All posts by 2016e219

Theo Chocolate, Inc.: Working to Make the Chocolate Industry a Better Place

Introduction

Over the past several decades, chocolate has become a part of daily life for most consumers in the United States. Once a beverage reserved for consumption by the elite classes in Mesoamerica, chocolate is now a popular commodity among most social classes in our society. Manufacturers combine cocoa beans grown in the equatorial parts of the world – primarily countries in central Africa and South America – with sugar and other ingredients to craft these delectable treats. When choosing which confections to purchase, consumers base their decision on several factors, including price, brand loyalty, and availability. One factor casual consumers often neglect when making their choice is where the cocoa used to craft the chocolate originated. With many cocoa growing regions plagued by questionable ethical or moral practices, should this not be the most important factor in chocolate purchasing? Many smaller chocolate companies believe that it should, and craft their confections using carefully sourced cocoa that meets several standards to help combat these practices. One such company working to eliminate these questionable practices is Theo Chocolate, Inc. of Seattle, Washington.  A close examination of the company’s history, certifications, and sourcing and partnerships, reveals the progress Theo is making to promote an ethical chocolate industry that does not need to rely on forced or underpaid labor to maintain its profitability.

History

theos_chocolate_logo
Theo Chocolate, Inc. Logo.

As “the first organic, fair trade certified chocolate maker in North America” (“Mission”) Theo has been making great strides in the industry over the past two decades. Founder Joe Whinney began his work in chocolate in 1994 by directing organic cocoa beans from Central America to a host of American customers (“Mission”; Allison). For Whinney, the following decade was a time of learning and discovery. He spent much of the time losing money due to the great cost of each step in his supply chain and the desire to pay the cocoa farmers a fair value for their crops (Allison). After realizing that his current situation was unsustainable, Whinney decided that to maintain his work in the organic cocoa business, he would need to open his own factory for production and cut out several of the later steps in his chain (Allison). Thus, in 2004, Theo Chocolate, Inc. was born.

To create the company that would sustain his passion and allow him to promote his work, Whinney relocated with Debra Music, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, to Seattle (“Mission”). While Music worked to market and brand the upcoming products, the company’s factory and team of workers was assembled, and, in March 2006, Theo’s first line of chocolate was produced (“Mission”). Throughout the entire process Whinney strove to maintain his standards, and the company remains devoted to these ideals today.

Certifications

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The seal used to denote Organic certification.

Perhaps the most prominent outward reflection of the values that the company espouses comes in the form of their product certifications. Theo holds four such certifications: Organic, Fair Trade, Non-GMO, and Demeter (“Our Certifications”). The company must meet several criteria to qualify for each of these certifications as explained below.

Organic

In order to become certified as an organic producer through Quality Assurance International (QAI), the company who certifies Theo’s products, a company must complete a five step process (“Steps”). First, the company must apply for certification and provide QAI with details about their operations and processes (“Steps”). Second, the company undergoes a thorough inspection similar to the one they will undergo annually if they are provided with the certification (“Steps”). Third, the company experiences a technical review to ensure their operation “complies with all necessary organic regulations” (“Steps”). Fourth, the company receives notification from QAI about the status of their request and the areas of deficiency that need to be remedied to proceed with the certification process (“Steps”). Fifth, the company becomes compliant and deemed certified by QAI (“Steps”). To maintain its certification, and its standards of production, Theo subscribes “to the most stringent definition of organic” (“Our Certifications”). Wherever possible, Theo uses organic ingredients that have been grown using sustainable practices (“Our Certifications”). This commitment to quality exemplifies Theo’s desire to benefit the world as a whole, rather than just their bottom line.

Fair Trade

In addition to being Organic certified through QAI, Theo maintains a Fair for Life Fair Trade certification through the Institute for Marketecology (IMO) (“Our Certifications”). The Fair for Life certification requires companies to adhere to a set of social responsibility standards and to provide support through fair trade relationships with their suppliers (“Your options”). “Fair for Life Fair Trade means long-term and trusting cooperation between partners, transparent price setting negotiations and prices,” all ideals that Theo strives to uphold through their sourcing partnerships (“Your options”). This makes this certification perhaps the most valuable for the company from a farmer outreach perspective. Through their work as a fair trade company, Theo is able to provide the farmers from which they source their cacao with wide-reaching benefits, including healthcare and education (“Our Certifications”).  Theo’s commitment to aiding the often impoverished cacao farmers of the world is truly an admirable trait for a company in the chocolate industry.

Non-GMO & Demeter

As part of their promise to use organic ingredients, Theo avoids the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (“Our Certifications”). While the labeling of GMOs is not legally required in the U.S. and Canada, Theo feels that “consumers have the right to know what is in their food and have made a commitment to non-GMO certification of [their] products” (“Our Certifications”). There is much ongoing debate about the safety of GMO ingredients. Many companies, including Theo Chocolate, Inc., feel that until these ingredients are deemed safe for consumers, it is not worth the risk to include them in their products.

As a Demeter certified company, Theo has committed to maintaining high standards of sustainable farming that will benefit the planet (“Our Certifications”). To achieve this certification, the farms Theo sources from must meet the Demeter Biodynamic® Farm Standard, and Theo must meet the Demeter Biodynamic® Processing Standard (“Demeter”). For more information on these standards, please visit the Demeter USA website here.

Sourcing & Partnerships

theo_chocolate
One of the two varieties of Theo chocolate crafted using Congolese cacao.

As yet another effort to maintain their commitment to high quality, ethical chocolate production, Theo is focused on selecting the best cacao beans it can find. Currently, Theo’s cacao beans are sourced from Peruvian farmer cooperative Norandino and Congolese company Esco Kivu (“Sourcing”). Theo concentrates its efforts in cacao sourcing on providing fair prices to their partners to promote an emphasis on quality propagation year after year (“Sourcing”). Instead of paying the commodity price for cacao beans, Theo has built a structured pricing model that provides a greater price for higher quality cacao to provide incentives to their farmer cooperatives (“Sourcing”). This method benefits both the farmers and the company . By providing an increased price for cacao that goes above and beyond the current commodity market rate, farmers are able to enjoy a greater profit and are better able to provide for themselves and their families. By ensuring that their farmers are well taken care of, Theo is able to maintain a positive relationship with these farmers and can encourage the farmers to make a strong commitment to quality production. As committed Fair Trade producers who provide quality price premiums, full transparency in their supply chain, and third party verification of their cacao purchases, Theo is able “to actively raise the bar for [the] entire industry” (“Sourcing”).

In addition to their commitment to fair trade sourcing, Theo has partnered with the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) to benefit the cacao farmers of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (“Our Partners”). Through this partnership, Theo has the “potential to positively impact more than 20,000 people living in Eastern Congo” (“Our Partners”). The cacao sourced through this partnership is used to craft two chocolate bars, each with its own unique flavor: Vanilla Nib and Coffee & Cream (“Our Partners”). Since their involvement with ECI farmers began, Theo has sourced over 1,600 tons of cocoa from the DRC (“Our Partners”). While aiding farmers in the DRC has brought increased prosperity to the area, it has not been without difficulties. The following interview of Joe Whinney by Stan Emert of Rainmakers TV, details some of the issues caused by the current governmental structure of the DRC along with the efforts being made by Theo in the country.

Conclusion

With many cacao producing nations resorting to forced labor and some of the worst forms of child labor to maintain their prosperity, along with diminished payouts for cacao farmers, it is easy to see that the current state of affairs in cacao production is appalling. In recent years, companies have begun to attempt to source their cacao from ethically run farms, but the response from the industry has left much to be desired. While many larger chocolate producers put their own profits above those of their cacao farming counterparts, many smaller producers are making a commitment to providing consumers with ethically sourced, fair trade chocolate. One such company who is devoted to making strides in the right direction is Theo Chocolate, Inc. of Seattle, Washington. Since its founding in 2004, Theo has endeavored to make an impact on the industry and draw to light the issues that many producers prefer to hide from consumers. An examination of Theo’s history, its certifications, and its sourcing and partnerships, allow us to see just how far the company is willing to go to further its ideals. The next time you are shopping for chocolate, be a conscientious consumer and remember to consider the ethical nature of the chocolate’s source.


Works Cited

Allison, Melissa. “Fair-trade Theo Chocolate fairly booming.” Seattle Times, 04 April 2013. Web. 08 May 2016.

“Demeter Biodynamic and Processing Standards.” Demeter USA. Demeter Association, Inc. Web. 08 May 2016.

“Mission.” Theo. Theo Chocolate, Inc. Web. 08 May 2016.

“Our Certifications.” Theo. Theo Chocolate, Inc. Web. 08 May 2016.

“Our Partners.” Theo. Theo Chocolate, Inc. Web. 08 May 2016.

“Sourcing.” Theo. Theo Chocolate, Inc. Web. 08 May 2016.

“Steps to Organic Certification Process.” QAI : Client Resources : Prospective : Steps to Organic Certification Process. Quality Assurance International. Web. 08 May 2016.

“Your options for certification and verification.” Fair for Life. IMOgroup AG. Web. 08 May 2016.


Multimedia Sources

Theo Chocolate. Digital Image. Wikimedia Commons, 2014. Web. 08 May 2016.

Theo’s Chocolate Logo. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2015. Web. 08 May 2016.

USDA organic seal. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2015. Web. 08 May 2016.

Whinney, Joe. Interview by Stan Emert. Chocolate from Difficult Places. YouTube, 29 December 2014. Web. 08 May 2016.

 

An Analysis of Questionable Motifs in Chocolate Advertising

Introduction

In today’s consumer driven world, it is nearly impossible to get through a day without seeing numerous advertisements for one thing or another. Companies hire marketing staff or contract marketing work out to advertising agencies with the sole purpose of strengthening their consumer base. Many advertisements in today’s market use racially or sexually charged imagery to sell the products in question. One industry where this practice is used frequently is the chocolate industry. While this usage is especially prevalent in ads for the Big Five and other large scale chocolate companies, smaller producers and fair-trade chocolatiers are not innocent of this practice. This post begins with a look at the use of race, gender, and sexuality in historical chocolate advertisements, then dives into an analysis of a recent ad campaign for Green & Black’s organic chocolate, and presents a redesign of one of the ads from that campaign that avoids these questionable subjects.

History

In the early 1900s, chocolate marketing was solely focused on attracting female consumers to their products.  Early advertisements from both Rowentree’s and Cadbury’s have targeted upper-class women through their portrayal of the sophisticated nature of their cocoa (Robertson 26).  After World War I, Cadbury’s depicted working women, while after World War II, Rowentree’s represented their target audience through imagery of wives and mothers enjoying Rowentree’s cocoa (24-25).  Around this time, in the late 1940s, Rowentree’s introduced their new ‘spokespersons’ in the form of two racially stereotyped cartoon characters, ‘Little Coco’ and ‘Honeybunch’ (35). Each character illustrated several stereotypes of black individuals from Little Coco’s oversized head, baldness, and large facial features to Honeybunch’s bare feet, braids, and skinny legs (36). The use of such racially charged images, along with gender targeted and sexually suggestive motifs, has continued into current chocolate advertising.

Analysis

In March of 2013, the advertising agency Mother released the ‘This Is Not A Chocolate Bar’ ad campaign crafted for Green & Black’s organic chocolate. This campaign sought to provide fitting personas for a handful of the different flavored chocolates offered by the company (“Green & Black’s”). Five of the six ads explored a single chocolate flavor, providing it with clever taglines touting its appeal to consumers – for example, butterscotch became “The Golden One,” while dark 70% became “The Deep One” (“Green & Black’s”). Each ad reflected these taglines in clever ways. The sixth and final ad presented a parade float carrying all of the available flavors, tagged as “The Diverse Set” (“Green & Black’s”). This analysis will focus on one of the two ads which depict chocolate personas of a particularly sexual nature.

The following ad portrays Green & Black’s Spiced Chilli chocolate bar as “The Exotic One” of the chocolate line. (The remaining five ads from the campaign are included at the end of this post for comparison.) Complete with platform stage and swinging nipple tassels, this developed persona is the most promiscuous of the ad campaign. The chocolate bar takes center stage, both literally and figuratively, and its appeal is highly sexual in nature. The sultry crimson backdrop enhances the seductive nature of the advertisement. While one might think this ad is meant to appeal to men by combining a chocolate bar with an exotic dancer, it may actually be developed to appeal to the women in its audience. By eating this particular kind of chocolate, a woman can associate herself with this sensual attitude, thereby becoming exotic and appealing herself.

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Ad one of six from the “This Is Not A Chocolate Bar” ad campaign designed by Mother advertising agency for Green & Black’s organic chocolate.

The following update to this sensually charged ad takes the general notions of the actual image and seeks to reduce the sexual overtones portrayed. In an attempt to retain the overall nature of the campaign, the major change is a shift from an exotic dancing chocolate bar to a chocolate bar shaped like the chili which provides its flavors. This new persona reflects the true nature of the chocolate bar: a rich chocolate that uses the spiciness of chili peppers to enhance its taste. The crimson backdrop and “The Exotic One” tag lines are left intact, but in this rethinking of the ad they enhance the appeal of the chocolate’s spicy flavor rather than the sensuality of the previous incarnation. This ad appeals to any consumer who enjoys both spicy food and chocolate, rather than focusing on a single gender.

Chocolate Ad
My reimagining of the Green & Black’s ad analyzed above.

Conclusion

Race, gender, and sexuality have been recurrent themes in chocolate advertising since its entrance into consumer markets over a century ago. While these themes are prevalent in this and other industries, they are not necessities for successful ad campaigns. Simpler ads that feature appealing aspects of the product itself can be just as enticing to consumers as overtly sexualized or otherwise controversial images. According to Jay Walker-Smith, president of the marketing firm Yankelovich, consumers are exposed to upwards of 5,000 advertisements each day (qtd. in Johnson). Is it not time for consumers to press back against the stereotypical themes present in today’s marketing and for companies to strive for uncontroversial advertisements for their products?

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Ad two of six of the “This Is Not A Chocolate Bar” ad campaign.
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Ad three of six of the “This Is Not A Chocolate Bar” ad campaign.
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Ad four of six of the “This Is Not A Chocolate Bar” ad campaign.
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Ad five of six of the “This Is Not A Chocolate Bar” ad campaign.
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Ad six of six of the “This Is Not A Chocolate Bar” ad campaign.

 

Works Cited

“Green & Black’s – This Is Not A Chocolate Bar.” Mother. Mother, 14 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.

Johnson, Caitlin. “Cutting Through Advertising Clutter.” CBS News. CBS, 17 Sept. 2006. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.


Image Sources

Green & Black’s Chocolate: Butterscotch. Advertisement. London: Mother, 2013. Ads of the World. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Green & Black’s Chocolate: Chilli. Advertisement. London: Mother, 2013. Ads of the World. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Green & Black’s Chocolate: Dark. Advertisement. London: Mother, 2013. Ads of the World. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Green & Black’s Chocolate: Milk. Advertisement. London: Mother, 2013. Ads of the World. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Green & Black’s Chocolate: Range. Advertisement. London: Mother, 2013. Ads of the World. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Green & Black’s Chocolate: White. Advertisement. London: Mother, 2013. Ads of the World. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Thompson, Jacqie. Chilli Advertisement Update. 2016. Acrylic on canvas. Personal collection.

Chocolate Production for the Masses

By the mid-to-late 18th century, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing around the world. New methods of production were being invented across a variety of industries. Goods could now be shipped quickly over long distances via steam engines, and textiles were being mass produced via machinery. One industry that continued to lag behind during this era, on the other hand, was chocolate. To this point, chocolate remained a labor intensive drink reserved for the elite, and the beverages were still being masterfully hand-crafted in coffee and chocolate houses across Europe. A turning point was just around the corner, however, as several inventions, including those of Coenraad Johannes van Houten, Joseph Storrs Fry, and Rodolphe Lindt, were to join the revolution over the next few decades and change the face of chocolate forever.

The late 1820s brought the first of three great changes to the chocolate industry. By this time, chocolate makers were in search of a new, cheaper way to produce chocolate, so they could expand their consumer bases and earn a greater profit. In 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten “took out a patent on a process for the manufacture of a new kind of powdered chocolate with a very low fat content” (Coe and Coe 234). His development led to the production of a hydraulic press which was able to reduce the fat content – or cocoa butter – in chocolate liquor from about 53 percent to 27-28 percent and produced a cake that could be crumbled into a fine dust that is known today as cocoa powder (Coe and Coe 234). Dutching, or adding alkaline salts to this powder, allowed for better mixing in water and produced a drink that was “easily prepared, [and] more easily digestible” (Coe and Coe 234-235) than the standard cocoa drink of that time. As the dutched cocoa powder was easily mixed with water in a quick process, far less labor was required to craft each beverage. In addition, the van Houten ad depicted below explains that this new powder was very potent and a very small amount could be used to craft a desirable cup of cocoa. These two changes produced a shift from limited consumption by the elite, to widespread enjoyment among the masses.


Van Houten's Cocoa, heard in the train. 'Yes, Miss, when travelling I always drink Van Houten's Cocoa. It is so sustaining.' [front]
The front of an ad card for van Houten’s cocoa.
Van Houten's Cocoa, heard in the train. 'Yes, Miss, when travelling I always drink Van Houten's Cocoa. It is so sustaining.' [back]
The back of the card, touting the beverage’s benefits.


While van Houten was responsible for the first great change to the chocolate industry in 1828, a few decades later in 1847, Joseph Storrs Fry was responsible for perhaps the greatest change to the industry. Using cocoa powder, sugar, and melted cacao butter, Fry was able to produce a “less viscous [chocolate] paste which could be cast into a mold” (Coe and Coe 241). These molded chocolate bars became the first true eating chocolate.  Early demand for the new confection drove the price of cacao butter up, and relegated the treat to a new form of chocolate that was reserved for the elite (Coe and Coe 241). Van Houten’s cocoa powder remained the chocolate of choice for the masses through this time, thanks to its low cost (Coe and Coe 241). The shift from drinking chocolate to eating chocolate opened a new market for chocolate makers of this era. The treat was quickly targeted by mass producers who saw the possibility of greater marketability of the more portable confection.  Eventually, new technologies and changes to the production process allowed chocolate manufacturers to once again target the masses with their marketing, as exemplified in the following ad for Fry’s Five Boys milk chocolate bars.


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An ad for Fry’s chocolate bars.

As more producers entered the ring of chocolate bar crafting, each strove to make their chocolate bar better than the competition.  As a result of this competitive stance, consumers were treated to the third great change to face the chocolate industry during this time: the conching process developed by Rodolphe Lindt. Lindt built on Fry’s notion of eating chocolate, but desired to move away from the inherent graininess of the current process (Presilla 40). In 1879, he developed a “sloshing-and-kneading apparatus called a ‘conche’” (Presilla 40). The liquid chocolate was mechanically pressed between a granite roller and base, pieces which are illustrated below, in an enclosed basin for twenty-four or more hours until the cocoa and sugar particles had been broken (Presilla 40-41).  The resulting chocolate was silkier than its predecessors and became the preferred chocolate of the time.  To this day, consumers often judge chocolate on its smooth quality in addition to its flavors.


granite_roller_and_granite_base_of_a_conche1
A granite roller and base, like those found in Lindt’s conche.

While chocolate has undergone many changes since its first introduction to Europe in the 16th century, these three changes to the chocolate production process provided the greatest changes the industry has seen. Once, a difficult to craft beverage for the elite, chocolate has shifted to become a commodity enjoyed by all classes of people. Thanks to the changes that occurred during this era, cheap hot cocoa made from powder and smooth, mass-produced chocolate confections are the norm across much of the industry today. Without the ingenuity and inventiveness of van Houten, Fry, and Lindt, the chocolate industry could have continued to lag behind others and chocolate may not have become the consumer staple it is.


Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate Revised. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2009. Print.


Image Sources

Frys five boys milk chocolate. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2015. Web. 9 March 2016.

Granite Roller and Granite Base of a Conche. 1 February 2014. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2014. Web. 9 March 2016.

Van Houten, C. J. and Zoon. Van Houten’s Cocoa, heard in the train. ‘Yes, Miss, when travelling I always drink Van Houten’s Cocoa. It is so sustaining.’ [back]. 1870-1900. Digital image. Boston Public Library. Flickr, 2012. 9 March 2016.

Van Houten, C. J. and Zoon. Van Houten’s Cocoa, heard in the train. ‘Yes, Miss, when travelling I always drink Van Houten’s Cocoa. It is so sustaining.’ [front]. 1870-1900. Digital image. Boston Public Library. Flickr, 2012. 9 March 2016.

To Froth or Not to Froth?

From its early uses in Mesoamerica to its heightened popularity today, cacao – or chocolate, as it has come to be known – consumption has undergone several changes.  Once enjoyed solely by the elites of society as a beverage, chocolate is now a staple food consumed in many forms, from beverage to powder to candy bar, by the masses.  One aspect of the consumption of chocolate that has remained stable through the eras, however, is the frothy head that accompanies chocolate beverages.  Despite the changes in consumption and creation of these chocolate beverages from the Mayans and the Aztecs to the Spanish and the French and through to modern culture, the frothiness of these beverages has been an ever present aspect of their consumption.

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Depiction of an Aztec woman undertaking the chocolate frothing process from the 16th century Codex Tudela.

The froth of these chocolate beverages was an important aspect of their consumption as early as the Classic Mayan era.  Though little is known of exactly why the foam was so important, it can be hypothesized that it is a case of the natural human preference for frothy, aerated beverages (Martin).  On the other hand, much has been discovered as to how the foam was created.  According to Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe, depictions of the frothing process were found that date back to approximately 750AD.  After mixing the beverage, the creator poured it from shoulder height into another vessel repeatedly until a frothy head was formed (48).  The work involved in both creating the proper mixture for the drink and producing the proper foam may reveal why chocolate remained a beverage for the elite during this era.  Coe and Coe further explain that near the end of the Classic Mayan era, the Lacandóns, a Mayan subgroup, developed another method for producing the much desired froth.  Rather than creating it mechanically through pouring, they added additional ingredients to the chocolate mixture, such as suqir vine or aak (a grass), to produce the froth chemically with minor stirring (62-63). As depicted on the left, little change to the frothing process occurred as the Aztec era began; however, an additional reason for why the froth’s importance was discovered.  In his Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España, Bernardino de Sahagún explains that if the concoctors “add a little [water,] they have beautiful cacao; if they add a lot it will not produce a froth” (qtd. in Presilla 20).  The ability for the mixture to form a frothy head helped the consumers to judge the quality of the beverage they were presented (Presilla 20).  If the beverage had a weak or non-existent froth, one knew it was poorly crafted and would not be especially enjoyable.  The arrival of the Spaniards from the Old World brought a drastic change to the frothing process.

joseph-thc3a9odore_van_cauwenbergh_-_chocolate_pot_-_walters_571802
Example of a French chocolate pot.

When the Spanish began developing their own chocolate beverage concoctions, they replaced the pouring method of frothing the drinks with a whisking process using molinillos.  A molinillo, or chocolate mill, is a wooden device with a wide, notched head, sometimes surrounded by wooden rings, that is spun between one’s palms (Presilla 26, 28).  When used in conjunction with tall cylindrical vases, the rapid movement of the device and any surrounding rings aerated the drink and produced the desired frothiness.  Through the shift from the Aztec era, the importance of the froth likely remained both a matter of preference and a measure of quality.  As chocolate began to make its way across Europe, the French adapted the Spanish technique and crafted a device suited to their culture, adding a level of elegance to the chocolate making and frothing process.  As illustrated in the example above to the right, the French crafted stylish these chocolatières from silver or other precious metals.  These vessels completely encapsulated the moussoir, as the French called the molinillo, except for the very tip of the handle that protruded through an otherwise covered hold in the center of the lid (Coe and Coe 157).  The moussoir could be left in the vessel for repeated stirring and re-frothing of the beverage during its consumption, giving the consumer the ability to control the level of froth produced.  The wooden handle along the side of the vessel allowed for easy pouring for consumption (Coe and Coe 157).  The ease of frothing through the European whisking methods allowed for the beverage to move through the ranks of society and become the mass consumed commodity it is today.

In modern society, although chocolate is consumed in many forms and is no longer a creation reserved for the upper class, it remains a popular beverage option.  While traditional recipes for the beverage are still used, especially in Central and South America where the recipes originated, much change has undergone the beverage now served en masse to the public.  More often than not, the drinks are crafted through the combination of a powdered mixture and hot water or milk, rather than through melted chocolate and water.  This new mixture does not produce froth as well as the traditional recipes.  To counteract this and to continue the frothing tradition, consumers now add ingredients, such as whipped cream or marshmallows, to their beverages as pictured below (Coe and Coe 48). The foamy head no longer serves as a measure of quality as it is not produced by the concoction itself but retains its preferential status.

hot_chocolate_28229
A chocolate beverage that could be consumed today.

Several changes have undergone the chocolate creation and consumption processes through the eras since its introduction.  Once merely a drink prized by the elite, chocolate today is a commodity consumed in several forms by a myriad of individuals.  One aspect that has remained static through its transformation, however, is the presence of and preference for a frothy head on each drink consumed.  From the pouring and stirring methods of the Mayans and Aztecs to the whisking methods of the Spanish and French to the ingredient-addition methods of modern culture, the importance of the froth has held fast through the eras, likely as a result of the human preference for aerated, foamy beverages.

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print.

Martin, Carla D. “Introduction to Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.” Harvard Extension School. Cambridge, MA.  27 Jan. 2016. Lecture.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate Revised. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2009. Print

Image Sources

Hot chocolate (2). 11 Mar. 2010. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2014. Web. 18, Feb. 2016.

Mujer vertiendo chocolate – Codex Tudela. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

Van Cauwenbergh, Joseph-Théodore. Chocolate Pot. 1774. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.