ancient canned goods, dusty boxes, and mysterious jars that seemed more like science experiments turned sour than anything consumable, my eyes were locked in on all the new and unusual items displayed at the grocery store. Not merely shopping, but hunting, the objective was not to find something I had heard of before, but to discover something new- Something “accidentally vegan.” The thrill of the hunt brought me back to this little game time and again, excitedly flipping over packages that held even an ounce of potential, and scanning labels with a fierce, laser-like stare, seeking out any nasty bits that wouldn’t agree with me. Inevitably hitting upon something not vegan more often than not, that once prized jewel would be hurled back on the shelf where it came from with such venom, I’m surprised there weren’t more casualties left in my wake.
Rarely do I have the time to indulge this old habit any more, more inclined to get in and then get out of the store as quickly as possible, but it does always pose a temptation. Many fantastic eats have been uncovered as accidentally vegan, and I can only dream that there’s still a whole trove of delicacies yet to be revealed.
Increasingly, manufacturers are beginning to get smart to the plight of the rushed grocery shopping vegan, and have begun to actually label their goods as such. What a concept! Unlike the mainstream treats of yesteryear, these shiny new wrappers have a neat little “V” or even the whole word “Vegan” emblazoned as a bold declaration, taking the guess work (and the wild goose chase) out of it. Q.Bel is one such company, and they’ve made sure there’s nothing “accidentally” vegan about their newest creation, actually pushing that angle pretty hard in all their press releases and on the candy itself. I, for one, was thrilled, and jumped at the opportunity to sample such an unapologetically cruelty-free mainstream candy for myself.
A higher-end candy in the grand scheme of things, Q.Bel has a number of chocolate-covered wafer options, but bear in mind that only the Double Dark Chocolate Wafer Bars have no animal products. Happily, there’s no need to bemoan the lack of options; this little number is fantastic, and leaves no reason to be envious of the others. A multi-layered affair with two tiers of fluffy chocolate filling interspersed between three sheets of wafer cookies, all covered in 70% dark chocolate, it could impress any chocolate connoisseur.
Audibly crunchy, the wafers are nothing if not crisp, which is a good thing, as they have very little flavor to offer. The filling, falling somewhere between a thin sheet of frosting and chocolate mousse, brings just enough sweetness to the party, balanced out perfectly by that blanket of unadulterated chocolate on top, which brings the real chocolate flavor as well. Quality cacao to be sure, there’s a slightly bitter, woodsy edge to it, with just enough bite that it could never be deemed as cloying. Somewhat like a Kit Kat Bar, but all grown up, it’s absurdly easy to eat through a whole package without even blinking.
One of the best things about this candid labeling is that those tricky ingredients are no longer an uncertainty- No worrying about whether that lecithin came from eggs or soy. No more sinister “natural flavors” that could come from darned near anything. And, if you’re lucky enough to spy one in in your local grocery store, it could save the day when it seems no vegan options are available. Trust me, if you’re strapped for time and ideas as Valentine’s day rapidly approaches, just get your sweetie a pile of these babies. They’re no fancy, mail-order boxed chocolates, but I know I sure wouldn’t mind.