Decadent and moist chocolate cake.
Homemade fresh-out-of-the oven chocolate chip cookies.
Creamy melt-in-your-mouth solid milk chocolate.
Your mouth is probably already watering by now. You may even be getting ready to run out and buy some chocolate of your own. If not, then you are not a true chocolate lover.
Margaret Campbell is definitely one. She has not only loved chocolate since she was young, but she has parlayed that love into a career. Her store, That Chocolate Shoppe by the lake, opened in Ajax in 2003. She sells quality chocolate made right there in the store. She also bakes cakes, offers classes, and fills specialty orders.
Sitting in her shop, surrounded by chocolate and with her helper Annette in the background making some new delectable treats, even Campbell has some difficulty putting into words exactly what the attraction is that chocolate holds for so many of us.
“It’s almost like a sinful indulgence – it’s sort of a naughty but nice kind of thing,” she offers. There’s a certain mystique to chocolate, she says.
As for why she loves chocolate herself, she cites its taste and texture. One of her favourites is Belgian milk chocolate because of its caramel undertones.
Annette chimes in with her thoughts on why chocolate is so satisfying.
“It’s when you put it in, and it just starts to melt, and the creaminess is on your tongue,” she says.
Campbell nods in agreement.
“That’s right, it’s definitely an oral gratification.”
For Campbell, chocolate is something more than just a food item – it represents memories from her childhood.
“My grandma lived up in Bracebridge, and around the corner was Mr. Baker’s Corner Store. It had the old wood floors and counters, and he had this glass candy case with penny candy. And when I was little, you could get five for a penny or three for a penny,” she says. “And he would stand very patiently with these little paper bags and fill up these bags with candy. So we could go back to grandma’s house with 10 cents full of candy. And those are magical memories I have.”
This is what she wanted to recreate with her store – an old fashioned, feel-good confection shop.
University student Laura Booth is a fellow chocolate lover. She also has some trouble describing exactly what it is about chocolate. However, she does give one reason why she thinks people love chocolate so much.
“Honestly I think it’s addicting – I liken chocolate to cocaine,” she says. “It’s like coffee and stuff like that too. Once you have it, it’s just like you always to have it.”
Even so, she views chocolate positively.
“I think of it like a special treat. It’s kind of sexy. It just makes something more special.”
Booth admits to eating chocolate usually at least once a day, sometimes more. Campbell also eats chocolate regularly, usually starting off her day with some, even before her coffee.
Both thin women, they don’t exhibit any physical signs of overindulgence. But still, isn’t eating all this chocolate bad for you?
Not so, Campbell says.
“Pure, dark, 70 per cent or higher is a healthy chocolate for you. It’s good for you. It’s a natural fat, very low in sugar, and very low in milk.”
There is actually a lot of science involved in chocolate and its purported health benefits. Campbell explains it in simple terms for us non-science folk.
“Any pure chocolate is better for you than a man-made creation. And what defines chocolate is that it has to have cocoa butter, cocoa powder and chocolate liqueur, which has nothing to do with alcohol,” she says. “Those three components need to be in chocolate to make it chocolate.”
Dark chocolate is pure chocolate. Milk chocolate, not so much.
Luckily for Booth, 85 per cent dark chocolate is her favourite kind. She says she justifies eating it because it is healthy. Campbell also names dark chocolate as one of her favourite kinds, although she also eats others.
Unfortunately not all of us like dark chocolate. Get us the milkiest chocolate you can find and we’re happy.
But even though it’s not physically healthy for you, it can be good for you in other aspects.
“Milk chocolate is not good for you but it’s good for the soul, good for your emotions, and what is wrong with that?” Campbell says with passion in her voice. “Don’t feel guilty. If you’re having a chocolate, enjoy it. If you’re having a butter tart, enjoy it. If you’re a having piece of cake, enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty about it, you’ll just ruin it.”
She adds that everything is all about moderation though. After all, one cannot live on chocolate.
The bottom line about chocolate for most of us is that even though we can’t pinpoint exactly why it is we love it so much, there is some quality that makes it so special. We should be able to experience some joy from the foods we eat.
And addicting or not, unhealthy or not, chocolate is not something we plan on giving up.