Chocolate is more than a food to the people who are passionate about it.
It's a pleasure that's difficult to be eloquent about. Most people will just
say, "I love chocolate!" Does anything else really need to be said?
Some might try to spoil our fun by reminding us that chocolate is largely
comprised of fat. But chocolate is such a magical food that even the fat it
contains will not raise your cholesterol, according to some studies.
And new research continues to find even better news about chocolate, so
most of us don't have to feel guilty about eating it anymore. No, it doesn't
cause acne or migraines (although some sufferers claim it to be a trigger).
It's not addictive, either -- but it does contain chemicals that enhance feelings
Lots of us are eating it. Chocolate consumption has gone up over the past
years. The average person in the U.S. eats 9.5 pounds annually, but Americans
are still a pitiful 11th in worldwide consumption. Switzerland wins with 19.8
pounds per person.
"Non-chocolate as well as chocolate are traditions in the U.S.," says Susan
Smith of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association. "Americans eat about as
much candy overall as Europeans, but the kind of candy they eat is a little
different. Also, a lot of alternative snacks are popular here such as corn
chips, potato chips, etc., which are not popular in Europe."
Smith says holidays are big days for chocolate lovers. "Consumption in
the U.S. is tied into celebrations of holidays. Americans are celebrating
major holidays now more than ever, and that's probably another reason for
Halloween is the top candy holiday, according to the National Confectioners
Association. Valentine's Day is fourth. Most American men say they'd rather
receive chocolate than flowers on that date.
Chocolate is accessible to nearly everyone and available in many forms:
milk, dark, filled and unfilled. Richard Fulton, who works for a chocolate
manufacturer, says that cherries and nuts are the most popular centers.
Lori de Jong runs her own chocolate business. She makes roses, houses and
boxes out of chocolate.
There is even a company devoted to chocolates for the blind. Choco Braille
offers chocolate braille greeting cards, guide dogs, Valentine's hearts and
Variations in the quality and the flavor of chocolate come not only from
the other ingredients used to make it, but variations in the beans themselves.
Beans from Africa are said to have a chocolatey richness, which contrasts
with the coffee-like creaminess of beans from South America.
Jason Black, a technical writer for a software company who describes himself
as "chocolate reviewer" on his business card, concurs.
"My godmother, another true chocoholic, taught me at a young age that chocolate
comes in many different forms and many different quality levels. She did not
set out to do this intentionally, but she brought me lots of different chocolates
from her world travels and after you've had great European chocolates next
to Great Wall of China chocolate, it is a natural observation to make," says
In the U.S. alone, the retail industry is worth $13 billion a year, according
to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association. Chocolate manufacturers use 40
percent of the world's almonds and 20 percent of the world's peanuts.
Chocolate, therefore, produces a lot of job opportunities. You can help
make chocolate for a large manufacturer or start your own business, like de
Jong did. "I wanted to be my own boss, and I love chocolate," she says. She
makes and sells fine chocolates and offers classes to people wanting to learn
how to do the same.
Can you imagine having a business address on Chocolate Drive? Ganong does.
But you don't have to make chocolate to work around it. Large companies such
as Hershey offer opportunities in all the usual areas, like business administration,
marketing and public relations. You can even dress up as a chocolate bar and
walk around Hershey Park -- and get an employee discount in the process! Check
out one of the many chocolate company websites by doing an Internet search.
Michele Meadows has even managed to incorporate her love of chocolate into
her teaching career. "I've taught a chocolate unit to sixth graders for two
years. This year, I'm teaching fourth grade. I do the unit for about three
weeks before Easter, to go along with all the candy that goes with Easter.
In the spring, it is hard to keep the children interested in anything. This
unit gives a pleasant change of pace. I haven't encountered a child yet who
doesn't like chocolate," she says.
"I have observed that now seems to be a boom time for small gourmet chocolate
shops. Investigate working at, or even starting, such a place," says Black.
How do people who love chocolate celebrate it? They like to share recipes,
techniques, the best places to get it, and, in some cases, the chocolate itself.
"I love to make fancy chocolate desserts, which I share with my friends,"
says Black. "As well, I enjoy giving chocolate as gifts and finding other
ways to bring a little joy into the daily lives of people around me with it."
The Story of Chocolate
Learn the history of this sweet treat
Chocolate Lovers' Page
This site has many links to chocolate resources
Explore delicious facts about chocolate