A Spoonful of Sugarby Krasna - February 14th, 2014
And that's not all the delightful things sugar can do"a good thing, since we eat over 50 pounds of it (24kg) each year.
There's plenty of evidence that a moderate amount of sugar is quite a good source of energy, and it makes our skin plump and glowing as well. The sugar industry reminds us that it's much better for us than other kinds of sweeteners. So maybe a little isn't a bad thing.
And let's not forget that you can't really have good chocolate without getting some sugar. Everyone knows how good chocolate is, all full of antioxidants and deliciousness. Something to do with the chemical phenylethyylamine, too, that excites us in a pleasurable way. Which makes us feel good. Which makes us look good!
Which brings us to Valentine's Day, because chocolate and this sweet holiday go together like, well, like lovers. The roots of celebrating St. Valentine go back to Roman times and are surrounded by many legends, although it wasn't until the middle ages that the day became associated with romance. For the last couple of centuries, all around the world, gifts of candy and chocolate have been the traditional offerings to the object of one's affections.
It's one day when the rules of gender equality seem to be suspended. According to Holiday Insights, women buy three-quarters of all chocolate purchases during the rest of the year, but on Valentine's Day, three-quarters of the dark, rich, creamy stuff are on the men.
And that doesn't even begin to count the heart-shaped sugar cookies, heart-decorated cakes, and tiny pastel-colored candies with messages like "LUV U" and "U R THE ONE."
Then there's the popularity of candy kisses. Yes, the foil-wrapped chocolate ones, of course, but also the candy kisses that show up again and again in song lyrics, poetry and, these days, all over the Internet. The Urban Dictionary defines "candy kisses" as kisses so sweet you may need to visit the dentist in the morning, and so sweet you forget the world around you, presumably lost in love.
Now, if you think sugar is a rush of pleasure, it's nothing compared to kisses like that. Kissing stimulates most of your cranial nerves, a lot of sensitive muscles in your face, the release of neurotransmitters in the pleasure centers of your brain, and your heart to send oxygen zipping around your whole body. Oh, yes, the scientists seem to have been very busy measuring the sweetness of kissing.
So maybe, just maybe, we seek out sweets when what we really want is a kiss? Who knows? But if you don't have a sweetheart this Valentine's Day, you might try sending yourself one of those heart-shaped boxes. Make it a big one!