Is Chocolate an Aphrodisiac?

Publication Year: 
1985

Interestingly, it has been established that theobromine exerts a pronounced aphordisiacal effect on hornets. When given 5-10 mcg of theobromine daily in 30% sucrose solution. the following hornet behaviour was noted: "Constantly on the move, with the males always trying to copulate with the young queens and at times even with the workers. Occasionally, they succeed in mating with the queens and may try to copulate also with indifferent queens or ones that are not moribund." At risk of putting his foot into a hornet's nest, the cacahuatl eater hastens to add that he has yet to see evidence of such dramatic inphiltration by theobromine in the human species. Liebowitz and Klein recently proposed that being in love is in some (unspecified) way associated with an increased production of a biochemical called B-phenethylamine in the brain. These authors conjectured that the spurned lover suffers a number of symptoms from the lack of B-phenethylamine after love withdrawal, a condition they described in psycho-jargon as 'hysteroid dysphoria. The jilted lover, so their reasoning went, often turned to ingesting chocolate which was believed by Liebowitz and Klein to be a rich source of B-phenethylamine, to make up the shortfall. Eating chocolate, they concluded, was associated with love because it contained large amounts of a biochemical which they alleged the brain naturally produced when under the influence of love.

The cacahuatl eater cares not to comment on the Liebowitz and Klein theory so far as love is concerned, only to point out that the connection they draw between love and chocolate eating is dubious at best. As discussed already in Chapter 4, early reports by Sandler and colleagues and by Hanington, based on data from the British Food Manufacturing Industries Association, had alleged that chocolate contained up to 3mg of B-phenethylamine in a 2oz. bar. It was evidently this datum which gave rise to the theory of Liebowtiz and Klein. Unfortunately for their specious theory, a more sensitive analysis for B-phenethylamine developed by Schweitzer and co-workers found only 0.021 mg of B-phenethylamine in a 2 oz. bar of American milk chocolate or only 1/150th of the amount of which Liebowtiz and Klein based their theory. Subsequent analyses of various brands of chocolate showed that semi-sweet chocolate had somewhat more B-phenethylamine, but the maximum amount found in sweetened chocolate was 0.36 mg per 2 oz. bar or merely 12% of the amount reported by the British trade group. It was thus seem that chocolate is not a particularly rich source of B-phenethylamine, and these data cast considerable doubt on the conclusion of Liebowtiz and Klein respective to the association between chocolate and amour.

Thus far the preponderance of evidence suggests that it is the cardiac-stimulating effect of chocolate alkaloids, combined with their addictive liability, and a lurid reputation from an exotic land which have conspired to cast chocolate in the role of universal love drug. Furthermore, apart from simply satisfying a cacahuatl eater's lust, chocolate eating is a sensuous experience, combining olfactory, gustatory and tactile sensations; in this multi-sensory respect, chocolate eating is somewhat akin to lovemaking. On the other hand, could it be possible the Moctexuma and the hornets knew something about chocolate that has thus far eluded the probing proboscis of scientific curiosity?

- Text from p.92-93, The Cacahuatl Eater Ruminations of an Unabashed Chocolate Addict by Ott, Jonathan, 1985
- Image from http://exhibits.mannlib.cornell.edu/chocolate/aphrodisiac.php

chocolate, love, jean harlow
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