I'm a sucker for Iowa merchandise. I have Iowa calendars. I have Iowa keychains. I have Iowa decals for car windows. I have Iowa license plate holders. I have Iowa Christmas tree ornaments. I have Iowa statutes, bobbleheads, and framed prints. I have multiple pairs of Iowa shorts and probably enough Iowa shirts to wear a different one every day for a month. It's a sickness.
So naturally when I come across some random Iowa product I haven't seen before in a store my interest is piqued. When I was visiting family in northwest Iowa over Christmas, I came across this in a store:
Of course, I had to try it.
So I brought it home and pulled out my trusty mug.
Yes, that is my name on the mug. I'm either a rampant narcissist or a borderline amnesiac who struggles to remember his own name -- you decide!
In any event, I set the teapot on the stove and cranked up the heat. While I was waiting for the water to heat up, I cracked open the can of hot chocolate. I was a bit taken aback by what I found inside:
The hot chocolate mix was... yellow. Or white. Or yellowish-white. Here's another view:
Now this was an unexpected development. I hadn't assumed there would be anything different about this hot chocolate mix than your regular mix; hell, I figured it was probably just some Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix in an Iowa can designed to lure in suckers like me. So when I bought the mix, I assumed it would look like... well, hot chocolate mix. That it would be that normal grayish brown (brownish gray?) color.
Apparently they took that "GOLD HOT CHOCOLATE" business seriously.
Now I was nervous. What else had I missed? I decided to check the list of ingredients on the back.
If you can't read that, here's a list of the contents:
Sugar, Nonfat dry milk, Whey, Creamer (coconut oil, corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate), Maltodextrin, Natural and artificial flavor, Guar gum, F D & C Yellow #6
Um. Far be it from me to disparage the likes of Maltodextrin or F D & C Yellow #6, but it seems like something is missing there. Like, oh, I don't know... CHOCOLATE. Or at least COCOA POWDER. Don't you kind of need those to call your product "chocolate"?
I DECLARE FALSE ADVERTISING!
To be fair, the front label does say "Artificial Flavors" right underneath "GOLD HOT CHOCOLATE," so perhaps that's their explanation here. On the other hand, it also says "Just add hot water and it magically turns yellow." Call me crazy, but I don't think there's much magic involved in adding water to a yellowish drink mix and ending up with a yellow drink. FOOD COLORING, HOW DOES IT WORK?
Anyway, by now my teapot was whistling so it was time to add said hot water and watch this "magical" transformation. The end result?
Well, it's certainly very yellow.
After letting it cool for a few minutes, it was time for the moment of truth: the taste test. With some trepidation, I moved the mug to my lips and took a sip. It was... not terrible. It certainly doesn't taste like regular hot chocolate (what with that whole "not having any cocoa powder" thing). If the taste could be said to resemble anything, it might be white chocolate, the bastard sibling of the chocolate family. It has that same sort of rich, sweet taste, without the slight bitterness you usually get with regular chocolate.
Most importantly, it does not turn your shits green.
I certainly can't recommend it unreservedly or suggest that you'd be doing your taste buds a disservice if you didn't try it, but if you're bored of regular hot chocolate (that, y'know, tastes like chocolate), in the mood to drink something the same color as a pair of Iowa football pants, or just a shameless consumer of various Iowa-related products... well, you could do worse. You should be able to get some at the McSteven's website, although it currently seems to be out of stock. (They also have the full rainbow of colored hot chocolate-type beverages for dozens of other schools. Consume Northwestern Purple at your own peril.) The store I bought it from in northwest Iowa (The Hen House) was sold out when I went back after Christmas (FUN FACT: The Iowa State-branded mix was not sold out), but it might be available in places like Iowa Book.