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Friday
Mar122010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Chocolate Facts for American Chocolate Week

Guess what? March 14 marks the start of American Chocolate Week. Like you needed a reason to eat chocolate, right? So, inspired by a list sent to me by Ask.com featuring 10 facts about chocolate, I've added to the list so that you've got a baker's dozen of sweet factoids about the dark and dreamy stuff:

Who invented chocolate? While Nestle and Johnny Depp would lobby for Willy Wonka, history awards the honors to the ancient Aztecs and Mayans of Mexico and Central America.

What is the bestselling chocolate bar? Snickers!

How is chocolate made? Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which are roasted and then ground into a powder. The cocoa powder is then mixed with variations of sugar, milk and cream to make different types of chocolate.

What was CakeSpy's first word? If you believe my mom, the first word I ever uttered, aside from "ma" and "pa" was "chocolate".

Why can’t dogs eat chocolate? The long answer above has something to do with methylxanthines. The short answer involves diarrhea and your new shag carpet.

How can I melt chocolate evenly? Size does matter. Chop the chocolate into uniform pieces to ensure that all the pieces melt at the same speed in a glass bowl over boiling water (double boiler).

Why is fair trade chocolate good for the environment? Fair trade practices can vary in their environment benefits, but it does empower farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

How do I make chocolate mousse? Pretty easily actually - all you need is finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, unsalted butter, coffee, heavy cream, eggs and sugar.

Why is dark chocolate good for you? It is packed with flavoniods that keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries. 

Should you eat chocolate after working out? Per Wikipedia, A study from James Madison University, presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting, showed that post-exercise consumption of lowfat chocolate milk provides equal or possibly superior muscle recovery compared to a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage with the same amount of calories. 

Which came first, the cookie or the chocolate chip? Chocolate chip cookies were invented before the morsels. The cookies were invented in 1933 when Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in the town of Whitman, Massachusetts added cut-up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate bar to a cookie recipe. The cookies were a huge success, and Wakefield reached an agreement with Nestlé to add her recipe to the chocolate bar's packaging in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. Initially, Nestlé included a small chopping tool with the chocolate bars, but in 1939 they started selling the chocolate in chip (or "morsel") form. 

Who doesn't like chocolate? Jesse Breytenbach, who did a graphic novel on the subject. But we'll forgive her, because she's awfully clever.

Chocolate is deadly: In that famous shower scene in Psycho, it's not blood running down the drain--but chocolate syrup. Guess that was easier to get away with when filming in black and white!

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Reader Comments (5)

Very nice factoids.

I consider North American chocolate abhorent. To me, only French, Belgium and Swiss chocolate are allowed to pass these lips. I do make exceptions for Cadbury bought in England (I love going through the duty free in Heathrow and buying lots and lots of Cadbury chocolate).

Of course, Angelina's in Paris has the most wonderful hot chocolate and a little chocolate shop here in Edmonton has opened, Sweet Lollapalooza, and they make chocolates on site using only French chocolate. So, those kinds of chocolates to me are a chocolate bar, but a Snickers (ew) is a candy bar.

www.sweetlollapalooza.com

Thanks again for the info!

March 12 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Ooooo, very exciting! Thanks for the facts, and I'll be sure to consume loads of chocolate this week. Oh wait, I do that every week!

March 12 | Unregistered Commentercaronae

thank for justifying what I now know is my god-given right to inhale a chocolate bar after yoga class! and I can't tell you how much I heart your last post -oui, je l'adore!

I love this. Hooray for chocolate week!

On a side note, I'd like to send a friendly "call for references" on the why is chocolate good for you section . . . there was a great piece on NPR today about how studies get conducted, interpreted and reported that I think really delves into some of the ethical issues related to health claims, foods, and reporting of health claims. Take home message: we really need to be cautious in accepting and interpreting the studies we encounter--and give our readers access to where we get that information from--exactly like you did for the chocolate after workout section.

For example, this paper could be used as a reference to support the health fact (although one should keep in mind that the intervention period is shorter than that that the FDA requires in studies examining the effect of saturated fat on blood cholesterol levels--should studies on chocolate be given a lower standard?) A good review on the research to date is here, although it's pretty hard to learn much from the abstract.

That said, yes, dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant, and they appear to be health promoting. Huzzah!

March 13 | Unregistered CommenterChou

If you want to buy real estate, you will have to get the loans. Furthermore, my mother usually takes a sba loan, which occurs to be the most reliable.

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