Why Bulgarians flip over chocolate


So I was sitting on a train the other day, rumbling through the late-summer countryside somewhere between Kostenets and Stamboliyski, and I fell into a conversation with a guy who helped me to understand something huge about Bulgarian culture.

Everyone loves chocolate here. Not likes. Loves. Adores. Flips out.

Need a co-worker to help you fix your computer? Chocolate. Having a birthday? Chocolate. Wooing a secret someone? Yep, chocolate works for that one, too.

Not that people in other countries don’t crave the cacao. I once worked in a newsroom where the good stuff came out every Friday afternoon, and suddenly the weekend deadline seemed attainable. Fridays for me have never been the same.

But in Bulgaria it’s different. Forget the Euro. Adopt Godiva as the national currency and this place wouldn’t miss a beat. Walk into a grocery store and you’ll find one full aisle on display — Lindt, Suchard, Toblerone, Ferrero Rocher, Nestle, Milka — and sometimes two.

So I asked my new friend Dimitar, who works in a paper factory near Plovdiv. What is it about chocolate here?

He smiled, racked his brain for a moment to pull up the right English phrase, and gave me his theory. It had something to do with the end of Communism, he suggested.

How so?

Today you can get anything you want, he said. Back then, things were different.

He tried to put this last bit into words. Finally he captured it.

“Back then,” Dimitar said, “there was only one model.”

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2 thoughts on “Why Bulgarians flip over chocolate

  1. It applies to everything, not just chocolate 🙂 That’s why you see McDonalds all over the place and fancy cars that you don’t see anywhere else in the world.

    Now, I am not defending communism but there’s something that people often miss or overlook. A lot of people (mainly older generation that is now very poor) say a similar thing. And it’s really funny because I spoke about that to some people during yesterday’s Free Sofia Tour and gave them an example exactly with chocolate! I swear. Here it is:

    “There used to be only one brand of chocolate but people could afford it. Now there are thousands but you cannot afford them.”

    Replace the word “chocolate” with any product that comes to your mind. Including bread.

    P.S. Now, I am not defending communism.

  2. I don’t think that the whole nation is mad about chocolate … that’s a bit exaggerated statement … and all this “communist deficit” may only apply to people who are over 35.

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