Good morning and greetings, migration fans. It was an interesting week on West Cliff, as my morning walks were highlighted by hundreds of pelicans flying in formations both high and low above the water. Often I just stop in my tracks to view their magnificence. Throw in the usual gaggle of whales, dolphins, chargers, sea lions, harbor seals and Navy Seals, and this stroll along the edge of the continent was well worth the price of college admission.
But today being Halloween, we are going to delve into a subject that is both near and clear to my heart, pancreas and stomach. Now unlike Valentine’s Day, the mid-winter festival of chocolate, Halloween is the holiday that just
keeps on giving. Although just a few trick-o-treaters canvass our neighborhood, I find it necessary to have at least 500 mini versions of Hershey’s Chocolate bars, Nestle Crunch, Kit Kat, Almond Joys and Twix bars on hand, just in case there’s a late rush of skeletons or Kardashians at the end of the night.
Invariably, there’s a always a few bars left, and when I add my children’s donation to this bountiful fund of chocolate delights, I’ll be set through next week, er month, er until at my son starts packing for college next summer.
So what is it about chocolate? Why is it that I can come downstairs and pop a piece of chocolate cake in my mouth at 6 am and feel less guilt than OJ? So thanks to Kassidy Emmerson and Holly Bentz from Yahoo’s Associated Content, let’s take a look at the fascinating world of chocolate and why it’s just so damn good and emotionally satisfying.
The “Theobroma cacao” is the Willy Wonka of trees that produces pods, beans and truffles that are turned into chocolate. It was discovered along with Pez candy in the Amazon Basin of South America about 40 trillion Nestle Crunches ago. The earliest written account of
chocolate use is attributed to the Olmecs tribes of Southern Mexico, when they turned it into a chocolate drink called Yoo-Hoo. Chocolate was first made
into a solid, edible food in Mexico in the 1700′s, after which the drug cartels started smuggling it across the border and flooding the US with cheap, addictive, pure chocolate.
The word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocolatl”, which translated means “oh my God, I can’t believe how good this tastes”. According to researchers from the Cadbury Institute of Raisins & Almonds, the
best-tasting chocolate bar looks shiny and even, like my face after a smooth, close shave. A piece should snap off as cleanly as I enter the water after a half gainer off the high board. It should feel rich and and melt in your mind, not in your hands.
Four out of five scientists who recommend milk chocolate for their patients who chew sugarless gum, proclaim that the shelf life of a chocolate bar is approximately one year. I can say from my vast experience that this
statement is true. However, if you’re a survivalist like me, you can place a chocolate bar in the freezer and it will keep forever, or at least until the return of Don Draper, January Jones and “Mad Men.”
Dr. Henry Stubbe (1632-1676), was a physician who considered drinking chocolate once or twice a day an
excellent cure for fatigue caused by hard work. The man was a genius. He also believed that chocolate helped benefit the heart, increased breast milk production in
women and was a major distraction for men.
Chocolate contains healthy antioxidants that can lower the incidence of cancer, heart disease and your LDL cholesterol, while adding iron and magnesium to your body and paying for your dentist’s vacation in Cancun. Chocolate also contains a chemical known as phenylethylamine, which has been shown to release serotonin, endorphins and porpoises, the first two known chemicals that make us feel happy and a third a marine
mammal that is much less acrobatic than dolphins.
The Aztecs believed chocolate to be the Spanish fly of the candy counter. The phenylethylamine creates a chemical reaction in the brain similar to that of falling in love or saving money on your car insurance. Chocolate also contains the stimulants theo bromine and caffeine,
which can reduce stress, give you a sense of mild euphoria and make you forget about the field of Republican presidential candidates.
Research has shown that allowing chocolate to melt in your mouth produced brain and heart rate activity that was simliar to and even stronger than that produced with passionate kissing. That explains my wedding night.
And a two and a half year study conducted by Charlie Sheen concluded that similar activity occurs in the brain with the consumption of chocolate as seen with drugs like cocaine.
Life got just a little bit better when the first Hershey’s hugs and kisses were first produced in 1907. In 1938, new ground was broken when Nestle Crunch was introduced. It was the first chocolate bar to combine milk chocolate and crunchy crisps to create a sensory eating
experience that blended taste, texture and sound along with tucking you in at night. Then in 1939, Nestle introduced Chocolate Chips and the earth starting spinning faster on its axis while dairy farmers rejoiced.
In summation, much has been written about chocolate, my favorite being “Forget love, I’d rather fall in chocolate.” Yes, chocolate is a many-splendored thing.
So in honor of Halloween, we sent our photo department up the coast for our annual visit to Rodoni Farms U Pick Em’ Pumpkin Patch. This field of pumpkin dreams is right across the road from Four Mile Beach, and features pumpkins of every race, creed and especially color. We’re talking shades of orange, red, gray, pink, white and green. There’s something very soothing about roaming around a field of pumpkins with a white water view. It’s all part of the experience that is the north coast.
Here’s a little Bill Maher. “Out badass ninja black president did it again. Don’t f**k with this guy. So
far this year he’s killed Somali pirates, he killed bin Laden, he killed al-Awlaki,, now he’s killed Gaddafi. The only threat to our way now is from Bank of America. Today Obama was seen leaving the White House in a nurse’s
uniform on a flight to Cuba to smother Castro with a pillow. “And you know what, if he did smother Castro with a pillow in a nurse’s uniform, Rush Limbaugh would say, ‘See, socialized medicine.’” –Bill Maher
“They found Gaddafi in a hole with a gun and luggage, or as it’s known here, the middle class. These Republicans, they will not give credit. They gave credit to the rebels, to the British, and to the French. But they would not
mention the president. In their world, Gaddafi died of natural causes, Bin Laden was shot in the face by the free market. You should’ve heard them, we went in too strong, everything they could’ve said that he did wrong. It’s like there’s some kind of hidden Republican clitoris, that they won’t let Obama find, and whenever he tries, they’re like ‘that’s not it!’” –Bill Maher
“I’m guessing our soldiers are happy to be leaving Iraq. It is no fun being in a country where there’s crumbling infrastructure and an ignorant population, but they said they’re happy to come home anyway.” –Bill Maher
So after today, October 2011, much like my quickness on the basketball court, will be history. I hope you caught game six of the Fall Classic, as it was perhaps the greatest World Series game of all time that I didn’t see all of. You’ve got to love those St. Louis and Stanford Cardinals. We’ll catch you hitting the game-winning home run. Aloha, mahalo and later, David Freese fans.