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What makes chocolate chip cookies so addictive?

(CNN)When I reflect on my childhood baking memories, one that stands out is a tray of warm chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven. It was so tempting to eat the raw dough while making them — talk about a lesson in delayed gratification — but in 20 or so minutes, delicious buttery, sugary cookies dotted with chocolate chips would be ready to enjoy.

Never mind fancy desserts; chocolate chip cookies have always been one of my favorite treats. And if you are like me and find them irresistible, you probably can’t stop after a few bites.
“Even today, after eating and living with them for 40 years, I still can’t stop eating them,” said Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton, New York, and creator of the top-rated chocolate chip cookie according to Consumer Reports. “I am either eating no cookies, or I am eating several. I can’t have one.”
    But what exactly makes chocolate chip cookies so universally craved in the first place?

    The emotional attachment to chocolate chip cookies

    “I think a lot of it has to do with the connection to our past, whether it was a grandmother, a mother, a place visited, a summer home or family time. It’s also usually the first cookie every child learned how to make, and so I think there’s a tremendous emotional attachment and remembrance with the chocolate chip cookie,” King said. “Lifestyles are changing, but that connection is still hanging on.”
    Eating chocolate chip cookies can be associated with a range of emotions. “If I’m celebrating, I can have a couple of cookies, but if I’m sad, I want 10 cookies,” she said. “While the cookie is in your mouth, that moment is happiness — and then it’s gone, and you’re sad again, and you have another one.”
    The happiness that comes from sharing homemade chocolate chip cookies cannot be underestimated. King, who started baking chocolate chip cookies and selling them when she was 11 years old, said her biggest motivator for baking them was the joy they brought other people. “That really made me happy — and probably, a lot of people that bake will say the same thing: Sharing [chocolate chip cookies] makes people happy.”

    Addictive ingredients

    Aside from the emotional comfort that chocolate chip cookies may provide, there may be scientific explanations for why we salivate for them. Some research suggests that ingredients in chocolate chip cookies may have additive properties. Take sugar: Evidence in humans shows that sugar and sweetness can induce rewards and cravings comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs, including cocaine.
    A traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for ¾ cup of granulated sugar and ¾ cup of brown sugar, yielding 10 grams, or 2.5 teaspoons, of sugar per cookie.
    Then there’s the chocolate, which, in addition to sugar, contains small amounts of a compound known as anandamide. Interestingly, anandamide is also a brain chemical that targets the same cell receptors as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for its mood-altering effects. That’s not to say chocolate will produce the same “high” as marijuana, but there may be a chemical basis for the pleasure we get from eating chocolate.
    According to Gary Wenk, director of neuroscience undergraduate programs at the Ohio State University and author of “Your Brain on Food,” high-fat, sugar-rich cookies will raise the level of anandamide in our brains independent of what’s in the cookie, because it’s our body’s response to eating such a tasty item. “The fat and sugar combine to induce our addiction as much as does the anandamide,” Wenk said. “It’s a triple play of delight.”

    Texture and flavor: Key to a cookie’s addictive characteristics

    All of this science may sound intriguing, but the simplest explanation for why chocolate chip cookies are so delectable may have to do with the mix of ingredients that combine in a way that appeals to our senses.
    “A chocolate chip cookie is a brilliant contrast among the flavors and among the textures,” said Gail Vance Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum, a consulting firm that helps companies learn how sensory cues drive consumer perceptions of products.
    The flavor of chocolate chip cookies, according to Civille, is “a beautiful amalgam of caramelized butter and sugar,” the result of the browning of butter and caramelizing of sugar while it bakes. The combination of the toasted grain with the browned butter, caramelized sugar, vanilla and chocolate are “the beautiful rich flavors that blend together in a chocolate chip cookie,” she said. And as the chocolate melts, it becomes more aromatic and punches up the flavor.
    It sounds counterintuitive, but salt is important too, even in sweet treats. “It is what adds interest to food, even if it’s a sweet food, because it makes the sugar and other ingredients taste better and come together better,” Civille said. “A pinch of salt in cookies really makes a difference, and it enhances sweetness a little bit.”
    King noted that “with Tate’s, we were the first to do the thin and crisp, which is kind of an addictive mouthfeel, and we were also the first to do a little bit heaver on the salt. People don’t even put salt in cookies, but [without salt], it tastes flat.”
    Other secrets to making delicious chocolate chip cookies include using butter instead of shortening or margarine; brown sugar, which has a molasses-like quality to it; and pure vanilla, according to King. A high-quality flour and a really good chocolate chip are also important.
    The texture of chocolate chip cookies also plays a big role in their appeal. “Just on the texture side, [the chocolate chip cookie] has a lot going for it,” Civille said.
    “Every bite will be interesting. … You will hit the cookie, which has crispness due to air pockets in the cookie crumb, and then the chocolate, which is dense and uniform when you bite through it. It’s like a symphony orchestra playing together. … It’s very harmonious,” she said.
    One of the simplest ways to test whether the flavor and texture of chocolate chip cookies are “addictive enough” is to observe people eating them.
    “When I would create any product, if I put it out as a sample to my staff and if I didn’t watch them unconsciously go back and take some more, then I felt it wasn’t good enough. There’s a lot of good, but I didn’t want good. I wanted that addictive thing,” King said.

    Personal preferences

    Although there are some universally appealing qualities of chocolate chip cookies that make them so addictive, specific preferences may vary from person to person. One may crave chocolate chip cookies that are soft and gooey; another may long for crispy, crunchy cookies.
    Most people prefer semisweet chips, which have a soft melting quality that can lend itself to a more addictive mouthfeel with the crunchy caramelized cookie, according to King. But some may opt for milk chocolate, and others may like the taste of bittersweet chocolate in their cookies.
    The optimal ratio of chocolate chips to cookie is also a personal preference. “I’ll put a bag on the table, and my husband will turn them over and look for the least amount of chips, but I’ll look for the most,” King said.

    A happy indulgence

    Whatever one’s individual chocolate chip cookie preference — or “addiction” — it’s fair to say that these beloved cookies can have a place in a balanced diet, as long as you are willing to keep portions in check.

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    “The main thing is not to think of food as good food and bad food. It’s all good. It’s how much you eat of it,” King said. “I used to be overweight, and I had that in my mind, if I ate a cookie, that was bad and now the day is ruined, instead of just, ‘that’s cool.’ “
    So whether it feels like a true “addiction” or not, indulging in a chocolate chip cookie or two should be a happy experience.

    E-cigarette may become available on NHS – BBC News

    Media captionHywel Griffith reports on new EU laws to be introduced on e-cigarettes

    The UK medicines regulator has approved a brand of e-cigarette to be marketed as an aid to help people stop smoking.

    The decision means e-Voke, produced by British American Tobacco, could be prescribed on the NHS.

    Public Health England says e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco and help smokers quit.

    But some experts, including the British Medical Association, say the benefits and harms are not yet known since e-cigarettes are still relatively new.

    The Royal College of GPs said doctors would be reluctant to hand them out to patients without clear merits.

    Around 10m adults – one in five – in the UK smoke cigarettes.

    Many of these would like to or are actively trying to kick the habit and an increasing number are turning to e-cigarettes, the NHS says.

    In the year up to April 2015, two out of three people who used e-cigarettes in combination with the NHS stop smoking service managed to successfully quit.

    Prof Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England, says e-cigarettes have become the most popular quitting aid in England.

    And he thinks more people should benefit.

    “Public Health England wants to see a choice of safe and effective replacements for smoking that smokers themselves want to use,” he said.

    But Dr Tim Ballard of the Royal College of GPs said it would be unreasonable for the NHS to be asked to fund lifestyle choices for people.

    “Potentially, there may be a place for the prescription of e-Voke as part of a smoking cessation programme, but GPs would be very wary of prescribing them until there was clear evidence of their safety and of their efficacy in helping people to quit,” he said.

    “At the moment there isn’t the evidence and the guidance hasn’t been written to help GPs make those decisions.”

    1. On some e-cigarettes, inhalation activates the battery-powered atomiser. Other types are manually switched on

    2. A heating coil inside the atomiser heats liquid nicotine contained in a cartridge

    3. The mixture becomes vapour and is inhaled. Many e-cigarettes have an LED light as a cosmetic feature to simulate traditional cigarette glow.

    Different brands of e-cigarettes contain different chemical concentrations.

    Deborah Arnott of Action on Smoking and Heath (ASH) said: “Electronic cigarettes are a much safer alternative source of nicotine for smokers than cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean they are risk-free and we would discourage anyone who’s not a smoker from using them.

    “It is good news that an electronic cigarette has received a licence from the medicines regulator, as we know that they have been effective in helping smokers quit, and the cost, as part of a quit attempt, will be far lower than treating the diseases caused by smoking.”

    Another type of nicotine inhaler which closely resembles a cigarette, called Voke, was licensed in 2014 to be marketed as an aid to help people stop smoking.

    What can you buy in Mosul? ISIS ban on barbers, clothes and toys is lifted

    Mosul, Iraq (CNN)In June 2014, ISIS drove Iraqi forces out of Mosul, and took control of the vibrant city of 2.5 million people located on the River Tigris. It was one of the terror group’s most strategic wins.

    In the brutal months that followed, Iraq’s second-largest city transformed into a wasteland. Buildings collapsed, residents fled and many innocent lives perished.
    In addition to the humanitarian crisis taking place, an economic crisis also loomed.

        Drone footage shows Mosul’s devastation

      Many shops under the terror group’s new laws were deemed beyond the pale. Liquor stores, barbers and even toy shops were closed down.
      Others were shelled to pieces.
      Then in October 2016, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the mission to retake the key city. For the next 9 months, the battle for Mosul raged.
      In July this year, al-Abadi declared Mosul free from ISIS.
      As Iraqis celebrated, many shopkeepers began reopening their stores.
      CNN spoke to shop owners who are back in business about their experiences during and after the ISIS occupation.

      Dakheel Amir — liquor

      When ISIS captured Mosul, Dakheel Amir, aged 37, says he fled 45 kilometers north of the city to his birthplace, Shekhan District,and left his liquor store behind. Selling or consuming liquor under ISIS rule was illegal.
      Before the city fell, Amir says beer, whiskey, vodka and the Levantine spirit, arak, were his best sellers. Although the majority of people in Mosul are Sunni Muslim, who don’t consume alcohol, there are also large communities of Christians and Yazidis, such as Amir, who do.
      After Mosul was recaptured, Amir returned to rebuild a tiny new shop, his old one having burned down, in the western part of the city.
      “The sales figures are high and maybe even better than they ever were before,” he says. “But there is always a sense of fear from the unknown.”
      As such, he has installed an iron gate at the front of the shop to protect himself from an attack. Even though the city has been liberated, he says he will always remain fearful. He didn’t want his store photographed for this article for security reasons.

      Abdullah Risan — women’s clothing

      Trying to run a women’s clothing store under ISIS was difficult, to say the least, admits Abdullah Risan, aged 40.
      “Most of the clothes we sold were considered forbidden during the terrorist era,” he says. “Except for Islamic fashion, which is nothing more than a mere black cloth.”
      He used to sell women’s underwear, dresses, skirts and jeans. But once ISIS took over, Risan had to dispose of his stock.
      The group only permitted him to sell clothing that covered a woman’s entire body from head to toe, including hands and feet. The garments had to be plain black without any inscriptions, he says.
      It was even forbidden for Risan to use mannequins to display his clothes. And during some periods, men were prevented from selling women’s underwear — these items became limited to shops run by women, which men could not enter.
      Risan says his store, located in the popular shopping area of Nabi Yunus market, is now flourishing.
      “Today, life has gone back to normal in many ways,” he says. “We offer whatever we want publicly without fear.”

      Sarmad Habib — CDs

      Sarmad Habib, aged 32, had only just started selling music and movie CDs when ISIS entered Mosul.
      Once the city was captured, the terror group declared music and singing forbidden, saying the sounds represented forms of summoning the devil.
      Instead of shutting his store down, Habib transformed it into a cafe. ISIS attacks, however, eventually reduced it to rubble.
      Although at that point, it seemed to Habib that he had lost everything, right now he is hopeful.
      “With the liberation of the city, I was able to re-open my CD shop with the latest music,” he says. “Now I sell the most modern and distinctive movies, and there is a strong demand for it.”

      Issam Rabie — cellphones and electronics

      Issam Rabie, aged 29, sells what he considers to be the most vital products in Mosul — cellphones and SIM cards.
      “Some people work for months just to purchase a smart phone and enjoy its features,” he says. “And yet selling smart phones was completely banned during ISIS’s rule.”
      The group cracked down on smartphones, Rabie says, because they didn’t want citizens filming and photographing what was happening in Mosul.
      If someone was caught with a smartphone, its owner and the device would get taken away, he says.
      Consequently, many people downgraded to a regular cellphone that could only make calls and send text messages. But even then, he says you could still get fined for using a phone in public.
      After ISIS’ departure, demand for smartphones has soared, and Rabie says his shop in the Al-Samah neighborhood is booming.

      Abu Ali — cigarettes and shisha

      Smoking shisha or cigarettes was forbidden in public or private under ISIS.
      Abu Ali, aged 57, says when the group entered Mosul, he had one month to get rid of his stock. But his shop wasn’t the only way to make a profit, as the desire to smoke was high in Mosul.
      “The beauty of the situation was that many ISIS members were smokers,” he says. “So when cigarettes became scarce after the ban, they contacted undercover distributors.”
      Now, the public selling of cigarettes is lawful again and Abu Ali says his shop, located in the Nabi Yunus market, sells the most luxurious brands.

      Hassan Ali — toys

      Under ISIS rule, the sale of any toys that resembled humans or animals was banned — a toy that mirrored a figure was seen as a material personification of the image of God.
      Hassan Ali, aged 27, owned a toy store in the Al-Muthanna district. He tells CNN that in addition to figured toys, he was also prohibited from selling musical toys.
      “During this period, I suffered heavy losses,” Ali says. “Many of us were forced to shut down our shops or sell other unprofitable products.”
      A few months after ISIS’s departure, Ali says demand for children’s toys is high as a result of the repression children suffered during the occupation, and the limitations they had on possessing toys other than swords or cars.

      Abu Ahmad — barber

      Barber shops for women were completely banned under ISIS law. Barber shops for men, however, could operate — but only within specific rules.
      “We were not allowed to design different or weird-looking hairstyles,” Abu Ahmad says. “The most important one that we had to stay away from was the faux hawk.”
      Furthermore, Abu Ahmad and other barbers were prohibited from cutting beards, allowing customers to grow mustaches, threading facial hair, dying hair and using face cleansers.
      Abu Ahmad’s store shut down at the beginning of the occupation, but is now back in business in the Al-Khadraa neighborhood.
      “The profits from this little shop is what I used to provide for my children,” he says. “After I shut it down, I found a way to escape Mosul and I have only returned a month ago.
      “For more than two years, Mosul lost all its natural features with the presence of ISIS. We only saw darkness during the night and during the day.”
      Now that the city is liberated, Abu Ahmad says life is finally back to normal.

      Family Of Teen Killed By Pennsylvania Cop Files Federal Lawsuit

      The family of unarmed teenager Antwon Rose Jr., who was shot and killed by a Pennsylvania police officer in June, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.

      Named in the lawsuit are officer Michael Rosfeld (who shot the 17-year-old), the borough of East Pittsburgh, Mayor Louis J. Payne and Police Chief Lori Fruncek.

      The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. district court on Wednesday, alleges wrongful death and use of “excessive and deadly force.”

      “The overwhelming facts and unequivocal law supporting this lawsuit are so clear and self-evident that it could have been filed within days of Antwon’s death,” the Rose family’s attorney, Fred Rabner, said in a statement. “However, the family deserved to lay their son, brother and grandson to rest in a peaceful fashion.”

      Rose was shot three times ― in the back, elbow and face ― according to the Allegheny County medical examiner, who ruled the death a homicide.

      Antwon Rose Jr., 17, was shot and killed on June 19.

      The fatal shooting happened on the night of June 19, as the teenager ran from a vehicle stopped by police. Police said they stopped the car in an investigation into an earlier drive-by shooting. Authorities confirmed Rose was unarmed but said two semi-automatic handguns were found inside the vehicle.

      Police officers in Pennsylvania are permitted to use deadly force against a fleeing suspect only if the suspect possesses a lethal weapon, poses a threat of immediate danger or has threatened lethal violence.

      Authorities said Rose didn’t fire any shots during the earlier drive-by shooting. Another teenager in the vehicle has been charged in connection with that incident, police said.

      On June 27, Rosfeld, who had been sworn into the police department just hours before the shooting, was charged by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office with criminal homicide. Rosfeld was released on bond.

      “You can’t take somebody’s life under these circumstances,” District Attorney Stephen Zappala said at a news conference after the charges were filed. “You do not shoot somebody in the back if they are not a threat to you.”

      Justin Merriman via Getty Images
      Carmen Ashley, the great aunt of Antwon Rose Jr., cries as she holds the memorial card from Rose’s funeral during a June 26 protest.

      The lawsuit alleges the borough, mayor and police chief failed to properly train its police officers, which resulted in Rose’s death.

      The defendants’ “failure to provide adequate training to its officers on how to deal with individuals during an arrest and the subsequent use of deadly force reflect deliberate indifference by the Policymakers and reckless and conscious disregard for the obvious risk that officers would use excessive or deadly force on citizens and made the violations of Rose’s constitutional rights, including his death, a reasonable probability,” the suit says.

      The lawsuit claims Rosfeld did not wait for backup and “immediately drew his weapon and began to shout menacing and hostile orders at the occupants.”

      Rose did not “make any threatening gestures that would have given the appearance that he had a weapon,” according to the lawsuit.

      Justin Berl via Getty Images
      People marching over the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh on June 22, 2018. Demonstrators have protested the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose Jr.

      The lawsuit alleges that Rosfeld opened fire on Rose “without issuing a verbal warning or attempting any pursuit whatsoever.”

      The suit, which requests a jury trial, seeks unspecified monetary damages.

      “While this suit will never quell their tremendous grief or minimize [the family’s] tragic loss, we feel that it is time that we begin to seek answers and take appropriate court action to ensure justice,” Rabner said.

      Rose was a rising senior and honor student at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh. His killing triggered weeks of protests across the Pittsburgh area. Hundreds took to the streets to demand justice for Rose, one of the numerous unarmed black teenagers killed by police in recent years.

      Rosfeld is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 22.

      Read the lawsuit below.

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