As any Muggle knows, chocolate is a truly magical substance. We see it in many forms throughout the Harry Potter novels – the birthday cake that Hagrid brings for Harry’s 11th birthday is a chocolate cake, chocolate eclairs and chocolate gateau are regularly served in Hogwarts’ feasts, and of course Chocolate Frogs are featured regularly. The tempting taste of chocolate seems to be especially good for disguising illicit substances, as both Hermione and Romilda Vane found, with chocolate cakes spiked with a sleeping draught for Crabbe and Goyle, and a box of chocolate cauldrons filled with love potion intended for Harry.
However, perhaps the most interesting appearance of chocolate in the Harry Potter books is as a remedy for the effects of dementors. Professor Lupin gives some to Harry on the train after the first dementor encounter, and Madam Pomfrey signifies her approval of this treatment and later supplies her own chocolate to Harry following other dementor attacks. We hear often that chocolate is the appropriate remedy for dealing with the after-effects of being in the presence of dementors – that hopeless feeling that you’ll never be happy again.
In interviews, J.K. Rowling has confirmed that the dementors are a metaphor for depression, with their ability to suck all the happiness out of a person. In the Muggle world, chocolate has long been associated with having mood enhancing properties, and science has shown us that chocolate contains a number of psychoactive properties that can induce a sense of euphoria and help to regulate mood. Dark chocolate has also been found to be higher in flavonoids, an antioxidant that has been linked with improved inflammatory profiles, which in turn is associated with the onset of depression. A recent study found that adults who ate dark chocolate had 70% lower odds of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who ate no chocolate at all.
So it seems that the magical and Muggle worlds can agree on this and Madam Pomfrey is right. Eating chocolate is good for you. And since dementors are invisible to Muggles, you never know when one might be around, so the safest thing to do is to keep some chocolate close by at all times!
In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.
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Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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