the power of chocolate


The BBC, on April 16, 2007, reported on experiments on the effects of melting chocolate in the mouth that showed increased brain activity and heart rate greater than from passionate kissing – and lasting 4 times as long. “Psychologist Sue Wright said: “Chocolate contains phenylethylamine which can raise levels of endorphins, the pleasure-giving substances, in the brain. It also contains caffeine which has a stimulatory effect on the brain. This would explain why chocolate can give people a buzz, and why people can become addicted to it.” How credible this experiment was I have no idea.

Chocolate has even been used as an artistic medium. Here Vik Muniz, a Brazilian painter now living in New York, reproduces Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez’s renown 1656 painting—in Bosco syrup. The Velazquez painting dates from the height of King Philip of Spain’s reign, when chocolate, imported from Mexico and served as a sweet drink, became a court food craze.

Muniz often replicates the work of other artists in unusual materials, sometimes playing on the political significance of the medium, sometimes just playing. In an interview with Charles A. Stainback, he said, “Chocolate inspires a multitude of psychological phenomena: it has to do with scatology, desire, sex, addiction, luxury, romance, etc. I have never met anyone who didn’t like chocolate. Freud could probably explain why everyone loves chocolate.”

seen on the window of a candy store in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

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