Chocolate is poisonous. You knew that, right? It contains large amounts of the methylxanthine chemicals, including caffeine, theophylline and theobromine. Two hundred and fifty grammes of good dark chocolate (say, two-and-a-half medium bars) contains enough theobromine to kill a large dog. Ironically, the Mayans sacrificed a large dog every Spring to Ek Chuah, the God of Chocolate.
Scientists are investigating the toxic properties of chocolate. It’s proved effective in controlling coyote populations, and is being investigated as an ecologically safe poison to kill immigrant Carribean tree frogs in Hawaii.
On the other hand, humans are anomalously resistant to the toxic properties. While a mere 250 grammes will kill the dog stone dead, a human could eat 50 kilos, or more than half his own body weight, before succumbing to the lethal effects. That’s a hell of a lot of after eights.
Modest amounts of chocolate may even have health benefits for humans. The chemicals suppress tooth bacteria to some extent, and may cause the infamous stomach bacterium helicobacter pylori to get indigestion. There are some hints about protection from stomach cancers.
But most commercial chocolates contain too much sugar to do you any good. The excess sweetness is also why cats won’t eat it. Don’t be feeding festive titbits to the family dog though.