It’s World Chocolate Day!
Yes, the ice caps are melting. Yes, Europe is at war again.
But for today, let’s celebrate the simple things. Chocolate.
Whether you like it as a dark, bitter bite or a creamy milk drink, chocolate has devotees the world over.
Today’s global treat was first created from the cocoa bean in the early days of Mesoamerican civilization.
The origin site of the cocoa tree, one of the earliest examples of the use of chocolate, is that of the pre-Olmecs who fermented the beans and drank them as early as 1750 BC.
Since then it has become one of the most popular flavors in the world. Today, the industry is worth nearly $50 billion worldwide.
To celebrate World Chocolate Day, here are five cool ways to use chocolate.
Power race cars
In 2009, a team of researchers from University of Warwick outfitted a Formula 3 racing car to run on chocolate.
The fuel used by the car is made from a combination of chocolate waste and vegetable oil.
That’s not all, the team also made the car’s body out of potatoes and made a steering wheel derived from carrots.
The car was perfectly suited to the strict sporting regulations of Formula 3, which meant that the car could easily reach speeds of 200 km/h around the corners.
For your teeth?
Forget what you’ve been told, chocolate is, in fact, good for your teeth. Well, not all chocolate exactly.
Some studies have shown that cocoa fights tooth decay better than fluoride, the ingredient in toothpaste.
The reason is that plain dark chocolate is a good source of polyphenols, which can limit oral bacteria. These neutral chemicals can also prevent you from having bad breath and prevent bacteria from turning sugar into acids, which damage your teeth.
However, even dark chocolate contains sugar, which carries its own health risks, so consume it in moderation.
No, we’re not talking about those little bags of foil-covered chocolate coins that appear during the holiday season. It seems that the ancient Mayan civilization used chocolate as currency.
The archaeologist Joanne Baron found evidence that as early as the 7th century CE, the Maya used chocolate to pay themselves.
Prior to this, much of civilization would have been run by one-time barter, but Baron posits that the Maya began to use chocolate as a widely accepted mode of payment.
In a pyramid mural from Guatemala, a woman offers a bowl of steaming hot chocolate in exchange for dough.
To make you smarter
Research has shown that people who eat chocolate at least once a week perform better in all areas of brain skills, including counting, abstract thinking, and visuospatial and working memory.
The theory is that the flavonoids in chocolate act as a vasodilator which improves our blood circulation. The benefit of this is to improve your circulation, which ultimately helps your brain function at peak power.
For fake blood
So this one won’t be as useful as the uses of chocolate for brain training or fuel replacement, but it’s still good to know that you can fake a death scene with the help of a bit of cocoa.
For the black-and-white classic, Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock apparently used chocolate syrup because it had the right consistency for blood.
It was also used in the iconic 60s horror film Night of the Living Dead and Scorsese’s boxing film Raging Bull.