One of the most pervasive issues we face is a false perception that Sacred 7 contains cocoa powder. This post is dedicated to explaining in detail why that's not true, and hopefully instilling trust and confidence in our customers.
Well, here it goes.
We used to have two varieties of Sacred 7: Original and Chocolate.
Now Sacred 7 Original is the only variety that exists. Chocolate was discontinued and its inventory was depleted by early 2019.
There are no added ingredients whatsoever in Sacred 7. The product is 100% mushrooms, and its smell and taste result from natural characteristics of the mushrooms. Something smelling chocolately doesn't necessarily mean there is any chocolate in it.
Smell and taste can be extremely deceiving. Take vanilla extract for example. Vanillin is the chemical responsible for the smell and taste of vanilla. It exists in nature. We typically think of vanilla extract’s most common recipe: vanilla beans steeped in alcohol. However, the vast majority of vanilla extracts were not made with any vanilla beans. They are most commonly made from guaiacol, a chemical derived from creosote flowers. Chemically similar fake vanilla flavor can also be derived from clove oil, pine bark, coal tar, bran, and even cow dung. Yet you will munch away on your 'Nilla Wafers and sip your cream soda believing with all your heart's content that the vanilla flavor you are enjoying is authentic.
This is meant to illustrate a simple point: our senses fool us easily and often.
Now enter chocolate. Chocolate is made from the cacao bean. About 600 various compounds including terpenes, alcohols, carboxylic acids, aldehydes, ketones, esters, and pyrazines have all been identified as odor‐active components (the things responsible for smell and taste) in cacoa beans. Many of these compounds are not exclusively found in cacoa beans. They’re found in many different plant, and likely mushroom, species in nature.
Professor Schieberle studies the odor receptors in the nose, as well as other ways in which we perceive smell and taste. In his research at the Institute for Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich, he frequently mimics chocolate flavors with recombinates (groups of chemically similar compounds), and taste testers can almost never tell the difference. Schieberle states that “To make a very good cocoa aroma, you need only 25 of the nearly 600 volatile compounds present in the beans”. This makes it pretty clear that something can seem chocolately without being chocolate at all.
When we first developed Sacred 7 back in 2015, we bought powders of all seven mushroom species from a grower and mixed them by hand in a tub. We couldn't believe the result. "Wow, these smell so good, almost like chocolate" was basically the first thing we said. We trusted the supplier we bought them from, and when we later replicated the blend from a different supplier, it still smelled chocolately.
But a few early reviewers of Sacred 7 still said it tasted gross - like mushrooms. So we had the brilliant (horrible in hindsight) idea to make a version of Sacred 7 with a little bit of added cocoa powder - Sacred 7 Chocolate . We wanted to embellish the amazing chocolate notes which were naturally present in the mushrooms. We weren't deceptive about this in any way. We clearly stated on the label how much mushroom powder and how much cocoa powder were in the product. 700 mg mushrooms and 300 mg cocoa powder per gram. We still offered Sacred 7 Original alongside the new Chocolate variety, and we even made Sacred 7 Chocolate much cheaper to account for the cocoa powder (which is cheaper than the mushrooms).
But since Original already naturally smelled chocolately, some folks started to cry foul, believing they were receiving Chocolate by mistake, or that we were somehow adding cocoa powder to both varieties of the product to make more money.
Ultimately we discontinued Sacred 7 Chocolate because it caused too much confusion. But many of our bad Amazon reviews have been persistent, and seem to have led to a sort of confirmation bias where people read the bad cocoa reviews, buy the product anyway, and then when they receive it they say, "Yep, it's true, this is just filled with cocoa powder"!
We don't even blame the people who do this because we agree with them - the blend smells chocolately. It always has. But there's nothing we can do about it. Trust us, if there was any hidden cocoa powder to remove from the formula, we would have loved to take it out a long time ago. That's exactly why we killed Sacred 7 Chocolate - we heard people loud and clear that they didn't like it. We thought they would like it, but they didn't so we discontinued it. Today the product is just mushrooms, and there is nothing else we can remove to change its sensory characteristics.
On the Sacred 7 Amazon listing we clearly recommend the product for canine use. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and we would never recommend the product if it were harmful to them. Countless healthy dogs who use the product are further proof that it does not contain cocoa powder.
Once more, Sacred 7 Original does not, and has never, contained cocoa powder. The only Sacred 7 product that ever contained cocoa was called Sacred 7 Chocolate, and cocoa powder was clearly listed as an ingredient on the bag. We would never add any ingredients to our products without listing them on the bag.
Aside from being a giant violation of our integrity, there’s no possible way our manufacturing facility would ever let that happen. Sacred 7 is made at an SQF certified facility whose quality protocols are extremely rigorous. They are liable for what they manufacture, and they would never let their customers put random unlisted ingredients in products. All of our product’s labels will always detail exactly which ingredients are in them.
We're an extremely small team and we care about our customers, our products, our company. Every time we see a one-star Amazon review viciously attacking us and our integrity... it hurts.
Sacred 7 Original does not, and has never, contained cocoa powder. It is 100% USDA Organic mushroom powder and nothing else.
- Something can smell like chocolate and not be chocolate. Senses are deceptive. Hundreds of compounds are responsible for the aroma of “chocolate”, many of which exist in a variety of different plants. It takes only a handful of these compounds to produce a believable “chocolate” aroma. It’s very possible (not proven yet because the research hasn’t been done) that powderized mushrooms contain some of these compounds and may effectively mimic the smell and other sensory components of cocoa.
- Even if we did wish to defy our own integrity, our manufacturer is among the most strict and compliant in the industry, and they would not work with us if we wanted to hide ingredients. Here's Sacred 7's certificate of analysis on their behalf: Sacred 7 Certificate of Analysis
If you actually read all this you're amazing. We hate being negative. We just felt we had to address this issue candidly and extensively. We appreciate the trust of all of our wonderful customers and we would never do anything to compromise it.
Sincerely, and with gratitude,
Kevin and Brandon