Reuters blogger Jessica Wohl reported a few months ago on a Brand Keys survey whose results tell us, among other things, that men eat a good deal more chocolate when times get tough. A cursory survey of the average man’s expanding waistline could have told us as much!

At any rate, the survey of 750 American men aged 25 to 65 reports that the urge to munch on some chocolatey comfort is very common in just about every demographic therein. The most popular items are, naturally, candy bars, with the top 10 occupied exclusively by the Big Three (Mars, Hershey and Nestle). Snickers reigns supreme, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kats nipping at its chewy heels.

Now, the survey was concerned with gauging men’s chocolate-eating habits and how they compare with past surveys. The survey did not take into account how many men were eating more chips, say, or fast food. Shameless cocoa cravings were exclusive. On the whole, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume empty calorie consumption is on the rise overall. Research scientists say that there’s no longterm benefit to gorging on candies and other snacks, but everyone knows we can’t resist a little ill-advised splurge when things get rough.

The report claims that there are no physiological payoffs to eating an increased amount of chocolate, though there are possible short-term boosts in pleasure centers in the brain. My theory: Men reach for treats that have been with them all their lives, from carefree childhood to today. Just like favorite songs and old friends, chocolate and other candies provide a tangible link to simpler, less stressful times.