A little water can be a big problem for a chocolate fountain.
Looking to class up your holiday party? Some things are guaranteed winners: champagne service, ice sculptures, a flowing chocolate fountain. But as one office Christmas party recently found out, these things aren’t foolproof—and apparently, the only thing that gets more attention than an awesome chocolate fountain is a screwed up chocolate fountain.
Over the weekend, a Facebook account going by the name Apprehensive Andy posted a video of a holiday party centerpiece gone horribly wrong. “There was a super festive chocolate fountain at our office Christmas party this year,” the post sarcastically stated. “It certainly was something! #Nope.” Unlike your typical silky smooth stream of dip-worthy chocolate, this fountain had turned into a clumpy mess that appeared to have more of the texture of a beef chili fountain. (Not that a beef chili fountain doesn’t sound kind of awesome in its own right, but... you know…)
Intrigued by the unsettling results, a Reddit user with the handle “mike_pants” turned the Facebook video into an animated gif and posted it to two separate sections of the social news site. Both posts shot to the top of their respective subreddits—r/shittyfoodporn and r/gifs—quickly turning the horrors of this chocolate fountain into a viral sensation.
So what went wrong? Well, according to Andy’s original post, “Apparently water got into the machine and that led to clumpy chocolate.” Meanwhile, mike_pants—though not necessarily a chocolate fountain expert—posted his own explanation of the phenomenon that sounds perfectly plausible. “Someone added water to it,” he wrote on Reddit. “Water in chocolate forms a syrup and cocoa bits start adhering to it. Once that happens, it just gets exponentially worse as more bits stick to the existing clumps. If you keep adding hot water to it, it will eventually unbind, but this is why fountains use oil instead of water to keep things flowy.”
Surprisingly, searching for explanations of seized chocolate in chocolate fountains doesn’t return a ton of results. (Maybe that helps explain why this video went so viral; it’s not particularly common.) However, the site Kitchn quotes a food science expert, Harold McGee, who explains that a “small amount of water acts as a kind of glue, wetting the many millions of sugar and cocoa particles just enough to make patches of syrup that stick the particles together.” So let this be a lesson to all of us: Chocolate fountains and water don’t mix.