Some people believe bad chocolate is like bad sex: Even when it’s bad, it’s still good. This formulation is nonsense at its root. Bad sex is definitely not still good. It’s actually tremendously depressing, sort of like getting all worked up go to Disneyland just to find that the only ride open in the whole park is the monorail to and from the parking lot — and that the monorail seats smell kind of funky.
Secondly, bad chocolate is worse than bad sex. We accept that sex may occasionally be bad — it’s the inevitable side effect of being human and letting hormonal surges replace rational thought — but chocolate is supposed be above that. Chocolate is supposed to be an absolute good. Occasional bad sex is regrettable, but bad chocolate is a betrayal.
What’s even worse is when you see a Bad Chocolate Moment coming, and yet there’s not much you can do about it. One of those happened last night, when Krissy tossed me a small plastic tub of something pink and asked me to open it for her. I looked down at the tub, and saw that they were, in fact, Frankford MarshMiddles Chocolate Creme-Filled (artificially flavored) Marshmallow Eggs, inexplicably left unopened during the orgy of Easter candy.
Immediately, several issues presented themselves:
1. For people over the age of 10, marshmallow candies are not meant to be eaten so much as they are to be used for various scientific experiments, generally involving microwave ovens, liquid nitrogen and/or bunsen burners. That’s because people over the age of 10 generally understand that Marshmallow comes from gelatin, which comes from something that was scraped off a rural route with a shovel or that once participated in the Kentucky Derby and finished somewhere between 8th and 12th. Also the freshness of marshmallow candies has a half-life shorter than even the most unstable of transuranic elements. The tub proclaimed it was a “Resealable Stay-Fresh Tub!” which was nothing more than a contemptible lie. A stainless steel holding chamber filled with inert helium can’t keep marshmallows from going stale. All told, there are better ways of getting a sugar high than tolerating stale sugar suspensions whose origins inevitably lead back to something with a mane, big soulful eyes, and a small Guatemalan in checkered pants sitting on its back.
2. “Chocolate Creme” — “creme” in the context of candy almost always means “unnatural chain of sucrose polymers.” It’s edible only to the extent that your white cells won’t actively attack it as it courses through your small intestine.
3. “Artificially Flavored” — Artificially flavored chocolate is to chocolate as grape soda is to grapes, which is to say a concoction whose only relation to its natural analog is that it is within 10 Pantone strips of being the same color.
4. On top of this the marshmallow eggs looked like decapitated Peeps, and that’s just wrong.
The artificial flavor theme was reinforced when I cracked open the tub, exposing myself to the sort of chemical smell one typically associates with killing weeds.
I looked over to my wife. “Sweetheart,” I said.
“This might not be an optimal chocolate experience,” I warned.
She looked at me blankly, as if this might not be an optimal chocolate experience were words from a Tristan Tzarza poem, pulled out of a hat and set down in random order and thereby devoid of all semantic value. Then, “Why did you say that? Did you eat one?”
No,” I admitted, with my voice providing a subtext there signifying that while I might smear one across a new picture to stop the photographic development process, I wouldn’t actually put one in my mouth. “It’s just a feeling I have. I just don’t want you to be disappointed.”
My wife gave me a look as if to say, you dear, silly man, give me the chocolate before I am compelled to gnaw on your aorta. So I did, and went back to the magazine I was reading.
For this reason, I missed the part where Krissy gagged and actually spit the chocolate creme-filled marshmallow egg back into her hand rather than have it inhabit her mouth any longer. However, I didn’t miss the part where she picked up the small tub they came in and stuffed it as far down into the trash as it would go. Then she looked over with a face that suggested that she’d just been fed the rancid gut of a raccoon (which, considering what gets used to make gelatin, there’s a small possibility she had). But more than that, it was a tragic look of betrayal. Chocolate isn’t supposed to do that to your mouth. Thus the quick trash stuff. It was too late for Krissy’s innocence about chocolate to remain unshattered — but not too late to spare our daughter. By plunging the Pink Menace into the garbage, Athena might be spare the same horrible fate. Krissy did it for the children.
As for my Krissy, I just happened to have a bag of Cadbury solid chocolate candy eggs, so quickly enough the crisis had passed. But I guarantee you from now until the end of time, I could say to her, “hey, remember those chocolate creme-filled marshmallow eggs,” and it will generate a hearty shudder. It was Bad Chocolate. And you just don’t forget a thing like that.