The world is a varied place. People enjoy all sorts of different things and will derive pleasure from life in a whole manner of ways. What makes us happy differentiates us from one another and substantiates our character, as what strikes one individual as brilliant and exciting may be altogether repulsive to another. But there’s one thing that most people will reach for when they’re craving a treat: chocolate. It’s extremely rare that you’ll come across someone who doesn’t like chocolate in any way, shape, or form. So what is it about this cocoa-based foodstuff that we love so much?
The Psychological Aspect
Chocolate’s popularity has, of course, resulted in a whole manner of studies being conducted into why we love it so much. There is a genuine psychology behind why we enjoy eating chocolate so much. To keep things short and (excuse the pun) sweet, let’s go with a basic explanation for now. It comes down to the simple fact that chocolate makes most of us feel good. We like everything about it: the taste, the scent, the texture, how it feels when it melts in our mouth… the list goes on and on. These positive aspects that we experience when eating chocolate cause our brains to release various chemicals. These neurotransmitters travel to different parts of our brain making us feel positive and happy. One of these neurotransmitters is dopamine, and this plays a significant role in the human brain’s rewards circuit. When it is released, it makes us feel good, so then we crave further release of the chemical and crave what caused its initial release (in this case, chocolate) more and more. Chocolate makes us happy, so we want more of it in our lives! It’s as simple as that.
The Variety in Types
Another possible reason for chocolate’s mass appeal is the sheer variety of its types. Firstly, we have the three main categories of chocolate: white, milk, and dark. Now, white chocolate doesn’t qualify as a “genuine” chocolate, because it doesn’t contain any chocolate solids (cocoa powder). However, it is usually made from a blend of cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat, and lecithin (an emulsifier that holds its form together). Milk chocolate is perhaps the most popular form of chocolate. It is crafted from milk solids, cocoa liquor and cocoa solids. Cocoa butter, vanilla, milk fats and lecithin are often also used in its creation. Dark chocolate is a more pure form of chocolate. It generally doesn’t have any milk solids added and has a deeper and richer taste. Its most striking aspect is perhaps its bitterness. A fourth variety of chocolate has recently surfaced on the market but is less commonly consumed: pink chocolate. Officially named “ruby chocolate”, this has been in development for around 13 years, since Barry Callebaut discovered a new form of the cocoa bean.
The Variety in Products
As well as variety in types of chocolate, there’s variety in the different ways that we consume it. Think about it: we aren’t just limited to chocolate bars. We have chocolate cakes and pastries, chocolate flavoured ice cream and chocolate covered ice creams, chocolate spreads, hot chocolate drinks and cold chocolate milkshakes. The options are seemingly endless. Chocolatiers are also constantly making new flavour combinations by adding particular ingredients, each with varying popularity. Think of orange chocolate, coffee chocolate, chocolate with fruit or nuts, chocolates with fudge or toffee… the world really is your oyster when it comes to chocolatiering.
Chocolate can have a whole lot of sentiment behind it. That’s why we so often use it as a gift or to celebrate (hundreds of thousands of chocolate eggs are sold worldwide during the Easter period, and perhaps, even more, boxes are purchased around occasions such as Christmas). You can see the brilliance and potential of chocolate as a gift at sites such as Chocogram. A recipient’s face will truly light up when presented with specialist, high-quality chocolate goods.
The Health Benefits
An extra bonus? Chocolate can have some serious health benefits too! Especially dark chocolate. To start, dark chocolate is surprisingly nutritious. It can be high in fibre and loaded with iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. It also contains potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and selenium. What’s more? It’s a great source of antioxidants! It holds a host of organic compounds such a polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins.
Considering the host of mood and health-boosting benefits that chocolate can bring to your life, it’s not so surprising that we’re in love with the cocoa!