James Lileks
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I'm not saying chocolate is a women's thing, but when the most famous brand literally says HER and SHE, you might wonder if attitudes toward the substance fall along gendered lines.

Women's views on chocolate: "After a trip to the chocolate aisle, where the dark slabs are arrayed like slim mysterious romance novels in a Paris bookstore, I have a flat brick of 85% cacao organic sustainably sourced fair-trade, rainforest, shade-grown dark chocolate with notes of raspberry and fleeting euphoria and a finishing note of regret, but only if you had four squares. One square does not count — the action of taking it out, snapping off that square, you're burning four or five calories right there. And if the break isn't clean, and a piece of another square comes off, that doesn't count, and, in fact, there's now another square that isn't a whole square, so that doesn't count.

"So you can have two. Not three, because three will break the symmetry of the bar, so you might as well have four. You're going to eat it all eventually anyway. Maybe five extra minutes on the treadmill? Maybe nibble on it while you're on the treadmill, and everything just cancels out somehow? No — offer some to someone else, and if they take two squares, that's two you won't eat, and it will cancel out the two you did. Oh, the taste is sublime, life is good, I am flooded with joy!"

Men: "I guess I'll eat this whole king-size Milky Way I just found under the front seat, it's still good."

As a guy, a lot of high-end chocolate brings back a common experience of childhood trauma: stealing some Baker's Chocolate from the half-used bag Mom had in the cupboard.

Previously, you knew chocolate in the standard forms:

Nestle's Quik, which turned milk into a chocolate-delivery system. The powder never fully dissolved, leaving a sedimentary layer of damp chocolate sand at the bottom of the glass.

S'mores, a gooey rarity.

Cereals like Cocoa Puffs, for which one was presumably "cuckoo" and really didn't taste like any chocolate you knew, but it was brown, so.

Diamond-hard pieces in the joyless desiccated cookies called Chips Ahoy, which should have been called Poker Chips Ahoy, or cookies like Oreos — again, somehow a quasi-choco flavor.

Then one day you're at the market with Mom, and you spy a bag of Baker's. It is bitter. It is like unhappy anti-chocolate. But for some, that opens up a new world.

The bland rations of Nestle are instantly forgotten. You are now set on a journey of discovering the full range of chocolate's dark side. If you had time and money enough, you would end up at a dim shop in a Central American village, where a wizened proprietor looks at you knowingly because he has seen your kind so many, many times.

"You have come looking for the 85% cocoa as rich and bitter as a thrice-divorced tobacco fortune heiress, has she not?"

"Why yes, how did you ..."

"The desire is written on your face. All who come through this door wear the same mask of want and hope. Are you sure you wish to try it?"

"I must. I must know."

"I warn you. No other chocolate will ever satisfy you. When you leave here, you will be ruined. Chocolates that once thrilled you will utter no more than a pathetic bleat of inadequacy. Here. Gaze upon it. Unwrap the paper as if you are opening a gift. Peel back the foil as if you are undressing a lover."

(Slides the bar across the counter; somewhere, a macaw calls with alarm.)

"I've seen this at Target."

"Yeah, we signed a deal last year, and it's not exclusive, so we're hoping for Walgreens in 2025."

Truly, you can get excellent chocolate at both those places. And many others. Remember this when you go shopping for the one you love: Men not schooled in the psychological depths of chocolate selection would be advised to seek out these wares, and find something unique. Not a box shaped like a popular circulatory organ. Not a sampler you remember grandpa giving his spouse. Let me put it this way: Does it look like the last type of chocolate you'd buy if you wanted some chocolate?

That's the one to get.