According to HMRC, chocolate is classed as a luxury item (unless it’s a Jaffa Cake!) but its often a ‘go-to’ for us humans in times of great stress. So, is chocolate really a luxury or has it become a necessity, a staple part of our diet?
Every week when I go shopping, I make a list of what we need. The same things appear on there week after week – fruit, vegetables, drinks, bread – and chocolate. We really are a nation of chocolate lovers, with UK adults eating over 650,000 tones of the stuff each year.
Chocolate has long been a moral boosting food – during the DDay invasion, the soldiers all carried a bar of chocolate in their ration boxes (although it wasn’t the best tasting!) – but why does it make us feel so happy?
There are a number of things in chocolate that are associated with chemicals in the brain which lift our mood. Phenylethylamine is a natural anti-depressant substance and is often credited with being the chemical that makes us fall in love, theobromine increases your heart rate and tryptophan is linked to the production of serotonin, the happy hormone. Chocolate also has caffeine in, which is often described as a ‘pick me up’ – like a cup of coffee or a nice cup of tea.
It should be said that the quantities of these compounds are very small, and there is some debate on whether there is enough of each to have a physical effect. However, the psychological ‘treat’ of eating a luxury item may just be enough to make us feel good and even increase productivity levels.
Whichever way you look at it, here at Annie’s we have seen an increase in chocolate sales during the period of enforced lockdown due to the Coronavirus so people are definitely eating more during such a difficult time. That makes us very happy – and if our chocolate makes you happy too, then everyone is a winner!