It has been said that there are only three plots in all of storytelling. The first is man versus man, which has traditionally set us up for the greatest rivalries in history – Hector and Achilles, Hamilton and Burr, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, Holmes and Moriarty, Batman and the Joker, Deep Blue and Kasparov, Microsoft and Apple, Democrats and Republicans. The next is man versus nature. Here, human beings must battle impossible odds and overcome their environments to survive. It’s the stuff of disaster movies and fateful encounters as well as ecological philosophy and science. The third is man versus himself. And while we’ve all experienced a little bit of this when it comes to second helpings of dessert, it makes for one of the more compelling and intimate themes in literature. Works like “Hamlet” have masked this very theme under other, more extraneous plots, arguing that the greatest question is, “To be or not to be.”

But there’s one rivalry that hasn’t been touched on by “Hamlet” or any other plays in Shakespeare’s entire bibliography. Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick haven’t paid it any mind either, and this basic rivalry has yet to really define itself on TV, although it’s been alluded to a fair amount on the Food Network. Frankly, the only places that are willing to tackle this great argument head on are cookbooks and foodie blogs.

We are, of course, talking about dark chocolate versus milk chocolate.

What does the nation prefer?
Let’s start by getting down to the nitty gritty numbers. Which do the people of America prefer – milk or dark? WorldsFinestChocolate.com, using information from the American Cocoa Research Institute (ACRI), delivers some facts on American preferences, including that when it comes to ice cream, U.S. adults prefer chocolate by full 52 percent over other varieties. Want an even wider margin? It turns out that 71 percent of Americans prefer milk chocolate, according to the ACRI.

But before dark chocolate lovers go eat their way through this loss, ConfectionaryNews.com made a bold statement. It turns out, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science, that “consumers who prefer milk chocolate have a significantly lower threshold for bitter tastes…” Dark chocolate lovers may just be built of tougher taste buds!

But taste aside, what does all this chocolate mean for our health?

Health benefits (or the myth of?)
Let’s get the obvious out of the way – chocolate has enough sugar and fat that you don’t want to base a diet on it, no matter how scrumptious. Even a small bar is packed with quite a few calories, so a general rule should be to enjoy in moderation, with an emphasis on ENJOY.

As for who wins out in this war between milk and dark chocolate, on the battlefield of health the victory is clearly the dark stuff. Fitness Magazine reports that milk chocolate simply has less cocoa, and that’s where all the good stuff comes from. By replacing that cocoa with milk, sugar and cream, it’s missing out on the bouquet of flavonoids – a special kind of antioxidant also found in wines and tea – packed into dark chocolate. In fact, the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you.

Game, set, match – right? Not quite.

The third party contender
If the chocolate battle were like America’s political system, then white chocolate might just be the Ralph Nader of the dessert world. But is this sweet even chocolate? And what are its health benefits?

By far the least nutritious of the trio, according to FitDay.com, white chocolate is devoid of cocoa and just made from cocoa butter with plenty of milk and sugar mixed in. So to those milk chocolate-lovers who were starting to feel a bit too indulgent – don’t worry, there’s plenty of delicious rungs below you on the nutritional ladder.

Of course, you could always up the healthy quotient by adding some fruit into the mix! A full dozen gourmet dipped premium berries would make for a refreshing treat. Prefer a little salty with your sweet? Why not throw in four dipped pretzels and a dozen drizzled berries?

Have your own chocolate opinions? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!