So…you think you’ll sneak a chocolate, eh?



What happens to the box of chocolates given to hospital staff by grateful patients? Yes, yes, they are scoffed, but did you ever wonder who’s the greediest? And why the Quality Street green triangle is always left over?

Most of the mysteries have been solved by an elite group of chocolate spies planted in three hospitals. Well, I say spies, they were, in fact, researchers, very clever people with lots of letters after their names – and a self-confessed love of  chocolate.

Their mission was to study survival rates. The survival rates of chocolates on wards, that is, and see what conclusions they could draw. They cunningly placed boxes of Quality Street and Roses in a prominent location accessed by staff at a set time, then hid to watch just who helped themselves.

They didn’t have to wait long, boxes were opened within minutes and noshed within tens of minutes. Personally, I’m surprised it took so long! The biggest eaters were healthcare assistants and nurses, followed by doctors, hardly a surprise as there are more assistants than there are doctors.

Of course, being researchers, they have graphs, tables and lots of statistics to support their findings, plus fascinating observations, such as a grabfest as soon as the box is opened tailing off as everyone leaves the green triangles. Their starting point was a serious one, that eating too much chocolate is a bad thing, and wondered whether there were types of workers who were more tempted by the goodies. They found Roses were preferred to Quality Street, well I could have told them that, who eats the green triangles and the tooth-breaking toffee pennies? They also found they were eaten quickly, but as this was a new approach to research, that more research was needed.  If they need any volunteers to help with chocolate-related duties, I’m here – just leave out the green triangles.

They had no conclusions about the green triangles, I made that up, which is why they are proper researchers and I’m just a blogger!

Give their research a read, it’s fascinating – especially the competing interests section at the end when each confesses his or her own chocolate weakness.

The survival time of chocolates on hospital wards: covert observational study was printed in the BMJ, Christmas 2013. Authors were: Parag R Gajendragadkar, cardiology specialist registrarDaniel J Moualed, ENT surgery specialist registrar, Phillip L R Nicolson, haematology specialist registrar,Felicia D Adjei, core medical trainee, Holly E Cakebread, foundation year doctor, Rudolf M Duehmke, cardiology specialist registrar, Claire A Martin, cardiology specialist registrar


Choc shock

Is there such a thing as disgusting chocolate? Chocolate that tastes so tongue-tingeingly awful that it has to be spat out at speed? Chocolate that leaves such a stamp on the palette that the only way to cleanse it is to eat more chocolate, a different chocolate, very quickly?

I blame Noel, it was his turn to buy in the chocolate supplies. We’d overdosed on the multiple bars brought by our friends from Switzerland and just needed more. He spotted a ‘new’ flavour, something exotic-looking and exciting. We’d had chilli chocolate, that had a definite bite, but in a good way, so why not try wasabi? Well,here’s a reason, it’s horseradish, Japanese horseradish, part of the cabbage family. Would you have cabbage chocolate? No, no you wouldn’t, it would be green and leathery, so why would anyone think that horseradish would work?

Other than Hershey Bars, the American excuse for chocolate, I have never spat out chocolate before, this was a first. I hope it will be the last!

Wasabi chocolate, just say no!


Eyes bigger than our bellies

Tasha and Kate tuck in

Two minutes to eleven and the atmosphere in the office was heavy with the smell of chocolate and expectation. The cake slice was already the hand of Kate I-never-met-a-kilo-of-chocolate-I-couldn’t-eat Daley, she would make the first cut and declare National Chocolate Cake Day well and truly open at elevensies o’clock precisely.

Ten people, three cakes, a dozen buns and a pot of thick cream, some had been busy baking, others were doing their personal preparations for the belly-busting chocolate overload that was to follow. The task seemed almost impossible, especially as one of those cakes was my ‘Bet You Can’t Eat Two Slices’ or ‘Death by Chocolate Overdose’ cake. Many have seen and admired, but none have eaten two slices, certainly not within 24 hours. No, wait, there was that one time, but it resulted in frantic calls to NHS Direct, an ambulance dash, administration of a chocolate overdose antidote (pureed sprouts, cauliflower greens and anchovies) and several weeks in rehab, but we’ll skip over that, shall we? Least said, soonest mended and all that.

Lined up next to mine was Claire’s Sophie Dahl’s Flourless Chocolate Cake, oozing with cream and healthy fruit, Helen’s Delicious Traditional Chocolate Cake and Tasha’s Boobie Buns – they were buns, they looked like boobs, what else could she call them?

And so the eating began, all around the office elastic waistbands stretched, poppas popped open and belts were let out a notch. The sudden sugar rush of activity was followed by a grand lethargy and quiet groaning as all confessed, we’d eaten too much, though actually none of us cared and would have done the same again if we could have managed it.

As for the two-slice challenge, yet again there were no takers, which will be a great relief for our hard-pressed NHS. As for Kate, the last I saw her, she was looking rather green around the gills, but heading for a spin class, gym work-out and ten-mile hike. Then, but only then, would be able to eat the Curly Wurly she’d saved for later.

Further research has revealed we can look forward to National Chocolate Mint Day on February 19 followed by Cherry Pie Day on the 20th. And with Noel’s birthday on the 16th, what better way to celebrate National Do A Grouch a Favour Day? All brought to you by Holiday Insights.