All posts by 2016e325

The Happiest Chocolate on Earth: Exploring Chocolate and its uses at the Disneyland Resort

Overview

Chocolate at the Disneyland Resort is found in nearly every retail and food location in and around the resort with it primarily being portrayed with the same innocence surrounding the founding of Disneyland and its characters (Marciodisney, 2011): yet the marketing of the chocolate that primarily uses Disney characters and images to sell its products while delightful is tainted because a theme of secrecy, sex, and exclusivity exist in and around the resort where chocolate is concerned.

Introduction

Chocolate and products that contain chocolate surround most of us in our daily lives as consumers (Allen, 2010). As I contemplated what to write about in my final post on chocolate for this class I could not think of another place that I desired to explore how chocolate is used, influences, and motivates behavior than at the Disneyland Resort, a place that holds a special place in my heart. In order to fully explore the relationship between chocolate and Disneyland I traveled to California and spent two days “researching” how chocolate is used, where Disney sources the chocolate they use, and the role that marketing plays in the production and sale of chocolate at Disneyland. What I found was that chocolate, like many other foods and products at the Disneyland Resort is influenced by many factors both positive and negative. Several of the factors used to motivate and guide consumer behavior to purchase chocolate in Disneyland are enjoyment, food, and it is an outlet for consumers to entertain themselves, however it appears that some of the motivation is driven under the often subtle guise of providing a source of supplemental income for the resort at the cost of violations of morals and stereotypes that fuel and drive consumer behavior.

History of Products in Disneyland

Nestled in Anaheim California, Disneyland is advertised as the Happiest Place on Earth (Disneyland, 2014), but is more than a tourist destination, it is a beacon American capitalism generating more than 3 million dollars per day in revenue (Disneyland Resort Public Affairs, 2012). When Disneyland opened in 1955 Walt Disney proclaimed that “Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America” (Disneydreamer, n.d.), with no hard facts more true that those of capitalism and marketing. Since the beginning Disneyland has incorporated products and businesses into its operational structure to offset costs and guide consumer behavior, a strategy that is still used today as evidenced through my exploration of how chocolate is used and sold in the park and how the success of the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop

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Image Source, personal photo, May 7, 2016

continues the trend of outsourcing products and brands for profit. In addition to bringing in the popular chocolate brand Ghirardelli to the resort (Disneyland Resort Public Affairs, 2012), Disneyland sells several products that capitalize on the characters and animations that they have developed and created often using these in seductive and sexually enticing ways, ways that are often copied by other companies as they attempt to capitalize on the success of Disneyland (Coe & Coe, 2013).

Exploring the Chocolate Selection at the Disneyland Resort

Throughout the Disneyland Resort several shops sell a variety of chocolate items that are both prepackaged and “made” at the resort. The items that are available include chocolate bars, prepackaged chocolate items such as nuts and non-perils, items hand created out of chocolate including dipped apples, a variety of desserts at restaurants, and other chocolate items where chocolate is used not as a main ingredient but as a decorative and supplemental additive such as when it is drizzled on fruit and used as a tool to write a message on a plate. Several products are available throughout the resort and most of the stores that sell them all have similar if not an identical selection available no matter where I shopped for chocolate.

As I was shopping throughout the resort for chocolate I noticed a striking similarity, in addition to all of the products being similar and identical in every store all of them, including the products sold exclusively at the Ghirardelli Soda and Chocolate Shop, shared the common characteristic of not being sourced as to where the chocolate originated. Additionally, the packaging on both the prepackaged and in-house packaged chocolate items (see figure 1) IMG_0925

Figure 1, source personal photo, May 7, 2016

made no representation as to where the chocolate originated nor where it was processed aside from where the final product was made (see figure 2). IMG_0843

Figure 2, source personal photo, May 7, 2016

Even upon further investigation and asking employees where the chocolate originated I was left unfulfilled in my quest to find out the source of the chocolate that the use in their products. At one register I inquired if the cashier knew where the chocolate came from and she stated that it “came from the chefs in the back” of which I asked her where the chefs get it and she said it was all made at the resort (A. Cast member, personal communication, May 7, 2016), something that I knew was not accurate because I believe that they would advertise if Disneyland was a bean to bar operation, therefore I believe that they are operating a type of chocolatier making and selling items originally and repackaged.

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Disney cast members making chocolate items, source personal photos, May 6, 2016

Exploring the Originally Produced Items

A large variety of items are offered for sale throughout the resort that are produced by hand and not mass produced. Many of these items are quite unique and include a variety of chocolate covered apples, various items dipped in chocolate including nuts, peanut butter, fruit, marshmallows, and candy (see figure 3 & 4). IMG_0828

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Various items available for sale in Disneyland, Figures 3 & 4, source personal photos, May 6, 2016

While these items were unique and quite tasty with a desirable aroma, good color, and a flavor characterization that merged into one another in a seamless manner (Presilla, 2009) based on empirical observations conducted using several taste samples, all of the chocolate products shared similar characteristics. The similarities that existed centered around three common themes, the first was chocolate items that represented Disney cartoon characters and other fictional characters such as Darth Vader and Tigger (see figure 5 & 6).

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Figures 5 & 6, source personal photos, May 7, 2016

The second theme was several products were created to represent and celebrate the 60th anniversary celebration that is underway at the Disneyland Resort (see figure 7).

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Figure 7, source personal photo, May 6, 2016

The third theme that was observed throughout my shopping adventures was that traditional items that are not associated with any Disney specific character or event itself were also available for purchase. In addition to the in-house made chocolate items available for sale several already packaged items were offered for sale as well that included chocolate bars, nuts, and other items all packaged and sold as products that depicted either a Disney character or promoted the Disneyland Resort itself (see figure 8)

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Figure 8, source personal photo, May 7, 2016

Exploring the Prepackaged Items

The prepackaged items that were available for sale fell into two categories, those that were formal and directed toward any audience and those that attempted to use humor by portraying Disney characters or Disney quotes in an attempt to grab the consumers interest and motivate them to buy. Within the products that attempted to use humor some were funny, some were silly, and some were offensive and portrayed women in sexual ways that I thought were inappropriate. Some examples of the items that I found to be funny was a chocolate bar that portrayed Mickey Mouse as Sorcerer Mickey with the title “And now I will make this chocolate disappear”(see figure 10). A chocolate item that I thought was silly was a milk chocolate caramel item that was titled “Mood Chocolate” and stated “If you’re feeling Grumpy, it can make you Happy. But don’t be Dopey and eat too much… or you’ll have to see the Doc!” using a portrayal of the Dwarfs from Snow White (see figure 9)

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Figures 9 & 10, source personal photos, May 7, 2016

 The chocolate bar that I was offended by featured a picture of Jessica Rabbit from Roger Rabbit wearing a low cut dress and showing a great deal of her animated breasts with the caption “I’m not bad I’m just drawn to chocolate” (see figure 11).

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Figure 11, Source http://www.IMNOTBAD.com, retrieved May 11, 2016

This chocolate item in particular is one that Disney is crossing the barrier from cute to sexism because they are using sex to sell chocolate. Despite the overarching theme of innocence in most Disney characters, having this chocolate bar puts Disney into the same category as many other chocolate manufacturers who use sex and sexual innuendo to sell products by reinforcing the dominate ideologies that classify women as sexual objects (Robertson, 2009). While the marketing is at times distasteful and offensive one cannot argue its success with the lines at the chocolate shops often stretching a dozen or more people at any given time of the day or night which not only promotes marketing of this type it reinforces it as well financially.

In addition to the creative and sometimes distasteful marketing that exists surrounding the chocolate for sale at the Disneyland Resort many other concerns exist regarding the price point of the products for sale. Because the Disneyland Resort only sells their own chocolate with the exception of the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop they are free to set whatever price point they desire for their products. Because many consumers who visit plan to spend disposable income on food and beverage purchases a market of willing consumers pays for the privilege to buy the chocolate offered for sale with no possibility of free market competition to help regulate the price market demanded for some of their items. Because this situation exists several chocolate items are priced well above traditional pricing normally found for similar items sold outside the gates of the resort. An example of this can be found when looking at the chocolate covered apples available that are priced between $10.99 and $13.99 apiece (see figure 12).

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Figure 12 & 13, source personal photos, May 6, 2016

These prices coupled with 16 ounce box of assorted chocolates being sold for over $23 and a variety of items at Ghirardelli offered for sale over $30 makes buying chocolate at the Disneyland Resort a potentially pricey scenario, all for chocolate that is not sourced, described, or explained outside of its affiliation with the Disney marketing on the packages and the availability to only purchase many of the items inside of the Disneyland Resort after admission is paid which varies but averages $100 per person per day (Disneyland, 2016).

Summary of Chocolate at the Disneyland Resort

During my two-day chocolate consuming adventure, I learned several things including the chocolate at Disneyland is geared toward an American pallet using a formula and process that is very similar to chocolate commonly found produced by mass American chocolate companies (Coe & Coe, 2013). The second thing I learned was that despite the commonality of the chocolate, where the source is kept secretly hidden and the “nothing unique” thoughts I had about its taste, I loved the presentation and the creativity that is put into the manufacturing of the items. Disney does a great job of having their employees visible to the general public as they are producing and packaging many of the chocolate items that they sell. As a consumer I found this to be delightful because I could see for myself how many of the items I purchased were being made. This added a great deal to the experience and motivated me to spend even more of purchasing items to see what they tasted like as I had just seen them being made and was curious.

Aside from the unique items produced in-house at the Disneyland Resort I found many of the prepackaged items to have a similar taste as the in-house made items despite them being produced in a factory. Overall the quality of these items was good and the only drawback that would dissuade me from purchasing more of these items would be the price. In addition to the items available for purchase in the store the restaurant original items that were themed and created were wonderful and would be a motivation for me to return to the park again with friends because the flavors that Disney used created a chocolate taste that mixed fruit, nuts, and cake to make unique flavor combinations that would be perfect to share as a way to bond and come together as we consume items that perhaps may not be the best for us nutritionally but would fill social needs (Mintz, 1985). Even though the price was high for most items, the marketing was somewhat offensive on one item, and the variety between and among brands was lacking I would still recommend sampling items available at the Disneyland Resort because it is one of the most unique chocolate adventures and tastings one will ever have.

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Source personal photo, May 7, 2016

References

Allen, L. L. (2010). Chocolate fortunes: The battle for the hearts, minds, and wallets of China’s consumers. New York: American Management Association.

Coe, S. D., & Coe, M. D. (2013). The true history of chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Disney dreamer. (n.d.). Walt Disney Opening Day Speech Disneyland. Retrieved May 11, 2016, from http://www.disneydreamer.com/DLOpen.htm

Disneyland (2016). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from https://disneyland.disney.go.com/tickets/

Disneyland Resort Public Affairs (2012). The Happiest Place on Earth Just Got Happier  https://publicaffairs.disneyland.com/the-happiest-place-on-earth-just-got-happier/

Marciodisney. (2011). 1955 Disneyland Opening Day [Complete ABC Broadcast]. Retrieved May 11, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuzrZET-3Ew

Mintz, S. W. (1985). Sweetness and power: The place of sugar in modern history. New York, NY: Viking.

Presilla, M. E. (2001). The new taste of chocolate: A cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP.

 

Snickers and Sexism: How Far is too Far in Advertising?

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Figure 1,Retrieved from: Snickers.com

 

The chocolate bar Snickers, which is a brand of the Mars corporation, began an advertising campaign featuring several advertisements which used the tagline “YOU’RE NOT YOURSELF WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY” (Waxman, 2014). In these advertisements the Mars corporation attempts to make light out of how individuals, primarily men, behave when they are hungry portraying them as acting in a manner which is unlike who they would normally behave when they are not hungry (Snickers, 2016). Despite the intentional shock value that these ads evoke (Waxman, 2014), several underlying themes are portrayed in the advertisements including loss of control over an individual’s behavior, the over-sexualization of women, and, in the example used in figure 1, possibly portrays domestic violence towards women. This blog post will focus on an analysis of the advertisement from the campaign in figure 1 as it is compared to an original created advertisement portrayed in figure 2 that was created to depict the Snickers product in a manner that does not stereotype, over-sexualize, or condone domestic violence towards women and portrays the Snickers product for what it actually is, a food product.

 

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Figure 2. Original Work Advertisement

 

In the original advertisement portrayed in figure 1, the actors consist on a woman dressed in a bra and underwear with the arms of another individual that probably belong to a man based on the visual factors used including arm hair (Waxman, 2014). The woman appears to be standing in a seductive sexual pose with her eyes closed and holding her hair as if she is welcoming the man to take her bra off. The man in the image seems to be having trouble removing her bra because he is wearing boxing gloves. Above the boxing gloves is the caption “YOU’RE NOT YOU WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY” that is intended to make several inferences to him being unable to remove her bra and continue with the assumed sexual activity that they appear to be beginning to engage in. The advertisement does not show or detail any representation to the product, what it looks like, has in it, or even that it is a food product. Several problems exist with this advertisement, mainly that the advertisement uses sex to sell a chocolate bar. Additionally, the advertisement also could promote violence toward women because the man is wearing boxing gloves, a product that is worn during a fight, perhaps implying that he is ready to fight her. Because the woman is facing away from the man the theme of potential violence could be fueled based on the fact that she has her eyes closed it could appear that she is afraid of what he may do as he prepares to hit her, perhaps out of his frustration at not being able to remove her bra.

 

In the advertisement in figure 2, the original work advertisement, a Snickers chocolate bar is portrayed as broken down into its four main parts, chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and nougat (Snickers, 2016). In the advertisement a question is posed if the individual reading it is hungry, beginning with a story for the reader as they see four bowls of items that when added together equal satisfaction from hunger with a Snickers bar being shown at the bottom which is what all of the ingredients look like when added together. This advertisement, unlike the advertisement featuring the woman and the man’s arms, does not portray any people, only the product being advertised. Because the original work advertisement does not portray people and it does not make any reference to people it does not sexualize or degrade women like the original advertisement does that sexualizes women and promotes domestic violence.

 

The advertisement campaign run by the Mars Corporation to sell Snickers chocolate bars has been referred to as being edgy, using bold eye catching views to capture the attention of the readers of the advertisements (MB, 2014). Despite the success of the Snickers campaign many of the advertisements have created negative media attention to the product because of the sexual, violent, stereotypical nature of the ads (Waxman, 2014). Backlash against the advertisements has not only come from community groups against domestic violence and racial discrimination but from other chocolate companies as well such as Cadbury which released an advertisement campaign called #BOOSTNUTS where their competing chocolate bar to the Snickers bar is portrayed in a non-sexual or demeaning fashion (figure 3). The competing advertisement campaign is meant to boost awareness to the sexism that exists in product advertisements, including chocolate advertisements done by the Mars Corporation.

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Figure 3, Retrieved from: http://blog.marginmedia.com.au/Our-Blog/bid/100760/Snickers-Anti-Gender-Bias-ad-gets-all-the-wrong-attention

 

While the debate against sexism is important, and it is positive that Cadbury brought it to light, the root problem is that the Mars Corporation believed they did nothing wrong with their advertisement campaign (Chambers, 2014). The comments form the Mars Corporation regarding the backlash of the advertisement is an outward display of how the mindset of the general public has become more accepting of sexual references, violent scenes, and discrimination being used in advertisements (Chacko, 2016). Unless the trend and patterns of consumer behavior changes based on advertising motivating behavior companies will continue to use sex and violence in their advertisements and the discrimination, stereotypes, sexual innuendo, and over-sexualization of violence will continue to be prevalent in main stream advertisements (Liston, 2014).

 

References

Chacko, R. (2016). The Mystery of Sex in Advertising | Commonplace. Retrieved April 06, 2016, from http://www.mhlearningsolutions.com/commonplace/index.php?q=node/5957

Chambers, B. (2014). Street harassment commonly used in ads. Retrieved April 07, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/street-harassment-commonly-used-in-ads-1.2857428

Liston, M. (2014). Snickers’ ‘Anti-Gender Bias’ ad gets all the wrong attention. Retrieved April 08, 2016, from http://blog.marginmedia.com.au/Our-Blog/bid/100760/Snickers-Anti-Gender-Bias-ad-gets-all-the-wrong-attention

MB. (2014). Snickers – Ad Analysis. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://snickersad.blogspot.com/

Waxman, O. (2014). This Snickers Ad Manages to Be Sexist to Both Men and Women. Retrieved April 04, 2016, from http://time.com/40255/snickers-ad-manages-to-be-sexist-to-both-men-and-women/

 

 

Ignorantia Legis Neminem Excusat, A Discussion of the Ethics Surrounding the Cadbury Company and Slavery in Sao Tome in the Early 1900’s

The Latin phrase Ignorantia legis neminem excusat, translated in English meaning ignorance of law excuses no one https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=Uw1XAAAAcAAJ&rdid=book-Uw1XAAAAcAAJ&rdot=1, sums up the Cadbury Companies social and moral dilemma that was faced in the early 1900 in England (Satre, 2005). The dilemma stemmed from the values of the Cadbury company founder John Cadbury,

George Cadbury

 John Cadbury, Source: https://www.cadbury.co.uk/the-story

who was a practicing member of the Society of Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=uJabWgv005sC&rdid=book-uJabWgv005sC&rdot=1. Because Mr. Cadbury was a Quaker the tea and coffee business he started in 1824

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Cadbury’s First Store 1824, Source: https://www.cadbury.co.uk/the-story

operated under the principals of the Quaker religion which taught that all people are equal in the eyes of God (Smith, 1998). These principals, which would guide the company during its early history were in place when, in 1866, the business and company gained notoriety for a cocoa essence drink that John’s son George

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George Cadbury, Source: https://www.cadbury.co.uk/the-story

began selling that was manufactured using a press designed by Van Houten that he acquired (Satre, 2005).

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Van Houten Cocoa advertisement, Source: Public Domain


The cocoa drink made from the press, and later manufactured by George (Cadbury, 2010), would be the start of the future of the Cadbury chocolate empire that was built mindfully on the values of the Quaker religion by John Cadbury, but in reality George’s interpretation and lack of action regarding slave labor in Sao Tome.

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Sao Tome, Source: http://www.operationworld.org

The island of Sao Tome is an African island where the Cadbury company would buy almost 45% of its cacao beans from, blackened the social eye of the company that espoused virtue, innocence, and fairness among all (Satre, 2005).

In the public eye the Cadbury Company portrayed a soft and welcoming public image often having children gracing the focal points of their advertisements while the company worked to highlight social and moral issues and mistreatment of workers while supporting their own virtuous moral behavior (Presilla, 2009).

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 Cadbury Advertisement, Source, https://www.cadbury.co.uk/the-story

The positive moral image built by George and his family was a factor that helped the Cadbury company grow from a single small shop in Birmingham, England to the expansive Bournville facility  that housed and employed many thousands of workers at the Cadbury company https://www.cadbury.co.uk/the-story.

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Cadbury Factory and Village in Bournville, Source: https://www.cadbury.co.uk/the-story

The success of the chocolate goods that were manufactured by the company enabled the Cadbury family to build great wealth and allowed them to purchase and start many other businesses, most notably several newspapers including the London Daily News a liberal giant in the media at the time (Cadbury, 2010). By entering the media market the Cadbury Company was able to spread their message of service to the poor, intolerance to slavery and human rights violations, and anti-war messages (Satre, 2005). George, who oversaw the families businesses, used his media presence to criticize and raise public outcry against the conservative government who he named in many headlines as supporting “Yellow Slavery” and Chinese Slavery” because of the government’s approval of Chinese coolie labor  (Satre, 2005).

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Coolie Slave in England, Source: Public Domain

In addition to the stories exposing slavery George used the paper to run an expose a “Sweat Shop Exhibition” highlighting deplorable low wage and conditions for workers in the “sweated trades” (Satre, 2005). Despite all of these efforts to publicly denounce slavery and highlight social justice when confronted with evidence that the Cadbury company themselves were buying cacao grown and harvested by slave labor they turned a blind eye for years (Cadbury, 2010).

In 1901 William Cadbury, nephew to George Cadbury, visited a company owned plantation in Trinidad (Satre, 2005). On this trip he was informed that slave labor was being used on Sao Tome (Higgs, 2012). The evidence, which was initially discarded, was given credence when shortly thereafter an offer to purchase a plantation on Sao Tome was presented and among the assets listed included in the purchase were 200 laborers (Satre, 2005). The Cadbury Company sent William and a hired Travers Buxton a former secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society in England to investigate the claim (Higgs, 2012).

The initial report from William was that the slaves in Sao Tome were not being treated harshly and in many respects he did not believe that they were “real” slaves at all (Satre, 2005). William, in his letter to the board explaining his initial findings, was the slaves in the mining industry were “actual” slaves having to work in the harshest of conditions suffering physical harm, the slaves on Sao Tome were not (Cadbury, 2010). This initial denial was accepted by the board and used as justification for the continual use of the slave labor in Sao Tome until 1908, when the Cadbury Company finally stopped using slave labor (Sate, 2005).

The true ethics and moral compass of the leaders in the Cadbury family came to light during this crisis. Initially, it was easy for the company to deny they purchased slave grown cacao even though sources knew that Sao Tome and other islands in the region used slave labor (Satre, 2005). The board of the Cadbury Company knew, or should have known ethically that a great chance existed that they were using slave grown cacao and their initial ignorance was no excuse for allowing the slave labor to continue. The larger ethical dilemma came after being presented with evidence that their plantation on Sao Tome was in fact employing slave labor and nothing was directly done to stop it for seven years (Satre, 2005). Even though the Cadbury owned newspapers continued to publish stories denouncing slavery they continued to use slave grown cacao (Presilla, 2009). Despite how they justified their use of slavery to themselves referring to the slaves as “workers” and saying they were not really slaves because they were treated well (Cadbury, 2010), they hid their indiscretion from the public all the while highlighting the very same ethical violations that they accused and exposed other businesses of committing in their papers until they were forced to disclose it where the true details emerged during a public trial (Cadbury, 2010). The true moral and ethical compass of George and the Cadbury family was exposed during this experience because while it is easy for them to condemn others when their own reputation and profits were at stake, the transparency they valued was difficult to inflict upon themselves.

References

Cadbury, D. (2010). Chocolate wars: The 150-year rivalry between the world’s greatest chocolate makers. New York: PublicAffairs.

Higgs, C. (2012). Chocolate islands: Cocoa, slavery, and colonial Africa. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press

Presilla, M. E. (2009). The new taste of chocolate: A cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

Satre, L. J. (2005). Chocolate on trial: Slavery, politics, and the ethics of business. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.

Smith, R. L. (1998). A Quaker book of wisdom: Life lessons in simplicity, service, and common sense. New York: Eagle Brook.

Understanding The Chemical Compound that Confirmed Chocolate was Consumed by the Maya

A great deal is known about the importance of the cacao bean and chocolate to Mesoamerican cultures with its production and consumption dating back over 2600 years (Trivedi, 2002). Even though linguistic evidence, paintings and hieroglyphics have been found on vessels, the real chemical evidence that chocolate existed was not discovered until 1987 when analysis of residue from a vessel found at a Mayan site in Rio Azul in northeast Guatemala was discovered to contain theobromine, the primary chemical compound that is prevalent in chocolate and the signature chemical among 500 other chemical compounds that make up chocolate (Coe & Coe, 2013; Trivedi, 2002).

What is Theobromine

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The Chemical Structure of Theobromine

Source Public Domain

Theobromine, the primary chemical component in cacao, is a bitter alkaloid derived from the cacao plant. It has a chemical composition of C7H8N4O2 (Ashihara, Yokota, & Crozier, 2013). Because it is an alkaloid it is derived from plants and has a nitrogen base (Ashihara et al., 2013). While theobromine is not unique to cacao, as it is found in the leaves of tea plants and the nuts from the kola tree, it is most commonly known for its presence in cacao and the product made from cacao, chocolate. What is unique to theobromine as opposed to other alkaloids is that the term alkaloid is one that is often associated with other drugs like morphine and some natural poisons. Some of the better known members of the alkaloid family are caffeine, nicotine, quinine and cocaine, all of which are well known but none of them has the same appeal as theobromine (Ashihara et al., 2013). This appeal is because it is what makes cacao and chocolate special.

An interesting fact about theobromine is that despite having bromine in the name, theobromine does not contain any containing bromine. The name is, however, derived from the word Theobroma which in Greek theo means “god” and broma means “food”, literally translated theobromine means the food of the gods (Bernhardt, 2008).

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Aztec God of Cacao

Source Public Domain

Why is Theobromine Important

What is most important about theobromine is that its presence during the chemical analysis of the vessels that have been discovered in Maya ruins provided solid evidence that chocolate was used by the Maya. Despite this evidence it is believed that the Olmec were the first to harvest and use cacao, however due to the harsh climate no artifacts form the Olmec have been found to prove this theory (Coe & Coe, 2013). What is known however is that finding traces of theobromine in Mayan relics has allowed scientists, anthropologists, and researchers a method to accurately determine both if chocolate was made and used by a certain culture, and the special significance that it had. Because the signature chemical nature of theobromine can be traced, the discovery of pottery and other vessels used in rituals can be identified using chemical means as containing chocolate not just by the hieroglyphs found on the outside of the vessel.

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The hieroglyph symbol for cacao

Source public domain

Despite the paintings on many vessels depicting the symbol for cacao, by analyzing the chemical residue on the surface of the interior of the vessels it can be determined without a doubt that they did contain chocolate. Theobromine provides the crucial link to be able for scientists to say beyond a doubt that chocolate has been being produced for thousands of years, and no doubt will be produced for thousands more.

References

Ashihara Hiroshi, Yokota Takao, Crozier Alan (2013). “Biosynthesis and catabolism of purine alkaloids”. Advances in Botanical Research 68: 111–138. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-408061-4.00004-3.

Coe, S. D., & Coe, M. D. (2013). The true history of chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Trivedi, B. (n.d.). Ancient Chocolate Found in Maya “Teapot” Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/07/0717_020717_TVchocolate.html