Arbitrary Candy

Arbitrary: Purdys Almost Perfect chocolates

A bag of Purdys Almost Perfect chocolates
A clear plastic bag of Purdys Almost Perfect chocolates. It’s about as utilitarian as packages come — but it’s what’s inside that counts.

When you spend good money on fancy chocolates, you want them to look gorgeous, right? Even before your first bite, you eat them with your eyes, taking in the perfectly drizzled coating, admiring the swirled patterns or glossy sheen. They look amazing all lined up in the display case at a chocolate shop, each one begging to be chosen and savoured. 

But artisan chocolates are made by human hands, and sometimes things don’t quite meet the visual standards of a display case. Maybe the nut on top is just off to the side, the piece of caramel isn’t quite square or rectangular or exactly the right size, or the salt on the salted caramels didn’t fall evenly across the top layer of chocolate coating. What to do with these slightly less than identical treats? 

But first, an aside about Purdys. 

Room in the middle

Canadian chocolate makers Purdys Chocolatier (which used to be known as Purdy’s Chocolates before they inexplicably dropped the apostrophe and gussied themselves up with some French) has been around for over a century, and has always had a spot in my heart. We’d stop at their shops when I visited family on the West Coast as a kid, as we didn’t have a shop in Winnipeg at the time. Since moving to Edmonton in the early 1990s, I’ve been regularly lured in by their Sweet Georgia Browns and Himalayan Pink Salt Caramels. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, I’d consider them to be a cut above the typical boxed chocolates you’d get at a grocery store or pharmacy, but they’re also not so expensive and fancy as to be outside of affordable. In recent years, they’ve started experimenting with fancier flavours, including chocolates made with mango, mandarin orange, and even Saskatoon berry. 

Purdys Almost Perfect chocolates on a plate
A selection of Purdys Almost Perfect chocolates on a plate. They’re a bit dinged up, but who cares? They’re still delicious.

Affordable, but not cheap

When you make elaborate chocolates by hand, they’re not all going to pass muster. While they may taste great, they have to look perfect in order to find their way into a packaged box or behind the shop counter. So what to do with these tasty visual rejects?

Purdys’ Almost Perfect chocolates are an open secret amongst Western Canadian chocolate fans. The company rounds up the chocolates at their factory that aren’t quite gorgeous enough to sell at full price, packages them into clear plastic bags (available in store) or large boxes (available online), and sells them on to customers who are up for a taste adventure at a discounted price. What you get varies, and would depend on what they’re making in their factory at the time. I once got a bag composed almost entirely of chocolate-covered yuzu jellies. Go figure?

When you buy Almost Perfects in store, you can see what you’re getting through the clear plastic packaging. If you know Purdys’ standard range of chocolates, you can see at a glance if you’re getting hedgehogs, salted caramels, or any one of their other chocolates. The clerk at the shop may be able to help you figure out what’s in the bag, in case you’re curious. 

When you buy Almost Perfects online, each one of their boxes contains at least four different types of chocolates, though you’ll have no idea what you’re getting until you open the box. This is clearly the option for the more adventurous/flexible chocolate lovers out there, and the deeply discounted price is a nice incentive. The bag of Almost Perfects I bought last week was marked at $20 per 320 grams (so, $6.25 per 100 grams), but I could see what I was getting and choose a bag with a mix I liked. A big box online is only $55 for 1.45 kg, which maths out to $3.79 per 100 grams. That’s one sweet deal, provided you’re fine with the risk.

Purdys Almost Perfect chocolates on a plate
You never quite know what you’re going to get in a bag of Purdys Almost Perfects, so it’s best to be flexible. There are salted caramels in there, as well as hedgehogs and some ruby chocolates.

Almost perfect? What’s the catch?

No catch, really. I just love grabbing a bag of these from time to time when I’m looking for some decent chocolate, and the price is a good excuse to opt for this instead of a typical chocolate bar. From the bags I’ve purchased over the years, the chocolates taste just as good as the regular ones, though the packaging isn’t fancy, and they may be scuffed up a bit. They’re not showroom perfect, but if you’re eating an occasional chocolate between editing briefing notes at the office, they’re a delight. 

Could you give them as a gift? That depends. If your partner loves frugality as much as chocolate, it might be worth a shot. But they’re not really meant to be ornate and fancy. 

A few other options

If you have special dietary needs and good timing, you can find almost perfects that are either vegan or no-sugar-added, and are bundled together as such. I saw some no-sugar-added ones at the shop I visited in downtown Edmonton last week, and there are sometimes boxes of Almost Perfect vegan chocolates available online

The Details

Price: Varies. Online, $55 for a 1.45 kg box. In store, $10-$20ish for smaller quantities.

Value for Money: Pretty great.

Availability: They come and they go. Just because they’re out of stock online doesn’t mean they’re out in store. New stock arrives when it arrives, so check with your local shop from time to time. 

Nutrition: The bag’s label says there are 220 calories per three pieces (45 grams). But remember that’s a general number. 

Verdict: A nice option for when you feel like treating yourself, but you’re also feeling cheap. 

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