French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine

Amid calls for "chocolatine" to be added to the French dictionary, we take a look at a debate that has divided France for centuries - what is the name of the chocolate-filled pastry treat?

French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Photo: Raphaël Gabbay/Flickr
When you walk into the corner bakery craving that iconic, buttery, flaky pastry with a dark chocolate center, do you ask for a pain au chocolat or a chocolatine
The majority of the French would say pain au chocolat, at least according to one website entirely devoted to the topic. 
Its survey of over 110,000 people found that almost 60 percent would say pain au chocolat, with 40 percent going for chocolatine. 
The website asks voters for their region of France, and has provided an interactive map that reveals the “chocolatine” voters are hugely congregated in the south west. 
And the “chocolatine” crew feel they shouldn't be overshadowed. In fact, pupils from the south western town of Montauban have recently penned a letter to France's president in a bid to get the word chocolatine added to the French dictionary. 
“It's a word of our region, where a lot of people live, and there's no reason why the rest of the country shouldn't know it. We're proud to be from the south,” one pupil told La Dépêche du Midi newspaper
And in the south western city of Bordeaux you might even have to pay more if you as for a pain au chocolat rather than a chocolatine, as this tweet shows.

So why the confusion?

One theory traces the origins of the ubiquitous French treat to the 1830s, when an Austrian named August Zang opened the very first boulangerie viennoise at 92 rue Richelieu in what is now the second arrondissement of Paris. 
According to culinary historian Jim Chevalier, author of “August Zang and the French Croissant: How the Viennoiserie Came to France”, it was the schokoladencroissant, a crescent-shaped, chocolate-filled brioche that slowly evolved into the rectangular chocolatine.
An even better map was put together by Linguist Mathieu Avanzi after he carried out a survey of hundreds of French people in different parts of the country.
As the French gradually integrated viennoiseries into their culture, laminating the brioche layers, chocolatine became one and the same with pain au chocolat, which historically referred to any chocolate-filled bread that children enjoyed as a snack at school. The southwest region, meanwhile, is supposed to have stuck with chocolatine due to its similarity to the Occitan word chicolatina.  
Another theory floats around that, during a period of English rule over France’s Aquitaine region in the 15th century, the English would walk into bakeries and ask for “chocolate in bread, please!” which the French understood as, simply, “chocolate in.” However, this theory has been disputed due to the fact that chocolate did not arrive in Europe from the Americas until 1528. 
Other countries all over the world have adopted their own nomenclature, with 'chocolate croissants' in the United States and 'napolitanas de chocolate' in Spain, for example. But on this widely controversial issue, France may never come to an agreement.
But one thing the whole country can agree on is that it's NOT called a chocolate croissant.
By Isabel Miller-Bottome
Another version of this story was published in October 2016. 

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French woman almost chokes on 2.5cm screw inside pain au chocolat

Think twice next time you sink your teeth too fast into a croissant.

French woman almost chokes on 2.5cm screw inside pain au chocolat
Photo: Sarah Rose/Flickr

A woman in Tétéghem – a town near Dunkirk in the far north of France – is lucky to be alive after she almost choked on a chocolate-filled pastry she’d bought at a local Carrefour supermarket. 

As soon as the mother bit into her pain au chocolat, she realised something was wrong.

“I was eating and all of a sudden I felt something hard in my mouth and I couldn’t manage to spit it out,” she told regional daily La Voix du Nord.

Eventually she was able to get the object lodged in her mouth out, only to realise that her pain au chocolat contained a 2.5 centimetre screw concealed inside it.



Once the woman and her incredulous husband and children had recovered from the shock, they rushed to the supermarket’s bakery section to demand an explanation.

“It's not us, we just bake them, we get them frozen,” said one employee, blaming the supplier in Belgium.

Since the manager wasn’t present and the woman wasn’t given proper justification for an incidence of gross negligence that could’ve cost her her life, the woman from Tétéghem has decided to press charges.

“We’re not doing this for us, we’re doing it for others,” she said.