The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare: neither knew chocolate.Sandra Boynton, American Humorist
I have a bittersweet relationship with World Chocolate Day.
Being born into a family of chocolate-haters meant my childhood home lacked the one perfect confectionary achievement humanity has to show for itself. When I craved a Hershey’s, there was only licorice to be found, and the black variety at that. Yuck.
Everyone knows the best part of being an adult is getting to buy every darn sweet your inner-child desires, and I’m a firm believer that with adult autonomy comes a great responsibility to stock my shelves with the sweet and& bitter goodness I dreamt of in childhood.
In honor of this year’s World Chocolate Day, I’m making up for all that lost time to cherish my favorite goodie by exploring all the ways chocolate not only tastes delicious, but enriches our lives overall!
Boost Your Health
You can’t escape the bad rap chocolate has attracted. Sadly, most people associate a chocolate cake with guilt, not celebration. But if I’m adamant about one thing, it’s setting the chocolate record straight! While your average chocolate bar may not pack the kind of punch your doctor will approve of, quality dark chocolate can provide scientifically proven benefits to your health like:
- Heart Wellness: Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, powerful blood pressure reducers that aid in minimizing risks of heart disease and strokes. Oobli has amazing dark chocolate bars that will have you salivating in no time.
- Liver Functionality: Dark chocolate has been shown to boost blood flow in the liver which is believed to be linked to the prevention of liver damage! In honor of this, try Vine to Bar’s Chardonnay-infused chocolates.
- Nutrient Absorption: The higher the cacao content, the more fiber and minerals your chocolate will contain! We’re talking more than half of your recommended doses of iron, copper, magnesium and manganese as well as a potent amount of zinc, potassium, and more. My favorite cacao percentage is north of 80%, and Firetree makes an excellent 84% volcanic variety from Madagascar!
Let Our Your Inner-Child
Eating chocolate revives our youthful innocence to a time when we saw sweets not as “junk,” but as mentally and socially nourishing. Whoever bonded with their family over a salad to commemorate a special occasion? Delicious chocolate at the end of a good meal or given as a gift is an expression of our naturally wholesome relationship to food. Here are some ways to bring back the joy in eating this World Chocolate Day.
- Bake with someone you love: There’s something so special about creating memories in the kitchen. Grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe doesn’t taste the best because she cracked the code with her extra dash of nutmeg. Rather, the time she spent passing down her wisdom and laughing with you over spilt milk will be eternally baked into every bite. Try starting a new tradition with my “Death of Chocolate Cookie” recipe! It’s all the ooey-gooey chocolatey-goodness you can handle in a cookie, and sharing them with a loved one is a recipe for success!
- Become a kid in a candy store: Most of us are born with a natural affinity for all things saccharine, so there’s no shortage of chocolateries prepared to satiate our tastes. Whether it’s an artisan confectionery shop or a mom & pop, you’re never far from the good stuff. A few of my favorite sweet spots around the country include: Ginger Elizabeth in Sacramento, CA; Creo Chocolates in Portland, OR; and Monsoon Chocolate in Tucson, AZ.
There’s a Choco-lot to Learn!
Most of us have strong opinions about chocolate. For example: I am a firm believer that white chocolate is disgusting and an affront to candy everywhere! And though I am convinced my opinion is fact, there are (embarrassingly) those who would disagree. But just like any other cuisine, the history and science of chocolate is extensive, and some of it is pretty uncommon knowledge.
I’m celebrating this World Chocolate Day by becoming a bit smarter. Here are 10 fun facts I bet you didn’t know about the sweet stuff:
- In ancient Mayan & Omec civilizations, cacao beans had significant monetary value. They were considered more precious than gold!
- Chocolate was originally consumed as a liquid. Unlike the hot chocolate we know and love today, Mesoamerican civilizations mixed hand ground cocoa bean paste with various herbs and botanicals to achieve a taste palette similar to black coffee and was even credited with psychic properties.
- Thank the Brits for the Chocolate bar! The very first one was invented all the way back in 1847 by Joseph Fry of Bristol, England and contained a mixture of chocolate, sugar and cocoa butter.
- Hershey broke the world record for the largest candy bar with their Reese’s Take 5 weighing in at almost 6,000 pounds and measuring a formidable 9-feet long and 5-feet wide!
- World Chocolate Day falls upon the agreed upon date that chocolate was first introduced to Europe back in 1550 (July 7th)!
- The original chocolate chip cookie was a happy accident! 1930’s Massachusetts innkeeper Ruth Graves Wakefield was trying her hand at a butter drop dough recipe when she discovered that if the chocolate chips remained intact throughout the batter, the resulting bake would yield the mother of all cookies. (Here’s my recipe for our best ever chocolate chip cookie 2023-style!)
- Dark chocolate everyday keeps the doctor away. Consuming a moderate amount with a higher cacao content once a day will reduce the risk of contracting congenital heart disease by a whopping third!
- A Swiss candlemaker whipped up the first back of milk chocolate! Daniel Peter toiled over his experiments for almost a decade until cracking the code with a condensed milk mixture.
- Studies show that the most common craving amongst women is chocolate. Enough said.
- It’s not just your tastebuds making you happy. Chocolate contains the same mood-boosting chemical phenylethylamine that our bodies produce when we’re experiencing romantic love! It’s no wonder us single ladies love a carton of chocolate ice cream so much.
Happy World Chocolate Day, everyone! Whether you’re spending the day baking with buddies or binge eating to your childish heart’s content (like me), consume creatively, responsibly, and most importantly, deliciously!