Working in an import chocolate store, rarely a day goes by without the phrase:
“I haven’t had those since . . .”
. . .since I was a kid, since I moved from Germany, since I studied abroad, since my Grandmother last visited from Europe. One would think that our shelves are stocked not with chocolate but with memories.
Chocolate makes an impression, something storytellers have known for quite a while. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory imbue chocolate with hope we’ll remember every time we unwrap a bar. E.T. reminds us that chocolate is a perfect link between strangers.
Part of chocolate’s memorable nature comes from how different chocolate can be from region to region. Belgian Chocolates have extra smoothness from a high cacao butter recipe, while French Chocolates tend to have a distinct touch of bitterness. One can’t think English Chocolates and not think Cadbury, and likewise Swiss Chocolate is synonymous with high quality milk chocolates. Chocolates tie us to a region, a specific flavor reminding us of time we’ve spent away. You’d be hard pressed to find a Mozart Kuglen outside of the city of Salzberg, but the flavors of that truffle are unmistakable, a piece of the journey stays with you forever.
Likewise, we often encounter chocolate at significant points in our lives. Chocolate as a congratulation or as something to allay fear or grief. J.K Rowling makes a point of introducing chocolate as an aid against supernatural despair in the world of Harry Potter. We often encounter chocolate at pivotal moments in our lives, both happy and sad. The Red Velvet Truffle in our store is a favorite of mine, reminding me of the Red Velvet Cake at my Wedding.
Chocolate makes context, gives us bookmarks on special moments, remembering where we are and where we’ve been. Neil Gaiman’s novels are peppered with chocolate as a symbol of normalcy. A Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar grounds us into the world of his story, reminds us of the little details of London. Meanwhile Terry Pratchett uses chocolate as a tool to overwhelm the bad guys in Thief of Time: solidifying chocolate’s place among the forces of good.
A taste of chocolate brings back memories; lifts us up, and lets us know that all is right with the world. Chocolate represents an unrelenting positive force in our lives. Watching the film Chocolat, we see how chocolate transforms the lives of people in a small French town, and we feel their transformation because chocolate has changed us as well.