It's National Chocolate Week (although in my world, that's every week) and the purveyors of something that looks like chocolate but smells considerably worse are trying to muscle in. Is nothing sacred?
Russell Grant has consulted his astrological charts and listened to the voice of the cosmos to come up with a list of which chocolate is best suited to each star sign. According to him, my star sign - Libra - likes the finer things in life and is likely to choose soft and smooth chocolate fillings preferably wrapped in a heart-shaped box to share with their partner. Hand-made chocolate moulded in novelty shapes will amuse this chocolate lover.
No. I like large bars of dark chocolate, preferably Green & Black's Maya Gold or Cherry. Or anything by Paul Young of Islington (I would never normally advertise in my blog but this is chocolate and all normal rules are suspended).
Novelty chocolate shapes? Yes - chocolate shaped like a very large bar of chocolate. Oh and Russ, I don't share my chocolate with ANYONE. My ideal partner is a diabetic.
To capture the diet market, or possibly to guilt-trip anyone overweight, there is a chocolate face mask being advertised for Chocolate Week. According to the advert, Cocoa is packed with antioxidants to smooth skin, macadamia nut oil moisturizes, and almond oil reduces imflammation. Let's ignore all the research that has found anti-oxidants do sod all, then. [Edited to add: now there is some evidence that they may increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes]
And why would your face be inflamed in the first place? Perhaps from weeping because some bugger bought you this stuff instead of the real thing. Eminence Organic Skincare Mousse Hydration Masque costs £36 for 60ml. That's a teeny tiny pot with a very big name.
In my local supermarket today, £36 would buy:
78 packs of Minstrels or Maltesers
90 Mars Bars
36 packs of Fox's double chocolate cookies
240 Fingers of Fudge
and I don't even want to think about how many Gü chocolate puddings or I'll have to go out and buy some.
According to Mintel, people in the UK ate £3.5bn worth of chocolate last year - that's £57 each person. Is that all? If that's an average, there must be an awful lot of babies who aren't onto solids yet.
Mintel have also found that sales of dark chocolate almost doubled in the UK between 2005 and 2007. A (female) senior market analyst at Mintel said: Although dark chocolate is still high in sugar, it is rich in antioxidants and is lower in fat than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate now has the reputation of being a healthier alternative to other chocolate. Again with the anti-oxidants. Let's make it absolutely clear - THEY DON'T WORK. Anyone would think chocolate was one of your five a day. If dark chocolate is 'healthier', that means you can eat more of it, right?
Chocolate is not now nor has it ever been good for you (although it is cheaper than Prozac). But it is one of life's essentials. And in case anyone's interested, it's my birthday this week. Good timing.