Why does dark chocolate make me sneeze?
November 7, 2006 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Whenever I eat dark chocolate, I sneeze. The darker and more unadulterated the chocolate, the quicker I sneeze (and the more intense it is). Why?
posted by pt68 to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This could be a case of Oral Allergies, where an allergy to a particular type of pollen (in my case to Birch trees) causes you to sneeze when you eat certain completely unrelated foods (in my case, apples). But afaik, those are usually only limited to fruit and nuts.

Do you have any allergies to trees/flowers/etc or could there be nuts (like hazelnuts) in your chocolate?
posted by DrSkrud at 10:13 AM on November 7, 2006

IANAChocolatologist, but wouldn't this suggest a cacao allergy? The darker chocolate is, the higher percentage of cacao it is. If your sneezing escalates in line with darkness, that's at least a correlation.
posted by kookoobirdz at 10:33 AM on November 7, 2006

Milk chocolate, btw, has cacao % somewhere in the 30s, usually. I've seen dark chocolate as high as 78% myself. So maybe it's tolerable at lower levels.
posted by kookoobirdz at 10:35 AM on November 7, 2006

Response by poster: There is definitely a correlation between cacao concentration and severity of the reaction, and it happens with pure chocolate (no nuts, flavorings, etc.).
I guess the only reason I haven't been sure that it's just allergy is the near immediacy of the reaction (though I guess pollen reactions hit just as quickly).
posted by pt68 at 10:38 AM on November 7, 2006

I get this from milk with non-organic milk.

Interestingly enough, it doesn't happen in the UK with non-organic milk, so I suspect it's the bovine growth hormone.
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:49 AM on November 7, 2006

I have the exact same thing, including stronger reactions to darker chocolate. It's very reliable—just after taking the first bite of dark chocolate, I sneeze violently. I assumed it was an allergic reaction, although (fortunately) I don't have any other symptoms.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:00 AM on November 7, 2006

Maybe it is a variation of this? The article briefly mentions the sneezing can be bought on by strong flavours (though only light works for me).
posted by scodger at 11:20 AM on November 7, 2006

Ooh I get this with red wine if it's particularly....strong (nebulous terminology, I know). Just a one-time sneeze on the first sip. If a wine makes me sneeze, I usually think "damn, that's good wine".
posted by ajp at 12:36 PM on November 7, 2006

Response by poster: Okay, so now I'm thinking the variation on the Photic Response might be the answer (thanks scodger).
Like mrbrubeck, it's only after the first bite, and there are no other reactions.
What I've read about most nasal allergic reactions, the sneeze is combined with the production of mucus, because the body is trying to flush out and throw away the offending particle. But with dark chocolate, there's no mucus.
Roughly scientific . . . very roughly . . .
posted by pt68 at 12:50 PM on November 7, 2006

I found this topic interesting as it relates to a phenomenon that I experience; I sneeze when I become sexually aroused. So, I searched and came up with this.
posted by dudiggy at 9:53 PM on November 7, 2006

posted by dudiggy at 9:54 PM on November 7, 2006

Sorry, for some reason I can't link. Here's the sight http://www.universalreflex.com/article.php?story=20051027150722171
posted by dudiggy at 10:00 PM on November 7, 2006

er, "site"...I'm batting a hundred for my first post ever. I hate to hijack this thread but, what am I doing wrong that I can't use the link at the bottom of the comment box?
posted by dudiggy at 10:07 PM on November 7, 2006

Nevermind, I think I figured it out. [slowly backing out of the room, hoping nobody notices what a retard I am]
posted by dudiggy at 10:15 PM on November 7, 2006

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