Measuring a love affair by calculating the number of dollars spent on the object of affection is a callous approach to involvement. Nevertheless, it's time to discern whether Americans do purchase chocolate in proportion to their often-stated professions of passion for the confection.
Statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce on chocolate consumption and sales indicate that the frequently mentioned romance between consumers and processed cocoa is gaining in intensity.
The most recent figures chart continually climbing sales from 1980 through 1983, the year when high-priced, upscale chocolate just began to hit its stride. The government reports that in 1983 there were 2.18 billion pounds of chocolate distributed throughout the United States, an increase of 16% from four years earlier. The dollar value of this sweet cargo amounted to nearly $4 billion, or a fairly healthy 21% improvement over 1980.
A figure easier to digest, though, is that the per capita consumption of chocolate in the United States during 1983 approached 11 pounds per person, according to statistics provided by the Chocolate Manufacturers Assn. in MacLean, Va. Many industry representatives believe this figure will climb as consumers become more knowledgeable, and thus sophisticated, about chocolate.