Sexpot for sale

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"Also delicious as a spread or on ice cream," says the label, coyly. The primary use of Chocolate Body Paint (pounds 3.50) isn't mentioned on the packaging. The manufacturers assume that we are all fashionably familiar with the foodie phenomenon: slapping chocolate over your body in order to make yourself more attractive to the opposite sex, as popularised by Jane Horrocks in Life is Sweet.

Just as starchy, unappetising puddings can notionally be rendered more appetising by a dollop of Birds custard, so you too will be turned into a delicious little tart by garnishing yourself liberally with cocoa solids. It's been all the rage for some time. And we're not talking Harvey Nichols Food Hall here: the latest sex aid confectionery is back lining the shelves of neighbourhood stores such as British Home Stores, Tesco and Safeways, ready for the Christmas rush.

It is on sale in BHS "Christmas Store" departments, where it was introduced last year and became their best-selling line. Now it is back, part of a bigger range including Chocolate and Passion Fruit body paint and Hot Fudge Fantasy paint. A variation on the theme is Kissing Chocolate, sold with a small brush so that it can be applied to the lips.

You may, in a reckless, mischievous moment, have tried to imagine the woman in front of you with the trolley full of faggots and Ribena ever having sex. Now you will find yourself sickly fantasising about what she plans to do with her 400g of love chocolate.

Not that anyone objects to a little harmless sexual experimentation. The peculiar thing about these sex aid groceries is the element of premeditation involved. Many a happy loving couple has no doubt splashed the double chocolate fudge about in a mad moment, but buying a special jar, warming it up and painting it on with the special brush provided? Where's the spontaneity in that? Besides, heating it up sounds dodgy - as anyone who has ever been scalded by a soupcon of ganache will testify.

Chocolate-coated sex is definitely a high-risk activity. Do the deed near an open window and wasp bites become a nasty possibility. Allergic reactions can't be ruled out. People may not get as embarrassed as they used to about going to the doctors with personal matters, but "intra preputial erythema due to atopic chocolate allergy" is going to look pretty silly on your notes.

The allergy might manifest itself in other ways. Chocolate is a major cause of migraine, remember: "Not tonight darling, last night gave me a headache."

Sex and sweeties have enjoyed a longstanding association, from the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates through to cherry lip gloss and flavoured condoms. Condom flavouring is a surprisingly unsophisticated area. Scrupulous market research by Durex into the flavour preferences of the average condom user have led them to settle on strawberry, banana, ice mint and tangerine. Not exactly the peak of adult sophistication, indeed, this infantile menu might easily be the flavour range for Punch and Judy toothpaste.

Of course, just because people buy a product doesn't mean they do any more than stick it on a shelf - people bought The Satanic Verses but they didn't necessarily take it to bed. The mere fact that silly women with more money than sense treat their friends to a jar of smearing chocolate rather than a set of novelty fridge magnets/Garfield knickers should not lead us to draw conclusions about the nation's sexual preferences.

People who are genuinely addicted to the practice of licking foodstuffs off their near-and-dear (rather than those who are simply addicted to buying useless presents) probably use ordinary household ingredients anyway. Nutella makes a very acceptable substitute (they tell me) but the most interesting alternative must surely be Ice Magic, the chocolate ice-cream topping that hardens on contact ... Anyone for seconds?

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