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Your Chocolate or Your Life

October 31, 2003

Americans divide into two camps. Not liberal-conservative, Republican-Democrat, striker-shopper, book lover or Raider fan. But chocolate lover or hater.

As surprising as this seems to a vast majority on Halloween, or any day suitable for candy consumption, as if any aren't, a Mintel Report market study says 10% of Americans dislike chocolate. These folks look normal. They live among us. Look around. Perhaps the guy talking to himself is one, or the gal blinking too much. They despise chocolate, think it tastes like bean paste. A single sour sicko for every nine savoring the gentle crunchiness of milk chocolate, its mysterious chemicals darting to our mental control center saying, "This is good, more is better."

After outgrowing the Snow White or pirate costume, the best thing about Halloween is you can grab more chocolate in socially accepted ways. "Oh, look!" you say, reaching with both hands, "Three Musketeers! I remember these. And these. And these." Who can oppose nostalgia?

Chocolate haters, embarrassed by their social subversion, attempt to hide their nonaddiction. But those who Just Say Yes to chocolate can easily smoke them out. Not that chocolate lovers need a special day to consume those brown bars of sweet goodness or good sweetness. But on Halloween, Easter, Christmas and Valentine's Day, offer friends a bowl of mixed candies. Prisoners of perversion, chocolate haters instinctively pick sours. It suits them. Beware of costumed children portaging bags for candy donations. Youngsters, being young, may not fully appreciate the deliciousness of chocolate. Surely better to give them other stuff and save the holy bars for a more deserving self.

Chocolate love may also explain the ridiculously small candies handed out by homeowners who don't want to appear Grinch-like to tiny trick-or-treaters' parents but don't want to give away much chocolate either. A bite-sized bar is a front-door bribe to shoo. Who in his right mind gives away king- or family-sized Hershey's or, worse, the pigout-size chocolate loaves requiring an ax to separate the squares?

So tonight when kids dump the bags to swim in their goody haul like Scrooge McDuck in his vault, you'll naturally inspect and possibly impound all chocolate -- for security reasons, you understand. Could responsible parents do otherwise, assuming they're among that wise 90% of the population that charitably supports cocoa farmers in Ghana or wherever that mana grows?

Group instinct suggests hunting chocolate-haters down. Careful thought finds a smarter alternative: Encourage them. Better yet, marry a chocolate hater. He or she won't want to share yours.

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