Tuesday, November 18, 2003

CL6: Chocolate; Here Today... Gone Tommorow

Background:

This is speech no 6 in the Competent and Leadership manual. I am using the old manual and this assignment is about working with words. It is a light hearted speech. Humorous to a certain extent depending on how well you pull it off. Most of all its about my love for chocolates. :)

Actual Speech:

Mama always said life was like a box a chocolates, never know what you're gonna get. You might think that this is a philosophical speech about life but let me assure you it is not. I am going to instead speak about one of life’s most guilt ridden pleasures. The delicious wonder of chocolates.

Yes, Chocolates! Ladies and Gentlemen… The embodiment of the feeling and word pleasure…

Contrary to popular belief chocolates did not come from the west or Europe. It actually originated from Mexico in the ancient & mysterious cities of the Aztecs. The Aztecs were the kings of many riches such as gold and spice. But none of these riches came close to “Chocolatl” !

The Aztecs believed that this divine drink was a gift from the gods. In fact, the cacao tree’s botanical name, Theobroma Cacao pays homage to its mythical origin. Theobroma means “food of the gods”. It is often said that contentment is at the bottom of a bottle of warm chocolate. This is not far from the truth because chocolates help the release of endorphins – the happy drug. It is no wonder then why women reportedly prefer it to bedroom activities.

The Spanish were the first Europeans to bring chocolates from these native lands. They were led by the handsome and often cruel explorer Hernando Cortez who brought about the extinction of the Aztecs. Cortez swore by chocolatl and his men were the first to sweeten up the drink with sugar cane.

Spain kept this secret to themselves for a good 100 years. Despite secretly planting cacao trees all throughout their colonies, the cat was eventually let out of the bag when the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa decided to give her French lover boy King Louis the 14 cacao beans as an engagement gift. France was on its knees. Enamoured with the pleasure drink. It is reported that even the mighty Emperor Napoleon used to carry chocolates whenever he wanted to enlarge his empire.

Chocolate often goes hand in hand with love. Although chocolate is not an aphrodisiac like what the Aztecs initially believed, it does contain PEA or phenylethylamine (a word, which I cannot seem to roll my tongue around). PEA is a natural substance that stimulates the same reaction as falling in love. It is no wonder then why the cool and smooth Casanova used chocolates as a means to pick up women in the late 17th century.

Chocolate drinking arrived in America in the 18th century after the first chocolate factory opened in New England. It won over the hearts of everyone who tasted it including the great Thomas Jefferson. There is a legend surrounding him eating chocolates while writing the Declaration of Independence.

Mass production of chocolates began with the steam engine invented by James Watt. In the 19th century, two chocolate revolutions occurred. The common everyday solid chocolate was invented and its delicious cousin – the milk chocolate emerged.

These days, billions of people enjoy chocolates. More than 7 billion US dollars is spent on chocolate every year. That is more than 24 billion Malaysian Ringgit. Not bad for a small black bean. All this chocolate even though people constantly complain about how they make you fat…

But here is something astounding. Chocolates do not make you fat. The myth came about was because of the way chocolates were consumed. If you really think about it, any type of food would eventually make you fat if you over indulge. Chocolate is no exception. The problem with chocolate is in its divinity. People cannot help but over eat. As the saying goes – I would give up chocolate but then again I’m no quitter.

By, Vijay Balasegaram