Every chocolate lover knows the joy of having artisanal chocolates are one of the most sought after gastronomical delights and like all good things in the world, the search doesn’t come easy. We have hundreds of chocolate brands in the world and perhaps several thousand variations and only a true seeker knows the pain of finding that “One right flavor”.
In the process of making chocolates from the tiny seedpods of Cacao trees, several important decisions have to be made. Minute details like the choices to sun dry the seeds or to dry in an oven, the time spent to dry, how much the cacao nibs are crumbled and roasted and eventually crushed and tempered and what proportion of it is to be used, create a huge difference in their taste.
While India has a great chocolate market of its own, imported chocolates from the USA are sought after. The variety and make of chocolates available in America are endearing. This isn’t surprising considering that brands like Bovetti, Godiva Liquor chocolates, Kallari, Boissier, Pacari, Villars, etc. are unavailable in the Indian market and while few brands like Hershey’s, Oreo, Cadbury’s, etc. are available in India, they have more variations to offer in the American market. Furthermore, due to the difference in FDA requirements, the taste and quality of the chocolates differ. While it may be convenient to purchase the imported chocolates online or offline, it becomes too expensive!
Not to forget the fact that chocolates are probably the best gift for about anybody. Chocolate shopping (and in huge quantity!) has thus become an important part of the itinerary of every person traveling to the States. Now the question is, with the tedious never-ending security checks and customs restrictions, what are the best ways to carry chocolates through flights from the USA to India?
We suggest the best way to carry chocolates back home is to be prepared with the worst and come to learn these travel hacks and cues:
Purchase at Duty-Free shops
While amazing deals are available in duty-free shops at the airports in the States, the variety offered is generally limited especially for handmade and artisanal chocolates. But for the major brands, the duty-free shops remain the best choice.
Also, it is more viable to purchase from these shops as not only there is ease to carry after checking in the baggage, these purchases are exempted from the baggage limit unto a “reasonable quantity”.
Suggested Read – How to get through Customs Quickly?
Be prepared for the Quantity
The quantity of chocolates you can carry depends on both, the baggage limit provided by your flight as well as the Customs and central excise laws of India. The baggage policy of almost all the flights is such that they allow about 2 bags of 23 kgs each in the check-in baggage.
So, Step one is to declare in the Indian Customs Declaration Form that you are carrying uneaten food items. Secondly, make you adhere to the allowed baggage limit since the cost of additional baggage allowance would probably be more than the cost of the chocolates itself!
Indian residents are eligible for duty-free allowances up to Rs. 45,000, and other people traveling to India are eligible up to Rs. 8,000 only and the goods over and above the free allowances shall be chargeable to customs duty at 36.05%.
To save your time, try to keep your carry-on bags organized so that it doesn’t obstruct clear images on the X-Ray screen during the security check for we have all heard how paranoid they can get.
However appealing liquid or gel chocolates may seem, prefer carrying chocolates in solid form to avoid the extra precautions and compliances. Liquid or gel chocolates, if in the carry-on baggage must be in containers having capacity up to 100 milliliters, which must be placed in a transparent re-sealable plastic bag of maximum one-liter capacity. This is also known as the “3-1-1 liquids rule”.
It is best to carry the solid chocolates, sealed in their original packing and if they are for whatsoever reason not in their original packing, carry the items in air-tight containers with secure lids.
The temperature difference from some states in the US like Newark and India may be as high as 35 degrees centigrade! This makes the chocolates susceptible to melting. So, the most efficient way to carry would be in the cabin baggage of the flight and into an air-conditioned cab as soon as possible to avoid melting.
Airplane Refrigerators or Dry Ice packaging may also be used for chocolates that have not been tempered properly since they tend to melt at room temperature. Although each carrier has its own restrictions, major airlines usually allow passengers to carry up to 2.5 kilograms of dry ice provided that the same is packed according to the airline’s specifications.
Store it well
The Transportation Security Administration in the US allows the passengers to carry chocolate through airport security in check-in as well as the carry-on baggage.
The worst nightmare after doing so much would be to find that your chocolates have melted. If the chocolates are handmade, they are prone to spoil sooner unless stored in lower temperatures. It is advisable not to place the chocolates in the check-in luggage and to carry them in hand. While the temperature in the check-in cargo is maintained at around 10 degree Celsius, due to overcrowding and manhandling, the chocolates are prone to damage.
If huge quantity needs to be carried, it is best to get the baggage “secured packed” and marked “Fragile” before check-in.
One of the riskiest things when dealing with chocolates, especially expensive ones, is that they may melt easily. Even as carry-on baggage, avoid storing in the storage overhead and prefer the space below the seats for a cooler temperature and easy access. Furthermore, for extra assurance, collapsible, insulated bags may be used.
There may be tons of things that can go wrong, like ending up with melted chocolates seized or fined by the custom or having to wait a long time at the security check. A lot of people have experienced these things and its best to learn from their lessons! While you can never be absolutely sure of anything, you can be prepared enough as per the quantity and kind of chocolate you wish to bring home. It isn’t so difficult after all. So be sure to keep in mind these things and bring the perfect gift back home for your loved ones.
And after all, it’s worth all the risk, as long as we are talking about chocolates!