“No you can’t have this,” I say to the dog. “It’s bad for you.”
I am eating Tony’s Chocolonely. This is a chocolate I first discovered in Amsterdam when I became engaged, and so it has a special place in my heart.
The dog is not deterred. She studies me as I break off another piece, then traces its – outrageously unfair – movement through the air and into my mouth. The pieces are thick and unevenly cut, but I enjoy the challenge of crunching it down.
Once the piece of chocolate has disappeared, the dog lies on the bed again, knowing that the moment of opportunity has gone, but hopeful another might occur. She waits.
I consider the chocolate as I finish off the piece and weigh up whether I should eat another. I have spent a lot of time with Tony’s Chocolonely over the last year. Recently, I discovered that it was on offer at the Co-op so I started buying it in bulk.
Everything has been placed on hold, and for one reason or another, I have spent a lot of time alone. Eating Tony’s Chocolonely feels like a fitting way to get me through the long night of the pandemic.
Now that I have finished my piece, I spend a little time eyeing the wrapper (that design, which I am sure was calculated to say Willy Wonka).
“Of course,” I say, trying to find a spurious intellectual tangent to distract me from my real interest, which is to eat more chocolate, “one of the things that’s distinctive about Tony’s Chocolonely is that the pieces are cut unevenly.”
The dog is listening. She has raised her head. Unlike my disingenuous nonsense, her interest is grounded by the sense of her stomach.
“Which is odd when you stop to think about it. It’s meant to be rule-breaking, I suppose, a nod towards disorder and irreverence. Most bars of chocolate are broken down into carefully calibrated metric chunks. But Tony’s Chocolonely defies convention and invites you into a kind of delectable chocolate chaos, where, depending on how you break it up, you might end up with a nugget or the chippings around the edge. Even the name – Tony’s Chocolonely – deconstructs the hard edges of meaning.”
The dog tilts her head, as if to say And?
“Everything about the product is as creative as it is Dutch. One of their bars combines milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and bits of pretzel – which I still think shows an impressive feat of imagination.”
The dog realises that I am just rambling again, so she sits down, looking a bit grumpy.
“But if you think about it, they must have a machine which cuts the chocolate into a consistent pattern of disorder. So, really, they are just using the tools of order to create the impression of disorder. You might even say there’s something duplicitous about its subversive attitude and appearance. Which means that Tony’s Chocolonely shows you that order and disorder, sense and nonsense, are dialectically kin.”
For a brief time I wonder if it might be possible to create a rival chocolate bar which embraces the more modest but ineluctable order of the creative subject.
Then I stop thinking about it and eat some more chocolate.