Today is National Cocoa Day. How sweet it is!
Steaming cups of hot cocoa were luscious, comforting treats during the Illinois winters of my youth. Nothing was more appreciated when I came in from the cold than a hot cup of cocoa. It was so chocolaty delicious and, oh, so warming.
I can remember my mother wearing a warm sweater and an old-fashion apron, standing at the stove, stirring a saucepan full of milk and sugar and baking chocolate, concocting some of her glorious hot cocoa. I think she might also have added a drop or two of vanilla extract to her steaming, delicious, brown potion. And if I had been a good kid, she'd probably top off my cup of cocoa with a couple of puffy marshmallows. Glory be! Praise the cacao-bean gods!
I can see me now, sitting at the kitchen table, with my cold hands wrapped around the warm cup. The top of the hot, chocolaty drink was frothy, and that warm froth coated my upper lip and maybe even the tip of my nose as I sipped the creamy stuff, keeping away the marshmallows by blowing gently between each sip.
If I was sitting down to a cup of mom's hot cocoa after a snowy day of building snowmen and snow forts with my friends, my nose would start dripping as my face hovered over the steaming cup of hot chocolate. Mom would give me a napkin, so I could wipe away not only the cocoa froth from my nose and upper lip, but also so I could blot away the drips that persisted in running from my frozen nose.
Those recollections make up some of my favorite memories of growing up in the 1950s in the Midwest, when the winters were colder and the snows were deeper, or so it seems now, in 2017.
In 2013, by the way, Neurology – the journal of the American Academy of Neurology – released the results of a cocoa study, indicating that hot cocoa is good for us. They needn't have conducted a study to find out that. They could have just asked me. After years – aw, let's say decades – drinking hot cocoa, I consider myself a cocoa expert. Hot cocoa tastes good, and it makes me feel good! There. That's my study.
The important thing to remember is that hot cocoa tastes good and is good for you. How much cocoa should we drink, you ask? According to the American Academy of Neurology's study, two cups of hot cocoa a day is perfect. That sounds perfect to me, so I shall endorse the academy's findings, especially since cocoa's benefits benefit our brains. Specifically, the study discovered, it improves our brainpower and enhances memory. Heavens to chocolate! I need that!
The next part of the survey's report really got me excited when I first read about it in 2013. It said that older people can benefit greatly and that those two cups of hot cocoa a day can help prevent dementia. Hey, I'm one of those "older people." OK, I'm flat-out old. I'm an old dude. Anyway, I fall into that there advanced-age group, and I'm thrilled with anything that enhances memory and might decrease the chances of dementia.
Right now, I'm thrilled it's National Cocoa Day. I'm so enthusiastic about it that I might exceed the recommended two cups of cocoa a day. Today calls for at least three cups. Three's a charm, as that old saying goes, so I am going to grab an old saucepan, get some milk from the refrigerator, and head to the pantry for the rest of the ingredients.
Yes, how sweet it is. Have yourself a very chocolaty National Cocoa Day.