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Bread And Butter: Chocolate And Valentine's Day

A jar of chocolate shavings.

During the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, 58 million pounds of chocolate are typically sold. And that’s just in the United States. That’s a lot of chocolate!  And, as the girl who, growing up, didn’t love chocolate, that number is absolutely mind boggling. 

It’s not that I hated chocolate. I didn’t. I liked it fine. But there were other things that were just so much better. I remember in junior high and high school and even a bit in college, trying to play along, but the truth was I just didn’t understand that need for chocolate that most speak about, almost reverently.


And this went for all things chocolate flavored, as well. I did not understand chocolate ice cream and why anyone would choose that over what I deemed a more worthy flavor. Like strawberry or vanilla. Or that one peach flavor my dad would get us every summer. But, really, it never was an issue and when brought up was a humorous anecdote more than anything, especially when someone who knew about my apathy toward chocolate would ask me for my best double chocolate cookie or brownie recipe.


And then I got pregnant with my son. And suddenly, in addition to the odd things I craved daily, I wanted chocolate. Especially chocolate ice cream. It wasn’t a craving, though. Those were saved for watermelon and sugary cereals from my childhood, no, this was an absolute palate about face. I started buying chocolate ice cream and making brownies for sundaes. Candy bars suddenly tasted amazing. It was all very surprising.

Then. Then I found dark chocolate. Really good dark chocolate. And while I still am not sure I completely understand the dance and nuance of it all, I do appreciate a square of thick, dark chocolate. Although, more often than not, I bite and chew when I’m certain I’m supposed to let it melt a bit before savoring. This is a fact that will always make my husband chuckle. Every time. And will often result in me asking him to bring me another square so I can try to ‘do it right’ almost every time.


In the 15 years since this shift of taste, I’ve consumed a lot of chocolate, but I don’t think I’m anywhere near my fair share of that 58 million pounds before Valentines or the 11 pounds every American eats annually, but I’ve made up some ground. My favorite ice cream is black cherry, but I now know that it pairs nicely with a chocolate ganache ice cream or a triple brownie chunk explosion (though I’m still not certain why all the chocolate ice cream names sound so desperately violent. That is a state I’d rather not be in while consuming food products). 


I also understand how, after a long day, a fudgy brownie gives you a moment to pause and breathe before jumping in again. Or how a small box of my favorite British chocolate can conjure up happy memories and center my mind all at the same time.


And while I may be slightly reformed, I’m still not fully in the camp of ‘give me chocolate or give me death’, either. I read that chocolate cravings are often blamed on low magnesium levels. And after reading that, I can’t help but wonder how many cravings are actually our body just needing a bit of attention from us. 


I know in my case, that one fact has my mind wondering a few things I hadn’t wondered before and thinking the timing of my chocolate awakening may have not been so random at all. But while it may make sense in my life, certainly there isn’t a country wide epidemic of low magnesium levels causing the steady outpouring of love toward makers of all things chocolate? 


It’s said that nearly half of Americans buy chocolate for themselves around holidays and I’m hard pressed to believe that diet deficiencies have spurred that total number. But if it had, I’m certain the milk chocolate that is favored by the majority is not where the nutrients to quell would be found.


Which leads me to my last chocolatey thought. I’m wondering how this year, the year that celebrates all things not normal, will fall on the normal purchase scale? Will we buy less because we’re out less and doing less or buy more because of stress and trying to grab anything stable and familiar? I know for our house, there will be a little less chocolate in the house come Valentine’s Day this year. We overdid it a bit through the holidays and are trying to right the ship again. However, there may be ice cream. Ok, there will probably be ice cream. Explosion of brownies and all.