Saturday soapbox

April 2, 2016

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Spiritual Chocoholics's photo.

Life happens, chocolate really helps . . . a lot, a lot.


Chocolate matters

February 4, 2015

The world is a sweet place when a story about chocolate downsizing makes the news:

Cadbury Confectionery is reducing the size of its family block as the chocolate maker battles higher manufacturing costs.

But while the block would be reduced by 10% to avoid a price rise, the company’s owner said its Dunedin factory was going from strength to strength.

”We didn’t take this decision lightly,” said Jack Evison, the New Zealand head of Mondelez, the company that owns Cadbury.

”More of our manufacturing costs are going up than down. Other chocolate companies are also under pressure. Two are in significant trouble in Australia.

”We chose to reduce the size of the block rather than up the price so we can keep chocolate as an affordable treat. The quality and taste will remain the same.” . . .

Chocolate is one of my vices, albeit one I’ve learned to indulge in moderation.

A friend recommended a square or two of chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa after dinner as a way to satisfy cravings and I’ve found it works.

But in the quest for quality rather than quantity I discovered Lindt from Switzerland so that habit won’t be affected by the downsizing.

However, I use Cadbury chocolate to make a chocolate hazelnut Christmas tree and a smaller block will mess with the proportions in the recipe.


Chocolate is medicine . . .

July 7, 2013

. . .  Well, it can be good for you:

A new Australian study has found dark chocolate may increase calmness and contentedness through the polyphenols found in cocoa.

Polyphenols are found naturally in plants and are a basic component of the human diet. These compounds have been shown to reduce oxidative stress, which is associated with many diseases, and may also have beneficial psychological effects.

Anecdotally, chocolate is often linked to mood enhancement,” Matthew Pase, a PhD candidate at the University of Swineburne in Melbourne and lead author of the study, says. . .

“This clinical trial is perhaps the first to scientifically demonstrate the positive effects of cocoa polyphenols on mood.” . . .

Sadly I don’t think this is the sort of medicine to which you can apply the rule that if some is good, more is better.


If it won’t melt in the heat . . .

November 28, 2012

Cadbury has invented chocolate which can withstand temperatures of up to 40degC .

It’s destined for sale in hot countries including India and Brazil.

As any chocoholic will tell you, chocolate isn’t designed to be bitten and swallowed but savoured for as long as possible which raises a question – if the new chocolate won’t melt in the heat will it still melt in the mouth?

Not a chocoholic?

January 1, 2012

Towards the end of the Rugby World Cup final when I wasn’t 100% confident the All Blacks would be the victors I pledged to give up chocolate for the rest of the year if they won.

They did and I did too.

It wasn’t as difficult as I’d anticipated, though  several times I had to forgo dessert when eating out because it contained chocolate and every now and then I got a craving which had to be resisted.

Yesterday in anticipation of the end of my self-imposed abstinence I bought some chocolate but it’s still in the cupboard untouched.

Can I take that as proof I’m not a chocoholic?


The chocolate diet

April 24, 2011

It sounds too good to be true – chocolate might help you lose weight:

Researchers John Ashton and Lily Stojanovska have written a book full of claims many of us have waited a lifetime for – chocolate may help you lose weight.

“What we’ve found is chocolate has some surprising properties,” says Mr Ashton. “These properties include the ability to switch on hormones that promote fat burn.”

In the chocolate diet, they say the natural fats found in chocolate burn fat, whereas processed foods tell the body to store fat.

Even if it’s true there’s little joy in it for chocoholics. It’s not an invitation to eat as much chocolate as you want to and the recommendation isn’t for any chocolate:

 Experts say you should look for chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cocoa and not consume more than 25g a day.

Twenty five grams, at least 70% cocoa – that’s not very much at all and as it doesn’t include marshmallow it excludes most Easter eggs.

Sigh, the headline was too good to be true.


Fairtrade chocolate passes taste test

April 8, 2010

Several years ago my daughter found what she thought was plastic in a Cadbury Easter Egg.

She wrote to the company explaining what she’d found, enclosed the remains of the egg and the wrapper and within days got a response acknowledging her letter.

A couple of weeks later she got a second letter saying it wasn’t plastic but undissolved sugar and a full explanation of how it would have happened. They also sent her a selection of chocolate.

A couple of months later a second package arrived with more chocolate and a letter thanking her for having taken the trouble to write to them.

The company is still very good at customer response.

Last year I did a post complaining about palm oil in chocolate. Mine was one of many complaints which Cadbury responded to by returning to the original recipe, they also sent me a block of palm oil-free dairy milk.

They’ve now followed that up with a block of dairy milk to coincide with the launch of their Fairtrade Certified chocolate.

There are arguments for and against Fairtrade which I’m not qualified to comment on. But as a committed chocophile I can confirm that Fairtrade dairy milk passes the taste test with flying colours.


Chocolate will get you (almost) anywhere

November 8, 2009

Our nephew’s wife always takes Cadbury’s chocolate as a gift for her sister when she goes home to Argentina.

She took some over with her in July and her sister said the chocolate wasn’t nearly as good as she remembered.

When our niece-in-law returned to New Zealand she found out that Cadbury had changed its recipe and was using palm oil in place of cocoa butter.

Her sister wasn’t the only one to notice a drop in quality as a result.

Chocolate lovers the length and breadth of the country revolted. Such was the backlash the company admitted it had got it wrong and decided to quit the palm oil and go back to cocoa butter.

I blogged on the change to palm oil, the boost it gave to Whittakers  and the decision to go back to cocoa butter.

Someone from Cadbury must have noticed because last week I got an email from the company asking for my postal address and on Friday a package with five blocks of palm oil-free chocolate arrived in the mail.

With it was a letter which said:

We know we got it wrong when we started putting palm oil in Cadbury Dairy Milk and we’d love your help in spreading the word that cocoa butter is back!

It’s part of Cadbury’s campaign to promote the return to the cocoa-butter only recipe about which you can read more at www.choclovers.co.nz

I can spot a blatant attempt to chocolate curry favour when it turns up in my mail box.

I know they’re just sweet talking me as a marketing ploy to get me to spread the word.

But I can resist (almost) anything but chocolate.


Palm oil out of chocolate, camel milk in

August 17, 2009

Consumers rule – Cadbury has bowed to pressure  from customers upset by the company’s decision to add palm oil to its chocolate.

They’re dumping the oil and reverting to the original recipe which uses cocoa butter.

They are also sticking to the glass and a half of milk of which they boast and as far as I know that’s dairy milk.

On the other side of the world that’s not the case. Al Nassma  a Dubai-based company is producing camel milk chocolate.

If the good people of Dubai can do it with camels, why can’t we do it with sheep?

Whitestone and Blue River Dairy both produce tasty sheeps milk cheese, Blue River also makes sheeps milk ice cream.

There might be a niche for sheeps milk chocolate too – it would have to be good for ewe 🙂

Hat Tip: The NZ Week.


Chocolate wars

July 11, 2009

When the wind was in the right direction the smell from the near by chocolate factory wafted over the Otago University campus.

That memory provided a foundation for my preference for Cadbury’s chocolate.

But now my suspicion that adding palm oil to their recipe has resulted in an inferior product has been affirmed by an expert I’ll be changing brands.

Deciding which brand I shift my affections to will require some stringent taste testing, but if I was basing my choice on advertisements I’d be tempted by this David vs Goliath effort from Whittakers:

The ODT covers the issue here.


Palming off oil in chocolate

July 4, 2009

Some things shouldn’t be meddled with and chocolate is one of them.

Cadbury has joined a whole lot of other companies which have changed their packaging and reduced the size of what’s in it at the same time.

It’s a sneaky way of avoiding a price increase by selling less for the same price and I might overlook that as a sign of the times.

But changing the recipe by introducing oil to chocolate – and not just any oil, but palm oil – is enough to make me change brands.


Chocolate factory’s secret labs to be open for charity

April 29, 2009

If you fancy yourself as a chocolate inventor you have a chance to test your ideas at Cadburys’ Dunedin factory.

The company is opening the doors to its Chocolate Sensory Development Lab for the first, and only, time.

The tours will take place on May 7 and tickets are for sale on Trademe with an opening bid of $40 for two.

Chocolate lovers can be the first members of the public to see behind the scenes at the Cadbury factory. This magical event will kick off with a tour through the Cadbury World visitors centre, followed by a never-before-seen tour of the Sensory Lab and Chocolate Development Lab – a mini version of the Cadbury factory where you will get to don your own lab coat and create your very own Cadbury chocolate to share with family and friends, finishing with a visit to the amazing Chocolate Waterfall.

All proceeds go to Cure Kids.

The ODT  says this will be a unique opportunity to visit the company’s inner sanctum.
Staff came up with the idea of the special tour as part of the work they do with Cure Kids, an organisation established to seek an increase in the amount of research into life-threatening childhood illnesses, events co-ordinator Lee-Anne Anderson said.

“This is a one-off.  It’s not something we will do again.”

 That sounds like a sweet opporunity for chocoholics – a chance to play with chocolate while keeping your conscience clear because it’s all for a very good cause.

Calorie free chocolate fix

April 12, 2009

This is a little late for anyone who’s had more than their fair share of Easter eggs, but scientists have invented Le Whif, an inhaler which provides users with a calorie free chocolate fix.

The gadget lets users breathe in chocolate to curb cravings and satisfy their sweet tooth.

Invented by Harvard professor David Edwards, Le Whif comes in four different flavours: raspberry, mint, mango and plain.

“It seemed to us that eating was tending toward breathing, so, with a mix of culinary art and aerosol science, we’ve helped move eating habits to their logical conclusion.

“We call it whiffing.”

But what about the oral satisfaction?

The pleasure of chocolate isn’t just the smell and taste, it’s the melt-in-the-mouth sensation and I don’t think you’d get that by whiffing.


Please, tell me this isn’t serious

February 1, 2009

When the list of inventions which could improve life is so long, why would anyone waste their time on a website which emails reminders that the women in your life might be pre-menstrual?

I don’t know which is worse, the website or the fact that a newspaper which wants to be taken seriously thinks it’s a good idea.

People who treat the other people in their lives with the consideration and respect they’re due all the time wouldn’t need a reminder and if the others are so stupid they need an email reminder to behave like intelligent and reasonable human beings they probably don’t understand the importance of good manners and chocolate either.

UPDATE: a monkey ought to know better.

UPDATE 2: Deborah at The Hand Mirror  puts it succinctly.

UPDATE 3: In the interests of balance: Kiwiblog  and Monkeywith typewriter give the males’ point of view.


Healthy chocolate

January 27, 2009

 

Healthy chocolate sounds like an oxymoron so I got excited when I heard Jim Mora preview an interview on Afternoons  with a teaser about eating chocolate for good health.

So of course I listened and he was right – but sadly it’s only the high cocoa, low sugar stuff eaten in moderation.

Sigh.


So many blogs . . .

January 16, 2009

Oh dear, I don’t need any more excuses for work avoidance but Inquiring Mind  has pointed me to Alf Grumble, the long-serving, hard working and obviously modest MP for Eketahuna North who has been driven to blogging by the MSM’s failure to notice him.

I’m delighted to have another provincial/rural voice in the blogosphere. While I still chortle over John Clark’s skit A Mystery in Eketahuna,  and have passed through the town I’m not familiar with Alf’s electorate and have to confess I didn’t realise he was in the National caucus although this post  suggests he is.

Somewhat further to the left, and without Alf’s sense of humour, is another newish blog, Kiwipolitico which has joined my list of daily reads. Today Anita is wanting to know who took down Winston?

For something usually sans politics but with plenty of humour, Laughykate is also worth a regular check.

Where poetry stars on Homepaddock on the last day of the working week, it’s Friday Frocks  over at Craft Is The New Black  (and who couldn’t like someone adicted to presents, chocolates, cherries and sun?).

On the subject of delicious things, Bitsontheside has discovered chocolate pencils.

Back to matters rural, The Bull Pen  is another must-read.


Chocolate therapy

January 7, 2009

If you’re suffering from PHAtS (Post Holiday Addiction to Sugar) there is medicine available:

Murray Langham says lots of people feel guilty about eating chocolate and has produced a self-help CD to address this problem.

Langham is the co-owner of chocolate factory and shop “Schoc” says he is only referring to expensive chocolate – the cheap stuff has too much sugar.

“Good choc has the phenyl’s that make you feel good, they make you feel happy,” says Langham.

The same chemicals are released when you have feelings of love according to the “chocologist”.

Langham believes that any weight gain is the product of latent guilt surrounding the eating of chocolate.

“If you are satisfied and eat with ecstatic rapture in your food then you’ll feel a lot fuller quicker and your body will be satisfied so you don’t need to snack.”

. . .  The self-professed chocolate therapist says there is a proper way to taste chocolate.

“If you take a piece of chocolate, break it in half because you don’t want it too big. Now just put it in your mouth and let it sit for a bit,” he says.

After a while you can bite and try to decipher some of the 6000 tastes that make up each chocolate.

 

 

Schoc is one of the Wairarapa’s culinary attractions and it offers on-line help  for those who need a chocolate fix but can’t get there in person.


Saturday’s smiles

December 6, 2008

ARE YOU A CHOCOHOLIC?

Lots of people say they are, but how can you be sure?

A chocolatologist has developed a fool-proof test that separates the true chocoholics from the wannabes… Just check your answers to the following questions (be honest), and add up your score.

(Note to cheaters: Want to increase your score? Nibble on some chocolate as you take this test. That way, you can’t help but pick the right answers.)

1. Why do you eat chocolate?

a. It’s a nice snack now and then.

b. It’s a good way to indulge myself in sensual pleasures.

c. It’s the fifth major food group, are you kidding?

d. It’s my reason for living.

2. How much chocolate do you consume every day?

a. Less than two pieces (chocolate deficiency).

b. Three or four pieces (chocolate fix).

c. Five pieces (heavy user).

d. Six pieces or more (chocoholic material).

 

3. When is your favorite time to eat chocolate?

a. After a good meal.

b. Between meals.

c. As meals.

d. All of the above. 

 

4. With whom do you share your chocolate?

a. Friends, family, co-workers, or whoever is around.

b. Close friends and family only.

c. Only with loved ones, and only if they’ve been good.

d. Share my chocolate? Are you kidding?

 

5. What is your favorite way to consume chocolate?

a. By nibbling a bit now and then throughout the day.

b. By swallowing whole chunks at a time.

c. By intravenous injection.

d. I dive into a 100 gallon vat and slurp.

 

Give yourself one point for every “a.” answer, two points for every “b.” answer, three points for every “c.” answer, and four points for every “d.” answer. Add them up and compare your score with the definitions below.

 

5 – 8

Novice Chocoholic

You’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Start with a daily intake of chocolate.

 

9 – 12

Chocoholic Tendencies

You’ve got the makings of a chocoholic, all right. You just need a little nurturing. Prescription: Increase daily dosage of chocolate.

 

13 – 16

Closet Chocoholic

All you need is a little push to get you to come out into the open. Some chocolate just might do the trick.

 

17 – 20

A True Chocoholic

As a matter of fact, you’re looking a little peaky and your hands are starting to shake. Must be time for a fix! Have some chocolate right away!


Someone’s eating my share

September 4, 2008

TV3 reports  that New Zealanders eat about 7 million servings of hot chips a week – nearly two servings each.

Someone’s definitely eating my share because although I have several vices of the culinary kind, chips aren’t among them.

Now if it was chocolate…


Quotable Chocolate

July 14, 2008

One of the signs that I was beginnning to grow up was the relaisation that the thought of chocolate for breakfast no longer appealed.

However, while I don’t want to eat it early in the morning I’m still happy to read about it and after finding the story about Dunedin’s chocolate carnival about which I wrote earlier, a Google search for chocolate quotes led me to Virtual Chocolate.

 I particularly liked: 

  • Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces Judith Viorst
  • Exercise is a dirty word… Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.
  • I don’t understand why so many “so called” chocolate lovers complain about the calories in chocolate, when all true chocoholics know that it is a vegetable. It comes from the cocoa bean, beans are veggies, ’nuff said.
  • Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn’t like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good. Lora Brody,
  • “Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso.” (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.) Spanish proverb

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