More than Sweet

Amy - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on February 27, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I remember the day I decided to love chocolate—not just like it as a past-time fancy—but love it in a passionate, full-blown affair.

On a clear, sunny Maine day of June, my grandmother took me to a quaint café called Mary’s. Only seven years old, chocolate was not my favorite candy—oh no, I preferred sweet and sour gummies that got my hands sticky. But that day, for some reason unfathomable to me, I tried something different: instead of getting a dessert called dirt (crumbled brownies mixed with gummy worms), I ordered chocolate cake; not just any chocolate cake—no!—this cake had an intimidating, frightening name: The Devil’s Death Chocolate Cake.

When the cake arrived, instead of taking a small bite as my grandmother suggested, I put a fourth of the cake in my mouth. My face screwed up in an expression that said “much too much too much!” and I almost spit out the cake. Resolute, I swallowed and took a much smaller bite; the taste explosion was like nothing I had tasted. Chocolate, smooth, sweet, and calming on one side, but sour, bitter, biting on the other. Chocolate has been my passion since.

I consider myself a primitive chocolate connoisseur. I have had the privilege to savor chocolate from Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, India, China, Japan, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Brazil, among many others. Chocolate has opened up new experiences (such as connecting with an emphatic Indian chocolate lover who couldn’t speak English at a chocolate vendor), and infused my life with sparks. Just as chocolate comes in many forms—my favorite being the chili-spiced chocolate of Colombia—I have learned life comes in all shapes as well. I must persevere through the imperfections, for I know I will reach, like chocolate, the smooth, creamy magnificence found only through dedication. I now catalog my life, to remember the good and bad times: since seventh grade I save every different chocolate wrapper of my eaten chocolate, and tape to it my wall. Chocolate is no longer a candy—it is food, life, fire.

Chocolate began with the cocoa bean off the Theobroma (in Aztec, “food of the gods”) tree in South America, crushed and mixed into a spicy drink called chocolatl. When the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, they brought chocolatl to Europe. In the years since, chocolate has evolved and spread all over the globe; now, virtually every culture has its own form of chocolate.

To me, this spread represents a universality of human nature—chocolate supports the fact that humans share a common element. As chocolate has inspired me to live, love, try new things and go on adventures, chocolate has affected others in the same way. Though people are of different backgrounds and cultures, there is always a way to relate to another person, to talk to another person, to communicate in some fashion.

I believe people should reach out, help each other, and unite. I believe in chocolate.