Men turn to chocolate as comfort food just as often as women

WATERBURY, Vt. Movies often portray broken-hearted and stressed out women gorging themselves with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, chocolate cake or a gargantuan bag of M&Ms, but it seems they aren’t the only gender with a serious sweet tooth. According to a Brand Keys survey, men are hitting the office vending machine more than usual, due to financial and business-related stress, recent survey results collected by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company said.

All 750 men who participated in the Ben & Jerry’s survey reported eating more chocolate in the survey taken Friday through Sunday.

“There’s so little that one can actually do about the economy, and people are feeling so disconnected from the problems and the solutions that it was just interesting to see how consumers were reacting,” Robert Passikoff, president of customer loyalty firm Brand Keys, told the press. “Buying a candy bar is in fact something they can do.”

Chocolate is known for its many health benefits, despite its high amount of calories and fat. Besides the obvious advantage of being absolutely delicious, chocolate contains antioxidants and sends endorphins that reduce pain and decrease stress to the brain. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter used in many antidepressant medications, also affects the brain, often producing a more cheerful, upbeat mood.

On the other hand, a somewhat recent study by the Black Dog Institute in the Journal of Affective Disorders claims that chocolate may actually make depression worse, depending on the individual’s personality. If you’re simply a chocolate craver, you’re safe. For cravers, chocolate stimulates the dopamine system and provides an enjoyable experience, said Professor Gordon Parker, executive director of the Sydney-based Black Dog Institute. “But the emotional eaters, people who eat chocolate to relieve boredom, stress or clinical depression, are looking for an opioid effect to improve their mood.” For them, chocolate may produce an initial relief that quickly disappears, sometimes heightening their earlier, negative mood.

So what kind of guilty pleasures are people reaching for? The 750 men surveyed preferred Snickers over any other. The top ten were:

1. Snickers

2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

3. Kit Kate Bars

4. Milky Way

5. Butterfinger

6. Baby Ruth

7. Three Musketeers

8. Mars

9. Oh Henry!

10. Hershey

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