Why is Chocolate So Addictive?

It’s sweet, creamy, and for many people something they simply must indulge in at least once a day. It’s a midnight snack; a treat for a job well done; something that some people turn to if they are having a bad day; and is placed in everything from cake, to ice cream, and melted down in a fondue to dip fruit in.

Chocolate is adored by many all across the globe, which makes it no surprise that a 2016 worldwide poll ranked it the 16th most-loved food, beating out fruit, chips, and burgers along the way.

How did the chocolate bar come to be?

Historians have estimated that chocolate has been consumed for approximately 2,000 years now; using the word ‘consumed’, because in its earlier years, chocolate generally was served in liquid form. By the time the mid-1800s came along, chocolate was produced in powder form and the very first chocolate bar was developed by Joseph Fry in 1947. After his creation, in came the chocolate revolution with companies like Nestlé and Cadbury emerging to break into this new industry and produce the hand-held candy bar that can be purchased just about anywhere nowadays.

Clearly, the world just can’t get enough of chocolate, and for one reason or another, this is the way it has always been throughout history. In fact, the Spaniards once kept chocolate a secret from countries nearby for about 100 years, so they wouldn’t have to share it. Who else can relate to keeping chocolate hidden somewhere in the house, in a secret location so that family members or roommates can’t find it? Meanwhile, the Aztecs used chocolate as a currency, much like neighborhood street kids looking to swap their favorite Pokémon card for taste of sweet heaven.

With Americans eating an average of 9.5 pounds of chocolate yearly, clearly, we as a society are addicted to chocolate. But the real question is why?

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What Makes Chocolate Addictive?

Well, we can all thank a substance referred to enkephalin for the world’s obsession with chocolate. A study that was conducted using rats revealed that this substance triggered opioid receptors in a part of the rat’s brain that enhances the impulse to consume. Interestingly enough, this worked both ways; eating chocolate spurred the production of enkephalin and injections of enkephalin within the rats enhanced consumption. It’s no wonder why we all have been guilty of chocolate binging now and again; and it’s time to blame your brain. In fact, because of enkephalin, many consider chocolate to be an addiction much like any other drug that people can get hooked on.

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