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Chocolate alert: Dade City merchants to reward shoppers with treats

DADE CITY — A Harvard study says it may help you live longer. The Aztecs used it to treat dysentery, and Mexican healers still use chocolate to help cure bronchitis.

So no one will judge if you say you're heading out to Main Street's Chocolate Extravaganza Saturday for health reasons.

The event is a promotion for the downtown merchants, who will feature in-store sales or give out chocolate goodies during business hours.

Gayle Hogan, owner of Grapevine Antiques, is serving chocolate chip cookies made from a secret family recipe.

At Ivy Cottage Antiques, owner Dale Anne Laumer will pair chocolates and wine from 2 to 4 p.m., a sure crowd pleaser.

"It definitely gets people in," she said.

Most stores will also have a jar of chocolate candy on their front counters. The lucky person who guesses closest to the total amount of M&M's and Hershey's Kisses on display in Dade City on Saturday wins a basket filled with wines, candy and gift certificates.

Hint: start out at Angel Garden Tea Room. The store's display is a pyramid of truffles.

"You could actually count them if you took the time," said manager Laurie Hicks. "We've made it a little simpler."

Chocolate gets a bad rap among the diet crowd, but recent studies show that it may be beneficial to cardiovascular health.

And if you're still too calorie conscious to indulge, rest assured. Just smelling chocolate has been shown to affect brain wave activity and help the body relax.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Fast Facts

History you can sink your teeth into

• When the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, they found the native drink, a mix of chocolate, chile peppers and cornmeal, too bitter for their tastes. The Spanish added sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and other spices.

• Originally a drink for the European elite, in the mid 1800s, new machines made it possible to inexpensively mass-produce solid chocolate candy.

• Casanova, history's greatest lover, was said to have drunk chocolate daily to increase his "amorous energy." Supposedly he preferred it over Champagne as an aphrodisiac.

• The Chinese eat only one bar of chocolate for every 1,000 consumed by the British.

From the Chicago Field Museum's online exhibit on chocolate

Chocolate alert: Dade City merchants to reward shoppers with treats 04/09/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 9, 2009 8:53pm]

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