Posted in Kafevend Blog

Today we're going to take a look at chocolate's inspiration for a few phrases:

  • about as much use as a chocolate teapot – that wonderfully scathing but comic way of combining two things we really love, tea and chocolate, to denote the utter uselessness of a thing or person. Some people prefer the fireguard simile, but the origin of either one seems steeped in mystery.
  • I should coco/cocoa – This one is cockney rhyming slang for 'I should say so'  and is a sarcastic way of implying quite the opposite. It's likely to have been in use since at least the 1930s.
  • chocolate soldier – This expression has its origin in the 1894 play by George Bernard Shaw, 'Arms and the Man', and has come to indicate a soldier who might look good in the uniform but doesn't have the courage or conviction for battle.
  • chocoholic – This handy term for describing the addiction that so many of us feel we have for chocolate appears to have been initially coined in the USA by a journalist in the early 1960s.

The French have another far more positive use for the word:
  • Tablettes de chocolat – While the literal meaning is chocolate bars, this is the term used to describe well defined abdominal muscles, rather as we refer to a six pack.

This positive association with chocolate calls to mind a study I once read about, where a psychologist asked both American and French respondents for a word association with 'chocolate cake'. The Americans' most typical response was 'guilt' as I'm sure would have also been the case in Britain. However, by contrast the commonest response amongst the French was 'celebration'. How liberating!

Previous Story

Next Story