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Chocolate causes Nobel Laureates

Last updated on 6 Feb 2013

My research associate, Dr Malte Ebach, has brought to my attention an inadvertent proof of the truth of chocoholism.

The New England Journal of Medicine, a most prestigious and scientific journal, has published a paper by Franz H. Messerli, M.D, which shows a strong correlation between the annualised national consumption of chocolate and the number of Nobel laureates produced by that country. The money quote is this:

There was a close, significant linear correlation (r=0.791, P<0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries…

The figure shows this clearly:

Correlation between chocolate and Nobels

Sweden is an outlier because it is administered from Sweden, and so we might think there is a confounding variable there.

Clearly, causation is correlation, and I expect on this basis to be awarded several Nobel Prizes myself. I think that had the author controlled for quality and degree of chocolate to cocoa butter and other contaminants, the signal would be even stronger.

Science says it’s true, so it must be.


  1. A clearer case of causation is that all Nobel Laureates ate some chocolate in their childhood….

  2. Including the Lit prize? Because a number of those haven’t met with universal agreement in the long run. William Golding?

    • Some literature is caused by an immoderacy of chocolate. Recall that balance is everything.

  3. Reminds me of the “Beer study” by brother Grim (Oikos 117:484-487, 2008) showing that the consumption of beer is negatively correlated with the output of peer reviewed papers among Czech evolutionary biologists. Now I understand how Germany, probably among the top nations concerning the consumption of beer, can still occupy an intermediate rank among the Nobel laureate nations. We compensate through high chocolate consumption. What are the Swiss drinking – chocolate?

  4. ckc (not kc) ckc (not kc)

    Surely the more important statistic is the country’s chocolate->nobel efficiency (g chocolate per Nobel per capita) – why feed chocolate to those who are wasting it?

  5. Joachim Joachim

    Yes – I wonderd why the Brazilians sell their cocoa butter to Swizerland rather than feeding it to their scientist?

  6. Heathen, thou shall not hinder anybody’s enjoyment of chocolate.

    • This comment was suppose to reply to “ckc (not kc)” October 13, 2012 at 8:04 am….

  7. johnpieret johnpieret

    I love science “broadly defined” …

  8. Gimme and “H”! Gimme an “E”!… oh screw it… Heteroscedasticity! (and a dozen other problems).

    But mmm, chocolate….

  9. Porlock Junior Porlock Junior

    Why do the Dutch get more Nobel prizes in spite of eating less chocolate? (I mean, of course, in comarison to the measure of all things *America!*)
    They eat better chocolate than we do, of course.

  10. Ernest Harben Ernest Harben

    Good Wor. Loon live chocolate. A necessary food group by itself.

  11. Jeb Jeb

    I think I may look see if statistics prove that a higher per capita consumption of Hand made chocolates, fine vintage wines and caviar leads countries to produce better educated and wealthy people.

    I can then launch my eat for successes and a wealthy future diet on the world with the backing of science.

  12. Jeb Jeb

    Here in Edinburgh we tried to induce a second enlightenment by spending the 80’s living on a bin bag full of heroin a day and the odd packet of crisps. It proved unsuccessful but the salt and sauce we put on our fish and chips may be the secret to future success.

    What ever the case we will die trying.

  13. John the Plumber John the Plumber

    So is it:
    (a) The more endarkened a country, the more Nobel Laureates
    (b) To be a Nobel Luareate one must be endarkened and there’s more chance of that in a Chocolate abundant country, regardless of whether ones countrymen have reached true endarkenment or not.

    • Joachim Joachim

      Both wrong. Due to aunt Jobinska’s theorem everybody knows that the best ideas occur on the toilett. Hence it’s not the endarkenment but the constipation resulting from chocolate consumption…

    • Both, I think, are true. The increase in chocolate consumption increases the number of potential laureates, and the amount they consume increases their laureatity.

  14. Jeb Jeb

    Aunt Jobinska, I think I can hear crowds of Presbyterians cheering for that one. Knowledge borne of such indolent indulgence when true enlightenment requires you to sit on a spiked pew and use sandpaper instead of quilted toilet tissue.

    • Aunt Jobiska, not Jobinska. The term, from Edward Lear’s “The Pobble who has no toes” was coined by John Maynard Smith in his book on The Theory of Evolution.

  15. Extending your hypothesis, Jews must be eating more chocolate than anyone.

  16. Robert E. Harris Robert E. Harris

    The relationship between chocolate consumption and density of Nobel Laureates seems approximately linear. If so, an annual consumption of 4,000 tonnes per capita would bring a density of 1 Laureate per capita. Perhaps a feeding experiment could be organized in some tiny European state, such as Andorra. (Is LD/50 known for chocolate?)

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