Do you know the percentage of cocoa in your chocolate bar? Can you give the precise location of where its cacao beans were farmed? Have you found yourself preaching just how gloriously edgy and arty your favourite chocolate is to your sweet-toothed friends? Answer yes to any of the above and chances are you’re a chocolate snob.
Sales of chocolate continue to rise in the UK and statistics from major supermarkets show that dark and artisan chocolate in particular are rapidly increasing in popularity. Chocolate is an affordable luxury and ‘posh chocolate’ has become a status symbol in a similar way to expensive wines. With Easter just around the corner, you need only walk past Betty’s and Hotel Chocolat to be allured by the fantastical chocolate masterpieces dominating their window displays.
Chocolate is sexy. Advertising campaigns have long portrayed the consumption of chocolate as a guilty pleasure and even as an erotic experience (check out the phallic Flake adverts from 1959 on YouTube). Dating back to Aztec and Mayan culture, chocolate has been a known aphrodisiac.
A new generation of “chocolate connoisseurs” is emerging who, according to Artisan chocolatier Aneesh Popat, “treat chocolate in the same way they do wine: they have it at the table, let it melt on their palate, and then analyse and discuss it.” With the rise of chocolate snobbery, it’s become sophisticated to know the difference between types of cocoa beans and methods of chocolate production.
Of course, there are benefits to this wave of chocolate loving. Health-wise, dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk or white chocolate and due to its richness, you tend to want to eat less of it.
In terms of ethics, chocolate lovers have started to question its origins. Issues such as child labour and injustice towards farmers by big corporations have led to an increase in Fairtrade labels such as Dubble and Divine.
Despite the fact that a Green & Blacks 70 per cent cocoa bar is sold once every 10 seconds, cheaper milk chocolate is still our nation’s treat of choice. For those of you à la mode enough to know your Ghanaian beans from your Ecuadorian, take a break this chocolate season, and join those of us content enough to settle for a more mainstream alternative. Those Creme Eggs won’t eat themselves.