I love chocolate, which does not make me special. Americans consume roughly 18% of the world’s chocolate stash, spending over $18 billion annually on the rich, creamy confection.
As a child, my mother fretted constantly about my waistline and hid sweets from me. In retaliation, I’d scour my dad’s Brooks Brothers suit-coat pockets for change and trundle through the woods to Ben’s Diner, which had a long, glorious rack of candy. Ben, a big man with a giant stomach encased in a white apron, never questioned my daily haul of candy bars – which were big suckers back then.
I’d sit by the brook with my collie Betsy and eat that candy – Snickers, Milky Way, Baby Ruth, Chunky, 100 Grand Bar, M&Ms, Heath Bar – every day.
My mom, exasperated by my girth, would defend herself to strangers. “It’s not my fault,” she’d tell people when she thought they were staring at me. “I feed her baked fish and salad with no dressing.”
I always wanted to say, “I’m fat, Mom, not deaf. I can hear what you’re saying.” But I never did.
The point is, I love chocolate, which brings me to the abomination: white chocolate.
I realize that some people like that creepy colorless confection. I also know that, lately, fancy chocolatiers have been experimenting with it in an effort to make it more hip. Still, the fact that white chocolate includes cocoa butter, which is derived from cocoa beans, does not make the substance chocolate. One needs cocoa solids to make actual chocolate. (Yes, I know the FDA claims white chocolate made to their standards is considered chocolate, but I’m not having it.)
White chocolate was first unveiled in the 1930s, a product of the Nestlé company in Switzerland. The theory goes that the substance was invented to utilize excess cocoa butter, but no one is really sure.
The Maya, who were the first people to cultivate cacao trees, probably would be stupefied to learn that their prized chocolate – the beans of which they used as a form of currency – is now offered in this pale, unrecognizable form.
And, even worse, those trendy chocolatiers are doing unspeakable things to this white sweet. You can now purchase organic kale with mustard mixed into your white chocolate. And salted almonds with broccoli. Clearly, there are maniacal minds at work here. Confectioners who make Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka appear quite sane.
So, what are we to do with this sweet faux pas? Despite my misgivings, I don’t mind a bit of white as a decoration. After all, it’s pretty. But as a real chocolate substitute? Never!
So give me a dab of white chocolate, if you must, but please … hold the broccoli.
Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group
Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook
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