Science Explains Why You Crave Chocolate Chip Cookies

A new study reveals what makes this delicious treat so addictive.

Chocolate cookies are a household staple. Most everyone can reflect back on their childhood to the smell and anticipation of enjoying a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie coming out of the oven or even eating the raw and gooey cookie dough right out of the bowl. The experience of making cookies can form a connection to our past and create an emotional attachment. Some people cherish the experience of making cookies with loved ones, sharing them with others, or simply indulging in them when they are in the mood for a treat.

Aside from the emotional comfort of the classic dessert, studies suggest that ingredients in chocolate chip cookies may have addictive properties. Sugar, the main ingredient in a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe, has been proven to activate the reward and cravings parts of the brain comparable to the way one craves addictive drugs, like cocaine.such as cocaine. In addition to containing sugar, chocolate contains small amounts of a compound known as anandamide. Consuming high-fat, sugary cookies raises the level of anandamide in our brains, which targets the same cell receptors as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for its mood-altering effects. While chocolate chip cookies do not produce the same high as marijuana, there may be a chemical explanation for our desire and enjoyment of cookies.

The texture and flavor of cookies are other key addictive characteristics. The result of browned butter, caramelized sugar, vanilla, and chocolate creates beautiful rich flavor and when combined with salt enhances the flavor complexity. Gail Vance Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum, describes the texture to CNN, “Every bite will be interesting… You hit the cookie, which has crispiness due to air pockets in the cookie crumb, and then the chocolate, which is dense and uniform when you bite through it.” The personal preference of texture varies from soft and gooey to crispy, crunchy cookies. The flavor also is dependent on the person, whether it be the ratio of chocolate chips, type of chocolate, more or less salt, etc. However, no matter which chocolate chip cookie preference an individual has the experience remains indulgently enjoyable. Just try to resist eating too many at once to avoid a sugar crash.

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