Chocolate: the currency for research cruises and field stations

Amanda loves tide poolsby Amanda Kahn

Seasickness.  Long days.  Trawls that happen at night.  24 sampling timepoints!  Low tides!!  Going out in the field is, probably unarguably, one of the best things about research*, but there are a lot of inconveniences to contend with.  One of the most valuable things a colleague taught me before a six-week research cruise was to stock up to be able to bribe people to help with certain tasks.  I’m not talking about monetary bribes though–what could money get you when you’re on a ship or out at a remote field station?  No, much like Aztec societies, ship- and research-station-bound societies use chocolate as their currency.

In Aztec society, one cacao bean could buy you one tomato (which made me wonder why they didn’t choose tomatoes as currency instead…but I guess cacao beans are a lot less juicy and prone to leaking on things); 3 could get you a turkey egg; 30 beans would buy you one small rabbit.  I don’t know quite what the currency conversion is for a field station, but I will say that, armed with milk and dark chocolates, with or without almonds, I was able to get help with late-night sampling, proofreading papers, helping to build field equipment, and I was able to “pay” helpers to come with me for fieldwork.  You can buy Cadbury Dairy Milk, bulk candies, and a few other chocolate bars at the East Side store, and the  West Side store has varied chocolate bars, candies, and Ritter Sport bars.

Wonka bar

This candy bar could buy you a field assistant for that 3 AM low tide! Credit: Z Saigol 2011

My supervisor knows the value of chocolate too: we brought a whole box of various candies on our research cruise last year, which kept the ROV pilots (and everyone) happy.  To me, chocolate is one of those essential things to pack in a field research kit.

*Field work is one of the best things about research, along with lab work, analyzing results, figuring out methods to test your hypothesis, developing hypotheses…it’s all kind of awesome, to be honest.


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