Valentine’s Day candy is a classic gift. We give pink, foil-wrapped Hershey’s kisses to our coworkers and big, heart-shaped boxes from Whtiman’s to our sweeties every year, making candy companies’ and retailers’ pocketbooks look much sweeter. But candy isn’t all chocolaty goodness.
Researchers recently decided to completely destroy chocolate’s decadent, delicious image by dissecting it and looking at it under a microscope. What they found wasn’t very sweet or pretty. Amongst the insect parts, which seemed to be the most common finding, they found other appetizing items like glitter and cat hair. As disgusting as this thought is, it is pretty impossible to eliminate foreign objects from getting in our food. Insect parts are abundant in bread and grain products, though we can’t see them since they’re ground up. There’s just no way to pick out every bug that was happily feasting away on the grain before it was processed. Fortunately for us, bugs are a good source of protein, and if you want to be funny (or stupid), you could get your valentine a box of chocolate covered grasshoppers, and just tell them that there’s bugs in chocolate, anyways.
Another problem with chocolate has less to do with what’s in it and more to do with what’s done with the chocolate. CBS did a study on some of the chocolates that are sold in retail stores, buying a variety of different kinds and testing them for how old the chocolate was. Five out of six of the varieties they bought were considered inedible.
This isn’t to say that you can get “chocolate poisoning” from eating old chocolate. You’ll more than likely just get an upset stomach, but it’s still sad that retailers are stooping to this level, selling old product that they probably had left over from last year to save themselves a few dollars. They know they can get away with doing it because chocolate isn’t something that people generally check the expiration date on, so if you are planning on buying some V-Day chocolate, or any chocolate, for that matter, always check the expiration date. (Apparently the CBS folks also found a large Hershey’s kiss that had worms living it, so REALLY check your chocolate.) You can also check the appearance of the chocolate that you purchase. If it has little white spots or streaks, is crumbly, and has a dull appearance, it’s probably bad. Good chocolate should be unblemished and shiny and break apart with a snap.
So don’t let anyone ruin chocolate for you. (I know I’m not!) Just ignore the foreign objects and bug parts (we have some pretty tough insides, so it’s not going to bother us) and check it to make sure it hasn’t expired. Just remember all of the good things about it: it’s high in antioxidants and can improve your mood, and it tastes great. I like to think of it as the healthiest thing that’s supposed to be bad for me, and Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without it.