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All's Fair in Love and Chocolate

Michael Olsen

On Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but think of a quote from the movie The Devil’s Advocate, in which Al Pacino (as Satan) dismisses love as “biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate.” That may not be exactly true, but a good case still can be made for chocolate as the catalyst for an amorous relationship.

Can chocolate really help to win a woman’s heart? Well, we know from conventional wisdom that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but some scientific research suggests that women own more acute senses of taste and smell than men. So while many guys might be elated with a good burger and an exceptional ale, many women require a bit more. In those cases, chocolate can help. What follows is our guide to giving chocolate.

The First Date

The trickiest of negotiations is always the first date. You have to be on your best behavior, but you don’t want it to appear as though you’re trying too hard. Sending a small box of simple chocolates ahead of time with a note about how you’re looking forward to the date should do the trick. A discreet box is key, otherwise your sweet gesture will come across as grandiose.

If you’re lucky, your date will enjoy a few pieces before the occasion. Chocolate contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system, so those few pieces of chocolate will leave her feeling warm, energized, and more alert (and hopefully looking forward to the date). But chocolate also contains dopamine derivatives, as well as dopamine reuptake inhibitors to slow the absorption, which means those few pieces will deliver a mild sense of euphoria. Not a bad way to start a first date, huh?

The Second Date

If that first date goes well and leads to a second—and your date appreciated the first box of chocolates—send another box, slightly larger than the first and with a more complex mix of flavors. If you’ve been paying attention and, you know, actually listening to her, you will have learned enough to tailor a box to her specific tastes.

Someone with high energy might like a box with many different flavors, while someone who is introspective might be more fascinated by the subtlety of the cocoa bean itself. In that scenario, a box that showcases chocolate from different origins will do well. A foodie, on the other hand, might appreciate more inventive and complex flavors. Get this one right and you’re well on your way.

The Third Date

You have a lot riding on this one, so you need something extraordinary. This is the clincher, so it has to be perfect. We recommend a box with different floral flavors and aromas. The best part? She gets to have her flowers and eat them, too. Wait . . . that’s not right. Seriously, though, flowers are the true sign of spring; and one of the most common themes associated with spring is new love. With a box like this, the delicate aromas and flavors combine with the chocolate to tell her that you’re serious. But after this, it’s pretty much up to you—chocolate can only help so much.

Michael Olsen has a passion for all things food and drink. He is the boutique manager for La Maison du Chocolat on Madison Avenue in New York, and he also serves as the presenter for the boutique’s tasting sessions, Parcours Initiatique.

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