Chocolate and Nobel Prizes - your theories


A Magazine story on Sunday explored the curious fact that countries where chocolate-consumption is high tend to produce more Nobel Prize winners. Readers supplied possible explanations for the link - here is a selection.

Michael Johnson, Manchester As an inventor myself, I find my most creative ideas come out when I have some time to myself, either relaxing or pacing up an down pondering about something. As chocolate is not a necessity product but rather more of a luxury product you might eat for enjoyment. It may be that people who have more time to relax and ponder, rather than worry about work or necessity of life... are most creative.

Liz Pearce, Cardiff I had my IQ measured by Mensa a few years ago and it came out at 159 which is apparently in the top 1% of the population. I am also well known for my chocolate addiction and once ate 23 Cadbury Creme Eggs at one sitting. (I felt a bit sick afterwards though.)

Does chocolate make you clever?

Graph showing correlation between chocolate consumption and Nobel prizes

It might not surprise you that Switzerland came top of the chocolate-fuelled league of intelligence, having both the highest chocolate consumption per head and also the highest number of Nobel laureates.

Sweden, however, was an anomaly. It had a very high number of Nobel laureates but its people consumed much less chocolate on average.

Apostolos Papoutsis, Athens, Greece Eating chocolate when hungry is definitely a sign of superior intelligence. To start with, it saves hours in preparation and washing up, not to mention the time it takes to consume the food. The quality and taste of the former is always guaranteed, while the latter entails a great degree of luck. As well, as far as we know, Earth is the only planet blessed with both chocolate and intelligence beings. How is this for correlation?

Ken Yoshikawa, Portland, Oregon What if people who eat more chocolate have more leisure time, and leisure time is the variable that must be focused upon?

Ayub Ayub, Amman, Jordan Chocolate is full of minerals, is a stimulant, and is expensive. People who eat it, especially from an early age, will develop better brains, be more alert/sharp minded, and because they come from richer countries will have better education, a richer environment and more stable/easy life (they can ponder more), and will have more resources hence making them better achievers.

George Chilton, Salisbury, UK Chocolate is consumed in greater quantities in colder climates as it's a comfort food, and doesn't melt quite as much. Looking at the countries in the chart, we can see that they are highly affluent, and Northern. The combination of cold weather and money means people sit and work, rather than sit on the beach. Who wants to use their brain when it's 35 degrees [C] outside? I currently live in Spain. There aren't many Nobel prizes being won here, it's mostly because we're all at the beach, not because we're not eating enough chocolate.

Andrea Valdes Veracruz, Mexico You must consider that the Mayas, who probably domesticated cacao, used to drink a lot of chocolate and they were capable of amazing discoveries in astronomy. Was chocolate the reason for their intelligence?

Start Quote

I don't care if this is true or not - I will use it as an excuse anyway”

End Quote Marta Sandberg Bridgetown, Australia

James Winters, Edinburgh Me and my co-author, Sean Roberts, actually submitted a response to this paper that showed a correlation between the number of serial and rampage killers. In short, you can make the argument that there are positive and negative benefits to higher consumption of chocolate. Or, more seriously, the central point is that you shouldn't take these cross-cultural correlations too seriously.

Johanna, California, USA Chocolate (for the most part, pure dark) makes me feel good. When I have an exam to study for, or ideas to come up with for a creative project, or the need to feel relaxed in an upcoming challenge, chocolate ALWAYS helps. Chocolate differs from other foods eaten at these times, because I don't feel slowed down by digestion and I don't feel tired or sleepy; rather I feel invigorated and, most importantly, inspired. This doesn't prove that chocolate is responsible for my successes, or others' successes. But it might mean that certain people - those who have a predilection and a taste for it - may ''need'' what chocolate offers biochemically (for improved emotional, physical and/or mental state) and consequently function better with it. I know I do.

Marta Sandberg, Bridgetown, Australia I don't care if this is true or not - I will use it as an excuse anyway.

William, Halifax, Canada If you look closely at the flags on the graph you will see that it makes the outline of Cornwall, UK. This Cornish connection ought to be pursued - and can I have a Nobel Prize now?!

Brian Makin, Bassersdorf, Switzerland The explanation is obvious. The Swiss make the best chocolate!

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