SOUTHFIELD — Parents beware: 12,190 pounds of chocolate was sitting outside Vandenberg World Cultures Academy Nov. 7 just waiting to be devoured.
But the world’s largest chocolate bar wasn’t there to be eaten. It was there to teach a lesson about healthy eating.
“We travel the country going to schools and talking to the students about healthy lifestyles,” said Sarah Lynn Brannan, tour director for the Think Big, Eat Smart national tour put on by World’s Finest Chocolate, which holds the title for having made the largest chocolate bar on the planet, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The bar, which measures 21 feet in length, is large enough to feed 209,000 people.
The company uses the allure of the candy bar to get the students’ attention, and then explain the value of making healthy food choices, which can indeed include chocolate, simply in moderation.
“Think big, eat smart!” Brannan had the students chanting in the gymnasium.
“The world’s leading chocolate provider took it as their responsibility to talk to kids about healthy living,” she said. “This tour is all about a big idea — one that will help you lead a good life. And that idea is eating right and getting exercise.”
The students learned that if they eat too much of anything, it’s not healthy for them, and that includes chocolate.
“Chocolate is OK, but it’s not an always food. Everything in moderation,” Brannan said, emphasizing portion control — eating the right foods in the right amounts.
“Have a section, share a section, and save the rest for tomorrow,” proclaimed a video shown to the students, also suggesting that when people do splurge on the tasty treat, they should pair it with something healthy, like strawberries.
Students were also encouraged to be active and engage in daily exercise, be it playing sports, going for a bike ride with friends or going on a walk with the family.
“Live a balanced life — study hard, play hard and eat well,” reads materials handed out by the tour crew.
Think Big, Eat Smart rep Chelsea Vocal led the students in a choreographed dance to a song written just for the tour, to encourage physical activity.
Then the students were given the opportunity to check out the chocolate bar first hand.
“It seems ironic,” Vandenberg Principal Teri John said with a laugh at the idea that using a large piece of candy can help teach students such a great lesson. “Acting healthy and eating healthy are two important things. … Everything in moderation. Eating too much chocolate isn’t good, but depriving oneself isn’t good, either.”
The event was the culmination of a fundraiser for the school’s PTA. Students and staff sold World’s Finest Chocolate bars and raised nearly $5,000 for the organization, according to a company rep. The PTA uses those funds for many functions, including holding assemblies for the school, purchasing games for indoor recess and putting on after-school events, John said.
After finishing the tour around the country — they had a stop at a school in Detroit after the one in Southfield Nov. 7 — the candy bar will carry out its true purpose of being devoured at the Sweets & Snacks Festival in Chicago in May.
For more information about the Think Big, Eat Smart Tour, visit www.thinkbigeatsmart.com.
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