living through chocolate
by Mad Dog
It’s only a
matter of time before aging Baby Boomers start sidling up to the bar
and ordering a Cabernet with a Tobler Dark twist. Hold the almonds.
It’s unsettling to discover that something as delightfully sinful
as chocolate may actually be good
for you. It’s not just that we’re being robbed of one of
life’s little pleasures—gorging on something we know is
absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt horrible for us
yet makes us feel so good—but once again They told us something
which turned out to be wrong.
When I was growing up They
said the harder I worked the more money I’d make. They said
everything happens for a reason. And They said it was only a phase.
Well, They were wrong all the way down the line.
Now it turns out they were
wrong about chocolate too. After years of being warned not to eat it
lest our faces break out in acne, we become hyperactive balls of
unbridled energy, and our appetites go the way of the dial phone, it
turns out the only thing chocolate used to do that it still does is
make the Hershey family richer. Chocolate, you see, may actually be
a health food.
No lesser source than The
Journal of Nutrition (motto: “You are what we say you should
eat”) recently published a series of studies showing that
chocolate contains flavonoids. Not to pull a Stephen Hawking on you,
but flavonoids are those little teeny tiny chemical thingies that
live in red wine, green tea, and certain fruits and vegetables which
makes them expensive. Not only that, they help decrease the risk of
heart disease and stroke. So it’s good that they’re in
So how do we
get from giving electroshock therapy to a Nestlé’s Crunch bar to
cruising down the highway on fudge-filled shock absorbers?
But wait, there’s more! A couple of years ago researchers at the
University of California at Davis—undoubtedly while on a snack
break—discovered chemicals in chocolate called phenols which stop
the bad fat component of cholesterol (“Bad fat component! Bad fat
component!”) from oxidizing into plaque, the stuff that clogs your
arteries. So while eating M&Ms may help plaque form on your
teeth, at the same time it will help keep your aorta as clear as a
storm drain in the Sahara. Since dark chocolate has more of these
phenols than light chocolate, it’s only a matter of time before
aging Baby Boomers start sidling up to the bar and ordering a
Cabernet with a Tobler Dark twist. Hold the almonds.
aren’t the only ones getting their inspiration from snack
machines. The fine folks in Detroit who brought us the Edsel,
windshield wipers on headlights, and cars that talk (“Your door is
a jar.” “No it isn’t, it’s a door.”) are looking into
making shock absorbers out of chocolate. And you thought
chocolate’s most important use was as an I.V. drip during PMS.
It started a couple of
years ago when a graduate student at Michigan State University and
his trusty professor discovered that when they jolted melted Hershey
bars with a moderately high-voltage electric shock, the creamy,
that-taste-good liquid chocolate instantly turned into a stiff gel.
And reverted back into a liquid as soon as the power was turned off.
I’m not sure what ever made them think this was something grown
adults should be doing, but I wish I’d been around when they
worked their way through the kitchen cabinets, shocking Twinkies,
Jell-o, and Tuna Helper before they got around to the Snickers bars.
There are chemicals in chocolate which target the same
brain receptors as marijuana. The bad news is you’d have to eat
about 25 lbs. of Godivas to get a good buzz. The good news is,
that’s nothing you haven’t done before.
So how do we get from giving electroshock therapy to a Nestlé’s
Crunch bar to cruising down the highway on fudge-filled shock
absorbers? Easy. Electrified chocolate is the latest discovery in
the field of electrorheology, or the science of using government
grant money to buy candy bars. Actually, scientists are looking into
using these “smart fluids” in automatic transmissions and
hydraulic valves. The Monroe Auto Equipment Co. has already used a
“smart fluid” in experimental shock absorbers for a Ford
Thunderbird. The car not only raced around the track in record
time—proving that chocolate not only causes hyperactivity in
humans but also automobiles—but it turned out to be 100 percent
acne-free. Of course it was a new car so it had quite a ways to go
before reaching puberty.
But there’s a fly in the
chocolate shock absorber ointment. Like all electrorheologic fluids,
chocolate stops doing its electroshock gel thing when it reaches
high temperatures. This is where chocolate has a marked advantage
over the other “smart fluids”— if you were stranded on a dark,
lonely highway and your cholesterol level was shooting up like a
rocket all you’d have to do is pull off one of your rear shocks
and suck the chocolate right out of that baby.
Unfortunately none of this
may ever come to fruition because chocolate may soon be illegal. A
report in Nature magazine (motto: “The most quoted
periodical no one ever reads”) disclosed that eating chocolate can
make you high. Apparently there are chemicals in chocolate which
target the same brain receptors as marijuana. The bad news is
you’d have to eat about 25 lbs. of Godivas to get a good buzz. The
good news is, that’s nothing you haven’t done before.
Thus, chocolate turns out
to be nothing less than a miracle: It’s good for you, it can make
your car ride smoother, and you can get a good high without having
to inhale. Stock up now before it becomes prescription only.
©2000 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while drinking your shock absorbers.