Out of Kilter Home

Eat more chocolate, it puts smiles everywhere!

September 7, 2018
By Ken Carpenter

I, and probably 99% of the rest of the world, have always been a chocolate fan. Usually I choose vanilla when it comes down between the two but, after my research on chocolate, I may change my ways more often.

It turns out that there is method to the madness of trying to fatten up your wife on special days by buying her a big box of chocolates. Chocolate contains the chemical phenyl ethylamine, which is the chemical that the brain produces when you are in love.

That makes chocolate a confirmed, scientific aphrodisiac! Who knew?!

And guys, if your wife starts buying you a lot of chocolate, take a hint and start taking care of business.

She’s trying to tell you something, dude.

Chocolate is also a natural form of anti-depressant, producing serotonin, a chemical that improves the mood. I’m not referring back to the lust mood either, just the “happy chemical” mood, which is what serotonin is known as.

It is said that 90% of Americans have some type of chocolate every day. You’d think we would see more contented faces running around, instead of so many frowns and 1,000-yard stares.

Come on chocolate companies, pick it up a bit!

There are only 600,000 tons of chocolate consumed around the world each year, at a cost of about $20 billion, and people are still frustrated and murderous? We need more!

Chocolate has been a food and drink product for humans since at least 2000 BC, when it was first harvested in the rainforests of the Amazon. It gradually spread north, and was a valued currency for both the Mayans and the Aztecs, though only the rich and powerful could afford to use it in their drinks.

It is not called the Food of the Gods for nothing.

At that time and for centuries after, cocoa beans produced a mild narcotic effect, further enhancing their appeal. A good buzz has always been popular.

When Christopher Columbus made his fourth and final trek over the ocean, in 1502, he missed the boat by discounting cocoa beans that were offered to him. He thought they were trying to trick him into making a drink of sheep droppings, which the beans do resemble, and he burned an entire cargo for this reason.

I guess manure tea does not sound very appetizing.

Columbus wasn’t the only boob though, for in 1579 a pirate ship burned a Spanish ship they captured for the same reason; it seemed to be stuffed to the gumps with sheep poop.

Hernando Cortez is primarily given the credit for turning Spain on to the precious beans, for he developed a cocoa bean plantation in the Americas in 1519.

The Spanish tried to hoard them from their European neighbors for 100 years, but of course the rest of Europe got their hands on them. The not-so-grand tradition of letting the rich hog them while the poor, who couldn’t afford them anyway, did without.

From the Mayans and Aztecs forward, chocolate became a very valuable commodity for their armies. Troops given regular doses of cocoa in any form could march farther on less food than an army without it.

Remember, it was centuries later that the mild intoxicant was processed out of it, so there was probably little grumbling by the soldiers before that. Of course, even with the buzz taken out, there were still many properties to chocolate that helped troops press on.

In World War I the U.S. Government recognized the advantage of cocoa, and every box of rations had four 4-ounce chocolate bars in them to provide a boost for the soldiers in the field. World War II continued the tradition, and when astronauts went to space they were given the same consideration of chocolate for energy.

Just one chocolate chip can give the average adult the energy needed to walk 150 feet. I’ll have a 50-pound bag, please.

The average American eats 10-12 pounds of chocolate per year. No wonder I’ve been feeling puny, I’m at least a quart low.

The Swiss eat about 21 pounds a year, and they have one of the lowest heart failure rates and obesity problems in the world. If I ate that much they would call me the Pillsbury Doughboy. Heck, they almost do anyway.

I hate the Swiss.

In 1513 a member of a Spanish expedition to the Americas reported that he bought a slave for 100 cocoa beans, the services of a prostitute for 10 cocoa beans and for four beans he got a whole rabbit for dinner. It seems odd that a rabbit was worth almost half as much as a prostitute.

Sounds a little like Saigon in 1972, but that is all I’m saying about that.

In 1900 Milton Snavely Hershey, a Mennonite from Pennsylvania, started producing milk chocolate bars and “kisses” with profound success. He saw them as a profitable alternative to alcohol, of which he was a staunch opponent.

You can’t go anywhere now without seeing his name, it is synonymous with American chocolate. Unlike European countries, which like theirs dark, 71% of Americans prefer milk chocolate.

Every day there are 33 million Hershey Kisses created in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It takes 52,000 cows to produce enough milk for just one day’s production of Hershey’s chocolate products at their Pennsylvania plant.

Many chocolate abominations exist around the world. Chocolate-coated bugs are commonplace, and in Japan they now sell chocolate Ramen. You name it, and somebody somewhere might have put chocolate on it.

I heartily recommend chocolate coated bacon and there are now pickles covered with chocolate too, though I don’t know where you can find them.

The funny thing is I adore pickles and love chocolate, so it sounds delicious and disgusting at the same time. I’ll try one someday, if I run into one, for disgusting never stopped me before.

Well, not too many times anyway. Chocolate-coated black licorice will never pass these lips!

I’d take the bugs first.

© Ken Carpenter and Kootenai Valley Times
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83806
[email protected]
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