Sunday, October 14, 2012

The market for chocolate (hint: rich people eat it...)

The venerable Onion has a competitor in the sometimes pretty funny New England Journal of Medicine, which notes the correlation between national chocolate consumption and per-capita Nobel prizes.And the Swiss eat a lot of chocolate. Slate has the story:

Why Do the Swiss Eat So Much Chocolate?: And does it help them win Nobel Prizes?

"A new study in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that a country's chocolate consumption correlates strongly with the number of Nobel Prizes its citizens win. According to the author’s calculations, Switzerland consumes the most chocolate and ranks second behind Sweden in laureates per capita. ...Switzerland doesn’t have the climate to grow cocoa. How did it become known for chocolate?

"Because the great chocolate innovators were Swiss. ... In 1819, Francois-Louis Cailler developed a recipe to turn gritty cocoa beans into a solid, smooth chocolate bar. Rudolph Lindt eventually perfected the smoothing process by adding cocoa butter with a machine he called the conche. In 1830, his countryman Charles-Amédée Kohler added hazelnuts to chocolate. Jean Tobler formulated the Toblerone bar in the late 1860s. Perhaps the greatest innovation came in 1875, when Daniel Peter figured out how to combine cocoa powder with local milk to create milk chocolate, which became an instant sensation. (The Swiss can’t take credit for cocoa powder, which was developed by Dutch chemist Coenraad J. van Houten in 1828.) Eventually, Kohler, Peter, and food magnate Henri Nestlé joined forces to create the Swiss Chocolate Society, which eventually became the Nestlé company. Today, Swiss consumers eat more than 23 pounds of the country’s most famous product per year.

"There’s another factor to Switzerland’s high chocolate consumption: wealth. (Which may also explain the correlation with Nobel prizes.) Few cocoa-producing countries are big chocolate consumers, because chocolate is a luxury. Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Ghana, and Nigeria, all of which have per capita GDPs well below the global average, lead the world in cocoa production. By contrast, wealthy Western Europe constitutes 6 percent of the world’s population, but eats 45 percent of its chocolate."


Anonymous said...

Everybody in Europe is so depressed these days about the vanishing wealth, that maybe only excessive chocolate consumption helped to battle the sadness.

Rafael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Pendergast said...

correlation does not mean cause and effect.

Anonymous said...

Do you eat a lot of chocolate, Dr Roth? Guess so! :-D