Aoife Finneran: You don't want to mess with our chocolate, guys
IT could be the greatest crisis of our generation.
Where our grandmothers weren't allowed to vote and our mothers were thwarted by glass ceilings, this generation of women could be about to face an even more terrifying calamity -- the disappearance of chocolate.
If the predictions of the expert chocolatiers are true, the vast downturn in cocoa production is likely to lead to a price explosion that will see us forking out €9 or €10 per chocolate bar in 20 years' time.
Okay, so this won't exactly cause mass hysteria among the male population.
After all, menfolk look upon chocolate as just another foodstuff, and one towards which they feel no emotional attachment. But try telling a woman that her ultimate comfort snack will soon cost 10 times its usual price and it's enough to trigger a panic attack.
Whatever will we do to survive when our ultimate weapon becomes an almost unattainable commodity?
You see, we women don't just view chocolate as food. It's so, so much more than that.
It's our friend during good times, our counsellor in times of woe and a constant support no matter what life throws at us.
Sure, it only lasts a minute on the lips and sits forever on the hips, but the weight gain and spotty skin are a small price to pay.
It's not a purely fanciful crutch either, as chocolate contains the so-called love drug phenylethylamine which stimulates the brain's pleasure centre.
So, if any woman has ever told you that chocolate is better than sex, she's certainly eating enough of it.
And thanks to cyclical changes in our estrogen and progesterone levels, we're biologically programmed to crave chocolate in a way that simply doesn't affect men.
Furthermore, at less than €1 for a regular bar, chocolate is a guilt-free indulgence financially.
It requires no forward planning, it's simply an easy-to-reach humour boost, available at every shop counter.
We turn to it after a bad day at the office; our friends deliver it in bucket-loads when a romantic crisis strikes and we store it in cupboards, ready for the moment when we need some comfort.
That's why I'm so aghast at the idea that I'm facing a future where chocolate is as rare and expensive as caviar.
Instead of idly weighing up the respective merits of a simple Dairy Milk or a sugar-heavy Caramel or luscious Leonidas, buying chocolate will be a tragically rare treat.
Alas, I don't have the power to change conditions for the West African cocoa farmers. Nor can I convince them to continue their back-breaking work to satisfy our desires.
All I can do is issue a heartfelt plea for change that will reinvigorate the cocoa industry.
And in doing so, I'm appealing directly to the men.
Just think about the year 2030 and the crisis that will unfold if the woman in your life can't eat away her bad humour by scoffing a packet of Minstrels.
How will you cope if she suffers a raging dose of PMT without chocolate to tame those hormones?
Guys, you have been warned.
A decline in chocolate supply may be a female tragedy, but mark my words, it's going to be a chronic headache for the men who have to deal with us.