Seeking solace from the pine pollen that was kicking my allergies into overdrive, I spent much of my Saturday morning indoors at my favorite coffee shop. In true Monica-style, I set up camp – covering the table with my sketch pad, colored pencils, soy chai and a dangerously dark Endangered Species Chocolate bar. Just as I was about to don a pair of headphones and start drawing, the fellow at the next table pointed at my chocolate bar and asked why it had a picture of a panther on the wrapper. Once I finished waxing poetic about the virtues of all-natural, ethically traded chocolate that supports species conservation, he looked at me with an impish grin and said, “I’m allergic to chocolate.”
Suddenly my itchy eyes, stuffy nose and headache from the pollen seemed like small potatoes. Imagine that for a moment. An allergy to chocolate. No chocolate bars, chocolate cakes, chocolate ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate truffles! “How do you cope?” was the only question I could muster. He laughed and said that he never really developed a taste for chocolate so he didn’t feel like he was missing out on much (unlike this poor soul).
After doing some research, I found out that allergies to cocoa (the bean that is the main ingredient in chocolate) are exceedingly rare. It’s more likely that the fellow I met over coffee had an allergy to one of the ingredients in chocolate. Milk, peanuts and tree nuts, wheat and gluten, and soy are often the ingredients found in some chocolate bars that can trigger allergies. Symptoms of a chocolate allergy can include headaches, heartburn, hives or difficulty breathing. In severe cases, a person can go into anaphylactic shock. It’s pretty serious and there’s no over-the-counter pill that can cure this allergy – the only way to avoid issues is to pass on the chocolate.
Do you know someone that is allergic to chocolate? Comments welcome below!