Chocolate—sweet, creamy and irresistible—boasts a history almost as rich as its texture.
After all, chocolate once acted as currency in ancient cultures. In the Mayan civilization, 10 cacao beans bought either a rabbit or a prostitute, depending on your needs. As well, the Mayans used chocolate in place of blood during religious rituals (Alfred Hitchcock also used it as a blood substitute for the iconic shower scene in the movie Psycho). The Aztecs revered chocolate as a gift from the gods, the Spanish employed it as a cure for fevers and other bodily pains and even Napoleon insisted on having it supplied on all of his military campaigns.
So why, on Valentine’s Day, will so many feel the inevitable pangs of guilt with every piece of chocolate they consume? As Dr. Rena Mendelson, author and professor at Ryerson’s School of Nutrition, explained, many people today associate indulging in sweets with committing an offence against their body.
“It’s really engrained, because people say things like, ‘I was bad. I ate chocolate,” Mendelson says. “That doesn’t actually make you a bad person, and I think if people get rid of that guilt they may enjoy things more and not feel bad about themselves or the food they eat.”