Chocology 101 - Uncovering the truth behind our relationship with chocolate

To Press Releases listToronto, ON,Mar 29, 2009

Chocolate’s melt-in-your mouth quality is impossible to resist, blissful to experience, and been described by many as sensual in nature. In fact, our relationship with chocolate is among the most complex we have with food. But what is it about this particular confection that makes us crave it so? Is our love of chocolate physiological, psychological or sociological? Or a little bit of each?

Expert Chocologist Laura White has partnered with Nestlé Noir Mousse Délicate to shed some light on our chocolate conundrum. “I am hard pressed to think of any other food that evokes the passionate response that chocolate does,” says White. “Our enjoyment of chocolate goes beyond just the taste. Only by examining the various ‘ologies’ associated with chocolate can we understand the complex relationship that makes chocolate so desirable.”

Choco-Physiology: Feeding the Senses

How we taste and respond to food is dependent on receptors that sense different chemical stimuli such as sweet and bitter, as well as texture and temperature. Texture is just as important as taste and crucial to food enjoyment. It explains why some people can’t imagine swallowing a slippery, squishy oyster despite their love of seafood, or why others feel the need to add crunchy crackers to a flavourful bowl of warm tomato soup. These choices have little to do with the actual flavour of the dishes. It is the textures people experience while enjoying their food that affect their overall experience.

The attraction to chocolate is no different. While well-made chocolate has an irresistible taste and can deliver a rich, sweet and satisfying flavour, it’s chocolates ability to tap directly into the desire we have for pleasing tactile experiences that makes it so delectable. Chocolate is one of few foods that offers multiple textures in every bite. The enjoyment begins with the first bite of a firm piece of chocolate, however the pleasurable experience continues and grows as the chocolate melts in your mouth, coating your taste buds in velvety smooth sweetness.

“Some chocolates have more texture than others, and one of the reasons I love Nestlé Noir Mousse Délicate is that it combines a hard, velvety outer shell, with a frothy, smooth mousse filling,” says White. “The blend of the real mousse texture combined with the rich outer shell creates a thrilling combination for your senses.”

Choco-Psychology: Deciphering the Psyche

People have long looked to chocolate to calm their mind and soothe their soul. However, some feel that our attraction to chocolate may go beyond our tactile senses. Chocolate can often evoke memories of a wonderful past experience. Chocolate has been linked to romance and intimacy for centuries. For some people, just the thought of chocolate can make them perk up. Sharing chocolate with others can be a cozy add-on to any communication, whether you’re sharing a deep, dark secret with a friend or a heart-felt moment with a romantic partner.

“We know that chocolate and intimacy are closely related,” says Jeanette Rodrigues Nestlé Noir Brand Manager. “That being said, the rounded pillow shape of Mousse Délicate makes it the perfect complement for any pillow talk session – whether with a lover or a best friend.”

According to research out of the University of Bristol in the U.K., our perceived attraction to chocolate is a psychological dependence. An explanation lies in our ambivalent attitudes towards chocolate – it is highly desired but should be eaten with restraint (nice but naughty). Our unfulfilled desire to eat chocolate, resulting from restraint, is thus experienced as craving, which in turn is attributed to dependence.

Our love for chocolate is not only about our psyche, but it can be linked to our personality. Based on experience, Laura White can recommend a chocolate type based on one’s personality traits. “When someone asks me whether I recommend milk or dark chocolate, I always ask them a few questions about themselves before giving a recommendation,” says White. “Personality is usually indicative of what type of chocolate they will like.” For example those who are adventurous and like exploring new things will enjoy the intense cocoa flavour of a fine dark chocolate. Milk chocolate lovers are usually a little more conventional, looking to be comforted and consoled by their choices.

Choco-Sociology: Chocolate’s Place in the World

Research from Human Branding Inc., an Applied Anthropology Research and Consulting Firm concludes that our love of chocolate can be traced back to the beginning of humanity, when we were roaming the planes of Africa as hunter gatherers. A deeply engrained ‘survival instinct’ encouraged cravings of rich, sweet foods. Rich foods would keep us going and sustained, and sweets were typically not poisonous and could be ingested safely. This created a deeply rooted craving for foods that delivered rich and sweet tastes. This in part explains our relationship to this globally favoured delicacy.

Historically speaking, up until recent centuries, chocolate was so inaccessible and expensive that it was reserved only for the upper classes. Symbolically speaking, chocolate still carries this less accessible and special value that it built up throughout Western history.

Currently chocolate’s reputation puts it in a league well above other confectionery delights. A box of chocolates can say anything from “I love you” to “Happy Birthday” to “I’m sorry”. What more universally enjoyed gift can you give for a holiday or special event than a box of chocolates?

Nestlé Noir Mousse Délicate is available at grocery and retail outlets across Canada for a suggested retail price of $3.99 per 100g. Nestlé Noir Mousse Délicate is the most recent addition to the Nestlé Noir line that launched in Canada in 2008. Nestlé Noir dark chocolate tablets were Nestlé Canada’s first foray into the premium dark chocolate tablet category.

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Backed by more than a century of research and experience, Nestlé Canada's vision is to be the most trusted and respected food and nutrition company in Canada, bringing Good Food, Good Life to Canadians. Nestlé in Canada manufactures some of the world's most recognized and trusted brands, including NESTLÉ PROFESSIONAL, STOUFFER'S, LEAN CUISINE, NESQUIK, NESTLÉ GOOD START, POWERBAR, HÄAGEN-DAZS, KIT KAT, NESCAFÉ, NESTLÉ PURE LIFE, NESTLÉ DRUMSTICK and NESTLÉ PURINA BENEFUL. NESTLÉ in Canada employs approximately 3,600 people in more than 20 manufacturing sites, sales offices and distribution centres across the country.