Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chocolate Teapots

Yes, I know this is the last day of 2014.  Yes, I realize people are generally writing 'Year in Review' posts, or 'My Resolutions' posts.  But this is Teapot Musings, so I'm writing about teapots.  Specifically, chocolate teapots.

You see - not long ago, a friend of mine mentioned the phrase "as useful as a chocolate teapot".  It was not a phrase I'd ever heard before, but I couldn't even consider the phrase as a whole, I was stuck on the notion of a chocolate teapot.  Wow.  Just imagine.  A Chocolate  Teapot.  Kind of takes your breath away, doesn't it!

But as I considered the phrase, I realized that it wasn't intended to be a good thing.  As I thought about it, I realized the phrase was most likely intended to describe something that was worthless.

So once I caught my breath, I decided to look into this a bit further.  It appears that the phrase originated in the United Kingdom -- which is not a surprise.  The UK is the home of many teapots, as well as many teas.  To begin with, the phrase referred to a useless or pointless item.  However, over time, it was used in the military as an insult to describe someone who was clumsy and accident prone.

Back in 2001, some group ( decided to have a bit of fun and test just how useful a chocolate teapot might be.  They pretended to set up their experiment in a very scientific manner and included lots of measurements and photos in their report.  They concluded that not only was a chocolate teapot of no use with regard to tea brewing, but it provided an "excellent baseline of uselessness against which to compare other, similarly dysfunctional items."

So while I now had my breath back, I was very sad.  There's not much that I enjoy more than a good cup of tea, but I also enjoy chocolate, and I'd always considered chocolate and tea to be an outstanding combination.  And now, someone was putting chocolate and tea in the same category as useless and dysfunctional.

But AHA!!!!  Vindication!!

The 2001 report was meant as a joke, in the same category as the study of just how dead is a doornail, or the study of woodchucks eating wood.  But a few months ago, a group of scientists and engineers did a real test with a real chocolate teapot, and concluded that if you  put in the tea and add boiling water, and just let everything sit for two minutes while the tea brews, you can indeed brew tea in a chocolate teapot.  You see, while the inner layer of chocolate melts, it actually serves to insulate the rest of the chocolate from damage from the boiling water.

So what does all of this mean?  Well, it means a few things.  First, don't assume that something is useless, until you've given it a test - a fair and proper test.  Next, we could all use a bit of insulation against the bad and harmful things out there.  And finally, chocolate can be a good insulator.

So with the old year winding down, and the new year approaching, and the weather outside being a typical cold New Year's Eve day, I think I'll make a cup of tea, and perhaps enjoy a bit of chocolate with it as well.