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Gabby McNeill

Exploring the Chocolate Selection in the Square

You can learn a lot from the chocolate selection at a retail shop.

Cardullo’s is a speciality gourmet shop and delicatessen in Harvard Square. A staple of the Square since 1950 Cardullo’s is home to the area’s food-lovers. Along with providing freshly prepared foods and sandwiches Cardullo’s offers a wide selection of chocolates, teas, wines, liquors, and hard to find specialty food items from around the world.

Just across the street from Cardullo’s is CVS, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy and convenience retailer chains. Along with pharmaceutical and household items, CVS carries an extensive array of products to meet consumers every need.

Cardullo’s is the place I go to when I’m looking to make a splurge on quality food items — chocolate in particular. I trust the selection at Cardullo’s and know that even though it will be a splurge, the quality and superior taste of the chocolate merits the few extra dollars.  

CVS on the other hand is my go-to shop for all my basic needs. I visit CVS whenever I need to purchase anything really whether it be sun block, snacks, notebooks, cosmetics, medicines or household items due to its central location, affordable prices, and broad range of products. While I don’t usually head to CVS to satisfy a chocolate craving (Cardullo’s is my usual stop), I normally end up with some sort of chocolate sweet in my basket when I’m checking out.


The chocolate bar selection at Cardullo’s is hard to match. When I visited Cardullo’s the other day I counted at least 30 different brands of chocolate bars that were out on display! And this is just chocolate bars – this number does not include the various other chocolate products such as truffles, cocoa powder, and chocolate covered goods such as dried fruit or nuts. Pictured above is part of the chocolate bar selection at Cardullo’s. As you can see from the pictures above, a large portion of the chocolate at Cardullo’s are imported from various countries. Although the original packaging might be in French, German, or another language, most of these bars have a sticker with the text translated to English. Cardullo’s prides itself of being a gourmet shop and it’s chocolate selection proves their high standard of gourmet goods. The selection of chocolate bars also show that Cardullo’s considers chocolate more than just another commodity by providing craft chocolates to consumers (Martin, lecture 13). 

The flavors of chocolate bars Cardullo’s offers are very interesting — there are many different flavors to choose from. Along with the normal milk and dark chocolate offerings that one would expect, Cardullo’s has chocolate bars filled with unexpected add-ons such as bacon, “coconut ash,” bananas, chipotle, bread crumbs, toffee, honey, mint, ginger, various nuts, berries, and spices. Most of these bars are imported. I found bars made in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Along with clearly stating what country the bar was made in, the chocolate bars in Cardullo’s clearly state where the cacao beans were sourced from.

The single origin chocolate bars have the region where the cacao is taken from clearly displayed on the front label. You can see this in the photos above of the Taza and Valrhona single-origin bars.

I really appreciated the label of the Nirvana chocolate bar pictured above. Not only does it give me information on where the bar was made (Belgium) but also it tells me where the cacao was sourced from (Dominican Republic) and that it comes from Trinitario beans that were ethically sourced! This was the only bar that I could find that specified the type of cacao bean used. You can also clearly see the fair trade and USDA organic certification on the packaging.

Most of the chocolate bars in Cardullo’s had certifications denoting that the chocolate was farmed in a socially responsible and ethical manner such as Fairtrade, UTZ, USDA Organic, TAZA Direct Trade, Non-GMO Verification, IMO For Life, and Rainforest Alliance among others. Engagement with the fair trade movement  has been a successful strategy to change consumer attitudes and reward them for caring about socially and environmentally sound practices (Davies, Ryals 319). 

The packaging of the chocolate bars in Cardullo’s also served the purpose of conveying the company’s story, mission, and core beliefs to the consumer. This gives the consumer the opportunity to learn more about their product, hopefully forming a connection with the consumer to win over their loyalty (Martin, lecture 10). Pictured below are examples of messages found on the back of the chocolate bar packaging. I appreciated reading the stories on the back of the packaging because it helped justify the chocolate bars higher prices. The story on the back of the Divine chocolate bar highlights their unique selling point that Divine is owned by the farmers that grow the cocoa – members of The Kuapa Kokoo cooperative” (Leissle 123).

The chocolate bars in Cardullo’s ranged from $5-$17 dollars with a median price of $10. While I was shocked to find a $17 dollar chocolate bar, pictured below, from class this semester I have learned the justifications behind the higher prices such as sustainable certifications and higher quality of the cacao and production of the bar. The price point of the chocolate bars at Cardullo’s signifies that the shop is catering to a sophisticated consumer who might appreciate the craft of chocolate making or just a higher quality chocolate. 


$17 chocolate bar!


My experience visiting CVS’ chocolate section was vastly different from my experience at Cardullo’s. Although there was a large quantitiy of chocolate bars in CVS, there were far fewer brands for sale. CVS sells the usual suspects: Hershey’s, Dove (a Mars product), Nestle, Cadbury, Ferrero, the “big 5”, along with more premier brands such as Lindt, Ghiradelli (operated by Lindt) and Ritter Sport. Pictured below is the chocolate bar asile in CVS along with its “premium chocolate” selection.


While browsing the shelves, however, I did find a brand of chocolate bar that I was surprised to see: Endangered Species Chocolates (pictured below).


As a CVS shopper who frequents the chocolate aisle I was surprised to find this bar hidden on the edge of their display shelf. I was surprised because I am used to CVS carrying bars solely from the big 5 chocolate companies and it was pleasantly surprising to see an ethically sourced chocolate bar represented on their shelf! In fact, I found only two chocolate bars at CVS with sustainability certifications. The Endangered Species Chocolate bar boasts Fairtrade certification on its cover and the Dove chocolate bars, a product from Mars, had Rainforest Alliance certifications on their covers. These two types of bars were placed next to each other on display. Unfortunately neither of these brands were highlighted in CVS’ “Premium Chocolate” selection. This was unfortunate because CVS should use their national presence to promote sustainability and ethically sourced chocolate.

When I inspected the “premium” chocolate bars– the Lindt and Ghiradelli bars– I was surprised that neither of these bars had sustainability or ethical certifications. Although the Ghiradelli bars said that only “the highest quality cocoa beans” were selected for thier product, there were no certifications to back up this claim, as shown below.


The packaging of the chocolate bars at CVS were not similar to the bars at Cardullo’s. Although the front of the packaging may look similar, when I flipped the bars over I did not find the same sort of message and story that I found on the back of the bars in Cardullo’s.

Instead of the story of the company and the company’s goals,  I found a list of ingredients and maybe a line or two about the brand.


The lack of certifications and brand “stories” helped justify the lower price point I saw at CVS. The chocolate bars at CVS were much larger than the bars at Cardullo’s and  in the $2-$4 range. The lower prices of the chocolate bars at CVS could be more desirable for consumers who are looking to save money and might be more frugal than the average Gourmet Shop consumer.



From the selection at Cardullo’s you can tell that they are marketing their items towards a consumer who is conscious of ethical concerns and willing to pay more for ethical reasons. Cardullo’s attracts an adventurous eater who has the budget for a higher priced specialty  food items. Although their consumer base is much smaller than CVS’ you can tell from the selection of chocolate bars at Cardullo’s that sustainability and ethics is at the top of their concerns regarding products they choose to sell. On the other hand, CVS’ target audience consists of people willing to get the biggest bang for their buck and CVS capitalizes on that sentiment by offering cheap products while sacrificing the importance of sustainability and ethicality that is apparent at Cardullo’s. Since CVS operates on a national level based on everything that I have learned in this class this semester I would hope that they (CVS) did more to promote ethical practices and sustainability through the products they sell. CVS has the opportunity to make a difference on the national level, whereas small gourmet shops such as Cardullo’s do not. What I learned from this class and the selection of chocolate at CVS is that CVS has the opportunity to create a conversation regarding ethically traded goods and by failing to promote these kinds of products CVS is not doing their part to help change consumer behavior. Browsing the selection of chocolate bars at Cardullo’s after taking this course made me appreciate how they are doing their part to educate consumers. Not many people in America have the opportunity to take a class on the politics of chocolate and understand the social and ethical concerns regarding chocolate. CVS and similar nation-scaled companies should recognize that the average consumer is unaware of the unethical practices behind chocolate and they should do their part to help educate them by promoting ethically sourced chocolate bars.


Works Cited

Davies, Iain A., and Lynette J. Ryals. “The Role of Social Capital in the Success of Fair Trade”. Journal of Business Ethics 96.2 (2010): 317–338. Web.
Leissle, Kristy. 2012. “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24 (2): 121-139. Class Reading.

Martin, Carla D. 2016. Lecture 10: Alternative trade and virtuous localization/globalization.


Martin, Carla D. 2016. Lecture 13: Haute patisserie, artisan chocolate, and food justice.


Media Sources

All photography taken by the author of this post

Kit Kat: time to take a break from sexist advertising

Prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination on the basis of sex run rampant in advertisements we see today (Martin). This trend is apparent especially in the marketing of chocolate products. Since the early days of chocolates history the consumption of chocolate in the west has been feminised and this feminisation of chocolate has made its way into chocolate advertisements (Robertson, 20). There are many trends in which gender is represented in chocolate advertisements such as the fetishisation of women as housewives and mothers, the gendered discourse of class, the narratives of heterosexual romance, and the depiction of women as irrational narcissistic consumers, to name a few that are discussed in Chocolate, women and empire by Emma Robertson. Lucy Kosimar conducted research on gendered advertising and found that  “advertising is an insidious propaganda machine for a male supremacist society. It spews out images of women as sex mates, housekeepers, mothers and menial workers — images that perhaps reflect the true status of most women in society, but which also make it increasingly difficult for women to break out of the sexist stereotypes that imprison them,” which is in line with our discussion in lecture and what we see in chocolate advertising today (Komisar, 304). The advertisement that Anne Maguire and I chose to use for this assignment exhibits the gendered advertising trends that we have learned about in lectures and readings that I mentioned above.


The advertisement we chose is a print ad for Kit Kat, a chocolate product of Hershey in the United States (pictured above) and Nestle globally (Grasso). This global ad was produced in Italy according to our source.  With the slogans “one-minute break” and “have a break,” this ad alludes to taking a quick break during a busy day to indulge in a satisfying Kit Kat. The use of the word “break” also relates to how you break a bar off the Kit Kat when you consume it. Although the slogans work well with the ad, the framing of the model in this ad is quite problematic. The woman in the ad is in workwear attire sitting in a chair as an invisible desk where she seems to be working on an invisible computer. If you look closely you’ll see on the left side of the ad in very small print that the ad is inspired by the “One Minute Sculptures” of Erwin Wurm. Written small on the side, casual readers might not see the blurb or understand the reference and they might question why this woman is at an invisible desk. Furthermore, the work that this woman is doing at her desk is very secretarial, which makes the ad even more problematic as this type of work is very stereotypical for women in the workplace. The woman in this kit kat ad is not portrayed as a strong business woman doing worthwhile work, instead she is portrayed as doing menial work at her invisible desk. This is similar to our discussion in class about the problematic depiction of bodies not brains (Youtube). In the Kit Kat ad the woman is  dressed in a suggestive manner. Although she is wearing professional attire, what gained Anne’s and my attention is the slit on her skirt. The model has a very long slit up the front of her skirt. Although most professional business attire skirts are straight pencil skirts without slits, the woman here has a skirt with a long slit up the front of her skirt exposing most of her legs. Why do we need to see so much skin, this is an ad for chocolate isn’t it?!

The intended audience of this ad is women who have a quick break at work. The goal of this ad it to target these women- with this ad Nestle is hoping that this audience will consider having a Kit Kat during their one minute breaks at work. However, if business women are their intended audience, why would Nestle advertise  an over sexualized woman who is not being shown as a dominant female force in the workplace? In re-creating this ad, Anne and I hoped to confront these objections.

Chocolate Ad Maguire McNeill

In class we discussed the problematic depiction of bodies not brains in chocolate advertisements. In our ad Anne and I wanted to focus on the brains, not the body, of the woman in the ad. We also wanted to make sure to represent her as a determined, smart, and successful business woman. In our ad, pictured above, you can see that we replaced the invisible work environment with a real work environment. Our subject can be viewed as either exiting or entering a meeting room and is  dressed more appropriately than the subject in the original ad. No longer do we see a skirt with an exaggerated slit up the front, now we see a woman dressed with minimal skin showing. We chose to add a message to the ad: “two perfect presentations down, two to go. Have a break, you earned it”. This message helps the ad call on the brains of the woman pictured and not her body. Instead of asking working women to take a break from doing their work at the computer to have a Kit Kat like the original ad asked, our ad is asking women to enjoy a quick Kit Kat break during a busy day filled with meetings and presentation. We better target the intended audience in our ad because we depict the working woman in a more favorable light in which she comes off as smart and important. It is surprising that this advertisement, just like so many other chocolate advertisements out there, use such negative depiction of women in their ads given the importance of women in the chocolate industry as consumers. In my opinion, the original ad is discriminatory against women and paints the company in an unfavorable light.


Work Cited

Grasso, Giuseppe. One-minute Break. Digital image. Kit Kat, n.d. Web.

Komisar, Lucy. The New Feminism. London: F. Watts, 1971. Print.

Martin, Carla. “Lecture 9: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” AFAM 119X. CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium S010, Cambridge. Lecture.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. 1-131. Print.

Youtube. “The Sexiest Ad for the Sweetest Thing.” YouTube. YouTube, 14 Mar. 2007. Web. 06 Apr. 2016. <>.


Turning a Blind Eye to Slavery: the Cadbury Company

In the early 20th century Cadbury Brothers, one of the largest English chocolate confectionary manufacturers, faced an ethical challenge regarding the business practices they used in sourcing cocoa beans. The Cadbury family, a Quaker family who were known for providing the upmost care and concern for their workers, ran Cadbury Brothers. Therefore it is surprising that this company that was run by, as Lowell Satre describes in Chocolate on Trial, owners who took a paternalistic interest in their workers’ entire lives and who were known for supporting the anti-slavery movement, took a passive role when faced with claims of slave labor used in their company’s supply chain (Satre). For a company that aired the illusion of conducting ethical best practices, their actions with respect to slavery on the plantations where they sourced their cocoa beans did not uphold the values that they implied they had. The Cadbury family failed to take sufficient action in response to the indirect reports of slavery on plantations where they conducted business.


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Pictured here: An image of São Tomé and Príncipe (Martin)


In 1901 the Cadbury company received an offer for a cocoa bean plantation for sale in São Tomé, a Portuguese West African country, that listed forced laborers as assets (Satre). Although Cadbury was not interested in acquiring the plantation, the offer captured their attention. It was quite troublesome for the company to hear of slave labor used in an area where they conduct business. In 1900 Cadbury purchased over 45% of its cocoa beans from the Portuguese West African Country of São Tomé and Príncipe (Satre). Pictured below is an example of a plantation that sold cocoa beans to the Cadbury company.




“The plantations “Roças” comprised the main plant “sede”, which had the cocoa, coffee, palm oil and copra processing facilities, workers housing, an administrative building and the plantation manager’s house, as well as smaller dependencies.” (“Human History of the Sao Tome and Principe.”)


The Cadbury company could not turn a blind eye to these claims and so board members of the company agreed to investigate the use of slavery in the São Tomé and Príncipe region. They assigned William Cadbury to head the investigation and verify the claims made in the plantation offer (Higgs). William Cadbury expressed he felt “that there is a vast difference between the cultivation of cocoa and gold or diamond mining, and I should be sorry needlessly to injure a cultivation that as far as I can judge provides labor of the very best kind to be found in the topics: at the same time we should all like to clear our hands of any responsibility for slave traffic in any form” (Satre). While it is nice that William Cadbury was unbiased and did not jump to conclusions based on unconfirmed reports, his laissez-faire attitude lacked urgency. If Cadbury was as concerned about the company’s ethical practices as you would expect him to be one would expect a more intense reaction in response. Therefore it is not a shock that eight years would pass before the Cadbury company took decisive action against these claims (Higgs).


By not committing to the investigation in a timely manner and with sufficient action, Cadbury allowed slavery to persist in São Tomé and Príncipe. Pictured below is an example of workers you would find on plantations in São Tomé and Príncipe. (Martin)



Here is an image of servicais, a portugese term for indentured servants (Martin).


During this time the Cadbury company was not the only one with an inkling of the slave trade São Tomé and Príncipe. Henry Nevison, a British journalist, caught wind of the West African slave trade around the same time Cadbury did and acted in a complete opposite manner. Upon hearing about the servicais in Portugese West Africa, Nevinson investigated. Traveling on behalf of Harper’s Monthly Magazine Nevinson gathered information on the slave trade in 1905 and witnessed shocking first hand accounts of how bad it really was. When he returned to England from São Tomé and Príncipe it took him less than one month to publish articles exposing the appalling slave trade he witnessed. Nevinson wrote many articles on the subject which he compiled into a book, A Modern Slavery, that was published in 1906 (Satre).


The Cadbury company handled their investigation in a much slower manner. Although they sent an agent, Joseph Burtt, to investigate the use of slaves in São Tomé and Príncipe in 1905, it was not until October 1908 that they would issue a public report of his findings (Higgs). What is most shocking is that Burtt was on the island as the same time as Nevinson. Burtt stayed on the island for six months witnessing the same atrocities but yet his report came two years subsequent to Nevinson’s articles. The actions committed by the Cadbury company in response to the slave trade occurring in São Tomé and Príncipe ultimately show that as a whole the company did not care enough to take sufficient action to put an end to the slave trade and uphold their Quaker ideals.


Works Cited

Higgs, Catherine. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2012.

“Human History of the Sao Tome and Principe.” Human History of the Sao Tome and Principe. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2016. <;.

Martin, Carla. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” AFAM 119X. Lecture.
Satre, Lowell J. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2005. 

Chocolate as Currency


Throughout Mesoamerica cacao was held in high esteem and revered for its many uses. Not only was cacao used as food and drink but also it was used as a form of currency in Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Although consuming cacao was generally only found within the elite class, the use of cacao as money was a widely found practice. Found within cacao pods are cacao seeds covered in mucilaginous pulp. Once dried of the pulp, these seeds, called cacao beans, were processed and made into chocolate or used as money. Cacao as currency was a tradition that continued into the Colonial era.




Image: Pictured here are dried cacao beans that have come from inside the cacao pods. Dried cacao beans like these were used as currency in Mesoamerica.


During the Aztec and Mayan Eras, cacao beans were used as currency or ready cash used in daily trades to pay for small items (Coe 60). This currency system was based on cacao bean count, not on the weight of the beans. In an early account of the Aztec civilization during the Spanish conquest, Hernan Cortes writes to Emperor Charles V describing this peculiar use of cacao:


“This fruit they sell ground, and esteem so highly, that it is used instead of money all over the country, and with it everything can be bought in the market place and elsewhere” (Million 150).



Image: Here is an image of a traditional market where cacao beans are being used as currency. In these markets goods would be traded for cacao beans.


The Spanish appreciated the use of cacao as currency and during the Colonial era transactions continued to be conducted with cacao beans (Coe 98). An example of commodity prices taken from a document dated back to 1545 were as follows: a turkey hen was worth 100 cacao beans, a hare was worth 100 cacao beans, a small rabbit was worth 30 cacao beans, a large tomato was worth a single cacao bean, an avocado was worth 3 cacao beans (Coe 98). Cacao beans were also used to pay wages to laborers. Most of these laborers were porters – these were the people relied upon to transport goods and supplies from place to place.



Image: Pictured above is an image taken from the Codex Mendoza of porters carrying goods. The daily wage of a porter was 100 beans, equivalent to the cost of a good turkey hen (Coe 98).


Accounts of cacao beans being used as currency were found even in the 19th century. The States of Central America written by the American Traveler Ephraim Squier in 1858 goes to say, “[cacao is] still used as a medium of exchange in the markets of all the principal towns of Central America, where the absence of a coin of less value than three cents makes it useful in effecting small purchases.” (Coe 181). Cacao still remained a vital part of commerce. Hundreds of years past and yet the cacao beans continued to be used as currency within an economy. Cacao being used as currency is an example of the early use of cacao and how it provided value to the people of present day Central America.


Works/References Cited

Cacao Beans. Digital image. Flickr. Flickr, n.d. Web.

Cacao Beans in use at Market. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Web.

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

Codex Mendoza. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, n.d. Web.

Millon, René Francis. When Money Grew on Trees: A Study of Cacao in Ancient Mesoamerica. Thesis. 1955. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.