Today is Chocolate Day, the perfect day to celebrate eating it — but don’t we try to do that every day? If you think about it, chocolate is a vegetable. It comes from the pods on the cacao plant: farmers scoop out the wet, goopy beans, then let the mixture sit and “ferment” inside a warm container. Once the goop has leaked out the holes in the bottom, the beans are dried out, roasted, and ground up. This turns them into creamy liquid. Sugar is added to this to make dark chocolate; if you also add milk, you get milk chocolate. Melted chocolate can be poured into molds to make any shape: chocolate bars, bunnies, buttons, kisses. In 2007, Hershey celebrated its 100th birthday by making the world’s largest chocolate kiss, which weighed more than 30,000 pounds! No matter how much you love chocolate, that’s probably more than you can eat today.
Wee ones: If you eat a chocolate bar, then a chocolate kiss, then another bar, then another kiss, how many chocolate things did you eat?
Little kids: If you eat 2 kisses today, then 4 tomorrow, then 6 the next day, how many do you guess you eat the day after that? Bonus: Which bar has more squares: a bar with 2 rows of 4 squares, or a bar with 3 rows of 3 squares?
Big kids: If you eat 2 chocolate kisses, then a button, then 2 more kisses and a button to repeat, what’s the 20th thing you eat? Bonus: If the most chocolate anyone can eat without feeling sick is 4 ounces, how many people could snack on that 30,000-pound kiss? (Reminder if needed: A pound has 16 ounces…so how many people could eat each pound?)
The sky’s the limit: We all know that if you put out a mix of desserts — cookies, cupcakes, donuts — the chocolate ones run out faster. If you put 42 cupcakes on a platter, where there are twice as many chocolate cupcakes as vanilla and twice as many vanilla cupcakes as rainbow sprinkle, how many of each cupcake do you have?
Wee ones: 4 chocolate things.
Little kids: 8 kisses. Bonus: The 3 x 3 bar, which has 9 squares compared to 8.
Big kids: A kiss, since it’s the 2nd item in that set of 3 (#19, 20, 21). Bonus: 120,000 people, since 4 people eat each pound.
The sky’s the limit: 6 rainbow, 12 vanilla, and 24 chocolate cupcakes. Each rainbow cupcake has 2 vanilla cupcakes with it and 4 chocolate ones (2 x 2), making a set of 7. So we just need to figure out how many sets of these 7 cupcakes we can fit in 42. There are 6 sets, so there are 6 rainbow cupcakes, and we keep doubling from there.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.