A Bittersweet EpicentRx Story

Feb 20, 2024

What is the most addictive drug in the universe?

If you ask us (and some others especially post Valentine’s Day), the answer isn’t love, sex, gambling, heroin, cocaine, nicotine, caffeine, methamphetamines, or alcohol.

Our money is on…chocolate.

Yes, chocolate.

Don’t believe us that chocolate is a drug?

Click on this scientific article entitled Chocolate: food or drug?

Or consider that Richard Cadbury, a socially responsible Quaker, whose name adorns chocolate bars the world over and is synonymous with British confectionery, sold chocolate as an ethical alternative to alcohol.

Or that 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold for Valentine’s Day each year. That’s 58 million pounds of chocolate!

On average, each American eats 10 to 12 pounds of chocolate a year, which pales in comparison to the average German who consumes 20.2 pounds per year.

Sounds like addiction to us.

Chocolate has been touted as having numerous health benefits because of all the bioactive anti-inflammatory plant compounds that it contains, including flavanols. However, because chocolate, even dark chocolate, is also rich in saturated fat and sugar, it may actually—sorry chocoholics—contribute to negative health effects such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

That said, if chocolate didn’t exist, we’d have to invent something as pleasurable, and endorphin-producing.

The Mayans called chocolate—or the cocoa bean at least, which is the main ingredient in chocolate—the “Food of the Gods.” They prepared a drink from crushed cocoa beans, which they called—sound familiar? —”xocolatl.” The Spanish, having brought the cocoa bean back from Central America to Europe, added vanilla and sugar to the “xocolatl” drink, thus masking the intrinsic bitter taste of the beans and—voila! —hot chocolate was born. The hot cocoa to chocolate transformation began in the 1800s with the creation of solid bars, and mass production of these bars by companies like Ghirardelli, Nestlé, Lindt, and Hershey made them accessible to the masses.

Why is chocolate so addictive?

First and foremost, the taste—that oh-so-yummy, melt-in-your-mouth, creamy, slightly bittersweet taste that makes us want to binge eat it. The second—or perhaps it should be the first considering the importance of olfaction to taste— the sweet, perfumy, intoxicating, mouthwatering aroma of chocolate.

The third are the ingredients present in chocolate such as caffeine, theobromine (a weaker stimulant than caffeine), fat, salt, and sugar that flood the brain with the happy and reward hormones, serotonin, and dopamine, respectively, producing a kind of “high,” which is typical of illicit drug use.

Rumor has it that EpicentRx owes its very existence to chocolate since two of the initial founders reportedly bonded over their shared love for it—and rockets—which ultimately led them to a small molecule, sourced from rocket fuel, that later became known as RRx-001 (nibrozetone).

True or not, we cannot confirm because, unfortunately, neither of these smart, compassionate men, who were driven to help others, is with us anymore, having passed away before they could really see the successful trajectory that they started EpicentRx on.

We would call that, like some of the best chocolates, more than a little bittersweet.