|What can't you do with chocolate? These chocolate-coated strawberries|
from Clintonville's Eagle Family Candies were divine
While most people really don't need a reason to enjoy chocolate, the national holiday calendar gives us multiple days to at least give an excuse for indulging. National Chocolate Cake Day just passed us by, and National Hot Chocolate Day comes at the end of the month. Other days that await chocolate lovers throughout the year include (but are not exclusive to) National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15th), National Fudge Day (June 16th), National Chocolate Milkshake Day (Sept. 12), and the all encompassing National Chocolate Day (Oct. 28th.)
Ohio itself has its fair share of chocolate makers, from the old-school producers (Canton's Ben Heggy's, Dayton's Esther Price and Winan's, Cincinnati's Fawn Candy, Findlay's Dietsch Brothers, Cleveland's Malley's, and Columbus's Eagle Candy and Anthony Thomas, among others) to newer purveyors like Maverick, Coblentz, Michael's Artisan, Coco Cat, Pure Imagination, and many many more.
So yeah, this playlist is a pretty sweet one, so to speak, one that you should let melt in your ears and not in your hands.
1) "Volcano Girls" - Veruca Salt: Out of the finders of the Golden Ticket made famous in Roald Dahl's novels (as well as the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"), Veruca Salt was the spoiled brat of the bunch, famously meeting her demise down the garbage chute when Wonka wouldn't sell her one his worker squirrels. Hailing from Chicago, the band Veruca Salt hit it big right out of the gate on the alternative charts with "Seether" in 1994; the 1997 song "Volcano Girls" gained notice as the opening song to the teen comedy movie "Jawbreaker."
2) "Chocolate City" - Parliament: When you talk influential music of the 1970s, the discussion must include George Clinton and his P-Funk stable of groups, including Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns, The Brides of Funkenstein, Funkadelic, and perhaps the most dance-oriented outfit of the bunch in Parliament. The term Chocolate City refers to any city with a sizable African-American population, but it's clear from the album cover that the nation's capital, Washington DC, is being referenced by Clinton and his bandmates.
3) "Cadbury Creme Egg Song" - Boo Detch: I can't tell you how many Cadbury chocolate bars I downed as a kid, and my wife has a thing for the Cadbury Creme Egg, a popular treat for many around Easter. Sadly for many, the company fiddled with the recipe for the Creme Egg in 2011, prompting Barbara "Boo" Detch, who was then pursuing a career in music (she currently works in social media marketing), to put her distress into song.
4) "Good Enough" - Mudhoney: While fudge (a mix of sugar, milk and butter that is heated and then beaten into a smooth consistency) doesn't necessarily have to have chocolate, chocolate fudge is perhaps what most people think of when they hear the term. While Seattle's Mudhoney never hit it as big as their fellow grunge compatriots like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, their status as forerunners of what would become grunge can't be underestimated. They could also have a little fun too, as in this track off their 1991 album "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge."
5) "Ghirardelli Square" - Matt Mclarty: as world-famous as the Ghirardelli name is in chocolate (the company was established in San Francisco, CA in 1852; Ghirardelli Square, located in the company's old chocolate factory, is now a retail center), Matt Mclarty is equally as obscure, knocking out this pleasant track along with seven others in his one and only 2013 album "Travelogue."
6) "Buckeyes" - MF DOOM: the news of the death of 49-year-old influential rapper and record producer MF DOOM (aka Daniel Dumile) was perhaps a final extremely sour cherry on top of a very forgettable year of 2020 sundae. While his death actually took place a few months before in October, the news of MF DOOM's unfortunate passing wasn't released until the last day of 2020. The title of this instrumental track, released in 2004, is also the state of Ohio's signature chocolate candy, a ball of peanut butter coated with chocolate which resembles nut of the Buckeye tree.
7) "Schokolade" - Tok Tok Tok: Germans do love their beer and sausages, but they also love their chocolate, which arrived to the area in the 17th century. German for chocolate, "Schokolade" here is performed by the European acoustic soul band Tok Tok Tok, which knocked out a fairly successful run around the continent from 1998 thru 2013.
8) "Cocoa Hooves - Stripped" - Glass Animals: a cousin of chocolate, cocoa is a powder that is most often used in baking or in hot cocoa drinks; in fact, you can't open up food-related Instagram these days without at least one reference to Hot Cocoa Bombs. Speaking of hot, the Oxford, England based Glass Animals has been heating up the charts with their 2020 release "Dreamland"; the song included here, "Cocoa Hooves", came off their 2012 debut EP "Leaflings."
9) "Every 1's a Winner" - Hot Chocolate: continuing with the hot beverage and British vibe; the London-based funk outfit Hot Chocolate found their most success during the 1970s Disco era, with "You Sexy Thing" (which hit the charts again when featured in the 1997 movie "The Full Monty") and this song, which were top 10 hits in both the US and the UK. Although their founder and front man, Errol Brown, passed away in 2015, the band continues to record and perform today.
10) "Lava" - The B-52's: One of the many influential bands to emerge from Athens, GA, the B-52s retro vibe and danceable grooves have won them fans across several generations, including this cut from their first (and perhaps still best) self-titled album. When it comes to chocolate, the Molten Chocolate Lava Cake might be as decadent as any dessert out there, and definitely one of the more popular ones.
11) "Cariñito" - Cacao: Of course, you can't have chocolate without the cacao bean, which may be Central and South America's greatest culinary treasure; in fact, cacao beans were once considered so valuable, they were used as currency in some parts of Mesoamerica. The song "Cariñito" started off as a Peruvian cumbia song, but has been adapted by numerous musical acts across a number of Spanish-speaking countries, including the Guatemala-based Cacao.
12) "Vanishing Girl" - The Dukes of Stratosphear: Meant as a side project of the English band XTC, the the 1960's-psychedelic-music-inspired Dukes of Stratosphear actually proved more popular than the band that spawned them for a time, with their "25 O'Clock and "Psionic Psunspot" releases outselling XTC albums released at the same time. Songs from both, including "Vanishing Girl", were combined and released on the 1987 compilation "Chips from the Chocolate Fireball."
13) "Mississippi Mud" - Dean Martin: A Mississippi Mud Pie comes in many variations, but a constant lies in its graham cracker crust and at least one (and sometimes, more) source of decadent chocolate goodness. Sung here by Steubenville, Ohio's, most famous son Dean Martin, "Mississippi Mud" was originally released in 1927 by Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys. This singing group proved to be just the beginning for one member who went on to bigger and better things - the one and only Bing Crosby.
14) "Lady Godiva Blues" - Mother Love Bone: Founded in 1926, this Belgian chocolatier (which is now owned by a Turkish conglomerate) has been one of the more prominent names in the luxury chocolate world. But even they were not immune from the worldwide effects of the COVID pandemic, as they announced just a few days ago the closure of all their stores in the United States.
On the other hand, Seattle's Mother Love Bone, a conglomeration of several area band members (Green River, Malfunkshun, and Ten-Minute Warning) time in the public eye was far too short, releasing a few singles and an EP before their one and only full length album, "Apple." Just a few days before the album's scheduled release, frontman Andrew Wood passed away from a drug overdose (the album was released to good reviews several months after the tragedy.) For all intents and purposes, Wood's death ended the band, despite a couple of later one-off reunion appearances from its remaining members.