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What makes chocolate so addictive? October 3, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. It seems like I’m constantly surrounded by allusions to the addictive nature of chocolate, how irresistible it is. As someone who loves vanilla, this is something of a mystery to me. Mind you, it’s not like I hate chocolate or anything. Homemade chocolate fudge, hot fudge on vanilla soft ice cream, brownies, a Hershey’s Symphony bar: sold.

But though I love the thought of it, I never eat it. (Well, that’s a lie. Offer me a hot-from-the-oven, gooey chocolate-chip cookie and watch me turn it down. Right.) Given the choice between vanilla cake with white icing or chocolate cake with chocolate icing, or vanilla cheesecake or chocolate cheesecake, or vanilla soft ice cream or chocolate soft ice cream, it’s vanilla all the way. Yet nobody sings the praises of vanilla or swoons over it in print the way they rave on and on about chocolate.

Mind you, I can at least appreciate most of the treats they’re raving about. I can at least see that they’d be good. Those molten lava cakes turn my stomach, though—what a revolting concept!—and worst of all are the idolized chocolate-covered strawberries. Eeeewww!!! The inherent sourness and texture of strawberries coated in chocolate?! I’d as soon eat a chocolate-covered cucumber. Give me chocolate-covered cherry cordial candies or chocolate-covered glaceed apricots any day, or even Raisinettes.

Whatever the case, I will say that chocolate is the only food I’ve come across where, when I taste it, I can feel a physical pull to eat more. I wondered if there was a scientific basis for this, so I turned for help to my good frind Google. Was there ever! You’re not going to believe what I turned up.

Turns out, chocolate is packed with feel-good chemicals. There’s tryptophan, which produces serotonin, the calming, mood enhancing neurotransmitter. There’s theobromine, the mild, caffeine-like stimulant. There’s phenyethylamine, which causes the release of dopamine to the pleasure centers of the brain, the same phenomenon that occurs during orgasm.

But the biggest shock of all was that researchers have found that chocolate also contains anandamide, which causes a marijuana-like high (though on a much milder scale), and two compounds that prolong the “high” that occurs from naturally produced anandamide in the brain. Good grief!

Orgasms and marijuana? No wonder people find chocolate addictive!

            ‘Til next time,




1. narf77 - October 4, 2012

I am a distinctly savoury person. What people gasp over with chocolate is what happens to me with cheese, sour cream, fresh baked bread and anything at all to do with potatoes. I don’t get chocolate or sweets in general but its individual taste. We always have blocks of chocolate in the house becuase Steve loves it. He knows I won’t ever eat his chocolate 😉

I’m with you, Fran! I can only eat so much, and given a choice between savory and sweet, it’s savory every time for me (unless someone has some luscious fresh fruit, which, of course, pairs well with bread and cheese!).

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