Chocolate an Indulgence or …..?
The world has clawed through the Global Financial Crisis. Earthquakes, floods and tsunamis have decimated many countries, challenging the human spirit. But no matter what nasties the commercial world or Mother Nature throws our way, chocolate provides comfort in these times of crisis. As Max Brenner, a popular chocolate manufacturer states, “Chocolate is a symbol of contradicting emotions and sensations. It is the substitute for love and will always be there for you.” When we hit that low point in the day or evening, the mere thought of chocolate invokes a subliminal smile, raises the eyebrows in affirmation and injects a rush of feel good energy through our body.
Why does chocolate have such universal appeal and could it really be: the substitute for love? Visit Max Brenner’s shop at Southbank, Brisbane and you will witness some very unusual human behaviour. Every Saturday and Sunday, customers queue patiently for up to an hour at a time, to experience the privilege of indulging in their unique chocolate product. Max Brenner’s clever people describe it as an opportunity to, “experience all the virtues, qualities and associations of chocolate to the Max.”
So what is the secret behind this love, passion, desire and popularity for and with chocolate?
Melissa Atkinson from Bittersweet, the Chocolate Boutique in Paddington, Brisbane says despite the rise in cocao prices and the resultant hike in what she charges for her chocolate, her devoted chocolate customers continue to buy her products. “To a certain point price is irrelevant. My customers may cut back from buying eight per week to six, but we sell a quality product which are difficult to resist,” she says.
If a price hike won’t stop the lover of chocolate from purchasing their indulgence, could chocolate be classified as a necessity not a luxury? Deb Peralto, co-owner of the fabulous Brisbane Dello Mano, sells luxury chocolate brownies. The price increase of cocoa and the two recent price hikes in butter, has impacted on her final product price, but not on the consumption. “We sell hand made premium products and our customers seem to have made a decision, that our brownies are a small indulgence and our customers are not going to trade down, when the prices go up,” she says.
People say they crave the taste of chocolate, some even say they are addicted to chocolate. True Chocolate lovers feel the sweet gives them an “emotional buzz” and hooks them like a drug. The carbohydrates in chocolate can raise serotonin levels in the brain and lead to a feeling of well-being, but is there any empirical evidence to support the commonly held belief chocolate is addictive?
Researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, report chocolate does contain some minor mood-altering substances. To a small degree, these chemicals seem to mimic the effects of marijuana. However, to get “high,” studies show that you would have to eat more than 11 kilograms of chocolate in one sitting. One wonders if even the supreme chocolate addicts could consume that amount in a single sitting.
French, American and Canadian scientific studies have shown that dark chocolate and cocoa can have a therapeutic effect on our hearts, encourage blood circulation and reduce cholesterol. So if any chocolate lovers out there need an excuse to consume, here it is: chocolate may be good for you!
The infatuation, passion or obsession with chocolate has stood the test of time and we can debate the influence of marketing and the huge investment in advertising on our desire factor, but chocolate, in all its delectable forms has a permanent place in our hearts, minds and pantry (or fridge.)
Try these two delectable chocolate places -you won’t regret it (promise)