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Scientists Are Trying to Save the World’s Supply of Chocolate

Scientists Are Trying to Save the World’s Supply of Chocolate

Researchers at the International Cocoa Quarantine Center in London are trying to save the world’s cacao trees from devastation


We don’t know what we’d ever do without brownies, chocolate chip cookies, fudge, chocolate ice cream… the list goes on.

While you’re in your cubicle munching on some chocolate cake from a colleague’s birthday, scientists in London are working to save the world’s supply of chocolate. Didn’t know chocolate needed saving? Now you do.

As our seemingly insatiable demand for all things cocoa grows, cacao plants can’t keep up. Not to mention that the cacao tree is one of the most delicate, disease-prone plants in the world. A team of scientists known as “Operation Wonka” at the International Cocoa Quarantine Center in London is attempting to find disease-resistant and high-yielding cacao plants, according to The Daily Mail. The center is also trying to make sure that the plants do not pass on life-threatening diseases that are proven to ravage them.

"If you really want to continue enjoying chocolate and the chocolate products and produce, you should care about what I'm doing, else at some point you are going to run out of your chocolate," researcher Okemi Obok told CBS News. “Depending on the strain of the virus, you could have a total crop loss ranging from 50 to 100 percent.”

This means that with the right disease, chocolate could face a serious worldwide shortage. We’d like to take the time now to thank our cocoa superheroes.

This Chocolatier Created a Chocolate Flavor for Every State

Phillip Ashley Rix, a.k.a. the "Real-Life Willy Wonka," has created his magnum opus chocolate collection: Taste of America.

Phillip Ashley Rix is living out a literal dream he had many years ago. It started with a visit to a Godiva chocolate shop with his mom, and then Willy Wonka showed up. It was a weird dream. "When I woke up, I knew that I would make chocolate for the rest of my life," Rix says. 

And not just any chocolate. Rix, who runs Phillip Ashley Chocolates and has been called the "Real-Life Willy Wonka," is like a mad scientist, concocting one-of-a-kind creations made from the finest ingredients. "It&aposs important to me to have a vast knowledge about my chocolates," says the self-taught chocolatier with a chemistry degree. "I spend a lot of time studying herbs, spices, proteins, beer, and wine."

This July, Rix will start shipping what he describes as his magnum opus: Taste of America. "I&aposve always wondered what America would taste like if it were a box of chocolate," he says. "So, I decided to create my vision for it. Each piece represents a state and has its own flavor: Sea Salt Kettle Chips and Pretzels (PA), Peaches & Cream (GA), CBD (CO), Old Bay (MD), PB&J (VA), Sweet Corn Basil (IA), and Bananas Foster (LA), to name a few. There&aposs even a "Scrapple" praline for Delaware made of pecan meal, applewood smoked bacon, and caramel. The 50-piece red- and white-striped limited-edition box (now available for pre-order) resembles the American flag, and the inside flap features a gold inscription of the preamble of the U.S. Constitution.

"At the end of the day, we may look different, but we are all human beings trying to achieve our respective goals," Rix says with a laugh, "and we&aposre all in this box of chocolates together."

Scientists Are Trying to Save the World’s Supply of Chocolate - Recipes

Lynne Olver created the Food Timeline in 1999 (see the "about this site" below). In 2020, Virginia Tech University Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS) collaborated on a plan to offer Virginia Tech as a new home for the physical book collection and the web resource. We are beginning to plan for some future development on the site, but in the meantime, we have a few pieces of information to share:

  • Lynne Olver's book collection is joining the more than 5,000 volumes that Virginia Tech Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has relating to food and drink history. We now have more than 7,500 books and 125 manuscripts on aspects of cooking, food, drink, and agricultural history!
  • We have a new email address for Food Timeline ([email protected]). If you'd like to learn more about this collection or our other materials, are interested in collaborating, or need some reference help, you can reach us there. (We are still checking the existing email, but we will be phasing it out going forward.)
  • Lynne Olver offered reference service for years. SCUA already does virtual and in-person reference as part of our mission and services, and we are happy to try and help you with questions now! We are currently (as of Spring 2021 semester) still open with limited operations and staffing, so we appreciate your patience as we ramp up this service (garlic pun intended?). If you are local and want to visit us, we are open by-appointment.
  • The Olver book collection is currently being cataloged, so it is not immediately available for use. We'll share more information as that effort progresses. If you are local or want to visit Virginia Tech specifically to work with these materials, please contact us first so we can discuss the options. Otherwise, we are open by-appointment to work with our other food and drink history materials.
  • SCUA is now managing @foodtimeline on Twitter, where we'll post updates about the collection, food history news, info from the Food Studies Program at Virginia Tech, and more!

Looking for something not yet on our menu? Let us know !

    . FAQs, special alerts & resources . safe food preparation & proper storage procedures /ADAM

The Food Timeline was created and maintained solely by Lynne Olver (1958-2015, her obituary), reference librarian with a passion for food history. About it she originally said " Information is checked against standard reference tools for accuracy. All sources are cited for research purposes. As with most historical topics, there are some conflicting stories in the field of food history. We do our best to select and present the information with the most documented support. Heritage Radio interviews Food Timeline editor (2013).

The recipes featured on our site are selected from a variety of sources including old cook books, newspapers, magazines, National Historic Parks, government agencies, universities, cultural organizations, culinary historians, and company/restaurant web sites. We have not cooked them in our own kitchens and cannot vouch for their results in yours. If you have any questions regarding the ingredients, instructions or safety of these recipes please forward them directly to the webmaster of the site hosting that recipe. Recipes from primary documents are linked for historical purposes only. If you plan to cook one of these, they need to be examined very carefully for unsafe practices (such as the eating of raw eggs)."

About copyright
Food Timeline provides full citations for all materials quoted on the site. Copyright belongs to those authors, publishers, and heirs. The U.S. Copyright Office offers information regarding determining owners and obtaining permission. Most countries, and the European Union, have separate copyright (of Intellectual Property) organizations. Text not cited to outside sources is copyright Lynne Olver, editor, The Food Timeline.

FoodTimeline library owned 2300+ books, hundreds of 20th century USA food company brochures, & dozens of vintage magazines (Good Housekeeping, American Cookery, Ladies Home Journal &c.)

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If you thought there wasn't much to a classic sponge cake, think again. We've pulled together a smashing selection of our favourite sponge cake recipes including the likes of a Classic Victoria Sponge Cake, and quirky, re-imagined recipes like our Espresso Martini Cake (you bet). Not to mention our irresistible Lemon Drizzle Cake. So, if you need even MORE of a reason to bake this weekend, check out the best sponge cake recipes now.

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An Illustrated Guide to Matching Foods' Flavor Molecules

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Mark Robinson/Houghton Mufflin Harcourt

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“What is the difference between apples and pears?” That’s an old Dutch saying that Ben Nijssen has pondered for his entire life. Any five-year-old could tell you the difference in taste, but a much smaller percentage of the population could speak on the chemical differences between the two fruits.

Nijssen, an analytical chemist in the Netherlands, is one of those people. He joined the group working on the Volatile Compounds in Food (VCF) database in 1976. It’s the only database of its kind, and these days he runs it. His four-person team connects real food—like potatoes or radishes—and hundreds of thousands of academic papers on the chemicals they comprise (for potatoes: 2-methylpentane, 2-methyl-1-pentene, 3-ethylhexane, and 593 other compounds).

Most of the customers that purchase Nijssen's database are big food companies, universities, and governmental programs. But lately, a new kind of investor is paying the requisite 1,200 Euros to access his database: celebrity chefs. Today, two-time "Chopped" winner James Briscione and his wife Brooke Parkhurst published The Flavor Matrix, a book based almost entirely on information from Nijssen’s database.

Briscione was not the first of his kind to discover the Dutch scientific treasure trove. He was preceded by the now-famous founders of The Fat Duck, currently a 3-Michelin-star restaurant in the UK, in 1999. These chefs came up with what Briscione calls “flavor pairing”—the idea that the more “aromatic” (i.e. smelly) organic compounds foods share, the better they will taste together. The Fat Duck cuisiniers used the VCF database to discover and analyze some of their most memorable pairings—white chocolate and caviar, for instance, or blue cheese and chocolate.

Eggs have many flavor compounds in common with the dairy products, brown butter, coffee, and—uh—fish. Yum.

Jan Willem Tulp/Houghton Mufflin Harcourt

The flavor-pairing meme permeated the culinary community. Silicon Valley’s techno-optimism was reflected in a smaller subculture: What if a computer could crunch data to reveal combinations of food that no human ever imagined would taste good together? Briscione, the director of culinary research at the Institute of Culinary Education, became interested in the flavor-pairings movement. He worked with IBM engineers to develop Chef Watson, a cousin of the Watson software that has also been adapted to play Jeopardy and help doctors diagnose diseases. Together, Chef Watson, Briscione, and others at the Institute of Culinary Education created a cookbook, Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson.

Chef Watson referenced Nijssen’s VCF database, but it also drew upon cookbooks, history, and other non-academic sources. But for The Flavor Matrix, Briscione wanted to focus on the science of flavor pairings only, so he limited his attention to the VCF dataset. He graphed the common aromatic chemical compounds between hundreds of foods, and then turned his notes over to Dutch graphic designer Jan William Tulp, who caught Briscione’s attention with this Scientific American interactive about flavor pairings.

Tulp shaped the data into elegant circular graphs. Nearly every page of The Flavor Matrix has a description and brief history of an ingredient with a succinct guide to best pairings, surprise pairings, and substitutes. The adjacent page features one of Tulp’s diagrams, which show the different numbers of aromatic compounds between each food. The book is interspersed with unfamiliar recipes like “Lemon Curd with Crunchy Olives,” “Creamy Coconut Oats with Shrimp and Jalapenos,” and “Ginger Mule with Pistachio Vodka.”

Budding chefs can use The Flavor Matrix to discover new flavor combinations, but the book's central maxim—that foods with common aromatic compounds go well together—will only get them so far. After all, dishes whose ingredients share few compounds in common can also taste delicious a 2011 analysis of more than 50,000 recipes found that while cuisines from Western Europe and North America tended to use ingredients with shared compounds, ingredients from East Asian recipes tended not to.

Briscione relied on the VCF database to learn the chemical differences between apples, pears, and most other foods. Now readers can pay $27.00 instead of €1,200 to learn that truffles and beets, chicken and bananas, vanilla and oysters, and many other odd combinations might actually transcend their humble individuality to become exquisite pairings.

The Flavor Matrix is not the first chapter in the saga of chefs that are using data to become more creative. Read here about how IBM created an algorithm that quantified the creativity of each recipe.

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The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has been instructing us for several years to "think fungus" when we have health problems.

Of course, I’ve been trying to get our doctors to do this for nearly 50 years, so I was thrilled that the CDC finally agrees! While I’m always going to always recommend that you work with a knowledgeable healthcare provider when searching for “the cause” of your misery. Since fungi must eat to maintain residency inside your body, why not start with starving them? That is how the Kaufmann Diets might help you. If your healthcare provider won’t furnish antifungal medications, ask about using safe and inexpensive nutritional supplements like Omega 3 fatty acids, resveratrol, caprylic acid or many others while you are following the Kaufmann Diet. What do you have to lose? After many decades of clinical and research nutritional work, I’ve learned what you may soon learn. So often, the cause is fungus, and the sufferer learns that FUPO is a fitting acronym for their condition Fungus Until Proven Otherwise!”

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Scientists Are Trying to Save the World’s Supply of Chocolate - Recipes

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As leavening occurs faster, gas bubbles tend to coalesce into large, irregular pockets in a batter or dough. The result? A coarse-textured cake. Alternatively, the pressure inside a rising batter can become so great, that cell walls stretch beyond their maximum and burst. Collapsing cell walls means the cake falls too.

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What happens if you leave a bottle of milk in the fridge too long, or if your yogurt sits out in the sun? You get rancid yuck, right? But somehow, if done just the right way, a similar process can result in fragrant, pungent, yummy cheese.

How can this possibly happen? Check out our Cheese Webcast and watch as we investigate the creamy, rich--and sometimes stinky world of cheese.

Scientists Are Trying to Save the World’s Supply of Chocolate - Recipes

Licensed Girl Scout Cookie Baker.

Welcome to Black Forest ® — home of America’s first USDA Certified Organic gummies available nationwide.

Inventors of the gummy worm—and a ton of other crazy creations that don’t mess around when it comes to being sweet, sour, and weirdly awesome.

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Watch the video: Οι πιτσιρικάδες προγραμματιστές που θα σώσουν την Ελλάδα (October 2021).