AS EXPRESSED THROUGH A PLAYLIST OF PURE PLEASURE
The mysteries of chocolate have long mesmerised humanity. Its powers of seduction reach way beyond a spell of velvety nostalgia or an enchanting caress of the tongue. Chocolate connects with us on a molecular level, as though put on this earth for no other reason than to bring us pure pleasure. And this isn’t just down to opinion. It’s science.
The Mayans were the first to discover chocolate. In fact, it’s where the name comes from: Xocolatl. Without trying to pronounce its slew of letters, it’s easy to see the relation. But bonbons, bars and brownies came later. Much later. Back then, they enjoyed chocolate in the form of a hot, spicy drink made from cocoa beans. They were onto something.
“After all this time, chocolate is still a mystery to us,” says Stephanie Ceronio, one of South Africa’s most exciting chocolatiers and owner of Jackrabbit Chocolate Studio. “When you work with it, chocolate has just as much of an effect on you as you have on it. The sight of chocolate, the smell, the taste – it’s all linked to an inborn emotion – whether happy or sad.”
Emotions, of course, are all down to chemistry. Chocolate, like coffee, changes its properties depending on its state – whether it’s fermented or roasted, heavier in cocoa butter or lighter in cocoa liquor – and reacts with your body in various different ways.
More so than any other food, we react to chocolate in an almost primordial way. We don’t need to think about it to appreciate it. Our bodies crave it. “How many times have you heard someone say, ‘I’d give anything for a chocolate right now?’” asks Stephanie. “The satisfaction you get from chocolate is almost orgasmic. You might not remember the moment for very long afterwards, but then you crave it again.”
Why is that? To navigate the sexy science behind chocolate, put on a perky playlist, get that box of chocolates you’ve been saving for a bit of me-time out from its hiding place, and let’s explore…
DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART
Chocolate is there when a heart breaks and even more so when it mends. Seriously, though, dark chocolate in particular increases blood flow to the heart, which is, quite literally, heart-warming. So, get yourself that slab of 70%, put on some Elton John and dance yourself out of your heartbreak – even when by dancing you mean sitting on a chaise longue while staring out at the rain while nibbling on your favourite corner of cocoa heaven.
LET’S GET IT ON
Thanks to L-arginine, a component hidden in chocolate’s molecular structure, eating chocolate of any kind also increases blood flow to your sexy regions, triggering that frisky feeling you get just as you cue Barry White after sprinkling rose petals over silken sheets, fanned by billowing gossamer curtains, while the hot tub steams up the lens. If all this feels a bit too 80s music video to you, simply tear a slither of foil and snap off a block of Switzerland’s finest. It’s all you need.
To be clear, dreaming needn’t mean actual sleeping, and sleeping in this sense means more of a roll in the hay. But you already knew that, didn’t you? No one likes it tense and uneasy. To get you in the right frame of mind, you almost want to fall into a dreamlike, playful state, which is why massage is such a great form of foreplay. Just the smell of chocolate calls your theta brain waves to action, which triggers your relaxation hormone. It’s literally the stuff that dreams are made of.
WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO
We’re not talking double-tall flat white levels of caffeine, more like a strong cup of tea. But as much as it gets you to unwind, the caffeine in chocolate excites your adrenal glands into a sense of wilful anticipation. For what exactly? Well, that part is entirely up to you, but before you go-go, it might be of interest to know that chocolate melts at just below body temperature. Would a wink emoji be going too far?
TAKE MY BREATH AWAY
Did you know that the body contains something called a bliss molecule? You do now. Chocolate connects with your brain through its anandamide (pleased to meet you, bliss molecule) receptors, which creates that sense of euphoria one can only ascribe to those moments just after doing something… you really enjoy. In other words, something breath-taking.