Kage Baker partook of chocolate year-round (and sometimes 24/7), but like all theobromos fans, she observed some specific holiday as being more chocolate-appropriate than others.
First on that list has to be Halloween, at least for anyone who has been a kid in America. Here in California, it was even more a significant chocolate holiday since October was when the fall weather finally cooled down enough for chocolate to survive in daytime. You had a chance of packing Hershey’s miniatures in your lunch box and not having them melt before lunch break.
Thanksgiving is simply not chocolate-specific, even if you could convince your mother to buy those chocolate turkeys at See’s. Even then, their main charm was native absurdity (a chocolate turkey? What do you eat first, the head or the feet?) and their colour – they’re always wrapped in gloriously polychrome foil. In these more recent years, though, Thanksgiving has also been the gateway to the excesses of the Christmas season, which is pretty grand – and See’s also puts out their fall truffles then, in astonishing flavours like pumpkin, pecan pie and cranberry.
Then comes Christmas, and the entirety of December is one huge chocolate orgy. By New Year’s even fanatics like Kage are looking slightly askance at chocolate – though that never stopped her from eating Valentine’s Day hearts. But things slow down in the Spring, chocolate-wise … until you hit Easter.
When we were kids, before every holiday that could be pinned to the calendar got its own custom-dyed M&M’s, Easter was the Other Huge Candy Event – the polar opposite of Halloween, the dawn partner to that night-time celebration.
Despite our parents’ dutiful insistence to us that Easter was not about candy, most of us got to adolescence before we thought about anything but chocolate bunnies and new clothes. I suspect a lot of kids do. The candy of Easter is so lovely, besides! Pastel colours, jellybeans like coloured glass, solid chocolate lagomorphs … I remember sitting in the garden on an early Easter morning, contentedly eating my way down the head of a chocolate rabbit while admiring my lace-stockinged ankles amid a drift of rose petals …
Anyway, the next big chocolate blow-out is nearly upon us. I intend to get some speciality malt ball eggs today – those good ones enrobed in white chocolate, with water-coloured spots painted on them to look like exotic bird’s eggs: nightingales, quetzals, phoenixes. Maybe one or two of the little golden bunnies now marching in their sturdy phalanxes through all the supermarket aisles. How could one not want to take a few of them home? They look positively wholesome.
And just in time for all this theobromine excess, here is a recent article about a new way that chocolate is, yes, actually good for you! Behold:
Chocolate cures persistent coughs. It’s as effective as codeine, that staple of childhood, and has none of codeine’s nasty side effects. It neatly disables the cough-irritation reflex – so if you’ve got some evil bronchial plague left over from Winter still bothering you, your salvation now lies in chocolate bunnies. And eggs. And roses. And truffles. And, if you just really aren’t into the whole happy hoppy bunny scene, these tentacled cuties:
Kage would be so pleased. She avidly collected all the information coming out the last several years about the medicinal virtues of chocolate – and this one would have been the crowning glory, for her. She got bronchitis every year, which she stalwartly fought off with whiskey and lemon juice – she would have been much happier to treat her lingering coughs with theobromos.
And this, Dear Readers, is why it’s a good idea to always keep abreast of the scientific journals. See? On top of everything, chocolate has an educational moral, as well. Kage always knew there was nothing it could not do …