All posts by 2016x717

Unethical Practices: Hershey Corruption Domestically & Internationally

The United States of America is one of the most powerful countries in the world: we have an established democracy protected by a series of checks and balances, a burgeoning universal health care system, social services aimed at helping the impoverished, and we rank among the wealthiest countries in the world. Our success and that of other first-world countries has lead to global partnerships aimed at reducing extreme poverty and its many dimensions. Corporate America plays a unique role in this philanthropic commitment, on one hand providing international support to various civil rights groups and on the other lobbying in Washington to ensure their businesses secure the most advantageous positions possible. These contradictory positions collide cataclysmically in the chocolate industry.

Hershey’s public image is inspiring: founded in 1894 on Mennonite ideals by Milton Hershey, the company is now “controlled by a multi-billion-dollar child-care charity for the poor” (Fernandez). In reality, however, the company’s economic power has allowed them to use the Trust how they please, with no concern for the orphans, as the Pennsylvania attorney general looks the other way. Hershey’s web page is covered in links relating to their philanthropic endeavors, with titles like “A World of Good: Our Vision for the Future,” “Nourishing 1 Million Minds by 2020,” and “1.7 Million Gallons and 10,500 Acres Saved.” But behind this calculated presentation lies a history of corruption traversing the Atlantic. Over the past two decades, countless reports have been published credibly documenting the widespread use of child labor in the countries from which the chocolate industries, including Hershey, source their cacao. Gubernatorial action, such as the Harkin-Engel Protocol, have proven useless in motivating Hershey to divest from its unethical supply chain and will continue to be ineffective until the government is able to successfully escape the grasp of Corporate America. By allowing Hershey’s domestic and international transgressions to go unnoticed by the public eye, the government has indirectly enabled the chocolate industry’s continued abuse of human rights.

Milton Hershey: History & (Intended) Legacy

Milton      &     Kitty     Hershey,     1910. Source: Hershey Community Archives

Milton Hershey was a man of humble beginnings. Born in 1857 to a poor family in rural Pennsylvania, Hershey dropped out of school after the fourth grade to apprentice in a confectionary shop. His first two candy businesses failed before he successfully founded Lancaster Caramel Company (D’Antonio). After attending the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Hershey became fascinated by chocolate-making and bought two chocolate making machines. After much trial and error, he was able to create a unique recipe using skim milk that allowed him to mass-produce chocolate, selling bars at prices afforded by all. Hershey sold the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1900 and used the proceeds to buy farmland near Derry, Pennsylvania where Hershey began constructing his empire, building a state-of-the-art chocolate manufacturing factory, houses, businesses and churches.

Hershey was particularly devoted to his wife, Kitty, who suffered from an unknown disease that left her chronically sick and in pain. Due to her disease, the couple were unable to have children, prompting the foundation of the Hershey Industrial School (D’Antonio). In an interview with the New York Times, Hershey is quoted explaining his decision to found the school: “Well, I have no heirs – that is, no children. So I decided to make the orphan boys of the United States my heirs” (Fernandez). The Deed of Trust created by the Hershey family specified that the boys attending the orphanage had to be “fatherless, white, healthy, between the ages of four and eight, and good companions”. The boys would live in group home and attend school while performing age-appropriate chores on the farms and in the houses.

Milton    Hershey    &    Milton    Hershey        School       students.  Source: Hershey Community Archives

In 1930, “Hershey put the entire assets of the Hershey company – along with the Hershey mansion, Cuban sugar plantation, thousands of acres of Pennsylvania and the town of Hershey itself – into the huge and sophisticated legal trust ‘exclusively devoted’ to his orphanage, that was to exist into perpetuity” (Fernandez). The Trust came to have the controlling share in the company and the board of the Trust was meant to ensure the legal stipulations specified by Hershey in the Trust were upheld.

Domestic Corruption

After Hershey’s death, profit at the Hershey company soared and by 1962 the total value of Hershey’s orphans’ fund was over $395 million. Many recommendations in accordance with the Deed were made to use the profit to improve the lives of orphans, including admitting more types of students (i.e. races, genders) and modernizing the tuition-free Junior College or converting it to a low-cost four-year university. However, the president of the board, Sam Hinkle, an alumni of Penn State, pushed for the funds to be used to build a medical university for the state college. This technically violated the Deed and would not have received the approval needed had the board not found a loophole. The attorney general at the time, Alessandroni, was looking to make a run for governor and the board privately presented their idea to him, emphasizing the thousands of jobs the medical center would create. Ultimately, the money was given to fund the medical university but the board did not follow official channels with no taken appeal, written opinion, or official reports (Fernandez). Throughout the next few decades, the board would repeatedly find backroom ways to use the Trust, that was to be exclusively devoted to the orphanage, to support the failing Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company. These purchases include the controversial Hershey Links Golf Course, purchased in the early 2000s for nearly three times its independently appraised value (Miller).

The board of the Hershey Trust all but neglected the orphanage, failing to update practices as new studies and research were done in child psychology. No members of the board were child-care experts and school enrollment began to fall. In a recent decade, more poor children dropped out or were kicked out for misbehavior than graduated (Fernandez). The Milton Hershey School has also failed to protect the wellbeing of its students: by 2013, the school had suspended at least thirteen children diagnosed with depression, including Abbie Bartels who was barred from her eighth grade graduation; Abbie later committed suicide (Eisenberg). In 2012, the school denied admission to a boy with HIV, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (CBS News). The school later settled out of court, paying the family $700,000. Despite being the wealthiest secondary school in the nation with an endowment of over twelve-billion-dollars AND a founding mission to assist the impoverished population with limited resources, the school felt they were unable to help these children.

Hershey Links Golf Course & Rear of Clubhouse. Source: Dan Gleiter

Attorney General Kathleen Kane began to investigate the board’s actions in allocating the Trust’s dividends but ultimately ruled publicly that they had not violated their fiduciary duty (Malawskey). The board did make minor changes before this statement was published, closing the golf course to build student homes on the land just eight years after declaring their plan to run a “championship-caliber golf course” in a press release. A spokeswoman of the Trust has said that the five-million-dollar restaurant and bar was build with the intention of repurposing it in the future for the poor students, although remains vague about what exactly those intentions are. It is interesting to note that Kane’s top aide is the brother-in-law of one of the Trust’s board members. The announcement of these modifications right before the ultimate decision of Kane’s two-year judicial review of the board is oddly coincidental.

Trouble in Africa

In the early 2000s, the documentary Slavery: A Global Investigation was released and the world began to take notice of the unethical practices of the chocolate industry. The film explores cacao plantations in Côte d’Ivoire, interviewing young workers who vividly explain the “beatings, starvation diets and foul living conditions” they are forced to endure to make the delectable treat so often taken for granted in the developed world (Off 134). One of the people interviewed, “Diabe Demeble, president of the Malian Association of Daloa, a major city in western Côte d’Ivoire in the heart of cocoa land, made the controversial (though not provable) statement that ninety per cent of the cocoa farms probably used child labor or slaves” (Off 134). The scenario presented in Côte d’Ivoire sounded eerily similar to the São Tomé and Principe scandal of the early 20th century, when the major chocolate manufacturers disregarded reports of forced labor that were ultimately verified.

Trailer for another documentary about child trafficking and labor, The Dark Side of Chocolate, released in 2010:

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 2.07.58 PM
The Big 5 Chocolate Companies Source: Wikimedia Commons

A similar series of articles about the cacao plantations in West Africa, Knight Ridder, reached the desk of Congressman Eliot Engel in 2001. Concerned, Engel added a rider to an agricultural appropriations bill about to be voted on in the House of Representatives that proposed a “labelling system for chocolate that would proclaim the candy to be ‘slave free’ if it could be documented that the product hadn’t involved the work of exploited children” (Off 139). The rider passed easily in the House of Representatives but the chocolate industry quickly enlisted the help of lobbyists before it reached the Senate. On the behalf of the Big 5 chocolate companies, the lobbyists argued that the cocoa chain was outside of their control and that it was the government of Côte d’Ivoire’s responsibility to guarantee ethical cacao. Ultimately, Congress and the Big 5 settled on what is now known as the Harkin-Engel Protocol, a voluntary “six-point program designed to eliminate child slave labor in the cocoa chain by 2005” (Off 144). Congress warned that if “the industry failed to eradicate ‘the worst forms of child labor’ on cocoa farmers within that time,” they would reevaluate the the previously proposed ‘slave free’ labelling system (Off 145). Timing played an interesting role in this compromise: elections of 2002 were less than a year away and candidates needed money to finance their elections, much of which comes from big corporations. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate’s Agricultural Committee who championed the bill in the Senate, received sizeable donations from Archer Daniels Midland, sugar companies, and the dairy industry, all of whom would have suffered with the passage of the originally proposed labelling system.

“Their attitude surprised me… I thought they would say ‘We don’t think this is a problem but we’ll investigate.’ Instead it was all    about    the   bottom   line.” – Congressman Eliot Engel  Source: Off; US Congress

The chocolate industry had not met all of the requirements of the Harkin-Engel Protocol by the deadline in 2005 and the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a contract to the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University to evaluate the cacao supply chain in 2008/2009 and again in 2013/2014. Between these periods, the amount of children working in hazardous work in cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana combined increased almost 20% to 2.03 million: Côte d’Ivoire individually saw a 46% increase in children working in hazardous work in cocoa production (School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine). Progress was made and lost in various hazardous activities in cocoa agriculture, with less children participating in land clearing, down 29% in both countries combined, but more children children working with agro-chemicals, up 44% in both countries combined. The Payson Center found a 51% increase in the overall number of children working in the cocoa industry and that 1.1 million children were living in slave-like conditions, a 10% increase from the 2009/2008 report.

Over a decade after the original deadline of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, the chocolate industry is still using unethically sourced cacao beans in their production. Hershey has made a commitment to source 100% certified cocoa by 2020 and is expected to hit 50% this year, a year ahead of schedule (Gunther). This commitment may not be enough to put an end to child labor and hazardous working conditions: certification must be attained by individual farmers and is very expensive. There is corruption in the system and a failure to monitor standards (Martin).

Moving Forward

How can we expect to eliminate unethical practices in the chocolate industry if Corporate America continually avoids accountability and the government constantly makes exceptions for them? Isn’t it ironic that even Hershey, a company ‘controlled’ by a twelve-billion-dollar child-care charity for poor kids, is unable to make a real commitment to an ethical supply chain?

This is not an easy problem to solve: there are many actors, internationally and domestically, enabling the unethical use of child labor in the chocolate industry. Holding these corporations responsible for their transgressions will not solve the problem overnight but it is a step in the right direction. Government, both federal and state, need to commit to their oath of office and let the law and morality dictate their decisions, not the checkbooks of Corporate America. These corporations are ‘bottom line driven,’ and protecting them not only allows them to evade monetary consequences in the form of fines but also prevents the public from becoming aware of the situation and possibly altering their buying habits away from dirty chocolate.


D’Antonio, Michael. Hershey. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print.

Eisenberg, Pablo. “Suicide Of An Expelled Student Raises New Questions About Hershey Trust”. Huffington Post, 2014. Print.

Fernandez, Bob. The Chocolate Trust: Deception, Indenture And Secrets At The $12 Billion Milton Hershey School. Philadelphia: Camino Books, Inc., 2015. Print.

“File:Cadbury.svg”. Wikimedia Commons, 2008. Web. 2016.

“File:Logo Ferrero.svg”. Wikimedia Commons, 2008. Web. 2016.

“File:Nestle textlogo blue.svg.” Wikimedia Commons, 2014. Web. 2016.

Gleiter, Dan. The Hershey Links Clubhouse Seen From The Back.. 2010. Print.

Gunther, Marc. “Hershey’s Uses More Certified Sustainable Cocoa, But Farmers May Not Be Seeing The Benefits”. The Guardian, 2015. Print.

Hershey Co. “File:Hershey logo.svg”. Wikimedia Commons, 2014. Web. 2016

Hershey Community Archives. Milton And Catherine Hershey, 1910. 2011. Web. 2 May 2016.

Hershey Community Archives. Milton Hershey And Milton Hershey School Students, 1923. 2011. Web. 2 May 2016.

Malawskey, Nick. “Attorney General Kathleen Kane On Hershey Trust Reforms: ‘A Great Step Forward'”. Penn Live, 2013. Print.

Mars. “Datei:Mars-Chocolate-Deutschland.jpg”. Wikimedia Commons, 2010. Web. 2016.

Martin, Carla. “Lecture 10: Alternative Trade And Virtuous Localization/Globalization”. 2016. Presentation.

Miller, Barbara. “Golf Course Rezoning For Milton Hershey School Homes Approved In South Hanover Twp.”. Penn Live, 2013. Print.

Off, Carol. “Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet”. New York: The New Press, 2008. Print.

School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Survey Research On Child Labor In West African Cocoa Growing Areas. New Orleans: Tulane University, 2015. Web. 3 May 2016.

United States Congress. “File:Eliot Engel, official photo portrait.jpg”. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 2016.

Empowering Women in Advertisments

I wanted to open this blog post with a witty sentence introducing my topic, why the era of sexualizing women in advertisements needs to end, and googled ‘sex sells’ for inspiration. The second hit had the following description:

Here is the cold hard truth, “Sex Sells.” Hate it or love it, sex attracts the eye more than any other type of advertisement (Ovsyannykov).

In lieu of this, here is my introduction, albeit angrier and less witty than I had originally intended:

Here is the cold hard truth, we live in a patriarchal society: women currently earn $0.79 to every dollar made by men and it will be another century before gender equality is achieved in top management positions if we continue at the current pace (Bloomberg). Hate it or love it, barriers and obstacles to gender parity are rampant in society, one of the most pervasive being the presentation of women in advertisement as sexual and trivial beings. “Sex sells,” it attracts the eye, capturing the attention of audiences, but it is not the only means of effective advertising. In fact, for products or services that have nothing to do with sex, sexual advertisements can be less effective than non-sexual advertisements (Lynn).

The chocolate industry is plagued by marketing campaigns that marginalize women, depicting them as sexual objects unable to resist the temptation of chocolate. By portraying women in this light, these advertisements are helping to maintain gender stereotypes and harming the mental health of young girls. The chocolate industry, particularly as a non-sexual industry, has a moral obligation to move away from using gendered stereotypes in advertisements.

Chocolate Advertisements: A Gendered Portrayal  

In “Chocolate, Women, and Empire: A Social and Cultural History,” Emma Robertson discusses the portrayal of women in the chocolate industry versus the reality of their position. She traces chocolate from the harvest of the cacao in Africa to production in factories to consumption, and offers that advertising “failed to represent the actual economic, political, and social conditions in which Rowntree and Cadbury products, and ultimately profits, were produced” (Robertson, 19). Women were fetishized as housewives and mothers, shown as irrational narcissistic consumers, and objective as “sexual objects to maintain male morale” (Robertson, 30). Prior to WWII, they were solely depicted in the workplace during wartime although they were responsible for the production of chocolate bars in factories during peace times.

For more examples of the sexualization of women in chocolate advertisements, check out this web page from Carla Martin’s “Bittersweet Notes: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.”

The Sexualization of Women: Dramatic Effects

By depicting women in such a sexualized way, the chocolate industry is subliminally enforcing the antiquated stereotype that women are objects. This bolsters the current societal inequities and provides supporting evidence to stereotypes. This has a couple noteworthy implications for the workplace: it may make people less likely to inherently trust and support the rise of women in managerial positions, and also can serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Constantly bombarded by the idea that women are meant for the house not office, women can internalize this message and consequentially not try to rise the corporate ranks or stand up for themselves and demand an earned salary/position.

In 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) published a study that found that the sexualization of women in the media has negative effects on young girls who are exposed to it, effecting cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development (Zurbriggen). Research finds a strong linkage between sexualization and eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression, three of the most commonly diagnosed mental problems in girls and women (Zurbriggen). This means that the take away for young girls viewing the sexy chocolate ads described above is not the product advertised but the characteristics of the oftentimes female model.

 Changing the Dialogue: Our Kit Kat Advertisement

In hopes of changing the focus of chocolate advertisements, we chose to recreate a Nestlé Kit-Kat advertisement from the “One-minute break” campaign created by Zoopa, an Italian agency in 2008. Inspired by the “One-Minute Sculptures” of Erwin Wurum, this ad campaign features various professionals in silly positions with a Kit Kat bar. Unlike the featured men who are shown in appropriate workplace clothing, the woman is shown in a revealing skirt with a high front slit even though skirt suits generally have a small slit in the back for the sole purpose of allowing for greater leg mobility when walking. While the painter is shown with brushes and a ladder, the doctor with a stethoscope, and the businessman with a laptop, the woman is shown solely with a rolling chair, an object that does not increase productivity whatsoever, particularly as standing desks become more and more popular in the workplace.

Our advertisement (below on the right; the original advertisement is below on the left) is empowering: we clothed our model in a pantsuit just like the other members of the campaign. The laptop she carries and the added tagline, “Two perfect presentations down, two to go. Have a break, you earned it”, not only stress her professionalism but also the role of Kit-Kats as an enjoyable midday energy-booster. With her head turned, the focus is on the Kit-Kat bar, not the model, with the red packaging standing out starkly against the light backdrop. These changes keep the main intended message from the original advertisement intact, “Have a break. Have a Kit Kat,” while dramatically improving the subliminal message – that women can be powerful agents in the workplace.

Moving Forward: A Moral Obligation

The portrayal of women in advertisements has not naturally followed nor kept pace with the changing social roles of women, and it is time chocolate companies, particularly the Big 5, transform their marketing practices. To encourage change, governments should follow the European Union, who in 2008 passed a resolution urging Member States to honor the ‘European Pact for Gender Equality’ by tackling marketing and advertising (Van Hellemont and Van den Bulck). Specifically, they called on Member States to ensure:

“by appropriate means that marketing and advertising guarantee respect for human dignity and integrity of the person, are neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory nor contain any incitement to hatred based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.”

Although enforcing this type of legislation can be difficult, it can create incentives for change. The resolution suggested Member States create public awards for companies and campaigns that create advertisements emphasizing gender equality. This incentivizes companies by providing them with the opportunity to gain free media attention across a large population. The legislation also starts a dialogue, and public pressure can be the strongest catalyst for change.

Work Cited

“Cadbury’s Flake – Bath (1992, UK)”.YouTube. 2016. Web.
Colby, Laura. “Women’s C-Suite Equality is Only 100 Years Away.” Bloomberg. 2015. Web.
Lynn, Ann Louise. “The effects of female sexual images on persuasion.” ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (1995). Web.
Martin, Carla. “Valentine’s Day: Women Being Seduced by Chocolate.” Bittersweet Notes: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. 2012. Web.
Nestlé S.A. Kit Kat. Ads of the World. Zooppa, June 2008. Web.
Ovsyannykov, Igor. “Sex Sells, 50 Creative Sexual Advertisements.” Inspiration Feed (2011). Web.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women, and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester University Press (2010). Print.
Van Hellemont, Corinne, and Hilde Van den Bulck. “Impacts of advertisements that are unfriendly to women and men.” International Journal of Advertising 31 (2012). Web.
Zurbriggen, Eileen L. et al. Report Of The APA Task Force On The Sexualization Of Girls. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2007. Web.

The Influence of Public Scrutiny on Cadbury Business Ethics

Today, chocolate is ubiquitous: supermarkets and convenience stores keep shelves stocked with a variety of affordable treats to satisfy the sweet-tooths of shoppers, and almost every restaurant boasts at least one dessert appealing to chocoholics, from molten lava cakes to chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate has become a major component of holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day, assuring the exposure of people to this delectable indulgence from an early age. However, chocolate was not always the dietary staple it is today. The industrial revolution expanded chocolate consumption by increasing its affordability and accessibility. As their consumer base grew, chocolate companies faced extreme public scrutiny, forcing producers to forgo chocolate’s debaucherous past in favor of a more ethical, quality-driven future.

A typical convenience store’s chocolate display. (Garland)

 Lascivious Beginnings

The first Englishmen to come into contact with cacao were pirates looting Spanish ships returning from the New World. Authorized by Elizabeth I, these pirates were uninterested in the “strange, bitter seeds,” and one ship went so far as burn a shipload of cacao after mistaking the beans for sheep droppings (location 2333). Later, when chocolate made its formal introduction in the 1650s, the English adopted a far less cavalier opinion of the New World crop and readily integrated it into their bustling economy by way of coffee and chocolate-houses. Chocolate’s timely appearance in England allowed for immediate public integration: the English Civil War (1642-1651) reduced the power of the monarchy and transformed England into a country controlled by shopkeepers and enterprising private businessmen, allowing chocolate to escape the aristocratic confinement it had found in France (location 2413).

The gaming-room at White’s, aptly named “Hell”, served as the inspiration for the sixth plate of William Hogarth’s “A Rake’s Progress.” The men are busy gambling, oblivious to the fire growing in the back of the room. Notice the perukes (powdered wigs) that many of the men are wearing. These were expensive and associated with social rank in the 17th century. (Hogarth)

Chocolate was mainly consumed in public coffee and chocolate-houses, all-male establishments central to social life in London that charged a penny admission fee. Here, chocolate garnered a hefty price due to its high taxation by the English government as well as the time and skill required to make the delicious beverage (“London’s Chocolate House”). The high cost and later privatization of the chocolate-houses made chocolate a de facto drink of the wealthy elite.

One of the most famous chocolate-houses was White’s Chocolate House. Opened in 1693, White’s was originally public, increasing admission prices substantially by 1711 before becoming private in the middle of the 18th century. Known for lively political conversations, members included prime ministers, monarchs, dukes and earls. However, the wealthy members of White’s were known to take part in more scandalous activities than political debates: the high stakes gambling at White’s was notorious throughout London. The chocolate-house was known as a place where young noblemen were “fleeced and corrupted by fashionable gamblers and profligates.” In 1754, The Connoisseur, a London weekly newspaper, reported that at White’s, “there is nothing, however trivial, or ridiculous, which is not capable of producing a bet” (Coe, Location 3286).

Industrial Innovation and Increased Consumption

The conche, pictured above, is another innovation of the industrial revolution. Invented in 1879 by Rudolphe Lindt, the conche made chocolate less gritty which helped it transform from a drink to a solid. The conche in the picture above was used by Hershey in the 1900s. (Z22)

Industrial revolution chocolate innovation began with Coenraad Johannes Van Houten in 1828. His invention, the hydraulic press, allowed the defatting and alkalizing processes to occur more efficiently and made possible “large-scale manufacture of cheap chocolate for the masses, in both powdered and solid form” (Coe Location 3459). The press cheaply created a “cake” that could easily be ground into a fine powder called cocoa. It is with this cocoa that enabled the Fry firm to create the first chocolate bar in 1847. Debuted at a high price, solid chocolate quickly became within the reach of the public as companies like J.S. Fry & Sons, Cadbury, and Nestlé developed and perfected mass production and cost-cutting methods (Coe, Location 3476).

The industrial revolution not only increased the affordability of chocolate through innovation that allowed for cheap and efficient mass-production but also increased accessibility through its impact on retailing. In Medieval Europe, the buying and selling of food occurred in open marketplaces, where authorities actively prevented the use of middle-men. By the time Elizabeth I was in power, retail had begun to shift from open markets to closed shops, although urban authorities strongly resisted the move to retail shops in the food trade (Goody). However, with the industrial revolution came the growth of suburbs surrounding London. Industrialization made groceries essential and solidified the shift from open markets to retail shops.

This postcard shows a typical English market in 1905. The growth of retail stores decreased the size (fewer stalls) and frequency of open markets (once a week when this photo was taken) after industrialization. (Osborn)

Public Outcry for Ethical, High-Quality Products 

Cadbury advertisement shifts to focus on the unadulterated nature of its product with lines like “absolutely pure” and “no chemicals used” along with a source, The Analyst, to provide credibility. (Advertising Archives)

With popularity soaring, chocolate companies were tempted to increase their margins by selling adulterated chocolate. One of the more popular modes of adulteration significantly reduced the shelf-time of the end product by completely extracting expensive cacao butter and replacing it with olive oil, sweet almond oil, egg yolks, etc. Another popular method involved the inclusion of foreign materials like “wheat or barley flour, pulverized cacao shells, or even ground brick” (Coe, Location 3519). This inspired The Lancet, a British medical journal, to analyze food quality and a consequent study found that “39 of 70 [cocoa samples] had been colored with red ocher from ground bricks” and many had also contained added starch (Coe, Location 3528). Facing public outcry, George Cadbury admitted to adulterating Cadbury cocoa with starch and flour and the company changed its practices. In 1866, the company invested in Van Houten’s press and launched “Cadbury Cocoa Essence,” marketing it as the “UK’s first unadulterated cocoa” (Cadbury). This product increased sales, transforming the small business into a global company.

The final shift from the debaucherous past to the more ethical modern-day came in the early 20th century when Henry Nevinson issued a report detailing the gruesome slavery occurring in São Tomé and Príncipe, the primary cacao supplier for the major English chocolate firms (Satre). Cadbury became aware of this practice in 1904 after sending Joseph Burtt to STP on behalf of the company and almost immediately began searching for a new supplier, understanding that the company’s “good Quaker reputation” was largely responsible for their success. They waited until 1909 to announce a formal boycott, at which time public outcry had reached a high after an article was published in the British daily The Standard outlining Cadbury’s knowledge of the slavery . At the time of the boycott Cadbury had already found new cacao suppliers on the African Gold Coast.

Works Cited

Advertising Archives. “Cadbury’s 1980s UK Cocoa Drinking.” Fine Art America. 2013. Web.

Cadbury. “The Story: 1866 An Innovative Processing Technique is Introduced.” The Cadbury Company, UK. Web.

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

Garland, Leslie. “858.01.14”. The Image File. Web. 2015.

Goody, Jack. “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2013 [1982].

Hogarth, William. “File:William Hogarth – A Rake’s Progress – Plate 6 – Scene In A Gaming House.Jpg”. Wikimedia Commons. 1735. Web.

“London’s Chocolate Houses”. The Herb Museum. Web.

Martin, Carla D. “AAS E-119 Lecture 6: Slavery, abolition, and forced labor.” 2016. Lecture.

Osborn, Bob. “Yeovil’s Markets”. The A-to-Z of Yeovil’s History. 2015. Web.

Satre, Lowell. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens: Ohio University Press. 2005.

Z22. “File:Granite Roller and Granite Base of a Conche.jpg”. Wikimedia Commons. 2014.

A Royal Indulgence: The Elite Origins and Introductions of Chocolate

Hundreds of years before Cadbury, Hershey and the like transformed chocolate into a mass-produced and affordable dietary staple, chocolate was a royal indulgence. Reserved for the most prestigious social classes in Mesoamerica, sumptuary laws in New World governed who was able to consume it and, according to some accounts, consumption of chocolate without sanction by commoners was punishable by death (Presilla, 18). The value and reverence the Aztecs had for chocolate made a strong impression on early travelers, who readily shared the frothed-beverage with their commissioners in the Old World, making the ruling elite of the 16th century among the first Europeans to regularly imbibe.

Elite Origins in Mesoamerica

Chemical analysis has allowed researchers to place chocolate over 38 centuries back, although not much is known about the drinking habits of early cultures such as the Olmecs and Mayans (Coe, location 464-578). The only surviving written evidence for classic Mayan use of cacao has been found on elegantly painted and carved cylindrical vases and vessels in the tombs and graves of the elite (Coe, location 578). Some of these excavated vases are externally marked with Mayan hieroglyphs denoting cacao, and internally bear chemical traces of alkaloids found in cacao and dark rims on the interior that suggest the contents were once liquid (Coe, location 625). There is not enough evidence to concretely conclude that chocolate was chiefly drunken by the ruling class, but the inclusion of chocolate provisions for the afterlife of the elite suggests Mayans placed a high level importance on the drink.

A Mayan lord sits raised above a servant on a platform next to a frothing pot of chocolate, forbidding the servant from touching the container. (Mayan Civilisation)

Much more is known of the chocolate consumption habits of the Aztecs than the Mayans. Aztec emperor Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina (c. 1398-1469 AD) issued a series of laws stating that “he who does not go to war, be he son of a king, may not wear cotton, feathers or flowers, nor may he smoke, or drink cacao” (Coe, location 1372). Only members of the royal house, the lords and nobility, long-distance merchants who endured dangerous lands and battles with foreign groups, and warriors were allowed to drink chocolate in Aztec society (Coe, location 1324). In Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, Sahagún describes how stringently this hierarchical framework for chocolate consumption was followed by the Aztecs; cacao was very valuable and rare, and was proverbially referred to as “Yollotli eztli”, or the “price of blood and of heart”, because if people of the working class drank it without permit, it would cost them their life (“si alguno de los populares lo bebía, costábale la vide si sin licencia lo bebían”) (Moreno, 500).

Chocolate’s link to luxury and power in Aztec culture is further enforced with the cacao bean’s role in the economy. The Aztecs used cacao beans as currency: a rabbit cost about ten beans (Coe, location 832). When the elite drank chocolate, they were quite literally drinking money. This did not go unacknowledged by the Europeans, who quickly realized that cacao was as valuable to this group of people as gold and gems (Presilla, 18). Watch this video to learn a little more about cacao beans in Aztec culture and the introduction of chocolate to Europeans (Youtube).

Royal Introductions in Europe

In 1544, chocolate made its first documented European appearance in Spain. Dominican friars brought Mayan nobles to the courts of Prince Philip, who presented some of the wonders of the New World to the king: quetzal feathers, painted gourds, and containers of beaten chocolate (Presilla, 24). Forty years later in 1585, the first official cacao bean shipment reached Seville from Veracruz (Coe, location 1848).

A Spanish mancerina with a metal tray. Mancerinas were also made with porcelain trays to match the cup. (Tamorlan)

The Spanish altered the chocolate recipe slightly – preferring it hot as opposed to cold, as the Aztecs had taken it. The Aztecs would add ingredients they were familiar with such as vanilla, herbs, flower petals, and honey, and the Spanish did the same with sugar, cinnamon, hazelnut, anise, and almonds (Presilla). The Spanish sipped it out of mancerinas, a plate or saucer with a ring in the middle to hold a small cup and prevent it from slipping, rather than jícaras. One thing that didn’t change, however, was the elite ties of chocolate; making and drinking chocolate “involved special pains and paraphernalia” (Presilla, 25).

During the 17th century, chocolate spread throughout Europe. It was highly valued as an exotic, tasty alternative as well as a health-promoting drug and was treated differently than other foods. During the reign of Charles III of Spain, chocolate was sent directly to the “royal keeper of jewels” rather than the kitchen (Presilla, 32). France mimicked Spain’s royal consumption of chocolate, reserving it strictly for the aristocracy while England allowed it to hit the free market (Coe, location 2412). Any Englishman or woman was able to consume it so long as they had enough money to pay for it.

A woman drinks chocolate. Notice her elegant clothing and the chocolate paraphernalia on the tray next to her. (Raimundo)


Castriocto, Alessandro. “File:João V – Duque de Lafões.Jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. 1720. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

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

Mayan civilisation. “File:Mayan People and Chocolate.Jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

Moreno, Wigberto Jiménez and Sahagún, Bernardino de. Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España: Libros I, II, III, y IV. Linkgua digital, 1938. Online.

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

Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta. “File:Raimundo Madrazo – Hot Chocolate.jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

Salvor. “File:Chocolate-house-london-c1708.jph – Wikimedia Commons”. 2006. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

Tamorlan. “File:Macerina-Barcelona-03.Jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

YouTube. “This Is México – Cacao”. Royal Channel Cancun, 2009. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.