Rolo, a popular chocolate candy with caramel filling, has frequently used the slogan: “Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?” in their advertisements. While the commercials containing the slogan seem silly and ridiculous, they should be considered problematic as they reinforce negative gender stereotypes surrounding chocolate consumption.
The use of “Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?” has evolved in the past 30 years. This UK ad from the 80s depicts a young woman giving her boyfriend her last rolo because she loves him so much.
There’s quite a bit here to analyze, but I would argue that Rolo commercials of today are far more problematic. One example is their recent “Office Hottie Daydream” commercial:
In this ad two woman are infatuated with their colleague at the office. They start by discussing what they would do to get a date with him, including “stapling my face to a desk”. One of the friends is eating some Rolos, and the man approaching asking for her last Rolo. She then fantasizes about running down the beach with a mostly naked him. Snapping out of her daydream, she realizes her crush is still asking for the Rolo, but she eats it quickly. She shakes her head sadly and apologizes while her friend looks on aghast. The commercial finishes with that line: “Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?”
The advertisers are clearly trying to play on the overweight, desperate and lonely woman trope who has many fantasies but will never be able to live them out. There are a few possible motives for this. The first is by playing into this stereotype, they are making women feel less guilty about consuming their product. Researchers have found that chocolate advertisements with larger models make consumers feel less guilty about consuming chocolate, but advertisements with thin models make consumers feel more guilty (Durkin et. al).
Another possible motive, which is more sinister, is that the advertisers are trying to assert that their product will satiate all desires, especially ones that the consumer does not have the power to fulfill on their own. In context of the office hottie commercial, the question “Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?” is answered with no. No because their chocolate product is the greatest desire and will satisfy all other longing. Furthermore, the desire for chocolate is uncontrollable, especially for women.
The commercial is problematic because regardless of their motive, it reads to the viewer that the advertisers are telling consumers that desire for chocolate in women trumps all other desires. This is a stereotype that has existed since chocolate was introduced to the Old World. Scholar Emma Robertson notes in her book Chocolate, Women and Empire that chocolate consumption has been closely associated with sexual desire in women. Chocolate was considered an aphrodisiac,and women were thought to go to any lengths to get it (68). It is a common trope to portray women in chocolate advertisements in the throes of ecstasy eating chocolate, or losing their minds trying to get chocolate (Martin). The Rolo Office Hottie Daydream commercial perpetuates this stereotype, and this is harmful, as it portrays women as mindless irrational creatures when it comes to chocolate. Not to mention is sexually objectifies men.
The advertisement below is a modified ad for the Rolo candies. It portrays a pair of office workers who could be friends or a couple literally splitting the last Rolo after coffee. The two are equal, happy and their relationship is more important than the candy itself. The caption “Share your love, share the last Rolo” presents a much healthier view of the candy. The candy is being positively consumed in a social context in appropriate amounts.
The answer to “Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?” should be “sure, let’s split it”. Human relationships come before chocolate, and women are not mindless chocolate craving vixens. Comedy in chocolate commercials is appropriate, but only when it is not perpetuating negative stereotypes about gender and desire.
Durkin, Kevin, Kirsty Rae, and Werner GK Stritzke. “The effect of images of thin and overweight body shapes on women’s ambivalence towards chocolate.”Appetite 58.1 (2012): 222-226.
Martin, Carla D. “Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. 30 March 2015. Class Lecture.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.