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In Flight
Forced Smiles
Happy Oblivion
Ducking Destiny
Chance of Showers
Chance Encounters
The Thinking Dog
The Race
Flight of the Ostrich
Monster Under My Bed
The Rose Garden
Window Shopping
Dramatic Romances
Musings on Nature
A Day at School
The Holy Light
A Rainy Night


The Roller Coaster
The Purse
Sammy's Lesson
The Legend of the Hungry Dragon
Spirits in the Night


My Philosophy of Life
Five Scholarship Questions
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois
Prophets for God
My Service Project (1999-2000)
My Service Project (1997-1998)
The Beauty of the Forest
Reaching Beyond

The Pastry Menace
A College Just for You!
The Rights of Plants

Literary Analyses
Saving Harry:  Clearing the Controversy Over Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Essays on Wuthering Heights
The Creature in Frankenstein and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Edna's Decision in The Awakening
Character Comparison in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Why The Chosen?

Research Papers
Race, Norms, and the Sidewalk
Analytical Exercise
The Validity of Comparing Governments
The British System: Legal-Rational Or Traditional?
The Importance of Framing
Madison on Factions
Spirituality and the Brain
Sea Water and Conductivity

Clinic Violence: A "Moral" Way to Bring About Change?
Graduation Speech
The Call to Relationship
Mark Twain Speaks Again (original version)
Mark Twain Speaks Again (shortened version)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Year 2000
Hunting for Sport?

Mercury Spill Exercise
Chocolate Feature Exercise
Character Sketch
Reaction Story
Aspiring Actress Profile
"Shark Attack" Exercise
Villa Maria Academy Hosts Diversity Panel

Coastal Vacation


Chocolate Feature Exercise

A small, brown package sits in front of you. If you pick it up and pull back the wrapping, you will reveal a glint of silver foil. Pull that back, too, and while you may not find a Golden Ticket inside, you will find another kind of treasure: chocolate.

Chocolate, beloved by chocoholics everywhere, has saturated the world's consciousness since ancient times. Today, it is a sweet, melt-in-your-mouth treat found everywhere-possibly even in health food stores because chocolate, it seems, is not as unhealthy as most people think.

The ancient Mayans planted the first known cocoa plantation around A.D. 600. They used the seeds produced by Thebroma cacao trees to make foamy, spicy "chocolatl" drinks. The Mayans and the Aztecs enjoyed this bitter liquid for more than 800 years before Europeans arrived in America.

The ancient peoples believed consuming chocolatl brought a person knowledge and wisdom. Also, chocolate's contemporary reputation as an aphrodisiac has its roots in ancient beliefs that the drink increased sexual libido. Truly, the product of the Thebroma cacao lived up to its Greek name, the "food of the gods."

Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez popularized chocolate in the Old World in the 16th century. The Spanish altered the chocolatl to suit more European tastes, adding sugar and other flavorings. Drinking chocolate became a favorite beverage of the elite, who were the only people who could afford its high price until the Industrial Revolution. Solid eating chocolate and milk chocolate were invented in the late 19th century.

Today, people all over the world consume chocolate. The Swiss eat the most chocolate per capita at more than 22 pounds a year. The United States, although it ranks ninth in per capita consumption, is the world's biggest importer of cocoa beans. It takes in almost a quarter of the world's supply each year. Most of the world's cocoa supply is produced in three countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia.

The good news about this universal treat is that it is not nearly as unhealthy as most people think. A typical chocolate bar has no more caffeine than a cup of decaffeinated coffee. In addition, the main saturated fat in chocolate, stearic acid, does not raise blood cholesterol levels. Also, a study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, released on Feb. 14, has demonstrated that chocolate does not cause acne.

Chocolate bars may actually have some very healthy properties. They are a major source of magnesium and copper, minerals essential to body development and maintenance. Also, a Harvard University study has shown that people who eat chocolate and candy may live almost a year longer than people who do not. The reasons for this result are unclear, but it does indicate that perhaps eating chocolate is not as bad as most people think.

So don't turn away from that little brown package. Go ahead, unwrap it and enjoy the pleasures of chocolate.

Copyright © 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated October 7, 2002