By: Mary Zahran
This is the story of one woman’s dark secret, a tale of a decades-long relationship fraught with unbridled passion and insatiable desire. Only now, in this month of romance and sweet surprises, do I dare confess to my love affair…with chocolate.
I cannot recall the exact moment when I fell head over heels in love with chocolate. Could it have been the first time I drank some cocoa or chocolate milk? Perhaps it was the first time my mother let me lick a beater coated with chocolate icing. Whatever the circumstances of my initiation into this delectable world, I was hooked. There was no going back.
My obsession began innocently enough with an occasional Hershey bar or a piece of cake with my mother’s special icing. Being young and inexperienced, I was unaware of the world of chocolate delights awaiting me when I ventured from home.
Perhaps my most memorable discovery occurred at Disney World. I had gone to Florida to visit a girlfriend who had recently moved there. It seemed that no trip to this state was complete without a visit to America’s newest theme park, so we made the pilgrimage. At the end of the day, after we had gone on countless rides and purchased the obligatory mouse ears, we stopped at a candy store.
But this wasn’t just any candy store. It was candy heaven. Every square inch of shelf space, from floor to ceiling, offered a special confection. I was immediately drawn to the dark side, ignoring packages of jellybeans and licorice sticks. Anyone with any sense knows these items aren’t really candy. They are just excuses for their creators to conduct experiments with food coloring.
No, the real prizes were the giant Goo Goo Clusters and the king-sized Snickers bars, sweets you could really savor. As I continued looking around, I glanced up at the ceiling and saw a miniature train filled with candy bars moving on a track around the room. For just one moment, I could have sworn I heard angels singing.
I had a similar epiphany many years later in San Francisco at the Ghirardelli Store near Fisherman’s Wharf. My friends and I, chocolate lovers all, approached the building cautiously as though we had just spotted the Holy Grail and could not believe our good fortune.
Once again, I was in a room filled from floor to ceiling with chocolate delights. There was no train as there had been in Disney World, but there was a vibrant sunset that provided the perfect backdrop for another heavenly experience. Again, I heard the angels sing.
These were not my better angels, however, for they enticed me to eat a giant ice cream sundae for dinner instead of something more nutritious. In my defense, I will argue that it is sometimes more important to feed your soul than to feed your body, and this was one of those times.
Apart from being the single most delicious substance ever created, chocolate can serve as an indicator of one’s character. Many times in my life, I have discovered that the people I don’t like very much also don’t like chocolate. They tend to be unpleasant, disagreeable creatures incapable of relaxing and enjoying life. If they would only undergo intense psycho-chocolate therapy with a qualified confectioner, they would be so much nicer, and then I would like them.
Chocolate has played other important roles in my life. It was one of my best friends during both of my pregnancies. I craved Snickers bars so much and consumed so many of them that I expected my babies to be born swaddled in candy wrappers. Fortunately, I gave birth to two beautiful girls who were sweet but didn’t look as though they would morph into chewy nougats.
My love of chocolate also influenced my holiday preferences. It is no coincidence that two of my favorite holidays—Halloween and Valentine’s Day—are centered on candy. Who needs the scary movies and elaborate costumes in October? Who wants flowers and mushy cards in February? Only chocolate can get me into the true holiday spirit. And, no, I was not above sneaking into my daughters’ trick-or-treat bags and taking candy.
I assumed that my passion for chocolate would cool as I grew older and wiser. But what happened as the years passed was that, as a lover of both chocolate and wine, I would inevitably discover that, if they were delicious when enjoyed separately, they were even more delectable when combined.
This is a love affair for the ages, destined to burn brightly until the last. Like Orson Welles in “Citizen Kane,” I too will utter a single word at the end. His word was “Rosebud.” Mine will be “Chocolate.”
Mary Zahran, who routinely hides chocolate candy from her family, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.