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The chocolate conspiracy | Pamdemonium
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The chocolate conspiracy

March 16, 2010

Awash in chocolate love.

The cacao tree’s botanical name is Theobroma cacao. Theobroma is a Greek term that means “food of the gods.”

Lately, though, it seems chocolate is food of the masses. Every supermarket and chain drug store has the stuff on sale. The television oozes with chocolate commercials. I smell a plot.

Truthfully, my husband, a rabid chocolate man, smelled it first. He noticed the discounts, two-for-one deals and other promotions even before Mintel, a big market research firm, made it official in December, just before the holidays. A borderline conspiracy theorist, he says “they” are orchestrating chocolate discounts to keep us sated, happy and distracted.

Whatever they are doing, it seems to be working. Run-of-the-mill chocolate sales were up 2.8 percent in the last year, according to National Confectioners Association. Sales of the higher-end stuff, such as delights from Ghirardelli and Lindt, are up 20 percent in the last three years, the group says.

Morsels of satisfaction.

Not only is this “affordable luxury” apparently recession-proof, its growth is a global phenom. Mintel says China and the Ukraine reported increases of 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively in 2009. The chocolate market in the United Kingdom grew 5.9 percent over 2008; the U.S. market grew 2.8 percent, Mintel says.

Chocolate, we know, triggers the release of endorphins, our natural feel-good opiates. One analysis calls chocolate a “Psychoactive Cocktail” containing tryptophan; anandamide, described as an endogenous cannabinoid; and phenylethylamine, also known as “the love chemical.”

If  “they” want to sedate us, options far worse than chocolate are out there. Expect chocolate love to spread like boutique cupcake bakeries. Mintel predicts growth through 2013, which gives the United States some time to catch up to bigger per-capita spenders. The Swiss, not surprisingly, spend $206 per person a year on chocolate. Next in line are Brits, $106, and Belgians, $90. In the United States, the average individual spends $55 on chocolate each year. Here in South Nashville, we are doing more than our share to bring that number up.

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{ 2 comments }

Karen Price March 17, 2010 at 10:59 am

You know that with Heinz in the house, we’re contributing way more than our share to the chocolate statistics. Look for Germany to rise in the ratings soon.

showhomesthomas March 18, 2010 at 6:34 am

Our household has already surpassed the Germans. A humble Hersey bar has a very short lifespan under our roof :)

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