Marcia Mogelonsky
Marcia Mogelonsky is the Director of Insight, Mintel Food & Drink, at Mintel. Her expertise focuses on a number of areas in confectionery and snacks.

When you think of the holiday season, rooftops blanketed with snow and cozy, inviting fireplaces surrounded by friends and family probably come to mind. And of course, where would that ideal winter landscape be without a hot cup of cocoa? This holiday season, brands are rolling out products that call to winter’s warm embrace. While decadent drinks often rule the hot cocoa space, you may be surprised to see where some recent innovative products are popping up.

Hot cocoa meets protein

Organic Açaí and Mixed Almonds with Cashew and Dried Cranberries (Singapore)

Beanbag Superfood & Nuts Organic Hot Chocolate Flavored Açaí and Mixed Almonds with Cashew and Dried Cranberries is described as extremely rich and delicious and is purely made from raw cacao powder.

Energy Bars (USA)

Clif Bar Hot Chocolate Energy Bars is a kosher and GMO-free energy bar made with organic rolled oats, seasonal flavors and Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa.

Hot cocoa meets personal care

Shower Cream (France)

Dop Douceurs du Matin Douche Crème (Morning Sweets Shower Cream Set) includes one 250ml Douche Crème au Parfum du Chocolat Chaud (Shower Cream with Hot Chocolate Scent), which is said to be dermatologically-tested and leaves skin deliciously fragranced.

Deodorant Bodyspray (Turkey)

Axe Dark Temptation Deodorant Bodyspray is an ozone-friendly product that is said to be inspired by what women love most, chocolate.

Pore Cleaning Sauna Masque (Costa Rica)

Montagne Jeunesse Barro Limpiador Chocolate (Hot Chocolate Pore Cleansing Sauna Mask) is a self-heating face mask enriched with Mediterranean clay to cleanse dirt and oils from deep within pores and contains rich dark melted chocolate and orange oil to leave skin soft and refreshed.

Contouring Body Cream-Gel (Russia)

Novosvit STOPcellulite Modeliruyushchiy Krem-Gel’ dlya Tela Goryachiy Shokolad (Hot Chocolate Contouring Body Cream-Gel) contains cacao and caffeine, and is described as an active fat burner, which accelerates the burning of body fat and reduces the volume of problem areas.

Hot cocoa meets alcohol

Hot Toddy Cozy Cocktail Mixer (USA)

Williams-Sonoma Mexican Hot Chocolate Toddy Cozy Cocktail Mixer is made with dark cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon and blended with rich dark cocoa. The seasonal mixer can be mixed with tequila, whiskey or rum.

Hot cocoa meets dessert

Soufflé (Canada)

Marie Morin Hot Chocolate Soufflé combines layers of chocolate crumb, white chocolate and dark chocolate soufflé.

Crème Gourmet Frosting (USA)

Dollop Real & Good Hot Chocolate Crème Gourmet Frosting is an all-natural product that contains less sugar, more taste and is free from gluten, soy and GMOs. It is microwavable, suitable for vegans, is said to make cakes, cookies, fruit and even pizza taste better.

Decadent Frozen Small Batch Gelato (Canada)

Fiasco Decadent Frozen Hot Chocolate Small Batch Gelato is a gluten free product that retails in a 562ml reusable pack.

Product Spotlight

Hot Cocoa Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolate with Marshmallow Flavored Crème (USA) maximizes the pure indulgence of Hershey’s Kisses with milk chocolate, followed by a marshmallow creme center, replicating the experience of a warm cup of hot chocolate.

What brands should know

Hot cocoa is quickly becoming the winter season’s version of fall’s pumpkin spice, a flavor that is spreading from food to beauty and even household products. It is likely to be even more successful than pumpkin spice as it is more popular and less divisive. “Much like the anticipation of Pumpkin Spice season, consumers love having special seasonal products that they look forward to enjoying every year, and hot cocoa is a flavor that spikes in relevance at the end of year,” said Jan Grinstead, Senior Brand Manager, Holiday/Easter Seasons at The Hershey Company.

Hot cocoa has a soothing and old-fashioned image that illustrates the coziest part of winter. Grinstead agreed that tying hot cocoa to the holiday winter months was a perfect fit. “Hot cocoa is an anticipated indulgence of the colder winter months, and enjoying hot cocoa has become a ritual that many people look forward to over the holidays. Sipping hot cocoa conjures up warm, cozy feelings, much like those associated with enjoying milk chocolate.”

A recent study points to the ‘warming power’ of hot cocoa on cold winter days, along with the chocolate aroma and indulgent aura of the product, will make hot cocoa a popular flavor or scent across a broad array of categories. Grinstead stated that Hershey’s had the opportunity to drive a new product launch on Hershey’s Kisses at the holidays for the first time in nine years. “We had done research around hot cocoa and found what consumers love about it is the marshmallow creaminess. We wanted to make sure our product delivered this similar, nostalgic texture.”