To say that I’m a fan of chocolate would be something of an understatement!
When it comes to wine, I'm an out and out snob. Only the best California cabernet for me. Give me Stag's Leap, Silver Oak, Jordan, and Opus One. Recently I learned the wonders of Stag's Leap Cask 23 and it's amazing how many rationalizations you can come up with for spending $200 on a bottle of 1993 red table wine.
But chocolate, ah -- that's another story. When it comes to chocolate, I'll take anything from the equivalent of Chateau Lafite Rothschild to the ilk of Ripple and Thunderbird. Now, don't get me wrong, wonderful Swiss or Dutch chocolate that melts in your mouth, covering your tongue and teeth and palate in its creamy sweetness is heaven but frankly, I've never met a piece of chocolate I didn't like. A Kit-Kat bar? Don't mind if I do. Hershey's? Sure thing. And half a bag of Nestle's chocolate chip bits works just fine in a pinch. I mean, they don't expect you to use all of them in the cookie dough batter, do they?
Mallomars. There is no substitute. They’re the Roll's Royce of chocolate cookie snacks. Marshmallow sitting on a circular graham cracker base, coated with a thin dark chocolate. There are really only three ways that a true connoisseur eats a Mallomar. The first and really preferred way is to grip the base in your fingers pointing the top of the cookie towards your mouth and bite off the marshmallow top, leaving just the chocolate covered graham cracker in your hand. Then pop the base into your mouth and wash it down with cold milk. The antithetical method works too -- gnaw away at the base until all that's left is gooey chocolate covered marshmallow melting in your hand. Pop that in your mouth and then lick the marshmallow and chocolate off your fingers. In a real pinch though, you just shove the marshmallow whole into your mouth, chew thrice, and swallow.
It was in the late 80's that Nabisco committed the Mallomar atrocity. Prior to then, Mallomars came in a glossy, distinctively yellow, plastic wrapper covering two heavy brown cardboard boxes, each about 1 inch wide by 1 inch deep by 9 inchs long. Inside each box, nine precious mallomars were protected by wax paper. In the late 80's, likely faced with higher costs or lower profits, some MBA who was probably hired away from a soap company, decided to change the packaging. Gone were the two individual boxes. Gone was the wax paper. True enough, the mallomars remained constant but now they came in a single thin white cardboard box separated by a brown molded plastic insert. It's just not the same.
On the East coast, Mallomars could be found in any grocery store from October to April. Never in the summer when they would melt too easily. After moving to California, I used to pick up three or four boxes on each trip back east and bring them home, hand carrying them on the plane like precious cargo. Once home, I would plan to ration the chocolate treats but invariably would eat at least half a package at each sitting. Some people here in California have tried to tell me that Pinwheels are the same as Mallomars but these folks are just ignorant.
Yesterday, I saw a bumpersticker that I just have to get. It said "Hand over the chocolate and nobody gets hurt!"
Eating Yodels is an art form. Oh wait a moment, you may not be familiar with Yodels, that's what they were called back East. Here in California, they're called HoHos or some such thing. Hostess claims that the recipe is the same but I'm here to tell you that I've blind taste tested them side by side and they're full of hooey. Or corn syrup actually. Too much corn syrup in the mix West of the Mississisppi -- gives the HoHos an artificially sweet taste. But back to the Yodel. Imagine a sheet of chocolate sponge cake covered with a creamy frosting, rolled into a swiss roll, and coated with chocolate, about one inch high and three inches long. That's a Yodel. Now there's only one way to eat a yodel as far as I'm concerned. Carefully, you nibble all the chocolate off of the exterior starting at the base. Once that's done, you unroll the cake and cream, fold it back into a sandwich and enjoy your creation. In enjoying a Yodel, it's the process that counts.
According to one report, U.S. consumers eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate annually, representing nearly half of the world's supply. That breaks down to 12 pounds a year for every man, woman, and child. Chocolate can be lethal to dogs. Theobromine, an ingredient that stimulates the cardiac muscle and central nervous system causes chocolate's toxicity. About two ounces of milk chocolate can kill a 10 pound puppy. And as we all know, chocolate contains the compound phenylethylamine, a natural substance that that is supposed to stimulate the same reaction in the human body as the early stages of infatuation and love. Experts believe that binging on chocolate may just be an attempt to repair a chemical imbalance caused by a lack of phenylethylamine.
I think I just fell in love. Just a few more bites and I’ll know for sure!