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Yesterday, Erin McCann of The New York Times wrote roughly 600 words alerting her readers to the fact that red wine hot chocolate is a "thing." The very phrase “red wine hot chocolate” may strike some as abhorrent, just another callous example of the tendency to frankenstein two foods that suffice on their own. McCann, though, arrived at a pretty crazy conclusion: “It was absolutely delicious.”
McCann credits the recipe to one blogger: In November of 2014, Kylie Mitchell, a Houston-based lifestyle blogger who runs food blog "Yeah…Imma Eat That," published a recipe for red wine hot chocolate. I spoke to Mitchell earlier today about what it’s like to see a recipe she birthed suddenly have an afterlife in the country’s most famous paper.
“I've always hated eggnog, because I cannot stand nutmeg—ew,” Mitchell told me of the recipe's initial conception. “I was brainstorming ways I could alcohol-ify hot chocolate, and since wine and chocolate is a natural pairing, I figured, why not give it a try?” Mitchell noticed a tendency among food bloggers like her to “smoosh together two recipes into one,” citing cheeseburger quesadillas and blueberry muffin donuts. Why not fuse a bottle of red wine with hot chocolate?
The recipe has since been cycling around the internet. Even McCann's article lists the motley of publications the recipe frequented before the Times, from Cosmopolitan to Daily Mail, over 2016. Though Mitchell has been blogging for six years, this is the first recipe of hers that’s gone viral. A month ago, she began to receive a flurry of interview requests from London radio hosts because British social media had caught wind of it. Around that same time, her recipe was featured stateside on the Kathie Lee and Hoda Today Show. Hoda, as she introduced the recipe to her viewers, confessed she loved the name of Mitchell’s blog. Her blog has been seeing a steady drumbeat of increased traffic since.
This is all new for Mitchell. “I actually love the recipe more now [two years later]!” she exclaimed. Mitchell created the recipe while she was coming out of an eating disorder, and she was still, by her own admission, having a hard time enjoying food at that point. During the worst moments of her illness, Mitchell bifurcated "good" and "bad" foods in her mind. Permissible foods were vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat products—anything with the word "diet"—while she told herself to avoid fatty and junk foods. Her relationship to alcohol in these years was nonexistent: She thought of alcoholic drinks as “empty calories” that didn’t provide anything of nutritional value.
Throughout her recovery process, Mitchell began to realize that these junk foods she so maligned in her head could actually be salves for her mental health. Alcohol—and, in particular, red wine—became something to drink when she wanted to have fun with her friends. Nowadays, she regularly enjoys alcohol, though she keeps the red wine hot chocolate to once a year. It’s a festive drink, after all, and she loves red wine on its own a bit more. As Mitchell emerged from her eating disorder, she began to realize that eating healthy meant eating mentally satisfying and nourishing food. That mental shift happened just as the internet—well, some of it—began to fall in love with something she'd created in the midst of her own battle. "Now, I don't believe there are good foods or bad foods. I believe that healthy eating means eating satisfying foods," she told me. "So I'm able to enjoy this recipe fully now."
Ever put red wine in hot chocolate? Let us know in the comments.