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Theobroma

Power. The ultimate aphrodisiac. It is intangible, yet felt, immeasurable, but detectible. We yearn for it, crave it, dream of it; it arouses us without hesitation. Each and every day we strive to empower ourselves, whether it be through education, exercise, style or socialization. From how we dress and walk, to what we eat and with whom we talk, all of our actions are rooted in an inherent desire to become more influential. As history has progressed, this universal appetite for power has been reflected in the societal standards of both the past and present. Consequently, we venerate the wealthy, distinguish those of status, and yearn for the sexual. Few possessions in the world display wealth, status, and sexuality more poignantly than chocolate. From its inauguration, chocolate has influenced the social issues that are both etched in our textbooks and echoed from our TV screens. Classism. Sexism. Racism. Capable of being both the “food of the gods” in one era and the “food of the masses” the next, chocolate has both widened and bridged the gap between the wealthy and the poor, the elite and the forgotten, and the pristine and the sexualized. Therefore, chocolate—both as an exotic luxury and a ubiquitous treat—exemplifies American society’s ongoing struggle between equality and empowerment.

Dating back as early as the Mesoamerican period, chocolate has played an integral part in the both construction and preservation of social classes. In fact, our understanding of the Mayan use of cacao is predominantly found etched upon elegant vessels unearthed in the tombs of the elite (Coe & Coe, 2013). Furthermore, some of these excavated vases contain chemical traces of alkaloids found in cacao, suggesting that their contents once were liquid (Coe & Coe, 2013). Thus, from both glyphs and painted scenes on these Mayan vessels, it is evident that chocolate was drunk both by kings and nobles (Presilla, 2009). However, evidence from concurrent excavations suggests that chocolate was used across all classes, particularly during rites of passage. Nevertheless, only the elite used and buried themselves with drinking vessels resistant to decay, symbolizing the dignifying effect of chocolate (Presilla, 2009). In addition, apart from regal furnishing in burial chambers, chocolate was a crucial element of opulent feasts amongst the elite; hosts of these feasts were obliged to present their guests with the finest vases they could afford to consume chocolate (Presilla, 2009). Cacao also was linked with many sacred Mayan traditions, such as fertility rites, marriage rituals, banquets, baptism, and rites of death (Martin, 2016). For example, during marriage negotiations in Mayan society, cacao drinks were essential during royal marriage and cacao seeds were often used as legal currency for marriage dowry (Martin, 2016). Furthermore, in Mayan warfare, cacao—due to the stimulating effects of theobromine—caused warriors to feel energized, stronger, even invincible. Therefore, for the Mayans, chocolate served as a medium of communicating power, distinguishing the common man from the noble through wealth and status in both life and death.

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The exchange of cacao between Mesoamerican gods highlights its divinity.

Similarly, the Aztecs also use chocolate to illuminate the power of the elite. Instead of being accessible to all people, chocolate was reserved only for nobility, lords, royalty, and the warrior class (Coe & Coe, 2013). For example, in Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espana, the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún describes the significance of cacao as unmistakably an elite food, recounting that it was proverbially called “heart and blood,” to be drunk by those of wealth and status (Martin, 2016). Additionally, cacao served as a cure to the skin eruptions, seizures and fevers, as well as illness that often were attributed to the Aztec gods; a number of botanical remedies included cacao in their recipes. Thus, cacao was viewed as a divine gift, a tangible, measureable embodiment of power. Such a treasured substance was the birthright of the distinguished; if one of the common people drank it without sanction from their superiors, it would cost them their life (Presilla, 2009). Thus, cacao was also referred to as yolloti eztli: the price of blood and heart. The severity of the crime for simply consuming cacao as a commoner exemplifies the conflict between equality and power observed hundreds of years before and after; for equality to exist, the elite must give up their divine gift, an unfathomable option. Consequently, those who dared to bridge the gap between the elite and the forgotten by—in this case—consuming cacao were met with indiscriminate punishment.

Thus, due to its immense value in Aztec society, cacao evolved from prestigious commodity and divine medication to a form of currency. Ranking amongst gold and precious gems, cacao reached the rooftops of imperial storehouses due to its usage in tributary offerings (Presilla, 2009). For instance, Motecuhzoma II (reigned 1502-1520) reportedly banked 40,000 xiquipilli or 960,000,000 cacao beans. Everything from avocados to full-grown turkeys could be priced by cacao (Martin, 2016). In effect, to simply drink cacao exhibited immense wealth and proved to be the ultimate display of power during the 16th century.

This marriage of wealth, divinity, and status through cacao subsequently was embraced by European nations. Arriving in the New World during the zenith of Mesoamerican chocolate culture, the Spanish deeply embraced the history of cacao consumption dating back to the Mayans. As a result, the central aspects of chocolate use in ancient Mesoamerica were preserved and disseminated throughout many of the Latin American colonies and as far as the Philippines (Presilla, 2009). Recognizing the power inherent to cacao, the Spanish conquistador Cortés wrote to the emperor Charles V requesting a grant of land for a Pacific Coast plantation containing two thousand cacao trees (Presilla, 2009). Not only did the farm prove immensely profitable, but it also catalyzed cacao’s entrance into Europe; both chocolate and cacao quickly became pillars of the Spanish economy. Naturally, people in Spain adopted the custom of drinking chocolate. However, just as in Mesoamerica, the relationship of the elite and the consumption of chocolate remained inseparable; arriving as an exotic luxury, chocolate was experienced first by the powerful (Presilla, 2009).

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A painting of Spanish aristocrats enjoying chocolate, showcasing its association with the elite.

Requiring special pains, paraphernalia, and acutely roasted beans, chocolate consumption amongst the Spaniards was an elite privilege. However, as the production of cacao grew extensively amongst every rank of colonial society, chocolate closed the gap the elite and common man. Eventually, by the 18th century, chocolate drinking became routine from the top to the bottom of society (Presilla, 2009).

However, this ubiquitous consumption of chocolate that is observed today did not occur naturally. Rather, the growth in cacao production was largely the result of the African slavery and forced labor. From 1500-1900, between 10 and 15 million enslaved Africans were transported to the cacao growing regions of the New World in order to substantially increase cacao production (Martin, 2016). However, although the repercussions of African slavery included racism, racial characteristics did not factor into the decision of Europeans to use African slaves (Martin, 2016). Rather, due to geographical proximity to European nations seeking cheap labor, Africans and their descendants were condemned to enforced labor. Working painstakingly in 18-hour shifts, African slaves were forced to not only cultivate cacao, but also cotton, tobacco, rice and sugar (Martin, 2016). The labor that produced these commodity crops funded the development of capitalism in European society, poignantly illustrating the dichotomy between equality and power; unwilling to relinquish their newfound accumulation of wealth, the Europeans preserved slavery for centuries. As the widespread consumption of commodity goods, such as chocolate, bridged the gap between the lower-middle class and the elite, slavery readily became standardized (Martin, 2016). Subsequently, as chocolate lost its luxury status, European classism gradually diminished while racism rapidly took its place. Once European consumers tasted the power that had been locked behind the doors of being born into an elite family, abandoning slavery was a laughable proposition. Therefore, as Eric Williams, author of Slavery & Capitalism, states, no country thought of abolishing the slave trade until its economic value declined considerably (Martin, 2016). Ultimately, as Mintz (1986) elaborates, the power of chocolate led to it “being supplied to so many, in such stunningly large quantities, and at so terrible a cost in life and suffering.”

The greatest cost that slavery deferred to society was racism. Following slavery’s abolishment in the 19th century and the rise of big chocolate production on a global scale in the 20th century, the chocolate industry perpetuated the inequality across race and class observed a century before. Most notably, in order to display the power of both the company and their white consumers, many chocolate companies during the mid-20th century created ads that reinforced the 2nd class status of African Americans (Robertson, 2010). For example, in 1947, York-based chocolate company introduced a marketing character named “Honeybunch.” A caricature of Africans, Honeybunch’s broken dialect is drawn from stereotypes of black speech, turning her into a minstrel character.

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Honeybunch reinforced the idea of supremacy and power of the English.

This cartoon, as shown to the left, is juxtaposed with real images of a white mother and her children who speak perfect English. Thus, the use of imperfect language by a black character is intended to amuse the white audience; the advertisement reinforces the idea of the supremacy and power of the English language, and more broadly of whiteness (Robertson, 2010). Conversely, Honeybunch’s depiction emphasizes ignorance and the lack of power in blackness. Nevertheless, following the progressive steps towards equality during the Civil Rights Movement, chocolate advertisers began to adjust the tone of their racist beliefs, specifically through sexuality (Robertson, 2010). As Oscar Wilde states, “everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” Hence, drawing upon the exotic origins of cacao, and thus of Africans, chocolate companies pushed forward the idea that vanilla and chocolate serve as cultural metaphors for both race and sex (Martin, 2016). Accordingly, chocolate is to blackness as vanilla is to whiteness. More specifically, whiteness exemplifies power in the old-sense: regality, purity, and wealth. However, in order to appeal to a more diversified and less discriminatory consumer base, advertisers began to promote sexuality, the most modern form of power. Hence, blackness embodies desire, impurity, and craving.

As a result, sexual depictions of black men and all women have been used both to sell chocolate products and maintain both the inequality of races and disempowerment of women in America. As detailed by Robertson (2010), the stereotypical depictions of black men and women of all races in the advertisements are not novel. Throughout the history of chocolate consumption and production, femininity and blackness have been used to create spectacles of the exotic and erotic for profit.

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The sexualization of chocolate both empowers and belittles its audience.

This blatant objectification and simplification of black men and women not only mocks the consumers of chocolate, but also its producers; many African men and women invest their lives in the cacao production process (Kawash, 2016). Thus, the constant juxtaposition of beautiful women and chocolate along with the belittling of black men as exotic, physical specimens illustrates society’s ongoing struggle between equality and empowerment. Since the chocolate industry has forced fed the idea that sex and empowerment are two sides of the same coin, the inherent sexism and racism of these advertisements is largely disregarded. Although there has been public outcry in response to the most extreme versions of these advertisements, such as Honeybunch, those of the modern era profit by constructing a relationship between race and sex that masks racism and sexism through the power of beauty. Therefore, just like the Aztec elites and the proletariat of 19th century Europe, modern American society has chosen the allure of power over the altruism of equality.

Ultimately, chocolate is one of the most powerful commodities in the last millennia. Due to its divinity, luxury, and sheer necessity, chocolate has played a significant role in shaping the socioeconomic atmosphere of multiple continents. Due to its divinity, chocolate immortalized the Mesoamerican elite in death; due to its luxury, chocolate granted immense wealth to Conquistadors; due to its necessity, chocolate closed the gap between the European elite and middle class. At the same, chocolate left in its wake classism that ravaged the Mesoamericans, racism that enslaved over 10 million Africans, and sexism that objectified men and women across the globe. Consequently, due to its ability to empower, chocolate has seduced generations into embracing social norms that perpetuate inequality across race, class and gender.

 

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013. Print.

Kawash, Samira. “Sex and Candy.” The New York Times. Web. 08 April 2016

Martin, Carla. “AAS 119x Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements.” Web. 26 April 2016.

Martin, Carla. “AAS 119x Lecture 2: Mesoamerica and the ‘food of the gods’.” Web. 26 April 2016.

Martin, Carla. “AAS 119x Lecture 3: Chocolate Expansion.” Web. 26 April 2016.

Martin, Carla. “AAS 119x Lecture 6: Slavery, abolition, and forced labor.” Web. 26 April 2016.

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

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, women, and empire: a social and cultural history. New York: Manchester University Press, 2009. 124-125. Print.

Multimedia Sources/Links

Godiva Appeals to Women with “Diva” Campaign. Digital Image. http://media260chocolate.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2014/03/03/godiva-appeals-to-women-with-diva-campaign/. Web. 4 May. 2016

Mayan Gods Exchanging Chocolate. Digital image. University of Oregon. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2016. <http://blogs.uoregon.edu/mesoinstitute/files/2013/11/Chocolate-2-1az3lcd.jpeg&gt;.

Norton, Marcy. “Conquests of Chocolate.” OAH Magazine of History 18.3 (2004): 14–17.JSTOR. Web. 4 May. 2016. Accessed at: http://www.jstor.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/stable/25163677

Rowntree Cocoa: Screenshot from Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cost of a Sweet Tooth

Instant Gratification. The desire to experience pleasure without delay, without worry, without thought. Each and every day we look at our phones, computers, or televisions sets, this craving is fed for a fleeting moment. With just a swipe of a finger, a click of a mouse, or a switch of the channel, we are promptly bombarded with an image designed to feed this desire. Although every person has their own set of unique preferences regarding what appeals to them, advertisers know what is most alluring to all of us. Sex. Power. Spectacle. Consequently, the majority of advertisements are 30-second displays of the crude and bizarre. Particularly, advertisements concerning consumer chocolate have followed the “crude and bizarre” blueprint quite religiously. Ignoring the factual and unsettling history of cacao production, many chocolate companies appeal to our lucrative need for instant gratification. Therefore, these chocolate advertisements—laced with undertones of racism and sexism—impede society’s progress towards equality in the name of profit.

Dove Chocolate Abs

Above is an advertisement created and promoted by Dove. Flipping through a magazine with this imagine occupying an entire page. As the standard vanilla-white pages skip by, one would catch your eye. An alluring, milk chocolate brown would jump out at you, piquing your interest. The distinction between “standard vanilla” white and “alluring, milk chocolate” brown is significant; in our present day, vanilla and chocolate serve as cultural metaphors for race (Martin, 2016). Thus, vanilla is to whiteness as chocolate is to blackness. Going a layer deeper, whiteness exemplifies the respected standard: purity, chastity, and regality. Yet, due to it’s ubiquity, whiteness is also old-fashioned, tepid, and boring. Boring, the one word that keeps advertisers up at night. Therefore, looking to stand out amongst the crowd, advertisers look for the polar opposite of whiteness: blackness. Blackness embodies desire, impurity, and sexuality, words that advertisers swear by. Thus, as the alluring colors of black and brown dominate the image, advertiser draws the reader in instantly.

The picture itself is of a black man, or rather a black man’s abdominal region. The man is faceless and nameless; his defining characteristic is his muscles, turning him into an awe-inspiring spectacle and nothing more. As detailed by Robertson (2010), this depiction of black men in the advertisement of chocolate products is not something novel. Throughout the history of cacao production and consumption, black men were used as spectacles, whether it be to display wealth or the exotic. Additionally, the man’s body appears to be caught in a brief flash of light, indicating that blackness enveloped his body the moment before. Once again, this is a ploy by the advertiser to emphasize the alluring elements within the image; what once was a silhouette is now something desirable. Furthermore, the space behind the man’s body is milk chocolate brown, as if to suggest that the man is made from chocolate. In sum, the color scheme and depiction used within this advertisement takes advantage of the racism inherent chocolate due to its production in Africa.

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Woman are often depicted to be bizarrely obsessed with chocolate.

Finally, as if tacked on as an afterthought, a small image of the Dove product is accompanied by a faint tag line at the bottom of the image that reads “Six Pack that melts a girl’s heart. Dove chocolate.” In effect, Dove announces that its chocolate is for women and that the advertisement is meant to feed their desire for a muscular man that seduces her. Like the objectification of black men, the simplification of women in chocolate advertising is also indicated throughout history. As Kawash (2014) details, chocolate companies build their adverting campaigns on the stereotype that women “crave” certain products. This blatant sexism not only mocks the consumers of chocolate, but also its producers; many African women are involved in the cacao production process, so advertisements such as these both attack their ethnicity and gender.

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In response to the Dove advertisement, I have created my own advertisement above. Gone are any elements of sexism, racism, or any other form of inequality. However, the advertisement still aims to draw the reader in, to feed their desire for instant gratification. At a glance, the reader notices friends grabbing out for something, laughing in the sand with their hands at full stretch. In short, it’s a spectacle, something advertiser strive to show as simply as possible. At closer inspection, the reader notices that the people are reaching for a bag of Dove chocolate. Thus, the advertisement connects friendship, fun and laughter with a desire to have Dove chocolate. Finally, at the top of image, a tag line that reads, “Just Remember, Sharing is Caring,” bringing home the message that chocolate brings people of all walks of life closer together. Such a messages coincides with society present path towards equality, rather than exploiting the history of inequality for profit.

 

Works Cited

Kawash, Samira. “Sex and Candy.” The New York Times. Web. 08 April 2016.

Martin, Carla. “AAS 119x Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements.” Web. 08 April 2016.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, women, and empire: a social and cultural history. New York: Manchester University Press, 2009. 124-125. Print.

“Six Pack that Melts a Girl’s Heart.” 2007. Dove Chocolate, Mars Company. Web. 08 April 2016.

“Woman eating chocolate.” Web. 08 April 2016.

Candy Crucified: The Demonization of Sugar

 

Candy. Small, succulent sweets, always nearby, never distant from our lives. It is conveniently located next to every cash register worldwide, dispensed from vending machines in our schools, offices, amusement parks, and all places in between. In youth, we worshipped candy, chasing it, toiling for just another piece, savoring each bite as if it were our last. When we reflect on these nostalgic moments of sunlight and Easter eggs, spooky nights and costumes, and roses and heart-shaped tin cans, we smile and reminisce. Yet, as we pass by the dull register or scrutinize the unattractive contents of the vending machine, no memories of lollipops and laughter pop into our heads. Through its ubiquity, candy has not simply faded into the background of our busy lives; it has been dressed in deprecating wrapping. Unhealthy. Childish. Processed. Teeth-rotting. Dangerous. Ultimately, this change from virtue to vice has significantly molded the dietary culture of America.

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Research links child obesity and sugar consumption.

Although “candy” is the eye-catching and identifiable word to attach blame on, the true culprit to candy’s downfall is sugar. As the amount of scientific research marrying the rise in sugar intake with obesity has increased, the word “sugar” has dragged through the dirt (Westbrook 2014). No longer is sugar the choice luxury, the signal of status and wealth we used to know (Mintz, 1984). As sugar has been ushered into the 20th century, its armor of necessity has been stripped down. New research has shown that the rising costs of illness, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes, have also risen in tandem with weight gain (Westbrook 2014). Thus, as fat exits the stages as the primary antagonist, current public discussion and media coverage are now claiming that foods high in sugar content, such as candy, are to blame for rapid growth of obesity and other health risks in the United States.

However, prior to the debacle we see today, sugar—through candy—was lauded by and large among the American people. In the early 1900s, the United States was described by many as a “great candy-eating nation” (Kawash 2013). In multiple sports, athletes shamelessly proclaimed that candy liberally granted significant boosts in performance. Similarly, aviators swore that they could handle the drastic shifts in air pressure during record-breaking flights due to the effect of consuming chocolate bars prior to flight (Kawash 2013). The excitement surrounding candy in the United States was tangible; the popularity of candy skyrocketed, leading to many households generating candy from their own kitchens (Kawash 2013). Furthermore, candy found its way into the church, given as gift to the devout worshippers of sugar. Even scientists and researchers reached conclusions that candy could fuel the nation forward, ushering in an age of excellence and productivity (Kawash 2013).

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Candy was so lauded that it found favor with the Church.

Nevertheless, this golden age of candy was quite fleeting. During the mid 1900s, public outcry against candy gained momentum. Articles began questioning the healthiness of candy and its true benefits to society (Kawash 2013). What once, as Mintz (1984) details, was a key part to a soldier’s arsenal had fallen into the hands of the enemy. New outlets began publishing comics as a warning to innocent youth that candy could be used to lure them away from safety. Concurrently, candy began to lose its favor with the church as “Sunday school” moralists viewed chocolate cigars as catalysts for sinful behavior (Kawash 2013). In dentistry, candy shouldered the blame for creating cavities, even though the science behind this claim is false. Consequently, this continued lambasting instilled the general disapproval of candy consumption observed today.

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From delicious to dangerous, candy’s image was changed due to public outcry.

Ultimately, the demonization of candy has shaped the modern American diet considerably. Although omnipresent, sugar is no longer the necessity it once was in the 1850s, nor is it the lauded condiment of the early 1900s (Mintz 1984). Rather, the incorporation of national health trends into daily news sources observed in the mid 1950s and onwards as led to public discussion on the true impact of sugar, and subsequently candies. As a result, there has been a conscious effort by consumers within the last decade to significantly reduce their intake of sweet foods and drinks (Westbrook 2014).

 

 

Works Cited

Childhood Obesity. Digital image. CDC. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.

Kawash, Samira. Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New             York: Penguin, 1985. Print.

Stranger with Candy. Digital image. CDC. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.

Sunday Candy. Digital image. CDC. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.

Westbrook, Gina. “The Backlash Against Sugar: The Facts – Euromonitor          International Blog.” Euromonitor International The Backlash Against Sugar The Facts Comments. Euromonitor International, 07 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 Mar.           2016.

 

 

The Power of the Pod

Chocolate. The alluring, deep brown foreign delicacy, ever-tempting weak hearts near cash registers. This complex concoction that we toss into the bags of eager trick-or-treaters shares little resemblance to the pulp-encased seeds of the cacao plant (Coe and Coe). It was not by luck or fortune that cacao became one of the most ubiquitous goods on the planet. Rather, across four millennia, the sweet, savory bars and cups we consume daily came from detailed process; this process of turning seed into succulence was and still is painstaking, precise and most importantly, profitable. In order to truly appreciate something as simple and fragile as the Kit-Kat, a detailed overview of the production of chocolate is essential.

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Kit-Kat, modern day manna from Heaven.

Once the cacao pods are taken from their respective trees, the pods are opened and the production of chocolate begins. Regardless of the level of technology, fermentation, along with the three other principle steps to produce cacao “nibs”, is always first. The white fruit pulp—known as baba—that encapsulates the beans plays an important role in cacao production (Presilla). The beans themselves are commonly placed in three areas around the world: leaf mats, trays or simple boxes. During the first day, the baba starts to ferment, liquefy, and drain away as the temperate of the pulp-seed mass rises (Presilla). Using a more scientific lens, the pH of the mass goes down, causing the acidity of the fermented baba to kill the embryo within the bean (Coe and Coe). Through the death of the embryo comes the birth of a multiple of flavors, ranging from astringent to bitter. In its entirety, the fermentation process heats the mass of beans to up 122 degrees Fahrenheit for multiple days depending on the variety of cacao (Coe and Coe).

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Fermented cacao beans on leaf mat. 

Following fermentation, the cacao beans are then placed on sun baked mats and left to dry for around a week. In order to ensure every side of the beans have their fill of sunlight, cacao farmers turn the beans with a wooden rake several times (Presilla). As the sun sets, the beans are moved into shelter, protecting them from the environment. By then end of the week, nature has taken its course, leaving behind darkened beans half their original weight (Coe and Coe). Thus, sun drying is generally recognized as producing better and more economical results, yet it may not be possible due to climate. If the beans are dried through flame or forced air, the beans can develop harsher flavors due to exposure to smoke or gas. Once again, the stakes are high; if the process is too slow, mold and bacilli can ruin the flavor. If dried too fast, the biological processes accelerate, resulting in acidic tasting cacao. Once all is well, workers cut into the beans, ensuring that each one is perfectly dried to ensure the undertones of chocolate flavor are in place (Coe and Coe).

After the drying period, the cacao beans are collected and roasted. In modern times, technology allows the beans to treated in giant roasters that precisely heat the beans in a controlled environment (Presilla). In the past, fire was the primary mode to roast the beans, adding another level of difficulty in protecting the flavor of the bean from external pollutants.

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Woman grinding cacao nibs.

The final step of the process is winnowing. Winnowing involves taking the now brittle beans and detaching them from the hulls. Specifically, whether by hand or machine, the “shells” of the beans are peeled off and, in and growing rare practice, sold to make cheap cocoa that even the jolly Irish called “miserables.” (Presilla) The remaining fragments of beans, or “nibs”, are grounded down by high-speed mills into “cacao liquor,” a combination of cacao butter and solids (Presilla). However, indigenous certainly did not have access to such technology; rather, traditional indigenous chocolate making involved grinding cacao nibs by hand on a metate.

The resulting brown gritty mass is akin to clay; both are the foundation of the unique, admired end product. So how is the Kit-Kat formed? First, familiar and modern ingredients, such as sugar, vanilla, and powdered milk are added to the cacao liquor, resulting in a dark paste. This sticky paste slides down conveyor belts, and is refined to a powderlike form through steel rollers. The powered substance is then fed to a conce, a machine that kneads the cacao back into a mellowed mass. The resulting mass is warmed in storage tanks, then at any moment piped into a tempering machine and poured into chocolate bar molds that are then cooled. (Presilla) From sunlight to cold steel, the chocolate is dressed in solemn red wrapping and eventually plopped in your local CVS.

Citations

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.

Fermented Cacao Beans. Digital image. Confectionary News. N.p., 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
Kit-Kat. Digital image. Wikipedia.org. N.p., 28 Feb. 2005. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

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

Woman Grinding Cacao Nibs. Digital image. Hungry Cravings. N.p., 28 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.