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KIDS ON CHOCOLATE

By Missouri schoolteacher Matt Harper
Reprinted from Chocolatier, V. 1, #4, Fall 1984

During the 29 years I've been a school teacher, I've found that they can come up with some unique ideas. Each year we study a unit on chocolate and my students' comments on essays and exam questions have been hilarious:

"Chocolate gets blamed for many things people can't stop eating."
"Correct my being wrung [sic] but tell me true or false. Has anyone else ever eaten chocolate in a cantalope [sic] or am I the original inventor?"

Evidently impressed with the ever-changing state of the world, one boy reported: "Hershey Pencilvania [sic] is located in the United States at the present time." He happens to be the same student who remarked: "The history of chocolate was first the Aztecs, then Columbus, then on to now."

History may repeat itself, but grade school children often add some unexpected twists to it. Here are some unusual historical facts:

"Columbus took some chocolate beans to Europe in 1502. Then he did something he'd never done before. He died."
"James Baker started making drinking chocolate in the pre-me times."
"James Baker is a famous man who lives in chocolate history."

One girl confided: "People have enjoyed eating chocolate forever and maybe even longer..."

Kids are not like adults who can reach into their lifetime stockpile of expressions. Take these complimentary remarks, for instance:

"I have loved chocolate for as long as I can think to remember."
"Chocolate gives me joy feels all over."
"Everything would not be worth anything without chocolate."
"When I learned Mom was going to make chocolate chip cookies, I told my feet to quiet down, but they felt too Saturday to listen."

One tyke was going great until the last word: "Chocolate drinks feel good if your throat has orangitis." Another student had many tussles with his spelling book. Recently, when he finished writing a sentence, the battleground looked like this: "I like to drink hot chockel choka chalka coco."

The elementary school child's mind is evidently a vast storehouse of miscellaneous information, half true, half false and wholly beguiling. This seems to be especially true when they relate their personal experiences:

"My brother teased me that I was interested to read about trees and beans and other things that cause chocolate to happen."
"Hot chocolate has such velvety fingers."

A girl named Linda wrote, with the aid of a bright purple Crayola: "I have decided chocolate is my ninth favorite thing in the universe." Next, some definitions of chocolate. If any of them cause Webster to turn over in his grave, he would have to do so with a smile:

"Chocolate is brown, creamy YUMS!"
"Chocolate is a many-purposed word for many dessert types."

There is usually at least an element of truth in the most absurd answer. Sometimes they aren't wrong; it's just the way they express their thoughts that makes their teacher smile:

"You should always capitalize the word chocolate unless it is not the first word in a sentence."
"When hot chocolate is poured out it makes the quietest noise I have ever heard."
"Chocolate is really cocoa. But me and a lot of other people still catch ourselves calling it chocolate."

Once I mentioned that today, at least 2/3 of the world's cocoa supply comes from the African cocoa belt. Some comments on the subject:

"The cocoa belt could just as well be called something else if we could only think of a better name for it."
"BOO. I did not mean to scare you so bad but that is how I feel every time I think of the people who have to go out in the wild jungle to get chocolate."
"I looked up twice where they grow cacao trees, but I forgot it three times."

If the realization that they don't know everything is the first step to learning, these students are well on the road to knowledge:

"They make chocolate with milk in Switzerland. Maybe they make chocolate without milk, too. I do not know. It takes all my knowing to know they make chocolate with milk in Switzerland."
"How they can take cacao pods and make doormats out of them is something only encyclopedias know for sure."
"Quite a bit of the world's supply of chocolate goes into making cacao trees."
"Cacao trees are interesting if you happen to be interested in them."
"It takes eight years to grow chocolate on those big tall trees. But it takes only a little nick of time to eat it." Just how tall do cacao trees grow? "Cacao trees can grow 40 feet high. That's g-r-r-e-e-a-a-t BIG! Even over ten times bigger than that."
"Cacao trees are larger than the largest known whale."
"When I learned how big chocolate trees grow, I would have fainted if I knew how."

Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed: "Pretty much all the truth telling in the world is done by children." These next thoughts proved to be unexpected, unconventional, and undeniably sincere:

"Chocolate has an evergreen mother and a cocoa father."
"People who eat chocolate are very interested folks. All their ways are happy ways and excited ways."
"Oughtn't Congress to pass a law giving poor people free chocolate? Are they thinking about it? If not I make a motion."
"Misfortunately, choklet [sic] does not agree with itself spellingly and pronouncingly."

No one likes to look into the future more eagerly than children do. Two tiny forecasters had these predictions:

"Chocolate will still be the most popular taste of all 100 years from now. Just wait and see."

"Will we ever get to the point where people eat even more chocolate? The chances are 999 out of a hundred."

A couple of years ago, one moppet had a whimsical way of expressing her thoughts. Here's how she summed up her feelings: "From now on, I will put both gladness and wonder in my same thought about chocolate."

Me too.


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