An Ode to Chocolate

photo by Julia Gazdag

Chocolate is not a snack. It is not a food to be taken lightly. It is a magical, sacred, refined particle of universal truth reflecting all that is good and right with the world. And so it should be treated.

Sometimes I think about what life was like a few hundred years ago, when chocolate was not something you could pick up at the corner store in large quantities. This is also back before ice cream and penicillin were invented, and let’s face it, if anything could have made plague and corsets more bearable, it would have been chocolate. How did civilization even evolve? Come to think of it, the Mayans had discovered cocoa and look where they are (or aren’t) now.

But I digress. A few years ago I was wandering around Edinburgh, Scotland and stumbled upon a little chocolate shop. It was mesmerizing. It was beyond reality. It was where cocoa came to become a Broadway star.

Display cases surrounded me, small glass raised plates extending painted little cubes of concentrated aromatic bliss. This was chocolate. This was how it was always intended to be created, admired, lavished with love and consumed with much respect and no mercy. Lavender ganache, India spice filling, chile pepper infused flavors topped one another in creativity and inventiveness.  Each cube was encoded with a painted pattern on top to reveal its contents. There was a catalogue. A catalogue! Do you have a catalogue Hershey’s? No? I didn’t think so.

This is what chocolate should be: a religious experience, created with love and devotion. When I went back a few years later, I couldn’t find the store again. Luckily, it had simply moved. I hope to never again feel the panic and despair I did in that moment. I savored the experience of wandering the store and admiring the displays, then carefully compiling a box each for both my mother and myself. Finally, I could thank her for the gift of life with an equally valuable offering.

I admit, I appreciate being able to find chocolate at the corner store. I appreciate the fact that it is attainable to all and is an equalizing element of society, infusing it with joy and deliciousness on all levels. It can be found with or without dairy, soy, or sugar content, yet retaining all flavor so that anyone with any diet can still partake. Is there anything else quite like it? And don’t say Coke, my body doesn’t deal well with caffeine, so it is not, in fact, consumable by everyone. That’s just an ad campaign that is full of lies. Lies!

Listen, I’m not here to yell at the Coca Cola company. They are wonderful people who exploit countless thousands of people around the world and have no fair trade policies the way many chocolate companies do. I’m just here to express my love for this magical substance that is derived from coca beans and has completed my life in a way that no other consumable has yet been able to. And so I hail the poetic beauty of not only those little painted squares of highest art, but of the M&M’s and Dove squares that serve us daily with grace and humility.


Julia Gazdag is a writer, photographer, and breakfast taco whisperer. She hails from Budapest and has lived in New York, LA and Austin before moving to Portland, OR where she is now enjoying pine trees and bridges. She is quite fond of dinosaurs. She also prefers eggs, potatoes, beans, and pico de gallo in her breakfast tacos. She writes for The College Crush and Off Our Chests. You can find her on twitter (@juliagazdag), vyou ( Her photos can be found on