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Eat In This Order: Chocolate Memories

(A digression from the norm here on Clandestine Critic – an essay about the physical eating pleasure of chocolate, made more odd by the fact that I can no longer eat chocolate due to it giving me migraines.)

There are various aspects of people’s life that possibly define them in life: Religion; family stability as a child; siblings (or lack thereof); scholastic career; athletic abilities; level of intelligence. But, there is one thing that unites us (and it is not Dr Marten’s boots, whatever Alexei Sayle may have sung) – the way in which we eat chocolate.

The consumption of chocolate plays an enormous part of our lives growing up, and the decisions we make then influence us in our supposed adulthood. The way in which we eat chocolate is such a truism that an entire advert campaign was created solely on this principal. Stand up, Cadbury’s Crème Egg, with ‘How Do You Eat Yours?’ Although this combination of chocolate and fondant is supposed to be a seasonal treat, with it’s connection to the celebration of Easter, when the majority of Catholics are once again allowed to indulge after the six-week abstinence of Lent, it is available year round. (Still, you don’t see adverts until after Christmas, because even Cadbury know they aren’t going to be able to sell eggs then. And they still have Quality Street and Roses to fall back on at that time of year, so don’t feel sorry for them.) And the selling point is that it is an amazingly adaptable confectionery, each method of eating defining what sort of person you are.

There are a variety of different ways to eat a crème egg (eat it whole, bite the top off and scoop out the inside, eat from the larger end and mix both part, or eat all the chocolate off to leave the fondant, to name a few.) But they are not the only chocolate which has multiple ingestion methods, yet these are never mentioned outside of drunken or stoned recollections of students at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

Take the Jaffa cake, for example, which is not strictly speaking a chocolate, but is considered under the broad heading of chocolate, as it wouldn’t be the same if it was covered in nougat or marzipan. Some prefer to eat them whole, to get the lovely combination of chocolate and smashing orangey bit in the middle, while some prefer to nibble round the outside to leave the jaffa magic until the end.

The robust Twix has several combinations. Some take it as a whole and crunch away to sample the delight that is chocolate, caramel and crunchy biscuit. Others prefer to eat away the biscuit to leave the chocolate/caramel combo to be savoured, while some strange people enjoy the immediate removal of the caramel layer to leave the biscuit part at the finish, to contrast the excess of sweetness. (An aside; why bother with Twix if you only like the caramel? Why not just have Caramel? Personally, I think the taste of the Twix caramel is nicer, but perhaps it has to be taken into consideration that the specialised manner of eating plays a part.)

Caramel the bar doesn’t lend itself to the complications of other chocolates, being a straightforward eat, more in common with the caramel treats in Quality Street or Roses, just on a larger scale. The only physical manifestation lies in the attempts to break the segments in the wonderfully visual manner employed in the adverts, where individual chunks break off beautifully from the whole, and that segment is split in half to reveal the rich, sweet, chewy centre. In reality, the segments are usually half broken anyway, never in the symmetrical depiction of the advert, and caramel is oozing out of a badly broken chunk. It’s only then you realise that the advertisers needed about a hundred takes to get the perfect caramel break, and the makers are having a laugh at your expense. No wonder they had to use a cartoon rabbit as the spokesperson (or spokesbunny).

Kit-Kats require you to first crease your finger along the foil, to delineate the individual fingers, before you take the fingers and snap them, again in the manner of the advert, although not with quite the same deafening, kung-fu film soundtrack, wood-snapping noise. But, as they taste horrible, you don’t bother to eat them, so the hands-on aspect is the only excitement.

Double Deckers provide you with a clue in the name – you can eat the top or bottom layer first, depending on your perversion, instead of the mundane eating both at the same time. Curly Wurlys – which are a bit of a cheat as a luxury sweet item as they are about 30% chocolate, 70% space – create the choice of eating whole or eating individual curls along the way, but even that doesn’t make them last any longer.

Yorkie is the macho chocolate, where you have to decide to eat the thing whole to prove your manliness, or break your thumbs trying to snap off a chunk so you can pop it in your gob and let it sit there, because it is too big to eat properly. Some chocolates don’t bother enticing eaters with elaborate feeding rituals. Bounty, Milky Way, Crunchie, or any of the bars comprised of nothing but chocolate (Wispa, Dairy Milk, Twirl, Flake, etc.) are simple, old-fashioned, unwrap-and-eat affairs, all delicious in their own way, I’m sure, but purely existing on a comfort food level. However, you are unlikely to hear people eulogising these brand names during a stoner’s feast when a case of the munchies comes on them full force.

A chocolate bar that entwines itself into your memory through the tactile enjoyment of anticipation and consummation is a link to the global union of chocolate love. Chocolate is not very good for us, generally speaking, comprising mostly of sugar and fat. I’m sorry to bring the truth, but it’s true. People may talk about the chemicals that cause a sexual rush for women, and chocolate freaks pretending that chocolate is like a fine wine, and companies using expressions like ‘luxury’ and ‘sensuous’ to describe chocolate, but they are only fooling you. Chocolate, eaten in anything other than moderation, makes you fat, has little nutritional value, and ruins appetites.

Why, then, does everybody know what you are talking about when you admit to your chocolate fetish? The mannerised eating of chocolate is a link with other people, a way to understand another human being, to find out if you can relate to them. If you meet someone new, and want to know if have a common bond, discuss the way you pre-chill your Twix in order to allow the easier separation of the biscuit, leaving a more coherent caramel layer for delayed consumption, and look at the reaction on their face to see if they think you are barmy, or a connoisseur like you.

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