Representational Image
Representational Image

"Chalo kuchh meetha ho jaaye". This famous tagline of the series of advertisements by British multinational chocolate giant Cadbury's Indian subsidiary is ample indication that chocolate is fast replacing the traditional 'mithai' used to celebrate joyous occasions in our country. And that is not all. Chocolate is no longer something one offers to a child to make her stop crying.

It is now something which all sections of the people, regardless of their age, eat and enjoy. And chocolate products span a wide range of eatables now. There are chocolate ice-creams, chocolate cakes, chocolate pastries, chocolate brownies, chocolate cookies and chocolate chips. And there are Cocoa face masks, creams cleansers and body lotions too.

Though the words chocolate and toffee are often used interchangeably, they are different. Chocolate is basically a product of Cocoa, the dried and powdered beans of a plant, with the botanical name, Theobroma Cacao, also called the cacao or cocoa tree. Toffee, on the other hand, is made by boiling sugar and butter, often with other ingredients or flavourings like nuts and raisins. The third day of the Valentine Week is celebrated as Chocolate Day (February 9) across the world. And the week began from February 7.

Eighty-year-old Usha Johri is an ardent chocolate lover. "It tastes great," she says. As a child, she used to enjoy orange-flavoured candies. She has been eating chocolates for around 20 years now. "I got introduced to chocolates after the birth of my grandchildren," she says. Cadbury is her favourite brand.

According to Sonali Malhotra, a nutritionist, there is no need to feel guilty about consuming chocolates. "Dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and a few other minerals. It is a superb source of antioxidants, are good for the heart and lowers BP," she says. Sonali says that one should always choose chocolates with higher than 70 % cocoa content. "It can help in weight loss too," she adds, with the statutory warning that too much chocolates are not good.

"Chocolate flavour is the first choice of the youngsters and children – whether it is pastries, cakes, brownies or ice-creams," says Ajay Shrivastava, senior manager of Palash Residency Hotel, Bhopal. "There is hardly any menu which does not have a chocolate product," he says.

Rahul Raj Ranjan, 21, a student, says he always carries chocolates in his pocket. "It relaxes me. It helps me keep awake at night studying during exams," he says. Rahul eats 10-15 chocolates every day.

President of Beauty Parlour Association, Bhopal, Sarita Shrivastava says that cocoa powder is extensively used in the beauty industry. "It has anti-ageing properties and makes your skin glow," she says. There are cocoa-based creams, face packs and cleansers, she says.

Cocao tree, from which chocolate comes, is a small (13–26 ft) tall) evergreen tree native to North America. The tree reached India from North America via Indonesia. In India, cocoa is grown primarily in states south of the Vindhyas, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala on an area of around 78,000 hectares with total production of 16,050 metric tons. However, domestic demand is much higher and India is importing a lion's share of its requirement of Cocao.

Chocolate consumption in India began growing from the 1960s, when Cadbury started giving out seedlings of the tree to farmers. Indians swallowed 22,000 tonnes of chocolate in 2018 and consumption is growing at 10-12 per cent annually. Cadbury, which began its operations in India in 1948, has a share of over 70 per cent in the market. It has five manufacturing plants in the country, including one at Malanpur in Madhya Pradesh. Nestle and Amul are other players in the Indian chocolate market.

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