Americans spend $16 billion annually on chocolate and eat 2.8 billion pounds of the sweet stuff.
This will not be a vanilla story.
In honor of International Chocolate Day, let’s dish on America’s favorite flavor.
Don’t snicker: it is America’s favorite flavor bar none, according to a recent survey cited by the National Confectioners Association: Fifty-two percent of adult Americans stated their preference for chocolate. The second favorite, at 12 percent, is a tie between berry flavors and vanilla.
Chocolate is perhaps the world’s oldest temptation. The cocoa bean was an integral part of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations and culture. And today, it’s big business. Americans append $16 billion annually on the sweet stuff and eat 2.8 billion pounds of it. In addition, according to the NCA:
- U.S. chocolate manufacturers currently use 40 percent of the almonds produced in the United States and 25 percent of domestic peanuts.
- U.S. chocolate manufacturers use about 3.5 million pounds of whole milk every day to make chocolate.
Which (milky) way do people prefer their chocolate? Fifty-three percent of adults aged 55 or older prefer dark chocolate while 37 percent favor milk chocolate. A majority of Millennials (55 percent) prefer milk chocolate, while 31 percent opt for dark.
Not that anyone needs an excuse to eat chocolate, but there are reported health benefits for indulging your dark (chocolate) side. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that help the cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure Eating dark chocolate is said to promote healthy blood flow that can prevent the buildup of plaque that can block arteries. Some studies find that eating dark chocolate every day reduces the risk of heart disease by one third.
Chocolate’s appeal crosses all wealth levels. There is the common candy bar that for $1 will give chocoholics their fix. There are also pricier boutiques that cater to more rarified and elegant tastes. This branch of the industry even has their own association, The Fine Chocolate Industry Association., which boasts 200 members.
What better time than International Chocolate Day to truly indulge? Many major cities, including Chicago, New York and Los Angeles (and Hershey, PA, of course), offer chocolate tours that visit either a specific factory or a sampler of chocolatiers.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.