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Jessy Scarpone

GC Poetry For Kids: An Ode To Chocolate

October is here, which means autumn leaves and hot chocolate are just around the corner. In the spirit of GC’s Spring Poetry series, we’ll be publishing a series of creative pieces that celebrate the flavors, colors, holiday cliches, and overall symbolism of Fall. This educational poem tells the story of chocolate (tracing back to the Mexican cacao tree) in a narrative form suitable for children. Share this poem with Lil Sprouts’ and encourage them to think critically about where their Halloween Candy comes from. The history of chocolate is ultimately a story about how botany intersects with globalization. Trick or Treat!

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Ode to Chocolate

Your first name was chocalatl
in the native Nahuatl
spoken in the land we call
Mexico,
so long ago,
chocalatl.

Great gift from Quetzalcoatl,
snake-god who made men grovel
and seek the brown and bitter brew
you might think you know
as calm cocoa,
oh chocalatl.

Montezuma, the Aztec king
adored his golden cups and rings
and the frothy fiery spicy drink
sprung from a bean
jumpy with phenylethylamine,
chocalatl.

Thank a Spanish conquistador
who one hot day when he was bored
packing up his galleon’s stores
craved a treat—
and made you sweet,
oh chocalatl.

Spain kept you close, their sweet secret
until their princess brought her piquant
taste to France. Anne was only fourteen,
poor thing,
wed off to a king,
she needed chocalatl.

Soon all Europe loved the beany thrill
ground in wind- and horse-drawn mills.
An Englishman called Fry playing
in his lab—
made you hard, a bar, a slab,
chocalatl.

You had a rival for the crown
of quaffables bitter and brown.
Kids might be drinking coffee now
except that you
were fatty, too,
oh butter-bean.

Cocoa butter made you better;
even made us tan much redder.
The Swiss had cows. They thought “Wow!
Let’s make a milky,
silly-silky
chocalatl!”

The Belgians added nuts and creams
stuff we didn’t dare to dream
could be inside a wrap of foil:
maraschinos,
marshmallows,
shiny chocalatl.

Vanilla’s nice, and butterscotch,
but chips do take them up a notch.
You’re the star in an ice-cream shop,
the bon-bon in a velvet box.
Montezuma’s frothy fire in a cup,
you’re our quickest sweetest pick-me-up!

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