A Secret Pleasure: Chocolate Chips

Writing Challenge (by StarbuckGuy)

This is a small piece I wrote for the April challenge on Creative Nonfiction Writing Forums. This particular theme was “a secret pleasure”. I hope you enjoy it.

I keep a stash of chocolate chips in the kitchen cupboard, behind the bags of loose green tea. They’re not hidden, exactly, but they’re discreetly positioned. My wife knows they’re there but she poses no threat because she’s not overly fond of them. It’s my son and his friends who worry me. Young eating machines capable of emptying the fridge in a single session, it has so far never occurred to them that there might be something to devour on the tea shelf.

When the world is too much with me, late and soon, I visit the tea shelf, shake out a few chips onto my palm, and lick them onto my tongue, letting them warm and melt across the taste buds. Only then do I squidge them between my teeth and bite down slowly, anticipating the flavour-burst rush of chocolate ecstasy. Repeat. Repeat once again. Then conclude with a small wash of cold milk.

Although not as writerly as scotch, or as Leaving Las Vegasy as marijuana, chocolate chips have done more than either to promote well being, mental balance, and happiness. In fact, I believe that one day neurologists will agree with me that the most distinguishing feature of human evolution has been the development of chocolate pleasure receptors in the brain.

This in turn caused intelligence to evolve in order that our species might learn first how to process chocolate, then turn it into little brain bursts of goodness, with flat bottoms and cute curlicue tops. The rest of the human intelligence business, such as spear points, transistors, and epic poems, has been a largely accidental byproduct.

I offer my solace to any not-quite-complete humans who claim not to like chocolate. Their lives may never be optimally gestalten, but they at least have the lesser comforts of scotch, marijuana, or, in extreme cases, vanilla. I’ve not heard of vanilla becoming anyone’s secret pleasure, but I allow for the possibility.

Chocolate chips are also comforting when found in cookies and ice cream, of course, but those tend to be public pleasures. It’s difficult to maintain a secret pleasure at an ice cream shop, a Starbucks, or a family dinner. But a slightly clandestine bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard, semi-sweet ones — Ghiradelli if possible — provides comfort to the writer and poet within in a hard-wired way that surpasses any alternative, not to mention the innate pleasure it provides in fulfilling one’s evolutionary heritage.

11 thoughts on “A Secret Pleasure: Chocolate Chips

  1. Well, Gene, now you’ve done it.

    Do you know how many of us you’ve exposed with your free admission of guilt?

    And I suppose you think you are the only one with a secret stash? In my home there lives an 11-year old with a wickedly sweet tooth and a hopelessly impaired satiation center within his brain.

    I will tell you, and only you, Gene, that if you come to Wisconsin you may find Girl Scout Cookies in the pots and pans drawer, Hershey’s bars in the vegetable crisper, and Easter candy in the luggage.

    Truthfully, your article shines. I love the comparisons…”Leaving Las Vegasy as marijuana” is an absolute gem.

    Here’s hoping you always have a handful or two on hand.

  2. Amy, you really have me chuckling over your stashes of Girl Scout cookies, Hershey bars, and Easter candy 🙂

    I suspect there are a lot of us out there, not to mention those who take their chocolate chip pleasures openly.

    Thanks for the kind words. You’re the only one who has commented on the Leaving Las Vegasy line. I appreciate it!


  3. Gene, I like chocolate and most do. But I just like it, full stop. I eat it because it has a small sugar hit. I like a single square with an espresso. Those Italians have it right. Check the small wafer that often accompanies an espresso in an Italian resto. I regularly make a chocolate bar last for months.

    I used to drink scotch and got into some pretty fancy types but that’s slowed down and the price point has also come down. Now I drink a lot of fortified wines like Marsala, Port, Sherry and Madeira. They’re like candy.

    Since Hunter has already been covered I don’t need to. On closing I will only say that freshly cured vanilla is a revelation.

  4. You see, Jan? You’re way more writerly than me!
    (I don’t believe you about the vanilla. Of course, as a true skeptic, I must keep an open mind to any evidence to the contrary 🙂

  5. Gene – I have a great big smile on my face after reading this. 🙂 …and I tip-toed into the kitchen as not to wake anyone and sampled one of those Hershey’s mini-bars that hide in the catch-all drawer….

  6. Gene,

    As you know from my photos, chocolate is a mainstay in my life.

    President’s Choice decadent chocolate chips are the only brand I ever buy; they are as rich as black velvet. Happily, they come in giant bags that may or may not fit on a tea shelf.

    Loved this piece, it resonates with me.


  7. Maureen, thank you. Sounds like we have another thing in common: chocolate! I’m with you on the PC Decadent chips. But give a try to the Ghiradelli some day if you see them. They’re special.

    I stay away from the giant bags because of my lack of willpower 🙂

  8. Ghiradelli are surely wonderful as well. But it’s like arguing favourite scotches, isn’t it? This whole subject has me smiling. I really like your sense of humour, and your deep respect for good chocolate. A kindred spirit, indeed.

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