I live within a two-hour drive of Hershey, PA. This means I am inundated with ads for “Chocolate-Covered February.” So much so that one year, my husband and I drove to the Chocolate Spa only to learn its cocoa facials and buttercream manipedis are booked months in advance.
So if you’re looking to a get a chocolate fix this February and you can’t get in the door for a Whipped Cocoa Bath or Chocolate Sugar Scrub, might I suggest you indulge in one of the books, films, shows, or comics below.
Chocolat (Book & Movie): This may be an obvious one, but the movie and book are now 16 years old, so there may be a few millennials out there who haven’t heard of it. And if so, let me assure you, it is, without a doubt, the gold-medal-winning ultimate Valentine’s Day date movie champion.
For starters, it has more chocolate-themed food porn than any film in existence—we’re talking slow-churning melted chocolate goodness. And it features a love scene with Johnny Depp pre his Sexiest Man Alive days. Do you need anything more? If you’re looking for plot, the film, based on the book Chocolat by Joanne Harris, features a woman who moves to a conservative French town and opens a chocolate shop right in the middle of Lent, seductively tempting all those buttoned-up Catholics.
Like Water for Chocolate (Book & Movie): Based on the book, Como Agua Para Chocolate, by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel, this 1992 film took the prize for being the highest grossing Spanish-language film ever when it was released. It’s a quirky romance featuring Tita and Pedro, two star-crossed lovers separated by conservative family politics until Tita’s feelings begin to seep into her cooking.
At one point, she kills and plucks a few birds to bake a meal incorporating her lover’s gifted rose petals causing everyone who eats it to get, well, um, excited. It’s Mexican magical realism at its best—and it’s got a cheeky title. In Spanish, the phrase can refer to the practice of making hot chocolate with water instead of milk, but it’s also a slang term for describing someone in state of passion (or “boiling mad”).
Hot cocoa, anyone?
Cathy (Comics): I know that super hero comic books usually get all the love from book nerds, but lest we forget that comics started as strips. And the most chocolate-covered comic strip of all time has to be Cathy. Drawn by Cathy Guisewite, the strip debuted in 1976 and ran for more than thirty years, following her character’s struggles with work, love, and food—namely, chocolate.
I’m tempted to call the strip cheesy, but given that this is a chocolate blog, that seems inappropriate. So let’s just say that Cathy’s struggle with sweets was often mimicked by comedians, including 30 Rock’s Tina Fey and SNL’s Andy Samberg. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
The Chocolate Wars by Robert Cormier (YA Novel): Another oldie but goodie, this beloved classic YA novel is remarkably timely given its bullying and conformity themes. And while the chocolate aspects of the book are not exactly romantic, they’re definitely prevalent.
Essentially, a secret society in a Catholic high school is enlisted by the sadistic, acting headmaster to ensure the student body sells copious amounts of chocolate bars as part of his evil plot to ensure job security. A lot bullying and intimidation ensues, including a school-sponsored bare-knuckle boxing match. Thus, this is one of the Ten Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century!
What an accomplishment. Personally, I’m a huge fan of banned books, so if the promise of illicit sex, language, and violence isn’t enough to entice you, I don’t know what is. Chocolate, perhaps?
The Simpsons (Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk): Considering this show originally aired when I was in elementary school, I may have actually watched this episode live. That was probably about the time I was a Simpsons fan. (Not that there’s anything wrong with the show now. I have college friends who can recite full episodes with the TV on mute.)
That said, this episode features Mr. Burns selling his power plant to German investors, who then interview Homer about the quality of his work (a la the Bobs in “Office Space”). During this time, Homer loses focus and imagines he’s in a Land of Chocolate eating everything from small buildings to passing chocolate dogs. It’s vintage Simpsons mixed with cocoa, doubly sweet.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Book & Movie): I toyed with leaving this off the list for reasons of pure obviousness. (If you don’t know that the children’s novel and its films center around chocolate, then may I be the first to welcome you back from your thirty-year coma!)
But in the end, I decided no chocolate list would be complete without a nod to the grand-daddy, golden-ticket loving, chocolate-river floating masterpiece. The book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, written in 1964 by Roald Dahl, so far has spawned a London musical and two movie adaptations—one starring Johnny Depp. (I sense another theme to the list.)
I Love Lucy (TV): I think there is a Writer’s Guild bylaw somewhere that mandates you cannot blog about chocolate and television without including Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory.
Of course, I’m kidding, but it’s been sixty-two years, and that bit’s still funny. I dare you not to laugh.
Diana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of three young adult novels, Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and Adios to All The Drama (Kensington Books). In Fall 2013, she will publish Mirror, Mirror, a short-story trilogy based on the Narcissus myth (Buzz Books). She hold a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University, and currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Follow Diana online: www.dianarodriguezwallach.com, @dianarwallach, or http://dianarwallach.tumblr.com.