Chocolate Has Changed… And Other Thoughts


I’m looking for someone to blame for this. I love my computer, my microwave and my smartphone — but, other than those few things, I miss the good ol’ days, when everything was better.

Chocolate. What the heck has happened to chocolate? When a few of us girls got together and said we preferred dark chocolate over milk chocolate, the candy company executives said, “Oh, good, because sugar is so expensive” and removed it. They were urged on by health professionals who will do anything in their power to keep us away from sugar. The antioxidants, flavonoids and theobromine in cacao beans have been credited with everything from warding off disease to mending a broken heart, but, once you add sugar and butter, those good effects are supposedly contradicted. But dark chocolate has now gotten so bitter it’s like swallowing a pill. To me, even M&Ms taste different — and not in a good way. Only Hershey’s milk chocolate bars taste like the recipe I remember, and evidently it’s true. In 2008, Hershey replaced cocoa butter with vegetable oil in many of their products, now calling them “chocolate candy” instead of “milk chocolate.” So, I am slowly making the switch to milk chocolate. Boo.

TV Commercials. Once prescription drug makers were given the OK to tout their products on television, the quality of my viewing time nose-dived in equal proportion to my newly burgeoning hypochondria. Thanks to television, I am now “on the lookout” for anything from sadness to a sluggish feeling — the diagnosis could be devastating! Whatever happened to prime time commercials urging us to buy hula hoops, Silly String and Crazy Foam? I was happier then. I didn’t lie in bed at night wondering if I had Crohn’s disease or the chikungunya virus. I was merely bummed out because I knew the adopted kid across the street was going to have all the latest toys the minute they were introduced while I, on the other hand, would have to save up my allowance at the rate of 25 cents a week. And when I weighed my allowance problem against Eddie’s having been an orphan, I had to admit I was OK with it.

Bicycles. Now this is my own fault. Bicycles have actually changed for the better over the years, but my willingness to use them as my primary mode of transportation has. I used to throw my oboe case into the front basket and pedal for 40 minutes to get to my music lessons every Saturday until there was snow on the ground. Then I would pedal back. I did this for years, and you know what? There wasn’t an ounce of fat on me. Now I’m too lazy to drive my car to the gym to pedal a stationary bike in air-conditioned comfort. My brother rode his bike from Milwaukee to Florida, and, except for losing a sandwich to an overly exuberant dog, he was none the worse for the wear.

So let’s review. All I need to make me happy is good chocolate, less TV and more bike-riding. And I’m looking for someone to blame for this. Hmmm.