The Deep Dark Secrets of Chocolate PT: 1

Publication Year: 

Nineteenth-century America has oft been called "a dope fiend's paradise," owing to the fact that opium, morphine, cocaine, cannabis extract nitrous oxide and various other neo-taboo highs were then freely and cheaply available to all comers. Modern dopers are apt to clench their nostrils in abject jealousy at the thought of their forebears sauntering down to the village greengrocer or corner apothecary to pick up an ounce of pure coke for $2.50--the price in New York at the turn of the century. The bubble burst in 1914 when the passage of the Harrison Act-- a measure designed to keep the gentle weeds and helpful powders from the populance--drove thrill seekers to the street and prices to the ceiling. Luckily, chocolate slipped through the traps.
Chocolate, you ask? That treat for tots, that lozenge for lovers, that morsel for Mom? The very one. For throughout its long history, chocolate has been looked upon as a delicious temptress, used not only as food but also as a homicidal stimulant, a summoner of Satan and a devastating aphrodisiac. In "The song of Right and Wrong." G.K. Chesterton wrote:
Tea, although an Oriental,
Is a Gentleman, at least;
Cocoa is a cad and a coward
Cocoa is a vulgar beast.

For all its vulgarity, chocolate is an immensely popular beast. World cocoa production in 1973-74 was estimated at 1.45 million tons; in the United States alone, chocolate is a $2.1-billion-a-year industry. And far from being confined to the mundane rectangular chocolate bar, cocoa today manifests itself in a spectrum of chocolate imagery rivaled only by the chopped chicken liver sculptures of the New York bar mitzvah catering renaissance.
The present-day chocoholic may, for example, chew chocolate-flavoured gum, smoke tobacco mixed with chocolate, roll joints with chocolate flavoured papers, drink cocoa wine and liqueurs, sniff choco incense or stink with chocolate perfume and massage oils, scarf down chocolate psychedelics (the so-called chocolate mescaline,) stash away chocolate space sticks (a dried "energy food") smear on a film of cocoa butter, crunch chocolate-coated ants, snort a dash of chocolate snuff, masturbate over chocolate nudes from Düsseldorf, even lick chocolate-sprayed genitalia. True chocolate addicts will even attempt to spend chocolate coins, write with chocolate pencils and ignite chocolate cigars. The great mystery is how this potent drug, once as psychoactive as any mushroom on the Mazatec menu has come to be an economic and dietary staple in and out of Christendom.

Chocolate is a product of the cocoa bean, the seed of the evergreen Theobroma cacao, as the Swedish botanist Linnaeus named it in the early eighteenth century. Theobroma is Greek for "food of the gods," which is how the ancient Aztecs referred to cocoa, their favorite aphordisiac; cacao refers to the tree itself. Cocoa is the bean that springs therefrom, and chocolate is the product made by mixing cocoa butter with ground cocoa beans to make a smooth paste. The word "cocoa" sprang from European confusion between the cacao tree and the cocoanut palm, and like many errors, it stuck. Modern heads wishfully confuse cocoa with coca, the source of cocaine. Although cocaine comes from Erythroxylon coca a totally different plant, these two gifts of nature do have one essential link: both produce an alkaloid that gets you off.
Cocoa beans are 2 per cent throbromine, a central nervous system stimulant that dilates the blood vessels of the brain and heart, dilates the bronchii of the lungs, stimulates the production of digestive juices and acts as a diuretic on the kidneys. In county jails, the prisoners' commissary is delivered on Friday afternoon, and so much chocolate is eaten by cons at that time that no one can sleep on Friday night.
To varying degrees, chocolate shares these physiological effects with cocaine, caffeine and theine, the active component of tea. Cocoa's advantage over the other common ingestible alkaloid plantstuffs is taste. Of chocolate, coffee, tea, coca leaves, and let's include betel nuts, chocolate surely has the richest taste. The sensation of the mouth being inundated with flavor, familiar to the chocolate hound is caused by the strong stimulation of many taste buds, foremost among them a nerve called Krause's end -- a bulbous little nodule, extraordinarily sensitive to all kinds of stimuli, that is located mainly in the lips, mouth and penis or clitoris. Thus the oral attractiveness of chocolate is decidedly sexual.
In addition to this physiological link, the psychology of chocolate is bound to the concept of pleasure. Chocolate is one of the commonest reward-and-punishment devices use by parents who, otherwise careful to keep coffee and tea away from their tykes, blithely charge up young neurosystems with theobromine as a way of teaching their child the difference between right and wrong. And who among us does not recall Peter Paul's Mounds candy bar commercial? Eight or ten times a day during our childhood TV addictions, we watched chocolate sensuously poured over the bar's to breastlike almonds. Who, more recently relished Ann Margaret in Tommy humping her hot-dog pillow after being sprayed with chocolate from her smashed television tube?
This kind of pleasure association gives chocolate that extraspecial kick of habituation--chocolate lovers will feel a genuine need for chocolate that nothing else can satisfy. In this sense, chocolate is as addicting to a large number of people --millions, probably as are sex, cigarettes, roulette, cocaine, what have you. And, to top it off, chocolate is good food. About 90 per cent protein. So chocolate, a cocoa product combined with sugar, is a quickly assimilated nourishing energy good--something which the Allies in World War II took full advantage of, plying fresh-faced recruits with bars of chocolate to ensure a high level of homicidal energy in combat. In America, chocolate became an essential wartime industry, manufacturers were given priorities on plant construction materials, equipment and supplies for making chocolate. And we won.

Text: pp, 39, 40 High Times The Deep Dark Secrets of Chocolate, Robert Lemmo, 1975

Chocolate, High Times, 1975