Old Lady Chocolate and the People Who Love it
I am guilty, and anyone who knows me will wholeheartedly agree, of engaging in chocolatism. Chocolatism is a rare form of ageism in which people are accused of being old based on their particular chocolate preference. For example, dark chocolate is universally known to be “old lady chocolate” because it is beloved by grandmas, menopausal women, our dog Bailey, and Betty White. Now there are those (young women, and men of all ages) who will argue that anyone can like dark chocolate, that love of dark chocolate transcends barriers of age, gender, race, religion, etc., but for most of my life I have been reluctant to buy in to this argument.
Recently, though, my opinions on this matter have changed. I blame “the change” on my recent foray into the world of caffeine. As I’ve established in previous posts, I have a pretty sensitive stomach. For most of my life I have avoided caffeine due to its astringent qualities. I drank Sprite instead of Coke, and I never drank tea or coffee. In an attempt to eliminate unnecessary sugar from my life, I quit drinking sodas and started drinking iced-tea in situations where I would have formerly had a soda—like at restaurants or on picnics or at taco shops. Drinking tea opened up a whole new world to me. It’s tasty, keeps you awake, and is savory rather than sweet. I think the increased exposure to savory/bitter beverages in some way morphed my taste buds. Now I find myself craving dark chocolate. It no longer tastes bitter to me. In fact a few weeks ago I was served dark chocolate M&Ms and I did not even notice that they were not milk chocolate. You can imagine that the situation I find myself in has caused me quite a bit of cognitive dissonance. I am not an old lady, but I like dark chocolate. But I still firmly believe that dark chocolate is for old ladies. Hmmm. Leon Festinger, creator of the theory of cognitive dissonance, suggests that when faced with two conflicting beliefs I should experience a motivational drive to change one of them so that they are no longer in conflict OR that I should justify or rationalize the conflicting beliefs. I could do this. I could say that I no longer believe that dark chocolate is for old ladies, or that I acknowledge that I must be getting old because I like dark chocolate. Instead I prefer to acknowledge that I am fully human and we as human’s are the only creatures capable of holding conflicting beliefs, or of holding one set of beliefs but then engaging in another set of actions. Therefore, dark chocolate is still for old ladies. I like it. I am not an old lady. Chew on that, Leon Festinger.