Feb. 23rd, 2009

joreth: (Misty Sleeping)

I do not drink caffeine in any form.  I eat chocolate, but that's not really caffeine, and the amount of the almost-caffeine in it is negligible for the purposes for which I gave it up.

I also work very early mornings sometimes which often makes me wish I drank caffeine, but mostly, just on cold mornings, it makes me wish for hot chocolate.  Many of my clients provide coffee for us, but since I don't drink coffee, that doesn't help.  Occasionally they will also provide tea (that I also can't drink because of the caffeine), which means there is hot water, but 99 times out of 100, there is no hot chocolate packets for me.  I had started stealing packets on that one-out-of-a-hundred times they offered it, to keep some in my backpack for when they gave us hot water but no chocolate.

Most of the time, though, it's inconvenient.  It's never very good chocolate, and I like to add cream to my chocolate since most of the powdered chocolate isn't very creamy, however, I'm wary of hotel creamer since I happen to know for a fact that all hotel-catered food sits in the back hallway for hours before being served.

One day, while shopping at Walmart (yes, I know, it's evil - I'm poor), a red sign caught my eye.  It said:

Self Heating Hot Chocolate

I did a double-take.  What?  Surely this can't be true!  I went back to look.  Yep, that's what the sign said.  On the shelf were cans proclaiming hot and tasty beverages that heat themselves with no need of hot water or microwaves.  They had 3 flavors of coffee too, but I ignored those.  The price was reasonable - $2.  Since I would spend at least that much to buy a hot chocolate at a coffee shop, having to wake up that much earlier to make the stop before work, I decided to try one.

I took it to work the next day.  The instructions were simple enough.  You peel off the foil lid on the bottom of the can, push on the little bubble of blue liquid which causes it to pop somewhere inside and the liquid drains into the can.  Then you turn the can right-side up and watch the little heat-sensitive dot turn from pink to white.  When it's white (about 5 minutes), it's hot enough to drink.  So you then twist the black plastic protector on top to line up with the opening and pop the top just like a soda can.

I was skeptical, but I knew the military had stuff like this for years.  I was pretty sure it would heat, it was the taste I was concerned about.  I needn't have worried.  The chocolate was rich and creamy and just a tad too hot, but since I had started to unload the truck by that time, I had to put it down for a few minutes anyway.  When I came back to it, the hot chocolate was the perfect temperature.

The can is pretty big for only holding 9.5 oz of chocolate (the rest being needed to hold the chemical reaction that heats it up), but it's designed to fit in standard car cupholders, so it's not really that big.  I just keep thinking there is more chocolate in there than there is because the heating chemicals and the can itself are heavy, so it never feels empty.  But it was good chocolate and at a reasonable price.  I immediately went back to Walmart and bought a case.

In Florida, we don't get many cold days, even in the morning, so I managed to make this case last for a long time, but eventually I had to buy another case.  I can't remember if I made it to a third case, but I recently went to pull out a can at work and discovered I was down to my last can.  So I stopped at Walmart to pick up another case, but I couldn't find any.  I kept this in the back of my mind for a few weeks, searching the aisles every time I went shopping, but I never found them.  I started searching other stores too, to no avail.

Finally, this week, I broke down and opened up the last can of chocolate.  As usual when I drink at work, my coworkers all expressed interest in the item and asked where I got it.  I said Walmart, and explained that I hadn't been able to find it lately, when one coworker suggested I search online.  Duh!

So I did ... only to find out that the company who makes these is going out of business!!!  And there is no other company that I can find that offers anything remotely like this.  Sure, there are a few hot-pack food companies that primarily target the camping demographic, but even there, no self-heating coffees or hot chocolates!

So, addict that I am, I bought 4 12-packs to be shipped to my house (that being all I could afford to drop at one time on hot chocolate).  I'm very sad because when this case arrives, it will be the last self-heating hot chocolate ever.

But I recommend to everyone, go buy some (or the flavored coffee, if you're so inclined) while they're still available.  Everything is currently on sale 25% off.

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