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Monday 10 November 2003

Chocolate Decadence

I have written about this very issue before, but as I now have a photo to go along with it, there’ll be an encore. Besides, I find the topic so damned amusing that I can’t resist.

Cold-War American movies that featured Russians always involved, at some point, the Russian characters pointing out that the United States was decadent. I am not sure whether Russians actually said these things, but in a Marxist’s view of the world the United States is quite decadent, i.e. in a state of decay.

Anyway. A lot of quite stupid Americans saw these movies, and they concluded that, if the Soviets were calling the U.S. ‘decadent’, well then ‘decadent’ was the thing to be. Being equipped with neither education nor dictionaries, their minds came to understand ‘decadent’ as being something represented by well-stocked grocery stores, the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, Cadillacs, and musical comedy. That is, ‘decadance’ means everything that most clearly distinguished the United States from the Soviet Union.

While you’ll see the word deployed to hawk all kinds of stuff, from feather boas on QVC (which probably are actually indicative of decadence) to expensive jewelry from legitimate dealers (more properly decadent in the Marxist sense), the notion of ‘decadence’ has for some reason particularly attached itself to things involving chocolate.

Chocolate Decadence

‘Chocolate Decadence’ as pictured here is chocolate cake with whipped-cream frosting, topped with little — very little — chips of toffee. You grab the inch-and-a-half square portions yourself out of a fluorescent-lit stainless-steel tub and carry them back to your table, where you wolf ‘em down with bent and scarred Chinese-made flatware. It’s a good thing we won the Cold War when we did, because if this now counts as ‘decadence’ I’m not sure we’d be culturally equipped for it any more.

Posted by tino at 21:53 10.11.03
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Ah, the irony of consuming “Chocolate Decadence” at an establishment(Golden Corral?) that is not disimilar to, and has all the charms of, the East German cafeterias I’ve been to.

Posted by: RRP at November 11, 2003 12:17 PM

You hit the nail on the head! People seem to think decadent means “luxuriously delicious chocolate food product”, when what it really means is “in a state of decay”. So what the idiots don’t realize is that they’re claiming that their chocolate treat is decaying or rotting away. If someone wants a truly decadent chocolate cake, they can leave the cake out for a week in the sun and there they go! Provided wildlife doesn’t gobble it up first, of course.

Posted by: Matthew Villani at April 21, 2004 07:44 PM