The office candy bag -- every Tuesday afternoon as we are proofing page after page of type and staring down yet another weekly deadline -- it calls our names. Just a small break in focus and we’re out of our seats heading to the front office where the stash is not-so-well hidden.
And this time of year with Halloween just around the corner it’s always full. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Butterfingers, Hershey’s Kisses. Sometimes even a decadent Lindor truffle will find its way into the bag.
Periodically we’ll find the bag empty but there’s usually a back up hidden in someone’s drawer for such emergencies.
We love chocolate. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate with nuts and chocolate without nuts. The best, of course, is chocolate with peanut butter or caramel. You get the picture.
We love it but we hate it too, every time we head for the bag our rational self tells us we should avoid it like a Dallas hospital. It’s not good for us, too many calories wasted on too little food. Yet that rationale doesn’t stop us.
At our office we’ve tried threatening the chocolate purchaser, saying things like, “We will refuse to finish this week’s paper unless you stop buying that chocolate.” At least that’s what we said in our heads. What we said out loud was more along the lines of: “We refuse to work unless there are chocolate treats in that bag at 2 p.m. every Tuesday.”
You see the dilemma.
From babies to newspaper workers, no one likes to have chocolate taken from them. We could try to move the big bag of chocolate farther away from us, out of view because when it’s within easy reach - not far from our keyboards for instance - studies show people eat an average of nine pieces of candy per day. Nine pieces! Take that Michelle Obama with your healthy-eating advocacy.
Put the chocolate in a desk drawer (with a Master lock on it, perhaps) and that cuts consumption to an average of three pieces per day - four pieces once you’ve figured out the combination.
Halloween generates $2.5 billion in candy sales and we’re betting our office, despite the news staff cravings, is only responsible for a fraction of that figure.
Sure there are scientific reasons we want chocolate. When our ancestors (who didn’t have a Walgreens on every corner to procure said chocolate) didn’t know where their next meal was coming from, it was smart to eat high fat and high calorie foods. As a result, our brains now reinforce and reward this way of eating. It’s genetic that we have a need for chocolate every Tuesday afternoon. And the disappointment that is felt every time a certain member of our staff reaches for chocolate in the bag only to find three Jolly Ranchers left is felt throughout the office.
Just the sight of chocolate can make us smile. And we’re not alone. A recent British survey found that 60 percent of women ranked chocolate as the most smile-worthy experience, edging out loved ones and other smiling people. (The top pick for men was a “Sunday roast”).
And backed by hardcore findings like those from UC San Diego, which found adults who ate chocolate on more days a week were actually thinner than those who ate chocolate less often, we feel justified in demanding a full chocolate bag to get us through deadlines.
We, like Bridget Jones and the ancient Incas, crave chocolate because it tastes good, it smells good and it raises our spirits - at least long enough to finish proofing page 20A.
So this Halloween we’re going to chock up our chocolate cravings to genetics and not a lack of willpower. Remember, nine out of 10 people admit to loving chocolate. And the 10th lied.