We all know the guilty pleasures of chocolate: its alluring qualities, tempting taste, and irresistible sweetness. And how could we not, for commercial upon commercial highlights the benefits of “giving into desire,” “treating ourselves,” and “pleasuring our palate.” However, what we don’t realize is that chocolate’s original nature was far from sexual. Chocolate was very much viewed as a necessity and a daily snack rather than a taboo indulgence (Coe & Coe, 238). Upon examination on advertisements and social media, however, we find that over the years chocolate has gone from being promoted as a sweet, daily food to a naughty sexual experience to which women are extremely vulnerable to.
As mentioned above, chocolate was originally seen as an innocent food meant for women and children. This view is due to the division of labor at home where men were the breadwinners and thus needed the “hardier” meals in order to provide for their families, consuming most of the meats and grain (Martin). Women and children ate food with added sweets in order to make up for the loss of many grains and meats in their diet. This dynamic reflects our gendered perspective on sugar and chocolate as items primarily consumed by women and children (Martin). Thus early marketing was accordingly geared towards both groups, depicting sweet, modest, innocent women focused more on preparation for chocolate for others than themselves.
Therefore, one must ask how did chocolate become something so dirty and perverse?
Chocolate’s naughtiness emerged during the 20th century when health concerns arose around sugary and fatty foods, and when moralists associated with the temperance movement saw chocolate as a vice that lead to other sinful activities such as drinking and gambling (Martin). As a result chocolate changed from something that was consumed everyday as a normal part of one’s meal to an item that one could only occasional partake in. This was reflected in ads that were increasingly telling women to indulge themselves and to take a bite (instead of taking their daily dosage of chocolate as in earlier ads), noting how little harm a small bite could do.
However, chocolate’s transformation did not end there. The major change seen in this century in regard to chocolate was chocolate’s transition to sexually pleasurable item irresistible to women. This transformation was not unnoticed at all by chocolate producers who rapidly took advantage of these changes to promote their product. Many also took advantage of women’s more sexual appearance in media to sell their chocolate products, calling for women to “indulge their obsession with chocolate,” noting women’s hypersensitivity to chocolate as filthy yet exciting, titillating, and necessary to their being.
Commercials were not immune to this change either. As seen by the latest DOVE commercial a woman wearing a sensual look (enticing eyes, red lips, slightly disheveled hair) attempts to lure in a man, piquing his interest by encouraging him to explore a mystery, “take a leap,” and “live his fantasies,” noting how things are “heating up” as he gets closer to her. The scene ends with the woman taking a seductive bite out of the chocolate as the man finds her behind the books–all while slow, seductive piano music plays in the background. This commercial largely plays on sexual innuendos and focuses on letting go of one’s inhibitions and succumbing to desire, with the woman first to fall prey to the chocolate’s “magic.”
The Axe Men’s dark chocolate temptation commercial is no different as women are seen pouncing and devouring a man who has turned into chocolate, the lust and need evident in their bites and touches.
Chocolate’s sexualization, however, hasn’t only been seen in advertising: social media has taken up on it as well. A public account called “It’s Food Porn” recently tweeted a picture of chocolate covered strawberries, something that is universally (within the US) deemed delicious. This account is significant not only in its tweets but also in its own name. The title of Food Porn suggests that some foods can mirror the effect of pornography, creating cravings deep as sexual ones, hinting that orgasmic pleasure and euphoria can also be derived from food. Thus this tweet shows that the author of the account sees chocolate covered strawberries as an organismic worthy food that provides much pleasure and believes that enough people will agree (and thus retweet the tweet) to post it. In fact, the predominant amount of images on the account relate to chocolate foods, further supporting the idea that chocolate is seen as a sexual and pleasure-filled food.
As we can see, chocolate has undergone a large transformation from the innocent meal-time favorite to overwhelming sexual vice for women. Yet several man questions still remain. Was this sexualization of chocolate a societal one or did chocolate manufacturers begin the wave and society followed? Did chocolate commercials have anything to do with the sexualization of women in media or were they a byproduct of it? Finally, how do women across the board view these images and representations of their thirst and need: do they mutually agree or is there dissent?
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Caputo, Paul. Making the World Better With Chocolate. Digital image. http://www.interpretationbydesign.com/?p=2738. 17 May 2010. Web.
Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. 238. Print.
“DOVEÂ® Fruit Scavenger Hunt (30 Sec Spot).” YouTube. YouTube, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.
Fahim, Jamal. “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing.” Occidental College, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <http://scholar.oxy.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=sociology_student>.
It’s Food Porn. “Chocolate Covered Strawberries” 13 Mar. 2015, 2:48 p.m. Tweet
Martin, Carla. “AAS 119x Lecture 13:The rise of big chocolate and the race for the global market.” Harvard Emerson Hall, Cambridge. 11 Mar. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
Meadows, Zulu. “Axe Chocolate Man Commercial.” YouTube. YouTube, 25 Sept. 2008. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.
Valentine’s Day: Women Being Seduced by Chocolate. Digital image. Http://bittersweetnotes.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/454558-bigthumbnail.jpg. 14 Feb. 2012. Web.