In Canada, the first half of winter—from cold-weather fall to Christmas—is chocolate season. The pumpkin craze has run its course and all the candies collected on Halloween were gobbled up without or without parental consent (looking at you, Mark and yes, I hid the bag AGAIN). We just had to find a new favourite seasonal food. And of course, this “need” was dictated by industry folk and marketing professionals counting the number of chocolate boxes they’re able to shift.
I didn’t make it up. I have sources—my neighbourhood supermarkets.
The retail industry planted the idea of Christmas in my mind the first week of September, when I noticed 2017 Advent Calendars for sale. “Hell no!” I muttered to myself, staring at the fancy display. “Way too early.” I still hesitated for a second because the LEGO Advent Calendars I didn’t even know existed until last year were featured, and they sell out fast. I checked the price. $39.99. Yeah… no. I’ll buy Mark the usual until he begs for a fancier option—he hasn’t noticed these ones yet.
Christmas always gets a foot in the door through popular Advent Calendars popping up in aisles before Halloween, as if every single Canadian household had to stock up just in case kids celebrating Christmas would totally forget about the whole gift thing on December 24–25. There are basically three kinds of calendars. First, the fancy non-edible ones from LEGO, Playmobile, Play-Doh (?!), Crayola (??!) and every single trendy toy franchise. They offer 24 mini characters or accessories and are usually between $30 and $60. A few days before December 1, late shoppers will find them at much higher price listed on Amazon or eBay and labelled as “collector” items. For around $10, you can also buy the regular 24-chocolate calendar from Kinder or Lindt. And if you don’t feel like splurging because all the treats will probably be eaten by December 7, there are many $1 options, although the chocolate isn’t as good. Mark got the Kinder version—I have it right here, hidden in my drawer. He hasn’t found it yet.
The very same night kids were trick-or-treating and filling their bags with candies, supermarket employees took monsters and anything orange and scary away and put chocolate on display in several aisles. Not just chocolate, actually, but “festive treats,” “yummy gifts,” “decadent stocking stuffers” in marketing speak.
Yeah, well, it’s still “just” chocolate.
You’ll find the usual brands—Lindt, Kinder, Cadbury, Ferrero, Godiva, but also any confectionery that includes chocolate as an ingredient, like Toblerone, M&M’S or Skittles. The products are the same, the only difference with Halloween or Easter is the packaging. Boxes and bags all feature Santa, Christmas trees, snowflakes or snowmen to convince consumers they are making a smart seasonal purchase. I find it a bit deceptive. Give me something new, something unique, better chocolate instead of rebranding the same products over and over again!
So, is winter the perfect season for eating chocolate? In Canada, maybe. Cocoa butter melts near body temperature (37 °C), so a piece of chocolate is way more likely to turn into a delicious gooey mess in your mouth than in your hand, considering the weather.
I’ll probably buy a box of Lindt too at one point.
And then, I’ll hide it.
“Did you eat my cookies?”
“Thought so. Gonna have a little chat with Mark tomorrow.”#NotMyFreakingCookies
— Juliette Giannesini (@Xiaozhuli) November 7, 2017