As we start the run-up to Christmas it’s interesting to watch the ever more creative and ingenious methods used by manufacturers to help us reach into our pockets. Apart from toys, socks, ties and ipods, we will likely spend millions on chocolate again this year. One chocolate manufacturer in America has decided it’s not enough to just unwrap a bar of chocolate and eat it, they now want their buyers to ‘understand it’. ‘Note the glossy shine that indicates the strong bond between the cocoa butter and the cocoa mass’, they say. ‘Release its complex aromas by rubbing your thumb across the top and savour the smell. Only then should you finally taste it, feeling the chocolate melt around your tongue.’ So chocolate rubbing may be this year’s big thing. However I’m more excited by an idea from Mars Inc. The company has opened a ‘Chocolate Lounge’ to showcase its new line of gourmet confectionery. The lounge is decorated in pink and brown and staff members are called ‘chocolate consultants.’ The menu features five chocolate collections, including one filled with creme liqueur in flavours such as mojito and ‘chocolapolitan’. There are seven locations in Chicago and the company is planning to open more. Surely it’s only a matter of time before they open in Britain. Perhaps we’ll soon see courses on ‘chocolate consultancy’ available from Broadoak to West Chinnock. I wonder what a chocolate consultant’s uniform will look like – no doubt a red suit and white beard will do the trick for the next few weeks.