By Erika June Christina Laing

What’s the deal with shitty chocolate? I mean, why does that stuff even need to exist anyway? There’s so much damn shitty chocolate in the world. Some of it is plastic, I swear. I mean, I think it is actually plastic. How many shitty Easter bunnies have you bitten the head off of only to find that the inside is as hollow as you feel after you eat it anyway even though you know it is complete shit. This stuff has no taste whatsoever, which makes it even worse when you think about how what it lacks in taste it makes up for in fat and more sugar-y carbs than your body can metabolically stand. Why eat that stuff? What benefit could there possibly be? I mean, if I was in some post-apocalyptic zombie-infested war-zone, and I found a Whitman’s Sampler? Well, maybe I’d eat it then. But only because the fat and sugar add up to calories that could get me to the next outpost. It would still taste like shit, I am sure. No amount of malnutrition could make that stuff taste good. And I’d be just as pissed if it didn’t come with one of those chocolate maps in the lid and then I went and picked the coconut one. Crap! And then my compadre gets the caramel one? What kind of shit is that? Totally not fair!

What about how having chocolate pudding and chocolate milk at the same time diminishes the chocolateyness of both? What the hell is that all about? So unfair. Mixing chocolate mediums should compound the flavor, not mask it.

Now, chocolate milk I can go for, but you have to be careful with that stuff.  Especially when you make it yourself. You have to squeeze the syrup bottle for, like, 45 seconds and watch it coil up in the bottom of your glass of milk until it’s about a third up the side, or else the final mix hardly tastes like chocolate at all! Then you have to drink it with a spoon one sip at a time to make the experience last longer than 3 gulps long.

How about that chocolate they sell at discount department store chains like T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s? What business do they have having a foodstuffs aisle in their stores to begin with? Those stores epitomize the very definition of stale. There is no possible way any of that food can be any good. They’ve got yellowed oils, and vinegars with particulate matter floating in the bottom. They’ve got canisters of old ass ‘bread dipping’ herb mixes you shake into said oils and vinegars, which mask their musty flavors. They’ve got shitty cookies, and shitty crackers, and loads and loads of shitty chocolate. On what planet could anyone possibly think the food there is consumable? I’m offended by the whole model, because they rely on consumers giving these things as shitty gifts to people the gift givers don’t really care about. Or alternatively, these shitty foods get bought as additional mindless gifts like stocking stuffers, because our American society is over-fueled on Christmas culture and there is enormous pressure to Get More Things. Either way, it propagates an implied demand for shitty food when the original ingredients could have been turned into something good for someone who really needs it, instead of some piece of crap destined to expand the perimeter of either our landfills or our waistlines.

In my stocking this year, I got this palette of assorted truffles in little finger-sized portions. It definitely came from a place like T.J. Maxx, you could just tell. My first thought was, “Fuck, now I have to get rid of all these chocolates!” The box had, like, 20 pieces in it! But then I saw there was a marzipan flavor. “Ooh!” I thought. “I think I like marzipan, or at least I like almond, and even though I have never had a marzipan I actually like, I think I could probably actually really like this, because I think I like marzipan on the principle that I like almond flavoring in things like wedding cake and wedding cake frosting!” So, I opened the package right away and ate a marzipan-filled one. Guess what? It was complete and utter shit. I wished I could spit it out right then into my water glass, but I didn’t because my mom was right there. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. It’s not her fault that she goes a little crazy every year buying into the whole holiday over-giving tradition. She’s just doing it because she loves me, and she got tricked by T.J. Maxx’s low, low prices. She’s a victim of shitty chocolate too.

Even so, this particular chocolate sat around, looking at me. I knew it was there, even after I stashed it in my luggage and zipped it up tight. The little fingery pieces grew little mouths. They haunted me with their little voices, saying, “Eat us, Erika! Eat us, because if you don’t, you don’t love your mother! She bought us for you! Are you going to deny your mother your love? Look who’s shitty now!!!”

Thank God I have roommates where I live. I put that shitty chocolate out and it was gone in two days. Maybe they liked it, I don’t know. Sometimes people eat shitty chocolate just to eat chocolate. This seems especially true at the holidays. Chocolate really runs the show then. Pumpkin might take a temporary center stage in autumn, but never fear, chocolate lurks all around, in candy dishes as M&M’s, in gift boxes of golden wrapped Ferrero Rocher hazelnut bonbons, and in giant triangular prisms of Toblerone.

Probably the worst thing about shitty chocolate is that we as human beings keep making it in spite of the fact that we are headed towards a massive chocolate deficit world-wide. Experts predict that due to increased demands and global warming, we could be facing a shortage as soon as 2020. That’s just two years from now! Cocoa prices are going to rise as the supply dwindles, and over the next two decades it’ll become covetable and only for the very wealthy, like caviar. Can you imagine? I might live to be 100, telling the tale about how there used to be this thing called… chocolate! “You could never envision it children!” I’d say, in my creaky old lady voice, pointing my finger at them accusatorially. “It’s not like anything you’ve ever tasted. Carob is absolute shit in comparison! There’s nothing like the real deal!” Then I’d sit back, fold my hands in my lap and go into my mind’s eye, “So good, so pure.” They’d wonder if I’m still talking to them or just doing my weird old lady thing because I am, in other respects, going off my rocker.

I’d be talking about the good stuff obviously. The chocolate from Switzerland and Finland and small boutique crafters around the globe who care about what they put into their product. What makes their chocolate so good, and that other chocolate so shitty? I don’t know, but I am pretty pissed off that shitty chocolatiers are taking our precious commodities and turning it into such vile products as Nestlé, Hershey, and Russell Stover. Even Cadbury’s has started to taste miserable to me lately (Caveat: it remains acceptable in egg form, wherein it gets a pass simply for the iconic uniqueness of the product. Still, it is mostly terrible to actually eat.).

You see, bad chocolate is a global issue. It isn’t just about me being elitist. No, no. My snobbery is to the benefit of all. I say we boycott all the shitty chocolate. We send it all back to the makers, with a message: “Shove your shitty chocolate up your ass, cuz we don’t want it!” And we make signs and go to Washington. “Screw the whales, Save the cocoa!” Sounds like the kind of thing Trump would be into. He hates fake things, like news, and I bet he hates fake shitty chocolate too. Do you think he’s sitting around eating Baby Ruth’s and 100 Grand’s? Well, on second thought, he probably likes that last one. He’s a real dummy.

I think I am just gonna have to deal. But I’m not eating anymore shitty chocolate. You can’t make me. Unless you are my mom. Because if you are my mom, I don’t have the heart to break the news to you that that chocolate you got me for Christmas was really, really, exceptionally shitty crap. I love you too much to watch you feel bad about it.

And I guess that’s why I do eat shitty chocolate, after all. What’s your excuse?

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