By Janice Lindsay
Answer this question: In a parking lot, you stroll past a brand new Mercedes. Glancing in the passenger-side window, you see an open Hershey bar on the beige leather seat. The chocolate is melting in the sun, oozing onto the leather. Your first thought is: (a) How could someone be so careless with such an expensive car; or (b) What a waste of a good chocolate bar.
Second question. Chocolate should be: (a) an occasional snack; (b) a some-time dessert; (c) eaten daily as an essential nutrient in a well-balanced diet.
Third. Your favorite gourmet restaurant serves only two kinds of ice cream, vanilla and strawberry. You: (a) skip dessert; (b) settle for vanilla or strawberry; (c) cross the street to the ice cream shop where you can order hot fudge sauce on chocolate fudge brownie chocolate chip ice cream.
If you answered b, c, and c, you are a chocoholic, and don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t an ancient and honorable avocation.
I don’t know of a Chocoholics Anonymous (who would want to quit?) but maybe there should be a Chocoholics Unanimous because practically everyone likes the stuff, though not everyone eats it two or three times a day. This is the practice of one person I know very well. But there’s no truth to the rumor that the middle initial in Janice C. Lindsay stands for Chocolate, though that’s a good guess.
Nobody knows how long people have been consuming chocolate, made from the beans of a tropical tree. It might be as long as three or four millennia. The ancient people of Mexico were at it long before the arrival of sixteenth-century European explorer Cortez. The great Aztec emperor Montezuma sipped “chocolatl” out of golden goblets. He was said to ration himself to 50 cups a day, I can’t see why.
Cortez took chocolate back to Spain, along with a bunch of other things that didn’t belong to him, and pretty soon drinking chocolate was the rage all over Europe. Eventually chocolate found its way back across the Atlantic to the “new world” of North America. The first chocolate mill here opened in Dorchester in 1765. By the 1870s, processing innovations had created chocolate that could be conveniently eaten and used as a coating for candy.
And just in time, too. That gave the world quite a few decades of practice so that, by the time I was born, I could enjoy my grandmother’s chocolate cream pie – and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting — and the brownies so chocolatey they’re called “baked fudge” – and the supply of chocolate chip supercookies I’ve had in my refrigerator every day for forty years.
Imagine my delight when I determined that dark chocolate could be considered a dietary supplement. In my constant struggle with iron deficiency anemia of unknown origin, I’ve become a dedicated reader of nutritional labels. Dark chocolate is loaded with – guess what – iron! The darker the chocolate, the higher the iron. I need to eat only 26 squares of Lindt 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark a day to achieve my Daily Value. Not that I would do such a thing.
By now, probably every adult in America knows the iconic statement of Forrest Gump’s mother in the movie by that name: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” She might have been right about life, but she was wrong about chocolates. Some boxes – Whitman’s Samplers and Russell Stovers come to mind — have diagrams, so you know exactly what you’re going to get.
But we chocoholics don’t care what we get. We love them all.