Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Sweet Success

Ralph Green
Sacramento, California, USA

The Chocolate Girl by Jean-Étienne Liotard, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, circa 1743-44 

The chocolatiers were smiling at their unexpected luck
Without a cent of ad expense they stood to make a buck.
A scholar in NEJM 1 first pompously opined
That choc-o -late ingestion may emancipate the mind
And lead to creativity as well as high acclaim
Not just for noble enterprise but also to great fame.
Indeed the very pinnacle of academe’s success
A Karolinska invite for Nobelian address.
Next come more solid findings in a subsequent report 2
Tying chocolate intake to brain health with support.
Before aspiring scientists rush forth to binge on choc
They’d be advised to make quite sure the science isn’t schlock.
Statistics for one “study” 1 was paltry for a start
And cause-effect relationships are, sadly, far apart.
A craving for the cocoa bean is safer than for pot
Though both contain cannabinoids, a little or a lot.
Hedonic urges stimulate release from daily plods
And Aztec xiocolati served as nectar for the gods.
Are flavinoids an elixir that nurtures food for thought
Creating neural crosstalk to a pinnacle that’s sought?
Though genius has been credited to nurture and to genes,
Causation’s far from proven for cacao’s magic beans.
A burst of serotonin sure may stimulate the brain
But in true “Eureka!” moments chocolate may not be germane.
Indeed if ‘twere so simple then a pathway to the Prize
Would be lined with bars of chocolate of ever larger size.
If chance indeed does favor minds prepared by chocolate bars
Did Einstein get his mc-squared through “energy” from Mars?


1Messerli FH. Chocolate consumption, cognitive function, and Nobel laureates. N Engl J Med. 2012 Oct 18;367(16):1562-4.
2Crichton GE, Elias MF, Alkerwi A. Chocolate intake is associated with better cognitive function: The Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study. Appetite. 2016 May 1;100:126-32.

RALPH GREEN, MD, is a Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Internal Medicine at the University of California, Davis. He is immediate past chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Dr Green has published over 160 original scientific papers and has written over 50 reviews, editorials and book chapters. In addition, he has published humorous pieces and poems, in The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine and Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.

Summer 2016 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.