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Experts share trivia about the science of chocolate

Experts share trivia about the science of chocolate


Stanford students love to live the sweet life, and eating chocolate is no exception. “Chocolate is a wonder. It's his eighth wonder of the world,” said Carter Rosenthal '27.

Rosenthal and other Stanford students are clearly fans of chocolate, as evidenced by the hundreds of students who flock to Ricker Dining Hall in search of their beloved “”.death by chocolate” Special. Featured as a possibility health supplements, famous on TikTok An aphrodisiac and the quintessential romantic gift, chocolate has established itself as a true favorite dessert for many who try it.

Marcus Covert, head of bioengineering, says part of chocolate's appeal is its characteristic mouth-watering melt.

“The melting point of chocolate is about the same as our body temperature,” he said. This blending is accompanied by the release of aromatic components, enveloping the consumer in a rich sensory experience.

For John Hon ’23 MS ’25, the importance of chocolate coincides with the romance of Valentine’s Day. “A chocolate melt is a lover's warm embrace, gently melting your heart with a whisper of sweetness,” Hong said.

Rosenthal considered chocolate to be “the greatest food ever,” and agreed with Hong, saying, “Exquisite concoctions transcend our mere taste and provide fleeting moments of enlightenment.”

But despite the temporary taste, Americans actually eat cheaper quality chocolate than consumers in other parts of the world. In the United States, a chocolate product “can be called chocolate even if it has only 10 percent cocoa,” Covert said.In Europe, this threshold may not apply autumn Less than 35%. Those familiar with chocolate may notice that Hershey's chocolate has a distinctive, slightly sour taste, which Covert attributes to company founder Milton S. Hershey's cost-cutting decisions.

According to Covert, legend has it that the Hershey Company took advantage of Americans' naiveté about the real taste of chocolate and used rotten or spoiled milk in their chocolate recipes. Hershey added butyric acid to the milk to stabilize it, creating a sour taste.

It's Hershey report They don't add butyric acid to their chocolate recipes today, and some say the tangy flavor in Hershey's bars was added solely to extend shelf life. According to Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications for Hershey, this may be a result of butyric acid, which naturally forms in milk.

Hershey's mass-produced chocolate bars are on the lower end of the chocolate price spectrum, but prices vary widely depending on cocoa content and caliber. Olga Keshina, an associate professor of business administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in an email to the Daily that mass markets involve high-volume production and low prices, represented by brands such as Hershey, Mars Wrigley, and Nestlé. I wrote.

Craft chocolate, on the other hand, is of high quality, in small quantities, and expensive, she writes. That kind of chocolate is “usually'' Had made “Bean-to-bar” means that chocolate makers handle the entire manufacturing process from raw cocoa beans to solid bars.

According to Covert, the chocolate-making process begins by fermenting the cocoa beans over several days, either naturally through the microorganisms present in the cocoa, or by inoculation, or by mixing a cocktail of microorganisms. He said that, similar to wine, the microbiome used to ferment cocoa beans influences the taste of the chocolate product's terroir – the bean's origin, influenced by complex factors such as soil and climate. .

Chocolate makers “roast the beans, then grind them and separate them into fat and powder,” Covert said. The resulting solids can be combined with ingredients such as milk and sugar to create the final chocolate product.

However, students should not eat this candy on a whim. Christopher Gardner, director of nutrition research at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, wrote that chocolate “may be healthier than plain sugar, but almost all chocolate contains sugar.”

“Chocolate is not a health food,” he wrote.

Gardner writes that milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and chocolate with less than 100 percent cocoa have added sugars, which can “promote oxidative breakdown.” Gardner says that regardless of chocolate's claimed health benefits due to its antioxidant content, “there is no agreed-upon amount of chocolate that is 'recommended' for its health benefits.” .

Regardless of chocolate's true health value, Stanford University students can't resist this temptation. “There's no such thing as sweet after salty, and dark chocolate is perfect,” said Daniela Lamkong ’23 MS ’24.




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