Abuelita (Nestlé)
This is the best hot chocolate I have ever had. It comes in a hexagon filled with a bunch of tablets that you break off, melt over the stove, and stir with milk till it becomes a delectable froth. Because I am a child, the cups-to-tablet ratio suggested by the packaging (4:1) doesn’t make for a mug quite sweet enough, so if you too have developmentally stalled taste buds, I recommend using two cups of milk for each tablet, and lots of added sugar and cinnamon. —Tavi

Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate
Old school! And it tastes way better when you make it with milk, rather than hot water, but if you find yourself in a water-only situation, cream it up with a ton of marshmallows. (I recommend using an outside marshmallow brand rather than the sad little ones that come premixed in the Swiss Miss version.) According to a recent study conducted by me with my nieces and nephews, the perfect amount of marshmallows is five, mostly because that’s the maximum their mugs would hold without spilling everywhere. —Pixie

Archer Farms Dark Chocolate
Hot cocoa isn’t as easy and instant when you are vegan—you can’t just get it at any diner or buy the premixed packets at the store—but it can be made deliciously with very little work. My go-to hot cocoa mix is the Target brand Archer Farms Dark Chocolate—it’s affordable, easy to find, and totally dairy-free. I’ve experimented with all kinds of milk substitutes over the years, and almond milk is definitely my fave for hot cocoa, because it’s thicker than rice milk, sweeter than soy milk, and not as sweet as coconut milk. And I’m all about the vegan add-ons. To get a mint fix, I add a candy cane or Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s (aka the best holiday cookie of the season). Or to go classic, I swear by Chicago Soy Dairy’s vegan marshmallows, Dandies, or Soyatoo! vegan whipped cream. (Or go all out and use both!) —Stephanie

Chipotle Spice Drinking Chocolate (Theo)
I’m a huge fan of Theo Chocolate, a fair-trade and organic chocolate-maker in my hometown of Seattle. I ask for their stuff for my birthday and Christmas, and then ration it throughout the year, because it is so special and amazing. Last year in my stocking I received my favorite product thus far, Theo’s Chipotle Spice Drinking Chocolate. Spicy chocolate is my hands-down, across-the-board FAVORITE flavor in the entire universe, and this mix’s faint touch of salt gives it an over-the-top flavor complexity. The heat of the spice translates to more of a warm-throat feeling than a spicy, tongue-burning ouch-vibe when mixed with the milk. (I tried it with almond milk, too, and I definitely recommend real dairy for this one.) Also, this isn’t a powder, you guys. This mix comes in the form of little pieces, which means it doubles as an insanely delectable chocolate snack. —Dylan

Twix Stirring Stix
Because the universe is a vast and magical place, hot chocolate and Twix exist at the same time, providing those of us who prefer our sugar with a side of sugar an excellent opportunity to combine the two. Stirring your hot cocoa with a Twix is delightful, because the cookie softens and crumbles a bit, and the caramel gets gooey and mixes in with the hot liquid, making a caramel-cocoa-cookie confection that is both a dentist’s nightmare and a dream come true. The trick is to put the Twix in the fridge for a while (or in the freezer), so that the Twix stays solid enough for stirring before melting into what is essentially a delicious mug of candy bar soup. —Pixie

The Grey Dog’s Mexican hot chocolate
I drink hot chocolate without discrimination. I will happily drink any variety, including Swiss Miss from a street cart (because it’s a dollar). But one hot chocolate reigns supreme in my life, and that is the mouth-coatingly rich, cinnamon-tinged goddamn spirit of Christmas that is embodied in a cup of Mexican hot chocolate from the Grey Dog on 12th and University in Manhattan (I’m assuming the other locations use the same recipe, but I haven’t tried them). One sip and I’m transported to my Northeastern childhood, hyped up on holiday cheer. I hear sleigh bells ringing and smell warm roasted peanuts and pine needles. I remember ice skates and vinyl snowsuits and stinging red cheeks and mittens on a string. And that’s only the first sip. It just gets better from there. —Michele Berry

Marshmallow Fluff hot chocolate
I believe there are two camps when it comes to hot chocolate: he marshmallow lovers and the whipped cream brigade. I belong to the former group, and though I love regular marshmallows, nothing tastes better in a cup of cocoa than a big ol’ dollop of Marshmallow Fluff. It kind of just floats there for a minute when you place it in the mug, like an iceberg of goodness on a warm chocolaty sea, but if you let it melt (divine) and stir it in a bit, it gives the entire cup a dreamy texture and taste that whipped cream just can’t measure up to. —Pixie

Milo (Nestlé)
Milo is a dry, crunchy, chocolate-like substance designed for mixing with milk. Until now I’d never had reason to wonder what it actually WAS—apparently “malted barley,” which is fine by me ’cause it tastes pretty damn good. It’s been around since the 1940s, which doesn’t come as a surprise—it’s still in the same green tin. A classic. Good for its intended partnership, of course, but I’d recommend trying a Milo sandwich, or using Milo as a topping on your ice cream. Hell, just eat it straight out of the tin—but whatever you do, don’t put a wet spoon in there, because it goes all hard and forms little Milo rocks. My sister has committed the heinous crime, and it isn’t good. —Minna

The City Bakery’s hot chocolate
This is not an obscure choice. It’s often named the best hot chocolate in New York City, and at least once the best hot chocolate in America. It’s obvious why. The main thing you notice is how thick it is. Like a molten chocolate bar, except not as sweet. Sort of a semisweet dark chocolate flavor, maybe a little chalky, which might sound bad but in fact creates a primal milky aftertaste that feels like a Saturday morning when you were two-and-a-half. A tiny cup of the stuff fills you up and packs a punch, like the concentrated uranium they made the atom bomb from. You can get it with a homemade artisanal marshmallow, which, OK, who even knew there was such a thing? I prefer it without, but most people are different from me. I grew up with the guy who invented this hot chocolate, Maury Rubin. Please make a mental list of everyone you know from junior high and pick the person least likely to become a pastry chef—that’s Maury. Back then, he loved sports. He played drums. He was really funny. The most sophisticated desserts he or I or anyone we knew ever ate were the roll cakes we assembled when we worked together at Baskin-Robbins as kids. One time a couple years ago we talked about his by-then-famous hot chocolate. I remember he said that one secret ingredient—besides the incredibly wonderful chocolate he splurges on—was crème fraîche, which is heavier than heavy cream, nearly as thick as sour cream. At least that’s how I remember the conversation. When I asked Maury to confirm my memory for this review, he told me I had it wrong—that the secret ingredient is really Baskin-Robbins’ Pralines ’n Cream ice cream. If you’re ever in New York, you can judge his truthiness for yourself. Available only at his City Bakery store on 18th Street near Fifth Avenue. —Ira Glass

Twizzlers hot chocolate
I don’t know if this is just something I do, but I’m going to share it with you anyway, so you can go and discover THE WONDER that is this combination: Twizzlers and hot chocolate! Basically, while you are making the hot chocolate, whether on the stove or in the microwave, throw in some torn-off pieces of Twizzlers, and then fish out their remains with a spoon when you’re done (nobody likes finding chunks in their hot chocolate). Then drink the chocolate through a new Twizzler, like a straw! The candy’s fruity, artificial flavor balances out the dark richness of the chocolate. I give this combo an 11 out of 10. —Chris M.

Nutella and milk
IN A WORLD where you think you’re out of hot chocolate mix and your snow day has been ruined…one day…there came…NUTELLA HOT CHOCOLATE! Basically, if you have some kind of milk and a jar of Nutella sitting around, you have everything you need to make delicious, frothy hot chocolate. First, pour a few splashes of milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Then add two or three big spoonfuls of Nutella, and whisk it all together until it’s nice and smooth. Pour in about 3/4 of a mug full of more milk, and maybe even a sprinkle of cinnamon, if you want to get fancy. Keep whisking until everything is hot, but don’t let the milk boil! Carefully pour your creation into your mug and drink. I personally like to top this with a rosette of Reddi-wip and drink it while wearing silk pajamas (sweatpants) and watching educational television (Hoarders: Buried Alive) in my luxurious television parlor (parents’ basement). —Gabby

Polar Express hot chocolate
I’ve never HAD this hot chocolate, because it is fictional, but the description from Chris Van Allsburg’s book has stayed with me since childhood, and I have spent the majority of my life trying to find a mug that matches up to one as “thick and rich as candy bars.” I’d even sit through 24 straight hours of Tom Hanks’s uncanny avatar singing this song to get a taste of the legendary stuff. Now that’s devotion! The closest I’ve ever come to Polar Express goodness is a mug of delicious hot cocoa at Le Cochon Dingue in Quebec City, which was magical, especially paired with a piece of sugar pie. If you’ve found anything that measures up, let me know! —Pixie ♦