Tomorrow is National Chocolate Day. To celebrate, you could, as the National Confectioners Association would likely encourage, go out and buy enough Wonka Bars to stuff yourself and everyone you know through Halloween. You don't really need a holiday to remind you to do that, though. Instead, a dubious "Day" like this one gives us a chance to reflect on chocolate not only as a commodity, but a potent cultural symbol. A substance this rich in history and physical variability has more functions than a mere sweet tooth satisfier, it's also an important medium in contemporary art.
As Robin Cembalest wrote earlier this year for Artnews, "Like the ancient Americans... contemporary artists who employ chocolate as medium prize its mutability, mind-altering qualities, and inherent luxuriousness. Then, it was part of a religious ritual; now it might be used as a commentary on mass consumption." With a Wonka Bar in your hand, you could hardly disagree. From Karen Finley's naked chocolate performances to Ed Ruscha's minimal Chocolate Room, cocoa has proven itself a versatile medium both physically and conceptually.