It's that time of year again. Second to Halloween, Valentine's Day may be the most candy celebrated holiday of the year. On this year's sweetheart's holiday, America is expected to spend $700 million on chocolate. But did you know that the chocolate industry's days may be numbered, or that most of the world's chocolate only comes from one place?
1.The cacao tree, which is the plant that produces the bean that chocolate is made from, is so weather-sensitive that even small climate shifts can have drastic affects. There is only a narrow range of tropics that support the climate in which cacao trees thrive, and in lower latitudes crop productivity decreases even further. Although new areas can develop the right conditions for chocolate production, individual farms and economies would also have to shift to accommodate the transition, which could take a long time. So be sure to stock up on your favorite chocolatey treat this Valentine's Day!
2. Your dentist might be happy to hear that chocolate actually does not cause cavities. Foods that contain fermentable carbohydrates create cavities, and although they are found in chocolate, the cocoa butter that coats your teeth actually prevents tooth decay. So next time you munch on a bar of Hershey's chocolate, you can feel a little less guilty.
3. We've all heard someone say (or have even said ourselves) that chocolate can be addicting. But now scientific evidence proves that compounds found in alcohol are also present in chocolate. Researchers at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research in Madrid, Spain have discovered that cocoa and chocolate bars contain tetrahydro-beta-carbolines, which are also linked to alcoholism.
4. Chocolate is actually a fruit. Well, at some point before it's in your hand and gift-wrapped, that is. About 70 percent of the world's cacao is supplied by Africa, and the pods that grow on cacao trees are considered fruits. This is where chocolate is derived from, and these cacao trees can produce up to 2,000 pods per year.
5. Who says chocolate is just for eating? Some people love chocolate enough to make entire clothing lines out of the sweet snack. At the annual Chocolate Show, designers and chocolatiers team up to create tasty fashions.