Chocolate Day

October 28 may look like a pretty dull date and you could be forgiven for just hanging around waiting for Halloween. However, it is also Chocolate Day!

Indeed, it is one of many Chocolate Days! Just take a look at this list (courtesy of Thinkquest's Bizarre Food Holidays):

American Chocolate Week--March 14-20
National Chocolate Day--October 28 [why?]
National Chocolate Day--December 28 [why?]
National Chocolate Day--December 29 [and why??]
National Milk Chocolate Day--July 28
National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day--November 7
National Chocolate Mint Day--February 19
National Chocolate Chip Day--May 15
National Chocolate Eclair Day--June 22
National Chocolate Covered Anything Day--December 16 [this one is asking for serious trouble!]
National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day--March 24
National Chocolate Custard Month--May 1-31 [a whole month! bizarre]
National Chocolate Pudding Day--June 26
National Chocolate Ice Cream Day--June 7
National Chocolate Milkshake Day--September 12

I guess Easter should also be included as an unofficial Chocolate Day.

So what's so great about chocolate? Well, chocolate, or rather the cacao bean, contains three principal active ingredients: caffeine; theobromine; and phenylethylamine. Theobromine, the main chemical that characterizes chocolate is a very close relative of caffeine and both act as a stimulant. Phenylethylamine is related to amphetamines and is also known as the 'love drug' as it mimics the brain's chemistry when in love. In essence, chocolate triggers the brain's endorphins to create a sense of both heightened awareness and well-being.

However, most commercial chocolates are fairly useless in that they have precious little cacao bean left in them, if any at all! If you want to switch on those pleasure circuits then buy yourself the darkest chocolate you can get - cooking chocolate doesn't get so many advertising bucks thrown at it so is the cheapest chocolate with the highest levels of active chemicals.

If you wish to wear your chocolate addiction on your chest there are some geeky T-shirts highlighting the theobromine molecule.

It's OK, don't worry, there are bound to be some Diabetes Days and Obesity Days lurking in the calendar. However, the health concerns over chocolate indulgences hide the fact that this has little to do with the cacao bean and its chemical cocktail and a lot to do with the manufacture of cheap chocolate laden with sugar and extra fats. Leave the milk chocolate to the newbies and move over to the dark side.
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