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Chocolate promotes sales of romantic literature

There are sweet tooths in research too.

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Chocolate promotes sales of romantic literature

There are sweet tooths in research too. Chocolate is therefore not a rare subject of scientific research. Some of these are pretty amazing. On International Chocolate Day on September 13, it's worth taking a look at the entertaining side of confectionery research. Although the origin of the commemoration is unknown, it probably refers to the birthday of the legendary US candy manufacturer Milton S. Hershey.

Quick access: How long does it take to empty a freely available box of chocolates lying around? Doctors in Great Britain investigated this question, considering two brands. "Gifts from patients and their families account for the majority of chocolate consumption by healthcare workers," the doctors write. For their small study presented in 2013, they laid out two boxes of chocolates on four wards in different clinics and observed how they were emptied.

On average, twelve minutes passed before a box was opened after it appeared, according to the analysis by the team led by doctor Parag Gajendragadkar? At first, the staff got hold of it quickly, but later a “constant and ever slower consumption” was observed. After around one and a half hours, half of a box was emptied on average. At the end there was even confectionery left – which type was not disclosed.

The love of reading goes through the nose: Some people cannot resist the smell of old books. Others, on the other hand, are apparently seduced by the aroma of the finest sweets. At least, a 2013 study in chocolate-nation Belgium found that the smell of chocolate can boost book sales—especially romance literature.

The team led by researcher Lieve Doucé made observations in a bookstore chain for ten days and found that customers rummaged through books more than twice as often when they smelled chocolate and searched less specifically for titles. 40 percent more romance novels and cookbooks were sold.

A meta-study presented in 2021 also showed that smells influence shopping. When examining 20 individual studies – including the Belgian one – the Danish and Polish scientists came to the conclusion that a pleasant scent generally has a positive effect. There is a stronger bond with the business and higher customer satisfaction. An influence on actual purchasing behavior could not be clearly demonstrated in all of the studies examined.

Eat chocolate, win a Nobel Prize? It is not that easy. And yet the thesis in the world is that the number of Nobel Prize winners increases with the consumption of chocolate in a nation. In 2012, the Swiss physician Franz Messerli put possible connections up for debate in a – very tongue-in-cheek – essay: “It would take about 400 grams of chocolate per capita and year to increase the number of Nobel Prize winners in a certain country by 1.” Leaders in both are at that time, of course: the Swiss.

Some researchers are tearing up Messerli's hypothesis ("one of the strangest and most bizarre papers I've seen in a long time"). In addition to their criticism of the experimental setup, others come to the conclusion that the spread of Ikea furniture stores can also be linked to the number of Nobel prizes. Because apparently a third variable is relevant: the standard of living. This can affect both the consumption of stimulants and the level of scientific research. Ultimately, the following applies here: correlation does not automatically mean causality.

Spoon danger: A study presented in 2017 dealt with an annually recurring phenomenon. "Traumatic amputations of candy rabbit ears appear to be seasonal and related to Easter," a Detroit-based research team said in a paper.

An examination of images and texts on the Internet over the past five years has shown that the number of such injuries to chocolate bunnies rose sharply between the end of March and mid-April.

"The most common offenders seem to be people of all ages," writes the team led by ENT doctor Kathleen Yaremchuk in their tongue-in-cheek essay. The reason for the increase in cases is the strong growth in the chocolate bunny population in spring and the resulting increased contact with humans. It is not advisable to try to reconstruct the missing spoons: "Because the rest of the rabbit often soon suffers a similar fate."

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