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Death By Chocolate

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
I think a little levity is in order today, after weeks of solid Shakespeare (good though he is) and worry over the fate of a less substantial Blackpool FC (bad as they are). Casting cares aside, let's indulge ourselves somewhat with the theme of chocolate.
Adele has posted a very informative blog about the origins of chocolate, which those generous South Americans brought to the party (along with alfalfa, guacamole, mescal, the potato, tobacco and tomatoes, as it happens); so I'm going to concentrate not on its history but on its medicinal effects.
Death By Chocolate
Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, when he named the cacao plant as part of his great classification of the botanical world, gave it the title theobroma, or 'food of the gods' in Latin, on account of its properties. Its active ingredients include theobromine, caffeine and a range of polyphenols. Eating moderate quantities of chocolate - dark and unsweetened for preference - can, it is claimed, produce the following benefits: a sense of well-being as it causes the release of 'happiness' neuro-transmitters in the brain (dopamine, endorphins, serotonin); lowered blood pressure and lowering of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) because it contains anti-oxidants; it is also a pre-biotic and an anti-inflammatory, can help maintain a healthy skin and reduce the impact of sunburn. What's not to like about it? in moderation, of course. The problem is that confectioners pile too much milk and sugar into the mix.
Theobromine, although a perfectly palatable stimulant for your average human being, is actually a toxin to some animals (cats, dogs and small rodents for instance) because they are unable to metabolise the chemical. Depending on the quantity consumed relative to the size of the animal, theobromine poisoning can cause intestinal distress, internal bleeding, epileptic seizure, heart attack and even death. Just a few ounces of dark or baking chocolate (which is higher in theobromine than milk chocolate) could be enough to severely distress or kill a medium-sized dog. Dogs like the taste of chocolate and are liable, given the opportunity, to eat quantities much larger than typical human serving. If, for instance, a dog were somehow to get its teeth into a whole dark chocolate cake...
Death By Chocolate
I hope this doggerel verse amuses:
Ken Dodd's Dad's Dog's Shuffled Of This Mortal Collar
He was a Liverpoodle, the brute -
A hairy beast of ill repute,
The canine bane of Knotty Ash
Who plagued his manor like a rash,
For something twisted in his humour
Made him nasty as a tumour.
He seeped foul dribble from his fangs,
His breath possessed an odorous tang.
Twin eyes blazed rays of senseless terror,
To face his wrath would be an error.
He lorded it in Doddy's house
And dined on babies doused in scouse.
He made free toilet of the streets
As no-one dared bag his excreta.
The vet said he was like a good book,
Unputdownable! worst luck.
For many a year this reign of fear
Deprived poor lives of any cheer,
Until a baker versed in toxicology
Spotted a way to end his infamy.
Greed made that Liverpoodle tick.
One massive gateau did the trick.
He scoffed the lot and licked the crumbs
Then felt his entrails going numb.
He barked and whined, he snarled his worst
then writhed until his black heart burst.
So finally Ken Dodd's dad's dog's dead.
Theobromine knocked him on the head,
Metaphorically speaking if you get my take -
The brute was felled with chocolate cake.
Thanks for reading. Have a good week and look after yourselves, Steve ;-)
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