Monday, March 4, 2013

Chocolate Molecules

What's better than beaded molecules from coffee and tea? How about one from chocolate?


Caffeine is just one of a class of molecules called xanthines, which also includes a compound called theobromine. It actually doesn't contain any bromine at all, but it rather gets its name from the plant name Theobroma, from the greek roots "Theo" (God) and "broma" (food), meaning "food of the Gods." And really, is there any better way to describe the tree that gives us chocolate?

Theobromine is the primary alkaloid found in chocolate and cocoa powder, though it's also found in lesser amounts in coffee, tea, and yerba mate. It has a similar but more subtle effect on the nervous system compared to caffeine. Chocolate also contains hundreds of other compounds, including caffeine, a third xanthine called theophylline, and phenethylamine, the so-called "chocolate love chemical."

Caffeine vs. Theobromine

From a structural chemistry point of view, theobromine and caffeine differ in just one way: caffeine has a methyl group where theobromine only has a hydrogen atom at the N1 position. I've circled this difference in their chemical structures below:

So, if we want to make a beaded version of theobromine, all we need to do is weave the structure of caffeine, and leave off that extra methyl group. Can you see where the methyl group sits in this green tea caffeine pendant?

Chocolate-Themed Theobromine Pendants

I tried this variation with chocolate-themed seed beads, and got so carried away with myself that I wove three different theobromine pendants. The first is in carmel chocolate flavors:

The next is a milk chocolate:

And finally, the last is in my favorite of all chocolates, a delicious dark chocolate:

All three pendants are available in my Etsy shop!

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