— -- In a possible attempt to one-up Willy Wonka, a Belgian chocolatier wants chocolate lovers to indulge not with their tongues but with their noses.
The chocolate shooter is a cocoa powder catapult that launches two small bumps of cocoa powder into the user’s nostrils.
While it is obvious that creator Dominique Persoone has found himself at the extreme of chocolate obsession, what’s less known are the possible health effects of snorting chocolate; there is no research on the impact to the nose or lungs, although medical experts are far from condoning this indulgence.
However, that has not discouraged Persoone from reportedly selling more than 20,000 kits online. Nor has it stopped a Vancouver, Canada, shop from becoming the first known North American store to offer these cocoa bumps.
Mary Jean Dunsdon has been selling the kits for $109 or $2 per sniff to more than to 100 customers. And so far, she has had no complaints.
“We get some people back who’d like to try it again. Or people that like to try both flavors, but no there’s no addict,” Dunsdon says.
So why are we snorting chocolate? It could be the same reason why we’re willing to plunk down big bucks for artisanal chocolate. The Mast Brothers, Rick and Michael Mast, sell $8 bars made in their chocolate factory in Brooklyn, New York.
“For people that want to take their pleasures to the next level you engage in a company like Mast Brothers,” says co-owner Rick Mast.
And for the Iowa natives the next level means bringing it back to basics. Rick’s brother Michael says they want people to “think of chocolate in the purest sense and not just as a bar with a laundry list of ingredients.”
They do so by sourcing cacao beans from small farms around the world, and bypassing large producers. The brothers use select beans for small batches that have a distinctively different taste from the chocolate bars you find at the grocery store checkout counter. Their chocolate is often referred to as bean-to-bar or craft chocolate. This delicious trend is part of a $330 million premium chocolate category that according to the National Confectioners Association has seen 15 percent growth since 2013.
At the University of Michigan, Dr. Ashley Gearhardt runs a cleverly disguised room that looks like a fast food restaurant, but is actually a science lab where she studies food addictions. Chocolate, she has reported, is consistently ranked as the number one food respondents have trouble putting down.
And her research shows that the culprit for the obsession could be our brains.
“That same brain region is one of those regions that we know is really important in other drug addictions,” Gearhardt says. “This section of the brain is activating and saying you want that you crave that you really should get more of that.”
Which could explain how The Mast Brothers have sold more than a million bars sold around the world and are opening a factory this week in London, England. Rick Mast credits their success to one simple truth about chocolate.
“We said many times chocolate is the most popular food on the earth,” he says. “People start smiling just by hearing the sound of it and they just want to taste it, they crave it, they are addicted to it. It’s everything to a lot of people.”