Is there a word to describe how you eat chocolate?
Earlier today, BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans asked me if there was a word for what you do when you eat chocolate. You don’t exactly chew it but sucking doesn’t seem quite right either. Coincidentally, at a chocolate festival I attended last weekend, during a chocolate tasting session the chocolatier instructed us not to eat the piece of chocolate we were given immediately, but rather to ‘work it around the mouth’. While it was clear what he meant, it’s not exactly pithy or succinct.
Sweet like chocolate
There are of course countless terms for eating or chewing, ranging from the familiar (chomp, munch, consume) to the more obscure (commanducate, meaning to gnaw, or nibble). But is there a word for what we do with chocolate?
Yes and no. While not specifically referring to chocolate, there is a sense of the verb ‘mumble’ which describes eating without making much use of the teeth. Or you can try the verb ‘mump’, which has much the same meaning. Quotations for both of these terms in the Oxford English Dictionary have such diverse objects of the verb as gingerbread, beans, fish, and pansy petals (the last referring to a tortoise with an overbite).
A related term which refers not to the act of eating, but rather to the sensation that food elicits when you eat it, is mouthfeel. American in origin, it can refer especially to those feelings of consistency and richness that one experiences when one tastes particular kinds of food. Examples include wine, ice cream, and, you guessed it, chocolate. As yet there are no examples of it being used as a verb on the Oxford English Corpus, so it may be some time before we talk of “mouthfeeling chocolate”.