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Take me to my Time Out city

Giles Coren’s rules for urban living

#6: Make preparations for a world without chocolate. Start now

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Giles Coren, Time Out columnist

© Paul Musso

I hope you are sitting down, for I have bad news. In fact, sitting down may not be good enough. You will probably need some sort of emotional crutch. Might I suggest a Yorkie bar? Or the tub of fun-size Bounties you were saving for Christmas Eve? Eat a couple. Feel the fatty carapace melt in your hot little mouth. Reach absent-mindedly into your molars with the point of your tongue to dig out the coconut flecks that have lodged there. Unwrap another and keep it close. Then hear this:

The world is running out of chocolate. We love it so much that we are eating it faster than it can be produced. And not just at Christmas. This has nothing to do with the over-selling of seasonal novelty stockings full of Dairy Milk elf testicles and Fruit & Nut reindeer poos. Last year, demand for cocoa exceeded production by 70,000 tonnes and producers such as Mars predict that by 2020 the shortfall will be a million tonnes. By 2030, two million. The inevitable corollary will be a massive hike in the price of cocoa and the gradual disappearance of chocolate from high-street retailers. The end of the teatime Kit-Kat, the slow death of the supermarket-till impulse Crunchie, the life you have known simply crumbling around your ears (mmm… crumbling… like a delicious but soon-to-be-extinct Cadbury’s Flake).

This is partly because of a growing appetite for chocolate in new markets such as Asia (when in doubt, blame the Chinese), partly because of drought and disease hitting production in Ghana and Ivory Coast and partly because of the demand for better quality chocolate from bourgeois snobs in the West, who are spoiling it for everyone else with their demand for high-cocoa-content confections. (Don’t look at me – those six bars of Lindt 70 percent in my cupboard are actually stunt sweeties, placed there to confuse the mice).

But before you start panic-looting Lion bars to stock your post-chocolate Armageddon bunker (deserted streets, feral urchins guarding the last Kinder egg with semi-automatic weaponry and worshipping the yellow plastic capsule inside like a god) do stop to consider that the chocolate shortage may be a good thing. No government will ever dare to implement the sugar and fat taxes we so desperately need to combat the obesity crisis. And so a natural taxation of the world’s most pointless product may be just what’s required.

And let’s face it, chocolate is pointless, containing mere calories without nutrition, coveted by fat idiots the world over thanks to a centuries-old marketing campaign that has succeeded in linking it, quite randomly, with sex.

The other products we purchase that shorten our lives – fags, booze and fast food – are sold to us on the basis that they are, respectively, consoling, fun and convenient. But chocolate, they have somehow managed to persuade us, is sexual.

Sexual and lavishly sinful. It is there in everything from the puddings called ‘death by chocolate’, ‘chocolate nemesis’ and ‘rough back-alley chocolate shag’, whipped up by finger-licking female TV chefs apparently on the point of orgasm, to Flake adverts featuring naked ladies in the bath and that confusing porno rabbit they use to sell Cadbury’s Caramel. I mean, sure, everyone wants to fuck the Easter Bunny, but what has that got to do with chocolate?

All they are really talking about is the sugar rush that passes for pleasure in people who are too fat to have actual sex. And after the rush, the body’s chemical response: secretion. Chocolate doesn’t make you sexy, it makes you obese. And it makes all your teeth fall out. And it’s time we stopped telling lies about it.

So if all this is coming to a natural end then we should probably celebrate. And I say we start by eating all the Christmas chocolate we can before the Chinese get their grubby little hands on it.


Read Giles Coren’s rules for urban living every week.



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