Saturday, October 28, 2023
It’s National Chocolate Day, not to be confused with International Chocolate Day, not to be confused with World Chocolate Day. Which begs the question, why are only three days out of 365 dedicated to chocolate? One can hope and assume there must be a chocolate truffle day and perhaps a hot chocolate day. Maybe even a chocolate candy bar day and a chocolate cake day.
Do you know what I do not have in my house on this day? Chocolate.
To be fair, I have a container of chocolate chips, but that seems rather pedestrian for such an important day. One might have planned ahead and ordered chocolate covered Espresso beans, perhaps.
But… when life hands you chocolate chips, you put them in a jar of peanut butter.
But I’m not feeling inclined to overthink chocolate. I’m feeling inclined to imagine it and daydream about it and hope my chocolate covered Espresso beans arrive soon. Yes, I did order them. Just not soon enough.
I suspect the pumpkin pie spice malted milk balls will be jealous but you can’t please everyone. I’ll just have to be sure to give them equal attention.
A few years ago we discovered Dandelion chocolate. I don’t remember how, but it is dark chocolate with a story, two of my favorite things. Every chocolate bar comes with a story about where the cocoa beans were grown, what the weather was like, and how the chocolate was made.
Once we ordered three bars made with cocoa beans grown in the exact same location, made in the exact same way, but during three different years. One year, there was a drought. One year a flood. One year was as close to perfect as you can hope for in parts of the world where cocoa beans grow. When we tasted them side by side they each had a unique flavor, separated only by the weather conditions under which they grew. It was quite fascinating and especially delicious because stories make everything more delicious.
My father introduced me to See’s candy. Sometimes he sends it for Valentine’s Day. Sometimes for Christmas or Easter. Sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes my mother says, “Your daughter is watching her weight!” and I get tea or plantain chips instead.
I have never been a fan of “Valentine candy” which means anything that comes in a little velvet heart. The problem is that most companies do strange things to their chocolate, like fill them with orange goo or pink rubber. See’s, though, they know how to do a box of chocolate. Everything is full of nuts or caramel or nougat, the way nature intended.
Ralph is not a chocolate person. I’m not sure how I married him. But he does love a good Reece’s peanut butter cup, and he really loves See’s dark chocolate covered marshmallows. Whenever my father sends chocolate, he scouts out the box to see if there are any peanut butter cups or marshmallows.
True love is sharing your chocolate.
Ralph and I go through phases. The kettle corn phase. The chocolate chip cookie phase. The cinnamon roll phase. Once we went through a cupcake phase where we’d bake, fill and pipe dozens of these mini chocolate cupcakes. I’m not entirely sure why we bothered, except perhaps to exercise our creative muscle, because it took longer to make perfect little swirls than it did to eat the entire cupcake.
Once we were satisfied with our piping skills we stopped icing them until we were ready to eat them, at which point we grabbed a spoon and shoved some icing into our mouths along with a bite of cupcake.
Now you know why I get on the Peloton every day.
Occasionally I go through a phase where I’m in the mood for fruity desserts instead of chocolate. Outrageous, I know. But sometimes you need a good key lime pie, or peach cobbler, maybe a berry covered Pavlova. My apple pie is particularly good on a fall day.
But the universe provides for those occasions, too.
There is a candy store in town that makes all sorts of chocolates. They have display cases full of nonpareils and Buckeyes, almond bark and coconut clusters. They also make ice cream and fresh waffle cones, and dip candy and caramel apples in fall. If you were blindfolded and dropped into the middle of Franklin, Tennessee, and I told you to meet me in front of the candy store, you could find your way there by nose.
I can resist a lot of things, witnessed by the fact that the bag of malted milk balls still exists. But not that smell. I really have to walk on the opposite side of the street, it is just too tempting.
The thing about chocolate is that it comes in so many manifestations that it’s impossible to try them all. I’m working on it, though. As I perused my photos for anything chocolate related, I came across a ridiculous number of cakes and muffins and candies and sundaes. The hardest part of paying homage to this confectionary delight was choosing just a few.
This is why I had no time to go find fun facts for you, but chocolate is such a beloved subject that I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you with at least something to feed your brain as well as your face.
Ready? The first company ever to produce chocolate in the United States was the Walter Baker Company out of Boston. It was founded by a physician, proof that chocolate is health food.
The United States produces the most chocolate in the world, but the Swiss consume the most, at an average of 20 pounds per person per year. The average American only consumes 11 pounds of chocolate per year. Slackers.
Finally, I leave you with this one statement pilfered directly from the internet, which you can corroborate if you choose, but really I assume you’d rather be eating chocolate…
A single chocolate chip provides sufficient food energy for an adult to walk 150 feet; hence, it would take about 35 chocolate chips to go a mile, or 875,000 for an around-the-world hike.
I’ll meet you in Ghana. I have it on good authority there are some pretty good cocoa beans there. We’ll walk back. by way of Guatemala.
Photo: a yummy brand my mother discovered recently.