chocolate


Chocolate

CHOCOLATE

CHOCOLATE. Chocolate is the name applied to the variety of products manufactured from the seeds of the tropical tree Theobroma cacao L. The Swedish naturalist Carl Von Linné (17071778), known as Linnaeus, gave the tree the attribution theobroma or "food of the gods," taken from the Greek. When adjoined to cacao, the indigenous Mixe-Zoquean term for the plant, the name is symbolic of the social, religious, and economic importance of chocolate in both New and Old World cultures. Yet while it was revered, it was also reviled, an ambivalence that attends chocolate even in the twenty-first century. Among all the fruits of tropical and subtropical America, why would this one elicit so much passion?

The Plant and Its History

The geographic origin of T. cacao is obscure. While most texts place its origin in either the Amazon or Orinoco River basins of northern South America, it is equally likely that a separate variety originated in Mesoamerica, perhaps in the Lacandón rainforest of the Mexican state of Chiapas. It has been hypothesized that wild T. cacao was broadly distributed in Central and South America and that at some time trees in the isthmus died out, leaving a northern variety and a southern variety to develop independently. The fruit of criollo, the northern variety, is characterized by elongated, deeply ridged yellow to red pods containing ivory or pale purple seeds, while forastero, the southern variety, is characterized by more ovoid, smooth, melon-like green or yellow pods with pale to deep purple seeds. The pigmented substances and related compounds in the cacao seeds impart bitter and astringent qualities to the chocolate. Hence the forastero variety has a robust flavor, while the delicate, "fine" flavor of the criollo is generally considered of superior quality. In the early twenty-first century, greater than 80 percent of commercial cacao was forastero, since this variety is hardier and more productive.

The word "cacao" seems to have come to the Maya from the Olmec, who inhabited the lowlands of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico between about 1500 and 400 b.c.e. and who probably first domesticated the tree. The Izapan culture that bridged the Olmec and the Classic Maya (250900 C.E.) likely planted the criollo plantations of Xoconochco (Soconusco) on the Pacific coastal plains of Chiapas, later a prize possession of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire. While this suggests that cacao was an important crop to the Olmec and the Izapan, it is not known to what extent chocolate was an icon food. The pre-Classic Quiché Maya of the Guatemala highlands apparently did not hold it in exceeding high regard for it is mentioned only in passing in the sacred Popol Vuh or "Book of Counsel." But sometime before 250 C.E. this changed. Chocolate appears in Classic Maya iconography, where the glyph symbolizing cacao adorns ritual burial vases. Classic Maya, particularly the wealthy, imbibed cacao in betrothal and marriage ceremonies, reminiscent of the modern use of expensive French champagne. However, the ritual use of cacao reached its height during the time of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire between 1300 and 1521 C.E.

Cacao was both an elite drink and coinage among the post-Classic Maya and the Aztecs. Chocolate was considered a drink for warriors and nobles and had ritual significance as a symbol of human blood. Since cacao could not be grown in the Valley of Mexico, the site of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, it had to be imported from either the conquered lands in Xoconochco or obtained by trade from the Maya of the Yucatán, which gave chocolate an exotic quality. It has been oft repeated that Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (the familiar "Montezuma") drank fifty flagons of chocolate a day, most especially before entering his harem, but the account of the conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo says of those fifty large mugs, "he would drink a little" (Dillinger et al., 2000, p. 2058S). While cacao was an integral part of the beliefs and practices of the ruling Aztec elite, the image they held of it was not wholly positive. This warning is part of one Aztec tale: "You have become old, you have become tired because of the chocolate you drink and because of the foods you eat" (Coe and Coe, 1996, p. 80). The exuberance of the puritanical Aztecs for chocolate may have been tempered by its association with the luxury-loving Maya of the warm lands to the south. This north-south conflict was repeated in Europe.

In American English usage, "cacao" refers to the tree and its dried seeds prior to further processing; "cocoa" refers to the partially defatted, roasted, and ground cacao seeds; and "chocolate" refers to a food prepared from roasted cacao seeds. Although not leguminous, the cacao seeds are often referred to as "beans." The composition of the edible cotyledon or "nib" is by weight approximately 55 percent fat; 30 percent carbohydrates, half of which is dietary fiber; 10 percent protein; and a host of minor nutrients. This breakdown provides a key to the basis for chocolate's status as a luxury food.

Cacao seeds, numbering twenty to forty, develop within a thick-hulled pod surrounded by a white, sweet, mucilaginous pulp that, with the potential to be fermented into ethanol, could have been what first attracted Homo sapiens. Wild cacao is dispersed by primates, who consume the sweet pulp and discard the bitter seed. Cupuaçu, a product made from the pulp of the fruit of Theobroma grandiflorum, a relative of T. cacao, is consumed by peoples of the Amazon. The preparation of cacao seeds for chocolate making begins with a fermentation step that at one point generates ethanol, which may explain why chocolate has at times been described as intoxicating. A "wine" produced from the liquid expressed from the cacao pulp is consumed in the Yucatán. It is speculative but possible that consumption of the cacao seeds was an afterthought, as the bitter flavor of the seeds is an acquired taste.

Processing Cacao

Fermentation is required for the characteristic chocolate flavor to develop when the seeds are roasted. The mucilaginous pulp surrounding the seeds is fermented to ethanol, then progressively to acetic and lactic acids, which facilitates its removal. The acid and heat generated during fermentation kill the seed embryo, preventing germination and allowing enzymatic changes that generate flavor precursors and reduce bitterness and astringency. Following fermentation, the seeds are dried, preferably in the sun, to a final moisture content of about 7.5 percent. In this form, the seeds are transported from the country of origin to the major chocolate manufacturing regions.

For the Maya and the modern American alike, the conversion of the fermented and dried cacao to chocolate involves three major operations: roasting, winnowing, and grinding. Just as with meat, roasting cacao generates complex aromas appealing to the human sense of smell. Winnowing is the removal of the inedible shell surrounding the nib. Grinding, which the Maya accomplished by hand using a metate and for which later processors have used a variety of mechanical mills, liberates the cacao fat (cacao "butter") from within the plant cells, extracts the aroma, and permits easy suspension of the cacao in beverages.

The quantity of protein in cacao is significant, and the amino acid composition, while limited in lysine and methionine, can be considered good for a protein of plant origin. However, unlike the leguminous beans that complement maize nutritionally, the digestibility of cocoa proteins is only about 16 to 17 percent. Therefore the proteins of cacao have little practical nutritional value.

The nitrogenous compounds of cacao include both proteins (80 percent) and the methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine, which are present in chocolate liquor (ground cacao nibs) at levels of about 1.22 percent and 0.21 percent respectively. They are both central nervous system stimulants, diuretics, and smooth muscle relaxants, although theobromine tends to be less so than caffeine. It is certainly reasonable to assume that the physiological effects of the plant alkaloids are part of chocolate's appeal. Chocolate introduced Europe to these stimulants, though in a milder form than the coffee and tea that followed. The caffeine-containing kola nut, derived from an African tree of the same order as cacao (Sterculiaceae), became the basis of the American icon food Coca Cola. But it is likely that cacao butter is the soul of chocolate's appeal.

While wild game, including deer, peccaries, monkeys, tapir, birds, reptiles, and smaller mammals, were abundant in the New World, the only domesticated animals routinely used for meat were the dog and the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata). Muscle foods were not ordinary fare for the indigenous inhabitants of Mesoamerica, and "when the meat-eating Europeans arrived, they described Maya life as perpetual Lent" (Coe, 1994, p. 153). Perhaps just as significant, this lack of large domesticated livestock meant the Maya had no source of butter, lard, or tallow. Fats and oils have been sought for cooking, lighting, and medicine since the earliest times. Hence some of the earliest domesticated plant species in the Old World were the almond (Prunus amygdalus) and the olive (Oleo europea). Perhaps the well-documented Maya distaste for the fat of European animals resulted from Maya familiarity with the preeminent fat, cacao butter.

Nutritional Value

Cacao butter is unique among natural fats. Its constituent fatty acids are principally the medium-chain saturated fatty palmitic acid and stearic acid and the monounsaturated oleic acid, so cacao butter exhibits a remarkable stability against oxidative rancidity. Furthermore, the manner in which these fatty acids are distributed on the major molecule of natural fats, triacylglycerols, makes cacao butter solid at normal ambient temperatures, but it melts quickly just below body temperature. Bishop Diego de Landa reportedly said the Maya "get from cacao a grease which resembles butter, and from this and maize they make another beverage which is very savory and highly thought of" (Coe and Coe, 1996, p. 61). Fernández de Oviedo observed, "Cacao ground, and cooked with a bit of water, makes an excellent fat for cooking" (Coe, 1994, p. 54).

As in other fats, the caloric content of cocoa butter is high. Chocolate liquor contains approximately 520 kilocalories per 100 grams, 460 of which are from fat. The 1878 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica refers to "Cocoa, or more properly Cacao," as "a valuable dietary substance" and points out that, while only infusions are made from coffee and tea, leaving large portions of their total weights unconsumed, the entire substance of the cacao seed is utilized. Henry Stubbe, in The Indian Nectar, or, a Discourse Concerning Chocolata [sic ] (1662), reported that both English soldiers and Indian women in Jamaica sustained themselves for long periods by eating only chocolate yet did not exhibit a decline in strength. The nutritional qualities of chocolate have been praised by numerous authors since the sixteenth century, and some people have called it a complete food, like bread or milk, containing as much nourishment as a pound of beef. While this helped the Hershey Chocolate Company earn the Army-Navy E award for the Ration D, it caused much consternation within the Catholic Church. Twice the residents of Chiapas consulted Pope Gregory XIII on the question of whether or not drinking chocolate broke the ecclesiastical fast, and both times he responded that it did not because it was a drink. So while coffee and tea can only be regarded as stimulant in effect, a cup of cacao is nutritive in value.

In preconquest Mesoamerica, cacao was an ingredient of a wide variety of drinks, gruels, and porridges, to which were added a great diversity of other flavorings, notably vanilla (Vanilla planifolia), chilli pepper (Capsicum annum), and "ear flower" (Cymbopetalum penduliflorum). It is likely that some of these concoctions were served hot and others cold. The simplest chocolate drink consisted of adding ground cacao and flavorings to water and agitating the mixture by beating or by pouring the liquid from one vessel to another to raise a foam, which was considered the best part of the drink and a sign of quality. During preparation the foam was reserved, then it was added back before serving. While the Maya added indigenous plants to augment the foam, modern consumers have replaced it altogether with whipped cream or marshmallow. The ground cacao was often ameliorated with ground maize or ceiba seed (Ceiba pentandra), though not in the most elite drinks. The bitter taste of most chocolate drinks was not immediately appealing to the European palate. Notable among the ingredients Europeans added to their chocolate are sugar and milk.

From at least the time of the Aztecs, people have been ambivalent about chocolate. Wolfgang Schivelbusch portrayed this ambivalence as a contest between diametrically opposed cultures: capitalist, middle-class, Protestant northern Europe versus aristocratic, Catholic southern Europe. Chocolate was a status symbol of the ancien régime, while coffee appealed to the bourgeois intellect. That chocolate became a status symbol in Europe had much to do with its richness, rarity, and exotic origins. As a status symbol, drinking chocolate vanished with the ancien régime. Cocoa became a breakfast drink for women and children; what formerly symbolized power and glory was now in the hands of the disenfranchised in middle-class society. However, at the same time, solid eating chocolate gained new significance as a luxury in its own right. Once again prestige followed the fat.

While the calories provided by chocolate may have been advantageous to a solider on the march, the idle European nobility found it exceedingly fattening and disagreeable at times to the stomach. In search of a better beverage, Coenraad Van Houten in 1828 developed a means of partially defatting cacao using a mechanical press, an invention that had unanticipated consequences.

The development of solid eating chocolate was evolutionary. Chocolate liquor is solid below 85°F (30°C); formed into small pellets or wafers, it was issued to Aztec warriors on campaign. It was an obvious step to add spices and maize to the cacao during grinding and then form the mixture into cakes. These tablets could later be dispersed into water to prepare a beverage. Seventeenth-century texts mention "eating" as well as drinking chocolate, and recipes for solid confections containing cacao appeared in the eighteenth century. In the 1820s, Goethe wrote of chocolate, "Enjoy this whenever it suits your mood, Not as a drink, but a much loved food" (Morton and Morton, 1986, p. 67). But it was the surplus cacao butter resulting from Van Houten's invention that accelerated the trend toward solid chocolate confections.

The addition of cacao butter to chocolate liquor made it possible to add more sugar to balance the bitterness of the cacao while still producing a thin paste that could be cast into a mold or used as a coating. Solid eating chocolate became an object of trade in the mid-1800s. However, these early products were coarse and gritty. Rudolph Lindt is credited with the 1879 invention of the conch that by grinding the sugar exceedingly fine and homogenizing the mixture creates a smooth and creamy textured chocolate with enhanced flavor and aroma. This "fondant" chocolate became a world standard.

Chocolate has been lauded for its purported medicinal value. Greater than one hundred medicinal uses for chocolate have been reported, and the majority fall into three main categories: 1) to aid emaciated patients in gaining weight; 2) to stimulate the nervous systems of apathetic, exhausted, or feeble individuals; and 3) to improve digestion, stimulate the kidneys (diuretic), and improve bowel function (Dillinger et al., 2000, p. 2057S). These uses can be explained either by cacao's caloric content or by the presence of methylxanthines. In the late twentieth century, attention focused on a class of compounds, phytonutrients, that tend to have antioxidant properties and are said to lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Among these phytonutrients are the polyphenols, in particular the catechins, which have demonstrated physiological antioxident properties. Pigment cells in the cacao seed, especially in the forastero variety, are rich in these compounds, which may mean redemption for the lowly cousin of the criollo.

Chocolate has long been called an aphrodisiac, a quality that entered into the debate over whether or not it could be consumed by Catholics during Lent, and references to its stimulation of the sexual appetite are numerous. Like other luxury items, chocolate is a symbol of excess wealth, but the association of chocolate and eroticism may not be entirely iconographic in nature. While no specific chemical compounds have yet been identified that could account for either chocolate's supposed addictive or aphrodisiac properties, debate continues on its physiological and psychological effects. Chocolate has become an essential ingredient in the act of seduction. It could be that the melting of the cacao butter in chocolate is symbolic of the melting of the heart and the breakdown of sexual resistance.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bailleux, Nathalie, et al. The Book of Chocolate. Paris: Flammarion, 1995.

Beckett, S. T., ed. Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use. 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1999.

Coe, Sophie D. America's First Cuisines. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

Dand, Robin. The International Cocoa Trade. 2nd edition. Cambridge, U.K.: Woodhead Publishing, 1999.

Dillinger, Teresa L., Patricia Barriga, Sylvia Escárcega, Martha Jimenez, Diana Salazar Lowe, and Louis E. Grivetti. "Food of the Gods: Cure for Humanity? A Cultural History of the Medicinal and Ritual Use of Chocolate." Journal of Nutrition 130 (2000): 2057S2072S.

Drewnowski, Adam, and Carmen Gomez-Carneros. "Bitter Taste, Phytonutrients, and the Consumer: A Review." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72 (2000): 14241435.

Girard, Sylvie. "Les vertus aphrodisiaques du chocolat [The aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate]." Cahiers Sexol. Clin. 11 (1985): 6062.

Knight, Ian, ed. Chocolate and Cocoa, Health and Nutrition. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1999.

Morton, Marcia, and Frederic Morton. Chocolate: An Illustrated History. New York: Crown Publishers, 1986.

Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants. Translated from the German by David Jacobson. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992.

Gregory R. Ziegler

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chocolate

chocolate, general term for the products of the seeds of the cacao or chocolate tree, used for making beverages or confectionery. The flavor of chocolate depends not only on the quality of the cocoa nibs (the remainder after the seeds are fermented, dried, and roasted) and the flavorings but also on a complex process of grinding, heating, and blending. The chocolate liquid formed in an intermediate stage is used in the confectionery trade as a covering for fruits, candies, or cookies, or the process may be continued and the resulting smooth mass of chocolate molded, cooled, and packaged as candy. It should be hard enough to snap when broken, have a mellow flow when melting, be free of gritty particles, and have a rich, dark color and an aromatic smell and flavor.

A chocolate beverage was known to the Aztecs and through Spanish explorers found (c.1500) its way into Europe; the Maya also made such a drink, perhaps as early as 900 BC, and may also have used chocolate in prepared food. In 1657 a shop was opened in London where chocolate was sold at luxury prices. It became a fashionable drink; many shops sprang up to become centers of political discussion and grow into famous clubs, such as the Cocoa Tree. Chocolate was first manufactured in the United States at Milton Lower Mills, near Dorchester, Mass., in 1765. About 1876, M. D. Peter of Vevey, Switzerland, perfected a process of making milk chocolate by combining the cocoa nib, sugar, fat, and condensed milk. The United States has the world's largest chocolate-manufacturing industry.

See B. W. Minifie, Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionery (1970); S. Beckett, Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use (1982); J. G. Brenner, The Emperors of Chocolate (1999); M. Norton, Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World (2008).

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chocolate

chocolate Made from cocoa nibs (husked, fermented, and roasted cocoa beans) by refining and the addition of sugar, cocoa butter, flavouring, lecithin, and, for milk chocolate, milk solids. It may also contain vegetable oils other than cocoa butter. Originally from Central America, xocoatl is a cold drink made from cocoa flavoured with honey, spices and vanilla; according to Aztec mythology the god of air, Quetzalcoatl, came to earth and taught human beings to cultivate various crops, including cacao. First use of cocoa as a food rather than a beverage was developed by the Dutch cocoa merchant Conrad van Houten in 1815; first milk chocolate for eating invented in 1875, by adding sweetened condensed milk.

A 100‐g portion of milk chocolate is a rich source of copper; a good source of calcium; a source of protein, vitamin B2, iron, and selenium; contains 30 g of fat, of which 60% is saturated and 30% mono‐unsaturated; supplies 540 kcal (2270 kJ). A 100‐g portion of plain chocolate is a rich source of copper; a source of protein and iron; fat and energy as for milk chocolate.

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DAVID A. BENDER. "chocolate." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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chocolate

choc·o·late / ˈchäk(ə)lit; ˈchôk-/ • n. a food preparation in the form of a paste or solid block made from roasted and ground cacao seeds, typically sweetened. ∎  a candy made of or covered with this: a box of chocolates. ∎  a drink made by mixing milk with chocolate: sipping on hot chocolate. ∎  a deep brown color: [as adj.] huge spiders, yellow and chocolate brown. DERIVATIVES: choc·o·lat·y (also choc·o·lat·ey) adj. ORIGIN: early 17th cent. (in the sense ‘a drink made with chocolate’): from French chocolat or Spanish chocolate, from Nahuatl chocolatl ‘food made from cacao seeds,’ influenced by unrelated cacaua-atl ‘drink made from cacao.’

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"chocolate." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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chocolate

chocolate Like cocoa, chocolate was originally a drink (introduced to Europe in the 1500s) produced from the seeds of the tropical tree Theobroma cacao. The seeds are beans contained in an elliptical pod, and do not have the flavour or colour of chocolate until they have been fermented and roasted. The beans are then ground up to make chocolate powder. The first chocolate bar was produced in the late 1700s.

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"chocolate." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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chocolate

chocolate beverage made from seeds of the cacao tree; paste made from these ground. XVII. — F. chocolat, or its source Sp. chocolate — Nahuatl chocolatl article of food made from cacao seeds; this seems to have been confounded by Europeans with cacaua-atl, which was actually a drink made from cacao.

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T. F. HOAD. "chocolate." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Chocolate

CHOCOLATE

An ingredient of many popular treatscandies, sweets, baked goods, soft drinks, hot drinks, ice cream, and other frozen desserts. It is prepared, often as a paste, from the roasted crushed seeds (called cocoa beans) of the small South American cacao tree called Theobroma cacao (this is not the shrub known as the COCA PLANT, which produces COCAINE, Erythroxylon coca ).

The cacao tree has small yellowish flowers, followed by fleshy yellow pods with many seeds. The dried, partly fermented fatty seeds are used to make the paste, which is mixed with sugar to produce the chocolate flavor loved throughout the world. Cocoa butter and cocoa powder are other important extracts from the bean. Cocoa beans were introduced to Europe by the Spanish, who brought them back from the New World in the sixteenth century. They had first been used by the civilizations of the New WorldMexicans, Aztecs, and Mayan royaltyin a ceremonial unsweetened drink and as a spice in special festive foods, such as molé. They were first used in Europe by the privileged classes to create a hot, sweet drink. By the seventeenth century, cocoa shops and Coffee shops (cafés) became part of European life, serving free TOBACCO with drinks and thereby increasing trade with the New World colonies.

Chocolate produces a mild stimulating effect caused by the THEOBROMINE and CAFFEINE it contains. Both are ALKALOIDS of the chemical class called xanthines. Theobromine in high doses has many effects on the body, and it is possible to become addicted to some xanthines, such as caffeine. Nevertheless, some people are so attracted to the flavor that compulsive or obsessive use has resulted in the newly coined term chocoholic. Some scientists are researching the phenylethylamine in chocolate as the factor that encourages compulsive chocolate ingestion.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Serafin, W. E. (1996). Drugs used in the treatment of asthma. In J. G. Hardman et al. (Eds.), The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th ed. (pp. 659-682). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Michael J. Kuhar

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KUHAR, MICHAEL J.. "Chocolate." Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior. 2001. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

KUHAR, MICHAEL J.. "Chocolate." Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior. 2001. Encyclopedia.com. (October 24, 2014). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3403100110.html

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chocolate

chocolatebraggart, faggot (US fagot), maggot •legate •bigot, gigot, Piggott, spigot •ingot • profligate • aggregate • yogurt •conjugate • abrogate • surrogate •ergot, virgate •Bagehot • patriarchate • wainscot •Sickert • predicate • syndicate •certificate, pontificate •Calicut • delicate • silicate • triplicate •duplicate, quadruplicate •intricate • Connecticut • Alcott •ducat • advocate •ballot, palate •charlotte, harlot •appellate, Helot, prelate, zealot •flagellate • distillate •Pilate, pilot •copilot • gyropilot • autopilot •triangulate •ejaculate, immaculate •amulet • spatulate •articulate, denticulate •consulate, proconsulate •postulate • ungulate •inviolate, ultraviolet •chocolate • cardinalate • desolate •isolate • disconsolate • Merlot

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"chocolate." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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