I’ve been thinking about chocolate a lot today. (Don’t look at me like that—I can think about anything I want to.) Chocolate. Mmmmmm. Just saying the word out loud can make me start to salivate. Everyone knows (or at least they should know) that there are four major food groups—dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and anything else chocolate covered—and I try my best to include all these major food groups equally within my diet (you know, for the health benefits, like the flavenoids and antioxidants—which, by the way, are also found in red wine. 😉)
Although I really do love chocolate (and I absolutely like to keep my flavenoids and antioxidants up) I do not consider myself a bona-fide chocoholic. I can actually go without eating chocolate for quite a long time. (I heard that. Don’t be rude.) Well, in fairness, I guess ‘a long time’ is a relative term, but, honestly, I am talking weeks. I can actually go for several weeks without eating chocolate . . .
. . . if I don’t think about it at all, if I don’t have any in the house, if it isn’t offered to me in any way shape or hidden form at morning tea in the office, if I stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes when the oh-so-many-deliciously-decadent-ads come on TV, and if I walk really, really, really fast past the confectionery aisle at the supermarket—it’s really not an issue.
And even if it was an issue (which, again, it isn’t) I don’t think that people should get all ‘judgey’ with me anyway. There are worse things than being addicted to chocolate. At least you can’t get arrested for being addicted to chocolate. Well—yes—okay—I guess if I broke into the local Darrell Lea shop in the deep, deep, dark of night and loaded my little red car with boxes and boxes of chocolate covered bullets, or chocolate covered licorice, or chocolate honeycomb or rocklea road or caramel snows or . . . sorry . . . lost my train of thought . . . where was I going with this . . . oh yes . . .
. . . as I was saying . . . even if I did become a full blown chocoholic, it wouldn’t really be my fault—it’s been at least 2000 years in the making. That’s how long it has been estimated that chocolate has been around. Maybe not chocolate as we know it now—but chocolate nevertheless. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, even divine, properties (and who am I to disagree? It has a heavenly effect upon me). Apparently it was also used in their most sacred rituals and it was even thought that Aztec victims were given it before they were sacrificed (possibly in an effort to cheer them up a bit before their more-than-likely-horribly-painful demise?)
Legend has it that the Aztec king Montezuma welcomed the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a banquet that included drinking chocolate—having unfortunately mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader. Oooops. (Just in case you were wondering, the term Montezuma’s revenge alludes to this Spanish incursion and doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the actual consumption of chocolate. Phew.)
When the Spanish took the original bitter chocolate home with them they mixed it with honey or cane sugar and by the 17th century it had become a fashionable drink throughout Europe (for those who could afford it of course). Over the next few years the taste and texture was experimented with and it was a relatively short step to the creation of solid chocolate. Then in 1847 Joseph Fry discovered he could make a molded chocolate paste, et voila, the first modern chocolate bar was born. (Three cheers for Mr Fry! And, on a side note, the modern-day Frys Cream Bar—yum.)
Since then the there has been a constant and relentless push to addict the whole human population. And it’s working. How could it not? There is something out there for every taste. Bitter, sweet, dark, light, smooth, rough, liquid, solid—and everything in between. And we have embraced the choices with alacrity. Here’s a fun fact—every ten years or so, a typical adult eats their own body weight in chocolate! No word of a lie. Typical chocolate consumption ranges from about 5kg a year in the United States to 9.5 kg a year in Switzerland. That means you could eat a person’s worth in about ten years. (My apologies to those three (or four . . . or possibly even five) poor souls I have eaten over the years.)
So, even if I were to become a full on, raging, rabid chocoholic, unable to go a day, or even an hour without tasting it (not gonna happen, ‘cos I can go weeks—honest—weeks) I would be in stellar company. And more and more people join the chocolate-lovers-of-the-world-society every day. Welcome!
When I started doing some research for this article (and by research I mean actual research—not just taste-testing) I found lists and lists of holidays dedicated solely to the veneration and adoration of chocolate. (They may not be holidays where we get an actual day off work yet, but surely that is something we can lobby for.)
Below I have listed just a few of these fabulous chocolatey holidays for you. Pick your favourites and plan your treats.
And for those lonely few out there for whom the taste of chocolate does absolutely nothing at all —
2. I bet I could so a similar search and find just as many holidays devoted to all the exceptional wonders of cheese . . . . how does that sound?
Jan 1 It’s a Brand New Year
(excuse enough to eat any amount of any kind of chocolate as far as I’m concerned)
Jan 8 National English Toffee Day
Jan 10 Bittersweet Chocolate Day
Jan 27 Chocolate Cake Day
Feb 5 National Chocolate Fondue Day
(also World Nutella Day)
Feb 14 St Valentine’s Day
(any kind of chocolate day)
Feb 19 National Chocolate Mint Day
Feb 25 National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day
Mar 6 National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day
Mar 19 National Chocolate Caramel Day
Mar 24 National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day
Mar 28 National Black Forest Cake Day
(Chocolate Eggs, chocolate bunnies, chocolate bilbos—
and Hot Cross Buns—’cos you can get chocolate ones of those too you know . . .)
Apr 3 National Chocolate Mousse Day
Apr 21 National Chocolate Covered Cashews Truffle Day
(cashew-truffles? I didn’t know there was such a thing. I’m feeling deprived.)
May 2 National Truffles Day
May 12 National Nutty Fudge Day
May 15 National Chocolate Chip Day
June 7 National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
June 11 National German Chocolate Cake Day
June 16 National Fudge Day
June 22 National Chocolate Eclair Day
June 24 National Pralines Day
July 3 National Chocolate Wafer Day
July 25 National Hot Fudge Sundae Day
July 28 National Milk Chocolate Day
Aug 4 National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day
Aug 10 National S’mores Day
(Mmmmm . . . s’mores . . . )
Sept 13 International Chocolate Day
Sept 22 National White Chocolate Day
Sept 27 National Chocolate Milk Day
Oct 14 National Chocolate Covered Insects Day
Oct 18 National Chocolate Cupcake Day
Oct 28 National Chocolate Day
Nov 7 National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
Nov 30 National Mousse Day
Dec 8 National Chocolate Brownie Day
Dec 16 National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day
(way to cover all your bases)
and then there’s Christmas . . .
and then it’s New Year. . .
and then we can start all over again . . .