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Why do people love chocolate so much?

Thursday, December 8th

Why Do People Love Chocolate So Much?

Few things can satisfy your sweet tooth as easily and as thoroughly as chocolate. Regardless of whether your preference is white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate or something else, you may cherish those moments when a bite of creamy chocolate is melting on your tongue. Of course, chocolate is also found in cookies, cakes, brownies and other sweet treats that may rank well on your list of favorite foods.

Chocolate is a preferred sweet for many people. In fact, it takes a spot high on a list of people's top favorite foods, but why is this the case? There are many other sweet treats that you could reach for when the fancy strikes you, so what makes chocolate a highly preferred option? Chocolate has a few important qualities that make it easily stand apart from other foods.

A Decadent History

Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans, which are naturally bitter. In their purest form, the beans were consumed by the Mayans and the Aztecs many centuries ago and well before Hershey became a top pick on the candy aisle. There may be evidence that the consumption of cocoa beans pre-dates these civilizations as well.

Cocoa beans must be cracked open in order to reach the baba de cacao, which is a thick pulp that may taste like a cross between an apple and lemonade. It is sticky, sweet and acidic. The cocoa beans and their pulp are then dried out and roasted. As they are roasted, they emit 3-methylbutanoic acid and dimethyl trisulfide. These substances have a rancid smell that is a cross between cooked cabbage and sweat. While the smell does not sound appetizing, our brains are drawn to it.

Keep in mind that cocoa beans were enjoyed well before sugary recipes for fudge, candy bars and more were invented. For example, bitter ceremonial drinks using cocoa beans were consumed by early civilizations for centuries. Partly because of the identifiable smells of cooking cocoa beans and cocoa's other impressive properties, the drinks were heartily consumed and enjoyed despite their bitterness.

The Sweet Taste

Today's chocolate is mostly associated with desserts and treats because the most common recipes are rich in sugar butter and other rich ingredients. Except for baked goods, chocolate is typically a creamy substance that feels fabulous on the tongue as it melts. It contains caffeine as well as sugar. So, in addition to tasting amazing, it offers natural sugar and caffeine highs. These highs can be just as addictive as the sweetness itself. When people need a pick-me-up, they often opt for the one-two punch of sugary, caffeine-rich chocolate to get a much-needed boost.

Natural Sugars

The human body naturally craves sugars and fats. This may partially stem from the fact that the breast milk that many of us enjoyed as infants is comprised of 4 percent fats and 8 percent natural sugars. This two-to-one ratio of fats to sugars is found in many other enjoyable foods, such as ice cream, donuts and biscuits. It is also the same ratio that is found in milk chocolate. This is a ratio that the human body naturally enjoys. More than that, because it is found in breast milk, it is a ratio of the first food you likely ingested. As a result, the combination evokes a comforting sensation while also appealing to your taste buds.

A Great Source of Magnesium

As many as 75 percent of Americans may not consume as much magnesium in their standard diet as is recommended. A lack of magnesium can result in muscle twitches, mental health disorders, osteoporosis, fatigue and a variety of other unpleasant symptoms. Magnesium is naturally found in green leafy vegetables and a variety of other foods. However, only chocolate is a magnesium-rich food that is found on a list of people's top ten favorite foods. If your blood test results show that you regularly run low on magnesium, your doctor may recommend eating more vegetables. However, you can also reach for a daily piece of dark chocolate to get more magnesium in your diet.

Rich Memories

While you may have some almost innate affiliations with the fat-to-sugar ratio of milk chocolate, there may be other reasons why chocolate is so enjoyable to you. If you are like many other people, chocolate has been a part of your life for decades. It was enjoyed at birthday celebrations, weddings, family road trips, family reunions and more. Because of its prevalence in its many forms, it undoubtedly has played a backseat role in notable events throughout your life, and it is associated with good feelings as a result.

In fact, consuming chocolate has been associated with the release of dopamine. While smelling chocolate is enjoyable, dopamine production is dependent on eating or drinking it. Specifically, some studies have shown that the magnesium it contains can play a role in the production of dopamine. At the same time, it has been shown to reduce stress levels. Dopamine is a mood booster and a stress reliever, so it is a natural choice for people who need to be comforted in some way. With these factors in mind, you can see that chocolate makes you physically feel great, and this feeling may be reinforced by the fact that it is associated with numerous pleasurable events in your life.

Satisfying Cravings

Chocolate's appeal may be psychological on a different level as well. Cocoa beans contain anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter that produces euphoric feelings. In fact, its properties produce a similar sensation of relaxation and happiness that cannabis products.

Chocolate also contains several stimulants. In addition to caffeine, which has already been discussed, chocolate contains theobromine, tyramine and phenylethylamine. These stimulants raise the heart rate slightly and create a sense of energy. Because the quantities of these amounts in a normal portion size of chocolate is relatively small, however, you generally will not experience the adverse effect of overstimulation by consuming that next bite of chocolate.

Most people do not consume chocolate to satisfy hunger and to feel full. Instead, they do so to meet a specific need in their bodies. Keep in mind that the happy and relaxed yet alert state that chocolate produces is pleasurable to the human experience. These are sensations that the body may naturally crave. Once the body knows that chocolate has these effects and that it tastes amazing, natural cravings that can only be satisfied by the next bite of chocolate are produced.

Chocolate is often given as a special gift, such as for a birthday, an anniversary or a romantic occasion. By giving chocolate as a gift, you are doing more than offering wonderful flavors to be enjoyed by the recipient. You are giving the gifts of happiness, stress reduction, nostalgia and more. With this in mind, you may consider sending chocolates to someone special when the next occasion arises.

Given how sweet and delicious chocolatey foods are, you understandably may have assumed that you crave chocolate because of its flavor. However, you can see that everything from its aroma and its creamy feel in your mouth to the many natural chemicals it contains can evoke cravings as well. These cravings may arise at any time, but they may be more common if you are feeling nostalgic or stressed. While you understandably may want to avoid consuming foods like chocolate that are high in sugar on a daily basis, you may want to keep some chocolate stashed in your kitchen so that you can enjoy it as desired.

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Chocolate Store FAQ

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, people around the world - mostly in the US and Europe, not surprisingly - eat enough chocolate to equal three million cocoa beans every year! Chocolate is the most popular sweet tooth-satisfying dessert almost everywhere.
The sky's the limit. Do you have a favorite brand like Godiva or Hershey's? You'll find every imaginable variety when you shop online. Are you looking for a unique flavor combination or a gorgeous assortment of hand-dipped caramels and truffles? You can get that too. The difficult thing will be holding yourself back from buying all of them!
Supporting small businesses and shopping local is great - and your closest candy shop may even sell their products online too. But, there's no guarantee you'll get the kind of chocolate you want if you limit yourself to brick-and-mortar retailers you can drive to. And, if you're ordering chocolate to give as a gift, you'll probably have more options for gift packaging and shipping when you buy from an online chocolate store.
Chocolate! (Just kidding.) The best chocolate stores make it easy to see the different types of sweets they sell and how much you'll pay, plus any shipping costs you should expect. Some stores have fun promotions that can save you money or double the amount of chocolate in your order. You can also consider what other customers have said about their experience with the chocolate retailer: how the treats taste, if the deliveries arrive on time and in good condition, and how any problems were resolved by the customer service team.
It can be - but it doesn't have to be. If you're buying chocolates in large quantities and exotic flavors, of course you should expect to pay more. But, chocolate stores usually have plenty of options for people shopping on a budget too.
That depends on the chocolate store. Some give you free shipping to earn your business, but you might have to place a minimum order amount to qualify. It should be fairly easy to determine what, if anything, you'll pay for delivery as you browse their website.
Yes, most of the time. Online chocolate stores want you to be thrilled with the sweets you get - after all, word of mouth is great for advertising, and they'd love for you to tell everyone you know about the amazing chocolates they sell. If your chocolate doesn't arrive in perfect condition, or something is just off with the taste, contact the customer service team. It shouldn't be hard to get a refund or replacement order.
Yes, yes and yes! Some chocolate shops provide numerous options for gifting, from mixed assortments to hard-to-find varieties in beautiful gift wrapping. You could even choose a chocolate club membership that will literally be a gift that keeps on giving, with new packages arriving every month for three months to a year.
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