The 'Tangy' Taste Of Hershey's Chocolate, Explained

"Why does Hershey's Chocolate taste slightly like sick?" a Reddit user asked. After which, an entire discussion acknowledging Hershey's tangy aftertaste followed. Of course, if you've ever eaten a Hershey's chocolate bar, you already know about the odd sour aftertaste that follows the silky chocolate in your mouth, making you question whether the chocolatier makes its chocolates with sour milk.

In 2017, the Daily Mail published an article branding all American chocolates — including Hershey's — horrible. American chocolate, the newspaper claimed, "is renowned for its slightly sour or tangy taste." The reason for the weird taste was the presence of butyric acid in Hershey's chocolates, the same chemical that gives vomit its rancid taste and smell.

As harsh as the claim may seem, unfortunately, there is some truth to it, at least when it comes to Hershey's. While Jeff Beckman, the director of corporate communications at Hershey's told HuffPost that Hershey's does not add any butyric acid to its chocolates, the site nevertheless found that there was, indeed, a tangy and sour aftertaste in the company's chocolates.

The sour aftertaste of Hershey's chocolates may be due to lipolysis

Although Beckman told HuffPost that Hershey's does not mix any additional butyric acid into its products, the chocolate does have the chemical, but it's only naturally occurring. Per Penn State News, Julie Nariman glanced at the ingredients list on the back of a Hershey's chocolate bar and found the infamous acid present on the list: under the name of milk. The acid occurs naturally in dairy products like butter, Parmesan, and, well, milk. So, the butyric acid that the Daily Mail noted comes from the milk fats present in the chocolate.

Nariman broke down the process. "In a process called lipolysis, the fatty acids in the milk decompose, resulting in a rancid, or 'goaty' taste," Nariman explained. The writer further claimed that Hershey's does put its chocolates through lipolysis, albeit under careful supervision, to give its products the signature taste.

Unsurprisingly, Beckman didn't confirm Nariman's claim but did admit to HuffPost that Hershey's chocolates contain lipase, an enzyme that occurs naturally in all dairy-based milks. It is this enzyme that breaks down the milk fats present in the chocolate to produce fatty acids, the same process that Nariman claims gives Hershey's chocolates its notoriously tangy aftertaste.