Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Evolution of a Wrapper

The iconic Hershey bar was first sold in 1900 after Milton S. Hershey had developed “Hershey process” milk chocolate. His novel method extended the shelf life of the chocolate bar and gave him a competitive advantage over local chocolate makers who couldn’t ship their product long distances due to spoiling. A century later, the Hershey milk chocolate bar continues to be an American favorite. While much of its success stems from Milton Hershey’s secret formula and business savvy, it’s impossible to ignore the advertising techniques of this “marketing genius” (Coe, 3614). By examining the chocolate wrapper, the final piece of marketing that separates the consumer from the candy, we can map a history of the Hershey company’s drive to propel its brand name to the top of the American market. The design of the chocolate bar’s wrapper illuminates Hershey’s attempts at marketing its product as one of superior quality while addressing demands and concerns of the American consumer.

Hershey Milk Chocolate bar wrapper, 1900-1902

The original Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrapper features its first trademark logo, the Cacoa Bean Baby. The baby was meant to reflect the “newness and promise of the young company” (hersheyarchives). It predicted the company’s future growth into a chocolate empire. The cacao bean served as a reminder of the chocolate’s origins and as a testament to its high quality.

The original wrapper also describes the candy bar as a “Nutritious Confection,” recommended for “Cyclists, Athletecs, Ladies and Children.” In fact, the “nourishing” quality of the Hershey bar is advertised on the wrapper until 1935. In fact, from 1903 to 1911, it’s even described as “more sustaining than meat.” Print advertisements called the chocolate “A Meal in Itself” (Coe, 3395).

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrapper, 1903-1905

The late 19th and early 20th century marked a time of “growth and upheaval in the understanding of nutrition, and was characterized by a general lack of agreement about what kinds of food were good” (Yang, 14). In fact, until the U.S.D.A matured, “every [food manufacturer] had its token scientist or physician,” touting the benefits of its product (Yang, 14). Hershey took advantage of the public interest and lack of consensus on nutrition, “enlisting nutritionists to boost the healthful qualities of his products” (Coe, 3614).

Another feature starting in 1903 that continues until 1935 are the words “The genuine bears this signature,” followed by Milton Hershey’s signature. This suggests that since the Hershey bar is of such high quality, other confectioners will attempt to copy it. Through early marketing, the candy is established as a premium chocolate bar.

Hershey Milk Chocolate bar wrapper, 1905-1906
Hershey Milk Chocolate bar wrapper, 1906-1911
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrapper 1912-1926

In 1912 Hershey introduces a wrapper that resembles the modern day chocolate bar. After a trademark complaint from another confectionery company,  Hershey writes “HERSHEY” in silver ink and giant block lettering across the front of the bar (hersheyarchives). All future wrappers will similarly feature the Hershey name as the most prominent element.

Another interesting feature of this new wrapper and all wrappers until 1950 is the central display of 5 cents. Selling the Hershey bar for a nickel was a strategic move by Milton Hershey, but a critical one that allowed “every grocer, druggist, and candy store owner in America could stock Hershey products” (D’Antonio, 121). The stable, low cost of the Hershey bar made it an affordable and enjoyable American treat throughout both economic prosperity and turmoil.

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrapper 1928-1936
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrapper 1936-1939

A notable feature of the 1936 wrapper is the stamp of the Good Housekeeping Seal. The Good Housekeeping Bureau aspired “to produce and perpetuate perfection as may be obtained in the household.” In the late 19th century, chocolate adulteration in Europe was common, and many chocolate producers would cut their chocolate with “pulverized cacao shells, gum, dextrin, or even ground brick” (Coe, 3521). While these adulteration processes may have been less extreme, there was still concern among 20th century Americans, and the seal was meant to assure the consumer that Hershey was a pure product.

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrapper 1940-1950
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrapper 1951-1968

A minimalist design was introduced in 1951 and used for 17 years suggesting that the Hershey name was so well-recognized that displaying it is the most effective marketing strategy. The words “First in favor and flavor,” continue Hershey’s assertion that it sells the best chocolate. Apart from the addition of a nutritional label and ingredient list, future iterations of the wrapper continue the minimalist trend and attest to Hershey’s great success in building its brand name. 

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrapper 1988-2001

Coe, Sophie Dobzhansky, and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. Thames and Hudson, 2013. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from

D’Antonio, Michael. Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print.

“Hershey Community Archives.” Hershey Community Archives. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

Yang, Roderick. “The Invention of Nutrition.” University of Washington ResearchWorks Archive (2010): n. pag. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. <;.

Cutting Chocolate, Cutting Corners: The Hershey Company’s Quest for Cheap Success

In American consciousness, a “chocolate bar” generally means a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar. Modern Hershey’s advertising is fueled by nostalgic, family- or community-oriented, and classic imagery, reasserting the company’s position as the chocolate. The Hershey Company has its own theme park in Pennsylvania, factory store in Times Square, and somewhat of a monopoly over traditions including chocolate, such as s’more making. But are the origins of Hershey milk chocolate as warm and wholesome as advertised? Through an examination of the Hershey Company’s early history, including production choices and marketing techniques, this paper seeks to explore ways in which the company rose in wealth and power by calculatedly cutting corners — that is, by focusing less on business ethics and more on cost reduction.

Milton Hershey grew up with plenty of exposure to the business of sweets, working with a confectioner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as a teenager and later making several attempts to start his own candy company around 1876. His first success in candy was not with chocolate but with caramel; in 1886 Hershey opened the Lancaster Caramel Company, specializing in Hershey’s “Crystal A” caramels, to which he added milk, an uncommon practice at the time. After watching a German manufacturer making the equipment necessary to produce chocolate, Hershey purchased the same materials immediately, bent on giving his caramels a chocolate coating. Then he started making chocolate products, then adding the Hershey Chocolate Company to Lancaster Caramel Company. Hershey was creative with his approach — he produced not only bars, but chocolate molded into whimsical shapes, such as bicycles, cigars, etc. By 1900, he abandoned caramel-making altogether to focus on chocolate (“Hershey Foods…”).

First, when English companies began to boycott the cheap cacao produced on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe in 1909-1910 following a slavery scandal involving the Cadbury company, Hershey, among other American companies, took the opportunity to take the cheap cacao Cadbury was missing. In the decades prior, investigators on the islands discovered that the workers there were actually being essentially forced into slavery, working in horrible conditions with little to no pay that they couldn’t do anything with. The Hershey Company ignored these atrocities and, instead of participating in the boycott, capitalized on the exploitation of the West African cacao cultivators (Martin, “What is…”). Cut corner #1, and perhaps the most detestable of them all. Hershey sacrificed human rights to save money.

Something else important to note is Hershey’s special interest in producing milk chocolate, a type of chocolate that, while popular for its unique, creamy flavor, is and was cheaper to produce than other kinds of chocolate, because less cacao content is necessary to create the same quantity of chocolate. In other words, by focusing on milk chocolate, Hershey could produce a product that had been “cut” by something, or filled out, without having to sacrifice the label of “pure”. This required combining a regular recipe for chocolate (cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sugar, mixed and conched) with powdered milk, invented by Henri Nestle in 1867, and first used in the creation of milk chocolate by Daniel Peter in 1887 (Stradley; Martin, “Popular…”). The video clip below shows how a modern factory makes milk chocolate:

Hershey wanted to make large quantities of this cheap chocolate to market to the American masses, but struggled with even powdered milk’s limited keeping time on the shelves – milk chocolate was inexpensive, but not inexpensive enough, if the milk couldn’t hold up with the standards of mass production. He began by switching from Jersey cows to Holsteins, whose milk has a lower fat content, in an attempt to fix this, but that wasn’t enough (Martin, “Industrialization…”).

Finally, he found a way. While Hershey keeps their recipes, past and present, a company secret, it’s clear that Hershey’s chocolate has undergone a process, whose byproduct is butyric acid, that further stabilizes the milk so that it can last vastly longer on the shelves. It’s speculated that Hershey put his milk through some kind of lipolysis, breaking down fatty acids and protecting it from fermentation (Moskin). The butyric acid byproduct makes for Hershey’s unique tangy flavor, which Hershey was able to sell especially to Americans because they were less accustomed to chocolate in their diets than Europeans at the time. In other words, Hershey was able to cut this particular corner, and did, precisely because his market didn’t know what chocolate bars were supposed to taste like (Martin, “Industrialization…”). In fact, Americans today are so accustomed to Hershey’s chocolate’s specific sour flavor that many American companies now add butyric acid to imitate it (Moskin).

Then, Hershey was interested right away in making his company an industrialized one, able to produce candy in enormous quantities — again, to get the most bang out of his buck (Martin, “Industrialization…”). He opened an enormous factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in 1905, which is still the largest of its kind today (“Hershey Foods…”). One of the rooms, in an undated photo, appears here:


[Image credit:, Culture Club/Getty Images]

Although Hershey didn’t use media advertising for about 75 years after the company was born, that doesn’t mean he didn’t know how to market his product. His milk chocolate already had its perks — it tasted great and was cheap — but he began to push his products on shops and grocery stores across the country, utilizing a great deal of window-marketing to get buyers’ attention (“Hershey Chocolate…”; “A Visual…”). By the late 1910s to the 1920s, Hershey had learned to market well. Consider the following images:


[Image credit:, Advertising Archive/Everett collection]


[image credit:]

The first image is from an early window display, marketing Hershey’s chocolate as “vanilla sweet” and cheap — 5 cents per bar. The second image is of a chocolate bar wrapper ca. 1912-1926. You’ll see that Hershey kept the price, and something reminiscent of the original claim of sweetness, “a sweet to eat”. But what accompanies this text is not only an advertisement on the back of the bar for Hershey’s cocoa, but also the text “more sustaining than meat”. Hershey didn’t bother consumers with cumbersome advertisements about his chocolate’s quality, but instead brilliantly used window displays in multiplying grocery stores and advertisement-laden packaging to draw and hook people on his product (“Hershey Chocolate…”). With this, he didn’t have to pay loads for advertising like other companies, applying the finishing touch to make his chocolate into the ultimate cheap, easy-to-make, easy-to-market product.

Through sly marketing, industrialization, a focus on cheap milk chocolate and the buying of cheap cacao for a great cost, the Hershey company spent its early years thriving, and eventually rose to power as the most iconic and well-known bar in the U.S. So next time you think of that “classic” chocolate, consider what factors allowed it to take its place there in the American imagination.

Works Cited

“A Visual History of Hershey’s Chocolate”. Al Jazeera America. Al Jazeera, 11 October 2013. Web. 13 March 2014. <;

“Hershey Chocolate Company: on the Road”. Hershey Community Archives, 13 February 2013. Web. 13 March 2014. <>

“Hershey Foods Corporation”. Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd ed. Advameg, 2014. Reference for Business. Web. 13 March 2014. <>

Martin, Carla. “Industrialization of Food.” Harvard University, Sever Hall, Cambrige, MA. 10 March 2014. Lecture.

Martin, Carla. “Popular Sweet Tooths and Scandal.” Harvard University, Sever Hall, Cambridge, MA. 24 February 2014. Lecture.

Martin, Carla. “What is Slavery?” Harvard University, Sever Hall, Cambridge, MA. 5 March 2014. Lecture.

Moskin, Julia. “Dark May Be King, but Milk Chocolate Makes a Move”. The New York Times: Dining & Wine. The New York Times, 13 February 2008.  Web. 13 March 2014. <>

Stradley, Linda. “Milk Chocolate – History of Milk Chocolate”. What’s Cooking America, 2004. Web. 13 March 2014. <;

The Secret Recipe: The Gap Between Production and Consumption of Chocolate

Chocolate production has always been wrapped in secrecy. But with industrialization, when chocolate became a global product, the stakes were raised, and secrecy gained a new importance and even fanatacism.

This clip from the 1971 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory shows a fictionalized account of a major chocolate producing company.  The chocolate maker Wonka, obsessed with secrecy, allows five children and their parents to view his never-before-seen candy making methods, including a river of chocolate:

The scene displays Wonka’s obsession with purity, as he shouts, “My chocolate must never be touched by human hands!” (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). First, concern with purity was common amongst chocolate makers, especially from earlier eras, to avoid accusations of adulteration (Brindle & Olson, 625). The line also shows that he separates his factory processing of chocolate from the processes of growing and processing the cacao, which requires human hands to touch the pods and beans, and also separate from consumption, which naturally requires humans to touch the chocolate (Presilla, 104-110). The industrialization of chocolate caused a split between growing, manufacturing, and consuming, with the first two steps shrouded in secrecy. The emergence of global-scale of production was able to hide terrible practices from the public, including slavery and adulteration. During the industrial revolution, machines made it possible to produce more and better chocolate, allowing for expansion of the market (Snyder, Olson & Brindle). The timeline below offers a look at many of the figures involved in advances in chocolate production and marketing during the Industrial Revolution:

Each invention here was created by a European or American in their native country, demonstrating how the manufacturing process of turning cocoa beans into chocolate confections was carried out far away and with little thought to the growing, harvesting and processing of cacao trees and beans, which are only grown in the tropics (Growing Cocoa). Many of these stories of European chocolate inventors also emphasize a rags-to-riches celebration of capitalism and business sense, and these stories become the faces of today’s big chocolate companies (e.g Mars, Hershey’s).

However,  this freedom of capitalism and massive production schemes targeted to make the greatest profit had serious drawbacks. Furthermore, the public at first was completely unaware of the downside of secret production methods. Turning away from chocolate for a moment, let’s look at another industry once shrouded in secrecy- meatpacking. Upton Sinclair wrote his 1906 book, The Jungle, about Chicago’s meatpacking industry. The Jungle is famous as one of the first explorations into the process of making food, since that process was removed from public view and put into a factory. Sinclair brought to light the unsanitary practices occurring in the meatpacking factories. He also emphasized the atrocious labor conditions of the workers in those factories. (“Upton Sinclair Hits His Readers in the Stomach”)

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
This cover for Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle shows a row of inscrutable factories, puffing smoke and hiding from the world the horrors within, a cold industrial facade.


Yet Sinclair reported on factories in Chicago, right under the consumer’s nose. How much more difficult was it to report on, or generate public sympathy, for those working thousands of miles away on a different continent?

With a gap this size, Cadbury, a chocolate production giant, was able to create a system that exploited slave labor in Sao Tome for years after its abolition, in order to buy cheap cacao. By nature, chocolate production has always been removed from the European consumer because the cacao plant can only grow in tropical regions, such as in South and Central America (where the plant originated) and Africa (where most cacao is grown today) (Growing Cocoa). As Scholar Lowell Satre records, when production expanded, the intensive cacao harvesting process, which cannot be automated, required vast workforces, and cacao growers procured these forces by exploiting “contract labor”, or essentially enslaved peoples on the islands Sao Tome and Principe (Satre, 5). The public was wholly unaware of the existence of slavery and cruel working conditions until journalist Henry Nevinson travelled to the cacao plantations and first “made public a wealth of information that confounded the British government and forced Cadbury Bros., one of England’s great chocolate manufacturers, to justify before a court of law its purchase of cocoa beans from the islands of Sao Tome and Principe.” (Satre, 12).

Just like Chicago’s meatpacking industry, the growing chocolate industry was without sanitary scrutiny, especially during the colonial era (Brindle & Olson, 625). As production expanded, unchecked, companies cut costs often by adulterating the chocolate in ways that sometimes had serious health affects. One cost cutting method was to replace expensive cocoa butter with another substance like lard, butter or tallow (Brindle & Olson, 626) or add starches like potatoes to thicken the chocolate. Even brick dust or ammonia could be added as a colorant (Brindle & Olson, 629).

Journalists like Sinclair and Nevinson are in major part responsible for revealing the gap between production and consumption caused by gradual development of mass-producted foods, but its issues are still ongoing. In her essay, “A Plea for Culinary Modernism: Why We Should Love New, Fast, Processed Food.” Historian Rachel Laudan emphasizes how industrial processes have made food more available and safer. I agree that the industrialization of food has brought great advances, but its emphasis on secrecy and profit has caused serious issues. The process itself is necessary, but equally necessary is transparency in the process and connecting it to consumers. Today in the chocolate industry some smaller, artisanal chocolate makers focus on the entire production process, from cacao pods to chocolate bar. Patric Chocolate’s website emphasized the care the company puts in to the entire production process, featuring a picture of hands with cacao nibs, showing a lack of machinery and a connection to the entire process. On the other hand, the chocolate giant, Cadbury, has a website that shows no parts of the process, only pictures of the finished product, and language which emphasizes how much people will enjoy it. The big companies, who earn the vast majority of profits, continue to focus solely on the consumer, leaving the dangerous knowledge gap about chocolate’s production.

Works Cited

Brindle, Laura P., and Bradley F. Olson. “Adulteration: The Dark World of “Dirty” Chocolate.” Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage. Ed. Louis Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009. 625-34. Print.

“International Cocoa Organization.” Growing Cocoa. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014. <;.

Laudan, Rachel. “A Plea for Culinary Modernism: Why We Should Love New, Fast, Processed Food.” Gastronomica 1.1 (2001): 36-44. Pdf.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed, 2001. Print.

Satre, Lowell J. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2005. Pdf.

Snyder, Rodney, Bradley F. Olson, and Laura P. Brindle. “From Stone Metates to Steel Mills.” Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage. Ed. Louis Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009. 611-23. Print.

“Upton Sinclair Hits His Readers in the Stomach.” History Matters: A U.S. Survey Course on the Web. American Social History Project/Center for Media & Learning, City University of New York, and the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014. <;.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Dir. Mel Stuart. Perf. Gene Wilder. Warner Home Video, 1986. Youtube,

For the Sake of Profit: Cadbury Business Ethics in England versus Sao Tome and Principe

In 1824, a Quaker grocer named John Cadbury opened up a small tea, coffee, and shop on 93 Bull Street in the bustling English city of Birmingham ( Chocolate’s increasing accessibility to the middle and lower tiers of British society, by means of rapid industrialization of the chocolate-making process, allowed for Cadbury’s swift expansion of his company from its Bull Street storefront to a four-story factory and warehouse by 1931, less than a decade after opening his shop ( The Cadbury enterprise continued to expand and two decades later when, in failing health Cadbury handed his business over to his sons Richard and George, the company had developed from a single shop where Cadbury himself prepared drinking chocolate by hand using a mortar and pestle to a large factory in very heart of Birmingham ( The Cadbury Company continued to grow under the oversight of the two brothers and by the later part of the 1870s Cadbury’s was producing, on vast commercial scale, the chocolate confections that it is best known for today.

Through its various stages of expansion—from a single shop to a confectionary empire— the Cadbury family remained loyal to their principles as Quakers. They were determined that the Cadbury Company would be a socially conscious business from the roots of the supply chains that provided the company with raw agricultural materials, such as cacao, to the Company’s final product of chocolate. However, Cadbury’s carefully concocted image as a moralistic enterprise was merely a mirage. At home in England, Cadbury appeared to be a progressive and socially conscious company. Acts such as building a town for its employees and providing clean factories solidified the company’s reputation as an institution that was mindful of the public. However, once abroad, Cadbury’s reputation as a virtuosic company disintegrated. Cadbury was complicit in acts of forced labor, death, and bondage that violated the creeds of the abolitionist, Quaker doctrines that, supposedly, directed the company. In no case was this more apparent than on the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe where Cadbury knowingly purchased cacao harvested by the blood and sweat of enslaved peoples for almost a decade. The differences in Cadbury’s business ethics at home in Great Britain and abroad in Sao Tome and Principe shows, not only shows the moral failings of the company, but it illustrates the twisted dichotomy between those who have power in a consumer-driven society and those who do not.

In England, Cadbury was brand and a company that was known and respected as a progressive institution. At the time of Cadbury’s rise, during England’s Victorian Era, technological advances outpaced legislation and regulation. Without the government decreeing their actions illegal, many companies forced their workers to labor for long hours in filthy conditions near unsafe machines that could easily maim or kill. This is where Cadbury Company set itself apart from the masses of amoral actors in the capitalist playing field of the time. The Company needed neither regulation nor legislation to dictate to it how its employees should be treated. A workweek at Cadbury’s factory was forty-eight hours long (Satre 15). In other factories, at the time, workers were expected to work twelve to fourteen hours per day. The factory was clean and well-organized. John Cadbury’s sons, George and Richard, had a village, Bournville—fully equipped with dining quarters and a communal bath (Satre 5)—built for their employees, following the Quaker tenet of giving to the less fortunate. Because of its adherence to Quaker morals, Cadbury was seen as an honorable, pure, good enterprise.

Cadbury capitalized on this reputation though its advertisements which were as much about selling its products as selling its brand and its name. Cadbury advertisements, such as this one, often depicted children, often wearing white, or a small animal such as a kitten or a puppy. The purpose of this was to promote and underscore the ideas and ideals of purity and innocence and to emphasize the “sweetness” of the product.

Cadbury Advertisement

In this advertisement, both child and kitten are portrayed as the epitome of all three standards. In the advertisement, the young girl’s white dress also serves as a dual symbol representing purity and, more concretely, the milk of the milk chocolate. Cadbury wielded these advertisements with power and precision. With every advertisement, Cadbury’s was not just selling their chocolate products as pure and unadulterated; they were selling their very brand as a pure, moral institution.

At home in England, Cadbury was seen as a moralistic and upstanding business; in Sao Tome and Principe this was not the case. In 1901, William Cadbury, the head of the business at the time heard that slave labor was used to harvest cacao in Sao Tome and Principe two Portuguese islands off the coast of central Africa. Sao Tome and Principe Map

Slavery in the supply chain, to the Quaker, abolitionist corporation was unacceptable. Over the next several years Cadbury funded an expedition to the continent to substantiate these claims. The expedition was undertaken by Joseph Burtt. He left Europe for Africa on June 1, 1905 (Satre 32). Four years had passed since the highest levels of the Cadbury Company became aware of potential slavery in Sao Tome and Principe. Burtt returned to England on April 13, 1907. From the two years that he had spent traveling throughout Angola, Sao Tome, and Principe, he had created a damning report documenting in words and in photographs the practices of forced labor on the islands and in Angola, the sources of the slave labor.

Enslaved Man

The picture above illustrates the cruelty that Burtt found in the Portuguese colonies. It is one of the pictures taken by him on his travels. It shows a man whose foot has been put, cruelly, through a post as a form of rudimentary punishment.

For a year after his return to England, William Cadbury forced Burtt’s report through several series of scrupulous edits as a delay tactic (Higgs 136), but by 1908 the report had become available to the British public. Cadbury contended until its publishing that “the main point of the question is not how the servical [servant in Portuguese] is treated, but whether or no, he is a slave” (Higgs 133). For Cadbury, this was a question of semantics not morals.

A scandal erupted as soon as it became apparent that the “pure and moral” Cadbury Company was, in fact, aware of the slave labor that was used to grow and harvest the cacao that went into its chocolate. Under pressure from European consumers, Cadbury and other European chocolatiers pulled out of Sao Tome and Principe and began to purchase their cacao from West Africa. It appeared that morality and justice had won the day.

The differences in Cadbury’s business ethics between England and Sao Tome and Principe is a tragic story of power, of money. The Africans who were being enslaved and forced to harvest cacao until their deaths is Sao Tome and Principe had no power and no influence over the Cadbury Company. Their lives meant nothing for they were free labor which allowed for the maximization of profits for both the cacao planters and the Cadbury Company as a whole. Because their enslavement meant more profits, no one—even the moralistic Quakers of Cadbury’s—lifted a finger to aid them. Cadbury’s was complicit in slavery for the sake of profit. On the other hand, in England the abundance of consumers, and their buying power, meant that the company had to constantly cater to the desires and sympathies of others, for the sake of profit. This also meant that when the English consumer found out about slavery in the supply chain and demanded change, Cadbury was forced to respond, for the sake of profit.

Works Cited

Cadbury. “The Story.” Cadbury. Cadbury, 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. <;.

Higgs, Catherine. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2012. Print.

Satre, Lowell J. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2005. Print.

1000 Years of Sweetness: Sugar Consumption in Britain From Its Introduction to Today

Living in America, it is nearly impossible to escape the ongoing national conversation(s) about food—from the “obesity epidemic” to the rise of antioxidant “superfoods” to various fad diets to government bans on supersize sodas, the headlines seem to universally declare what Michael Pollan asserted in the introduction to his brilliant, landmark The Omnivore’s Dilemma: America has a “national eating disorder.” But we are not alone in this—our former mother country of Great Britain has just as feverish a menagerie of national dietary anxieties. By far chiefest among the food issues weighing on the British collective consciousness, however, is their peoples’ intake of sugar. A cursory search of the word “sugar” in the leading British newspaper The Guardian’s archives turns up over 40,000 results. A few sample headlines from the last few months alone:

Sugar ‘could be addictive’

Chief medical officer Sally Davies says government should introduce tax on sugar to combat growing menace of obesity


We must end this sweet madness of excess sugar consumption

Eating too much sugar is damaging our health, but the food, drink and farming industries are blocking change


Sugar is now enemy number one in the western diet

Action on Sugar is keen to make the public aware of the dangers and for manufacturers to face regulation


Obesity experts campaign to cut sugar in food by up to 30%

Doctors say marketing ploys to cut calories are ineffective, now industry must slowly lower sugar content of processed foods


Adults should cut sugar intake to less than a can of Coke a day, says WHO

World Health Organisation’s director of nutrition says adults should get only 5% of daily calories from sugar


Clearly, there is a great deal of anxiety in modern Britain about overconsumption of sugar. But 1000 years ago, sugar was entirely foreign to Britain, and just 500 years ago it was an obscure luxury of extraordinary rarity. How did British consumers get from there to here? The story of British sugar consumption’s change over time is both fascinating and rich with connections to a great many other important historical phenomena.

Sugar had appeared in Britain in tiny quantities by 1100, and continued to trickle in intermittently and irregularly for the next several centuries (Mintz, xxix). A Guardian article profiling the British national relationship to sugar summarized the slow increase of sugar’s presence strikingly: “Mentions of sugar are hard to find in Chaucer but common enough in Shakespeare” (“Britain”). The significant history of sugar in Britain does indeed seem to begin in the Elizabethan era, whose namesake queen, tellingly, had blackened teeth by the end of her life from overconsumption of sugar (Mintz, 134).


Queen Elizabeth the First
(Image Source:


Tooth Decay. Quite a juxtaposition, isn’t it?
(Image Source:

In this time, the queen was one of very few people privileged enough to destroy their teeth in this way: when it first began to be consumed in any quantity at all in Britain, sugar was a conspicuous luxury of the very rich (Mintz, 84). The rich who consumed (very small) quantities of sugar in this time categorized it as a spice alongside other exotic flavorful plant products such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg (Mintz, 84). This usage fell out of fashion after the 16th century, which sugar expert Sidney Mintz says marked the peak of sugar-as-spice, just before the “prices, supplies, and customary uses [of sugar] began changing rapidly and radically,” (Mintz, 86). He notes, however, that modern consumers are still familiar with this “condimental” use of sugar, however strange it may seem at first consideration: holiday foods, Mintz tells us, “often preserve what the everyday loses,” and such traditional holiday foods as gingerbread and brown-sugar glazed hams hearken back to very old uses of sugar in Europe (Mintz, 87). In addition to its use as a spice, sugar was displayed by the rich as a decoration: beautiful and edible sculptures were presented with great fanfare at the feasts of the nobility (Mintz 88). The practice of sugar sculpting, too, continues to this day.


Sugar Sculpture. (Image Source:

In the 16th century, Mintz points out, merchants also began to participate in the conspicuous display and consumption of sugar in this same way—evidence of changing sugar consumption patterns that also reveal the slowly shifting balance of power from a feudal to a merchant political economy (Mintz 90). One last archaic use of sugar which also has vestiges in the modern day is as a miraculous medicine: sugar was both the “active ingredient” and a facilitative additive in an untold host of medicines (Mintz 98-99). It is interesting to note that medicinal sugar faced the same questioning as medicinal chocolate did when it confronted the Galenic medical paradigm of Europe—namely, what its humoric properties might be, and whether it was “food” enough that eating it broke the fast (Mintz 99) (c.f. my first response paper). The ghost of sugar’s medicinal past still haunts us today in the form of supposed hiccup cures and, of course, songs from Mary Poppins. Sugar does, of course, have physiological properties exceeding those of most foods, just not those that were supposed by the theorists of European medicine. We will return to a discussion of sugar’s psychoactive properties below.

The post-16th-century “rapid and radical” change in British sugar consumption to which Mintz refers has an unsurprising origin: the Americas. Sugar and slaves arrived simultaneously in the British colonial settlement of Jamestown in 1619, and though Jamestown never grew sugar in any quantity, this fact is indicative of the close relationship between sugar, slavery, and European colonization of the Americas (Mintz, 37). (The point is illustrated below by a contemporaneous newspaper cartoon.)
In this cartoon, the planter is speaking; the caption translates to “Say what you like, but you can’t make sugar without the cane!”
(Image Source: The Sugar Museum,

European nations were interested primarily in extracting wealth from their colonies, and at the same time that the American south began to cultivate such profitable cash crops as rice, indigo, and tobacco, the colonies in the West Indies were turned into island-sized sugar plantations. Beginning with the island of Barbados in 1640, Britain’s empire rapidly began to produce unprecedented amounts of sugar (Mintz 38). As Mintz says, “sugar steadily changed from being a specialized—medicinal, condimental, ritual, or display—commodity into an ever more common food,” becoming primarily a sweetener and preservative used by the common people (Mintz, 37, 121). This paper will not concern itself with the specific changes in the production side of the sugar supply chain, vital though they are to a comprehensive understanding of sugar’s history, and will concern itself instead solely with British consumption practices. Suffice it to say that massive movements of imperial power and capital—as well as human lives in the form of enslaved Africans—were undertaken to produce ever-more sugar for the hungry markets of the mother countries. A glance at the statistics illustrates the point: England went from importing 1000 hogsheads of sugar in 1660 to importing 110,000 in 1753, and the proportion that she re-exported fell dramatically in the same time. No matter how much the West Indian colonies produced, however, British demand kept up and exceeded it at every point—sugar came, during this time, to “define English ‘character,’” (Mintz 39). By 1750, even the poorest English people took sugar in their tea (Mintz 45). The importance of sugar as a daily commodity is perfectly illustrated by the fact that the conventional sign for a grocer’s shop was a sugar loaf.


A sugar loaf, pictured with the tongs used to scrape off small portions. (Image Source:

Examples of grocer’s signs featuring sugar loaves (and tea canisters):


(Image Source:


(Image Source:


(Image Source:

Tea was taken with sugar, bread had treacle and jam spread on it, porridge was sweetened with sugar, sweet cakes and breads and puddings became a normal part of the English diet (Mintz 120). In the 19th century, sugar consumption once again tracked a change in the balance of power just as significant as that from the feudal paradigm to the merchant economy—as the merchants lost power to the industrial capitalists, sugar became a staple of the proletariat as both food and drug (Mintz 46, 183). Not only was it a normalized additive to many food items, sugar’s energy-boosting properties as a psychoactive helped people to adjust to the new work schedules demanded by industrial labor (Mintz 181).

As it has remained an unwitting ally of the reigning mode of production since then, we should be unsurprised that sugar consumption has only continued to steadily rise worldwide. Sugar remained cheap and ubiquitous (excepting the economically anomalous world wars) through the 20th century, and today much of the “first world” (for want of a better term) finds itself in a crisis of sugar overconsumption. Bittersweet indeed.

Works Cited

“Britain is Built on Sugar: Our National Sweet Tooth Defines Us.” The Guardian. Published 10/12/07, accessed 3/14/14. <;

Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power. Viking Penguin Inc., 1985. London, England.

Slavery: The Uprising of a Sweet Empire

Kyle Casey

Slavery: The Uprising of a Sweet Empire

The production of sugar has its roots and foundation based in slavery and the slave trade. As sugar production began to increase it lead to a larger need and influx of slaves. The Atlantic slave trade is said to have enslaved about 25-30 million people for trade, with only about 12 million of the people making it across the grueling trip across the Atlantic Ocean. For most of these slaves sugar was the most paramount task for them once they reached their destination. England lead the charge in the sugar industry.

Many people assume that Africans were shipped and traded because the world was racist, but it was more of an economic endeavor than a racial injustice to begin. Africa was the closet, cheapest location to find, buy, and trade for human labor. They were cheap labor The Europeans countries shipped the slaves to their respective colonies, where they lived in very poor conditions and worked tirelessly on the cultivation and production of goods, particularly sugar.  The English market for sugar was the pied piper of them all. About 263000 slaves were shipped to English colonies in order to continuous produce the quantities of sugar that was desired.  Sugar production was not an unskilled, easy task to execute. Sugar cultivation it is said is a 24/7/365 job. Slaves worked around the clock in order to mass production sugar. Their shifts were often 10-18 hours a day.  Tasks included fertilizing the land, boiling the sugar, which served to be a very arduous, grueling task in immense heat, and packing the sugar. The terrain of the landscape did not provide any help for the slaves as they were working in steep, hilly areas carrying very heavy loads.

Technology was also used to spread and speed up the production of sugar.  Dams were built to help with the irrigation and cultivation of the land that the sugar was being grown on. One could only imagine the strenuous labor and time consumption of manually tending to the massive plots of land that the sugar was grown and cultivated on. Windmills were used and kettles for boiling the sugar. Assembly lines were in full effect in order to most efficiently get work done.

Everything was about executing objectives efficiently and doing so for the cheapest price possible. Sugar was absolutely a cash crop. “The English people came to view sugar as essential; supplying them with it became as much a political as an economic obligation. At the same time, the owners of the immense fortunes created by the labor of millions of slaves stolen from Africa, on millions of acres of the New World stolen from the Indians – wealth in the form of commodities like sugar, molasses, and rum to be sold to Africans, Indians, colonials, and the British working class alike… What sugar meant, from this vantage point, was what all such colonial production, trade, and metropolitan consumption came to mean: the growing strength and solidity of the empire and of the classes that dictated its policies” (Mintz, 157). It is said to be seven times more potent than cocaine, so as it began to spread more people wanted it but more people wanted more of it as well, perpetually driving the slave trade and mass production of sugar.  About 50,000 slaves could produce 20,000 tons of sugar for the English and their market per year.  These enormous outputs made economies thrives and further suppressed those that were the absolute foundation of the master plan.


“Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist.” Louis Proyect The Unrepentant Marxist. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014

“General.” All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

“PortCities Bristol.” The Development of the Plantation System. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

Mintz, Sidney Wilfred. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York, NY: Viking, 1985. Print

Sugar Field and Factory
Sugar Field and Factory
Harvesting Sugar Canes
Harvesting Sugar Canes
Raw Sugar Canes
Raw Sugar Canes

The Evolution of the Molinillo and Its Importance to the Evolution of Chocolate

The molinillo, a frothing tool, is at the heart of the traditional Mesoamerican method of preparing chocolate drinks.  The tool was created to facilitate the frothing process, which, prior to the introduction of the tool, consisted of natives simply poured the liquid from one cup into another repeatedly.  By the 16th century, it was considered essential the preparation of chocolate drinks, as Spanish Royal Physician Fernando Hernandez noted in his research on Mexico and chocolate (Coe & Coe 117-118).

A molinillo like the ones discovered by Fernando Hernandez in Mexico during the 16th century (Coe & Coe 116)
A molinillo like the ones discovered by Fernando Hernandez in Mexico during the 16th century (Coe & Coe 116)

To this day, the relevance of this tool has endured – for sale at Dean & DeLuca, Taza Chocolate stores, and even on, there is a clear demand for the molinillo in the modern world.  This creates a very interesting discord between the tool’s cultural importance and usage in the past and the present.  The molinillo’s evolution over time has greatly affected the way that chocolate is viewed as a luxury good in America today, demonstrating the convergence of modernization and tradition for both the tool itself and the chocolate drink it facilitates the preparation of.

Today, and traditionally in Mexico, the molinillo has been used to prepare chocolate drinks like champurrado.  The recipes for such drinks are passed down from generation to generation within Mexican families, and their preparation is always greeted with excitement.  The molinillo was, and in that culture still is, simply an item that is used to facilitate tradition and was fairly ordinary.  The tradition of these chocolate drinks is not limited to the recipes and preparation, though – there are also many myths and superstitions that are passed between generations regarding champurrado and other drinks.  For instance, while preparing champurrado for her family, this abuela (grandmother) mentions a superstition that she prescribes to: if the same person doesn’t keep stirring the chocolate mixture, the masa, a corn-based substance used give a thicker texture to the drink, won’t thicken (7:30).

The traditions of both how the champurrado is prepared, as well as the superstitions that surround its preparation are clearly intact in this family, as surely they are in many other Mexican families.  However, this tradition exists alongside a much more modern preparation of the drink than was possible in the past – the champurrado is prepared in what appears to be an aluminum pot atop an electric stove top, using a blender in addition to materials packaged in plastic that were very likely purchased at a grocery store.  Alongside this traditional preparation of chocolate drinks with modern materials, though, there is a modern phenomenon that even further exemplifies the juxtaposition between tradition and modernization: the growing commercialization and  market for items like the molinillo as luxury goods.

The molinillo is advertised as a “hand-crafted” tool that will “create the warm and chocolaty beverage you’ve been looking for” on the Dean & Deluca website, as pictured below.

A molinillo for sale at the luxury cooking website,

It is a fairly expensive item associated with fairly expensive chocolate – for example, Taza Chocolate, a brand that has marketed itself as a company connected to the origins of chocolate by selling its product in disks, as the Maya and Aztec traditionally did, particularly to make easier to transport and for warriors to consume for energy boosts on the go (Coe & Coe 87) sells molinillos as well.  Thus, the molinillo has come to be an item used to exemplify the history of chocolate, and as a result has come to be associated with luxury brands that aspire to be perceived as brands that prepare chocolate in a natural and traditional way.  Chocolate can then be seen as an item that has come full circle: despite its commercialization over the last several centuries, it is reaching a point where its origins as a Mesoamerican treat are what is considered “luxury” in America.

Full Circle? The Absence of a Flourishing Cacao Industry in Meso and South America

Theobroma Cacao, the scientific terminology for the cacao tree, has it origins in  Meso and South America. The climate and topography of the region are ideal for the plant to flourish. Yet today cacao is mainly grown outside of Meso and South America. The product ancient Mayans and Aztecs held sacred fuels a multi-billion dollar industry, yet their ancestors see little to none of this profit. This post will look at why cacao growth has nearly disappeared in Meso and South America and where it stands agriculturally today. We will find that European technological advancement combined with the geographical proximity of Africa to Europe decimated the potential of vibrant cacao industry in Meso and South America. Today, cacao production in the region is mostly sustained on the recent demand for ‘ethnic’ chocolate.

CACAO graph

The chart above shows the breakdown of cacao production in the world as of 2009. As you can see, of the leading producers of cacao, South American countries occupy 7% of the chart together, while Africa produces over 60%. To examine how the distribution resulted in what we see here, lets go to the first outside contact with cacao. Europe’s first encounter with began with Spain in the 1500s. By the 1700s taste for cacao spread across Western Europe and chocolate became a luxury product. Shipping beans from South America wasn’t particularly cheap, so the ‘food of the gods’ was restricted to those who had expendable income. Each Western European nation managed to transplant the cacao tree in their respective colonies to serve the demand, fueled by slave labor from Africa. In the mid-1800s, technologies began to develop that allowed for increased access to chocolate. It began with Van Houten’s “invention of the defatting and alkalizing processes [which] made possible the manufacture of cheap chocolate for the masses, in both powdered and solid form” (Coe, 253). This was followed by Fry’s invention of the chocolate bar and Cadbury’s perfection of it, allowing chocolate to keep for an extended period of time.

sao tome

The photo above shows men forced to work harvesting cacao in Sao Tome. It is representative of the fact that as cocoa became more accessible it needed to be produced in larger quantities, and the old system of importing beans from Meso and South America just wasn’t economically feasible with the demand. Being that Europe had already been in the business of exploiting the peoples of Africa, the need for cheaper, more abundant cacao naturally lead to the exploitation of Africa’s land as well since it was closer than South America. Sao Tome is particularly representative because Cadbury, a supposed ethical company at the time, was found to be receiving their cacao shipments from Sao Tome. While the company eventually backed out of the country after 6 years of knowing of the slavery practices, it didn’t end the forced labor. The Hershey company then stepped in and began receiving shipments from Sao Tome. The video below is a trailer for the documentary “Contract”, which shows the effects of slavery in Sao Tome today.


                       An important theme to point out is that all of the major advancements in chocolate technology, from alkalizing to conching, were invented in Europe. During this chocolate revolution, cacao was still being consumed as a beverage in Meso and South America. Europe made no concerted effort to introduce these advancements to the region. This combined with the introduction of cacao to Africa essentially left Meso and South America behind during the rise of chocolate’s popularity. One of the first South American chocolate companies, El Ray, wasn’t established until 1929, about 100 years after Cadbury was founded in England.  In Dauril Alden’s examination of the decline in cacao production in the Amazon, he writes, “ unprosperous plantations whose owners were handicapped by persisting shortages of labor, lack of sufficient capital, burdensome creditor-debtor ties and backward technology” (Alden, 131).

What does the current state of cacao look like in Meso and South America look like and is its future bright? While some production has returned to the area, it comes from the recent trend that calls for ‘food from the source’. Most chocolate coming from the reason is marketed as “ethnic” or “Mayan”. Coe writes about a company started by American Josh Sermos, Rain Republic, that has brought cacao production back to Guatemala. Its best selling product is “Mayan Fire dark chocolate, blended with smoky chili – a testimony to the contemporary American taste for highly spicy food, and reviving an ancient Mesoamerican tradition of adding chili to chocolate” (Coe, 266). Despite Coe saying this examples how chocolate has come “full circle”, there is a problem with the fact that the story of Rain Republic is a typical ‘white savor’ situation and the chocolate being produced is fetishizing the ‘ethic’ qualities of cacao produced in Meso and South America. This post ends with a powerful clip called “An Act of Resistance” which documents how little cacao is left in Mexico and one women’s work to preserve it. Chocolate definitely has not come full circle.

<p><a href=”″>An Act of Resistance</a> from <a href=””>The Perennial Plate</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Works Cited

Alden, D., The Significance of Cacao Production in the Amazon Region during the Late

Colonial Period: An Essay in Comparative Economic History
Proceedings of

the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 120, No. 2, pp. 103-135

Coe, Sophie D. The true history of chocolate. (2007)



A Timeline of Cadbury Adverts

Taking a look at the ways in which Cadbury choses to advertise their products throughout the years can give us a very good sense of the ways in which the Cadbury company values have changed and evolved since their beginning in 1824.   Examining the way adverts have changed can also tell us a great deal about the public opinion and how the public view and values has progressed.

In 1824 john Cadbury opened a shop that sold tea, coffee, and chocolate beverage (among other things).  As a Quaker, Cadbury felt that these drinks were healthy alternatives to alcoholic beverages.  They were healthy in that the water would be boiled before being mixed or steeped with chocolate, coffee, or tea.

The Original Cadbury Shop

Cadbury’s Quaker Convictions had a great influence on how the company would market their products in the coming years. Cadbury’s Cocoa Essence was a pivotal product in the growth of the Cadbury Company, and came about due to adaptations in the processing of cocoa powder, mainly the van Houten’s Hydraulic Press.  For the fist time, Cadbury could accurately marked an unadulterated, or “pure” cocoa powder.

The emphasis on Purity began with Cadbury’s Cocoa Essence

Through the 1880’s and 1890’s we see many well-to-do figures enjoying Cadbury’s pure cocoa.  Cadbury relies on the purity of their cocoa to set them above the rest as the best cocoa.  Some adds even ward against contaminating Cadbury cocoa with “foreign cocoa”.

Well dressed characters enjoying Cadbury cocoa

Around this same time period, we see many adds with young men being active, implying, or directly stating, that chocolate is a healthy choice that can help improve the strength of young men.

Sustains against fatigue. Increases muscular strength. Gives physical endurance and staying power.

At the very end of the 19th century (in 1897) Cadbury released their first milk chocolate bar (which was not very sucessful).  Now all of a sudden chocolate became a portable snack, and was marketed as such. This advertisement displays some of the places young women can take their chocolate: to the tennis courts, to the opera, on a motor ride, out golfing and more!

The new way to enjoy chocolate

All this while, Cadbury clung to their Quaker roots.  Cadbury was very concerned with the treatment of their employees.  The ethical approach to business gave Cadbury a competitive advantage over their rivals because their customers knew they were not being ripped off and that workers were being treated fairly by their employers.  Cadbury created a village for its employees where they would receive dental and medical care, clean and safe living conditions, education for children, and even exercise facilities.  Bournville began to feature in some of the advertisements as well.  This advert for Bournville cocoa depicts a young and playfully sweet bunny and girl sipping cocoa together.

In 1913 Cadbury wanted to show society that kind treatment of employees pays off in the end.  Cadbury promotes the village of Bournville and the positive public image affords customers a sense of trust in the nature and values of the Cadbury Company.

This 1926 Railway Poster emphasizes the balanced life of Bournville workers: pleasant work in a safe well kept facility supplemented with enjoyable leisure time.

In 1928, Cadbury began the “glass and a half” campaign.  This campaign advertised Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate as containing a glass and a half of milk in very half pound of chocolate.  Because milk was thought of as so nutritious this new method of advertising really appealed to the consumer’s sense of a healthy food.

A glass and a half of English full cream in every half pound!

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, we also see a lot of Cadbury advertisements depicting children or geared toward children.  Cadbury was selling chocolate as a sweet treat to brighten your day, and a good thing for all, especially children.

A happy smiling boy is depicted here with a large bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate
“It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good” – Children clamor for the delicious and “good” Cadbury Chocolates

We see the focus move away from children and toward the romanticization of chocolate a great deal in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Rather than marketing chocolate as a sweet to be enjoyed by children, Cadbury began to market chocolate as a gift to be exchanged between lovers, in particular, a gift to be given to young ladies by interested young men.  We see one very obvious example of this romanticization in this 1950’s Cadbury Roses add.

Say it with Roses Chocolate – A young suitor presumably knocks on the door of his intended with a bouquet of these “chocolate” roses

Cadbury also begins to advertise their products on TV during the 50’s.  This Cadbury Milk Tray advertisement from the early 60’s portrays the same romantic notion of chocolate as does the roses advert above.

Cadbury began a racier strand of advertisements with the introduction of a new product the “flake” chocolate bar in 1959.  Cadbury has a history of sensual advertisements containing the flake bar, but the difference between the depiction of Cadbury in this 1987 commercial for Flake and the original holistic virtuous depictions of Cadbury could not be more stark.

In recent years, some of Cadbury’s mort popular advertisements have included the Cadbury Gorilla advert:

and the eyebrow dance commercial:

both of which seem to have absolutely nothing to do with chocolate at all.

Works Cited:

“The History of Chocolate,” Cadbury.

“It pays to treat employees like people,” Click Americana.

Oxlade, Andrew. “Cadbury: History of a Chocolate Giant,” Associated Newspapers Ltd. Sept. 8, 2009.

“Cadbury Milk Tray Chocolate,” Youtube.

Cadbury, Deborah. “Extract from Chocolate Wars,” Reader’s Digest. Apr. 4, 2012.

Jackson, Peter. “How did Quakers conquer the British sweet shop?” BBC News. Jan. 20, 2010.

“In Pictures:Cadbury adverts,” BBC News. Jan. 19, 2010.

Macleod, Duncan. “Cadbury Flake Commercials,” The Inspiration Room. Mar. 7, 2010.

“Sweeties…” Flickr.

Hershey’s Early History: The Making of an American Classic

Today, the Hershey Company is synonymous with American milk chocolate and is the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, with its headquarters in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Hershey’s is one of the Big Five chocolate companies — along with Mars, Cadbury, Ferrero, and Nestle — that dominate the chocolate market worldwide.  Although Hershey’s produces a wide variety of products, including both chocolate and other candies, Hershey’s is best known for its plain milk chocolate, in bar or kiss form, as shown below.

Hershey’s milk chocolate bar and Hershey’s kiss, two of the most iconic Hershey’s products.
Hershey’s Chocolate World, in Hershey, PA.

Hershey’s also operates Hershey’s Chocolate World (pictured above), where tourists can buy Hershey’s products and learn about the history and production of Hershey’s chocolate.  I visited Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA, countless times as a child.  At least once a year, my mother and I would drive from our home in Connecticut to Pittsburgh, PA, where all of her family lived.  Hershey, PA is almost exactly halfway between Connecticut and Pittsburgh and served as a delicious stopping point.  While I have never particularly liked Hershey’s plain milk chocolate due to its slightly tangy taste, I enjoyed taking the tour every time as a child, marveling at the vast quantities of chocolate produce daily and orderly mechanization of the entire process, as chocolate went from cacao beans to an individually-wrapped Hershey’s kiss in its iconic silver foil.

How did Hershey’s get its start and go on to become the major chocolate manufacturer it is today?  The story starts with Milton S. Hershey and Hershey, Pennsylvania in the early twentieth century, both pictured during this time period in the photographs below.

Milton S. Hershey, the founder of the Hershey Company.
Hershey, PA in the early 20th century.

Although the factory in what would become Hershey was not Milton Hershey’s first foray into the chocolate or confection business, it is what transformed Hershey’s in its early days.  In the early 1900s, Hershey and his team conducted numerous experiments to develop a milk chocolate that could be mass-produced and easily used in the new factory (D’Antonio, 106-7).  After much trial and error, Hershey first decided to switch the breed of cows that supplied his milk, replacing his Jersey cows with Holsteins, pictured below (D’Antonio, 106).  Holstein cows naturally produce milk with a lower fat content, making it easier to create skim milk that is less prone to spoiling (D’Antonio, 106).

A Holstein cow grazing. The milk for Hershey’s milk chocolate came from the myriad dairy farms in central Pennsylvania.

One of Hershey’s employees then developed a process for mixing and heating the milk and sugar together into sweetened condensed milk (D’Antonio, 107).  Other ingredients, including cocoa powder and cocoa butter, could be easily incorporated into the molten sweet milk; the resulting milk chocolate mixture could also be moved through the factory with less hassle, as it flowed smoothly (D’Antonio, 107-8).  The ability of Hershey to mass-produce milk chocolate in a factory setting propelled Hershey’s to early success.

Another important feature of Hershey’s in the early days was the creation of the town of Hershey.  Milton Hershey created what became known as Hershey, PA as a utopian-inspired town with affordable, modern homes and nice amenities for the factory workers, including Hershey Park, shown below (D’Antonio, 116-7).

The merry-go-round at Hershey Park in the early 1900s. Hersheypark, as it is called today, still exists as an amusement park.

All of these developments over the course of Hershey’s early history helped boost Hershey’s sales and transform it into the giant chocolate manufacturer it is today (D’Antonio, 119; Brenner, 182).  The use of fresh milk, rather than the powdered milk method developed by Swiss chocolatiers Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle, gave Hershey’s an advantage over its European competitors.  First, the smooth-flowing Hershey’s milk chocolate could be more easily transported throughout the factory, allowing Hershey’s to make chocolate faster and cheaper (D’Antonio, 108).  The milk condensation process also gave Hershey’s milk chocolate a unique sweet and tangy flavor, due to the fermentation of the milk fat that occurs during production (D’Antonio, 108).  While this taste difference meant that those accustomed to Swiss milk chocolate did not necessarily enjoy Hershey’s chocolate, the unique flavor still gave Hershey’s an early advantage in the American market, as it was the first milk chocolate to which many Americans had access, creating a large, loyal consumer base that then equated Hershey’s with how milk chocolate was supposed to taste (D’Antonio, 108).

Milton Hershey’s factory approach also allowed Hershey’s to produce chocolate at a very low cost, thanks to the basic, repetitive tasks performed by the factory workers and the efficient, modern machinery (D’Antonio, 120).  Hershey’s could easily transport raw cacao beans to the factory and finished chocolate products to the stores as materials could be directly transferred to and from rail cars at the factory (D’Antonio, 108, 118).  The creation of the factory town of Hershey also contributed to Hershey’s profits and power, as money from outside the community from chocolate sales was given to the workers in the form of paychecks, which were then spent primarily in town, cycling the money straight back to Hershey (D’Antonio, 120-1).

Hershey’s main factory in Hershey, PA several years after completion.

All of these innovations in Hershey’s early history helped propel Hershey’s to success.  In the first year of manufacturing in Hershey, PA (factory shown above), Hershey’s saw sales over $1 million, which then grew to $5 million by 1912 (D’Antonio, 120-2).  In the early 1940s, Hershey struck a lucrative deal with Mars, providing them with chocolate coating for their confections (Brenner, 69).  Even though this relationship ended in the mid-1960s, hampering Hershey’s sale for a few years, Hershey rebounded and focused more on their own products (Brenner, 181-2).  Today, Hershey’s boasts annual sales around $7 billion, with over $810 million in profit, showing the successful trajectory stemming from the early development of the Hershey Company  (The Wall Street Journal).


Works Cited

Brenner, Joel Glenn.  The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and
Mars.  New York: Broadway Books, 2000.

D’Antonio, Michael D.  Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of
Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Prior, Anna.  “Hershey Profit Rises on Strong Holiday Sales: Candy Maker Posts Strong North America Sales.”  The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2014.  Accessed March 12, 2014.

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Video 1:, Family of Brands

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Video 3:, Mixing the Ingredients