Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cheap chocolate

I recently read on IMDB that "Johnny Depp... doesn't like the taste of good chocolate -- he prefers the cheap, Easter-bunny type." (This was mentioned due to him being in both Chocolat and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.) I gave a tiny little grin of glee because I, too, prefer cheap chocolate. Maybe not quite as far as Johnny, but pretty close. The "sweet spot" (no pun intended) for me is a Hershey bar or equivalent. (The really cheap, stale, off-brand chocolate you can get at Big Lots isn't as good, admittedly, but no more so than the expensive, premium stuff.)

Friends who have a taste for the fancy expensive chocolates all think I'm crazy. More likely, I just have far less refined senses, and can't pick up the subtle tones in those more costly candies. All those things are doing for me, since I can't taste them, is displacing the cruder, simpler tastes with something that adds nothing for me, so the chocolate ends up feeling dry and bitter.

The mystery we can probably never answer is this. Who's more lucky? Maybe my friends enjoy a Hershey bar the same way I do, and then, the $10 chocolate bars take them to levels of sensation and pleasure that I never experience, so I literally don't know what I'm missing? In that case, they're the lucky ones, and I envy them, greatly. Or maybe I get just as much pleasure from my Hershey bar as they can only get by making a special trip to a small boutique to spend $10 on one candy bar. In that case, I'm the lucky one, since I can get my jollies at any 7-Eleven for a buck.

When we talk about chocolate people are likely to assume the former, and maybe for good reason. An analogy might balance the scales. If I and a friend both had digital cameras, and mine took an AA battery while his took a special $10 lithium battery, who's got the better camera? If they take equally good pictures and run equally long, mine is clearly better. But what if his takes much better pictures and lasts far longer? Then his is probably better, even if his batteries cost ten times as much.

Short of comparing the intensity of our brainwaves (and even then having to assume equal intensities correspond to equal enjoyment, which is impossible to be sure of), I don't know how we can compare. Maybe there's someone somewhere who used to be one way, then as a side effect of some surgery or medical condition, became the other way, and who can thus compare. But even then, can we be sure the neurological change doesn't also skew his memories? Enjoyment is intractably subjective.

So I'll just enjoy that I enjoy that Hershey bar that was on sale for $1 last week, and be glad at least I'm not totally alone. There's always Johnny Depp. Maybe he'll come over and share a Hershey bar with me.

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