All posts by 2016x977

Fair Trade, Direct Trade, and The Relationship Model: Millennials Changing The Ethically Sourced Market

We’ve heard a lot about our generation, the famed “millennials.” Often stereotyped as lazy, selfish and entitled, it doesn’t seem like we’re doing much for the world besides trying to build the next great “Angry Birds” app. However, there is an important part of our generation that is not talked about as much, that we are the “do well while also doing good” generation. Our generation wants to see contributions as investments in causes that we care about instead of solely a donation or charity. In finance, there is something called sustainable and responsible investment and “ESG,” which stands for environmental friendliness, social responsibility and corporate governance. This form of investing is known as impact investing, a strategy for investing in companies that do something good for humanity, yet also do well for portfolios.

Impact investing in the US has grown 76% from 2012 to 2014, in only two years (USSIF). Why is this? Because millennials are entering the marketplace and demanding more ethically sourced goods and ethically responsible companies. Although millennials currently may only account for a small percentage of investing, as we age and come into money that we want to invest for our future, we will be a significant driver of impact investing growth. This investment perspective is important for understanding millennial consumption habits, especially in regards to the future consumption of goods and products that have a history of bad ethics and poor social responsibility, such as characterized in the production of chocolate and coffee.

Our generation is extremely influential in its current and potential buying power, and it has a handle on the limitless potential of social media to address issues and be a voice for causes like no other generation before it. As our generation increasingly enters the marketplace, there will be increasing scrutiny of where we invest our money and what good it is doing in the world. There will be increasing scrutiny on transparency, on getting to the bottom of the supply chain, where much, much more of every dollar we spend gets back to the producer, the farmer. I mention these economic and finance terms as a way to frame the importance of understanding what is happening in the marketplace to inform chocolate companies of the coming conscious consumer and how we will see certifications such as Fair Trade and Direct Trade face increased scrutiny, and companies like Taza Chocolate as pioneers in the marketplace grow in popularity.

In its latest annual study, Nielsen revealed that almost two thirds (66%) of consumers are willing to pay extra for products that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact (Nielsen). This percentage represents a large jump from 55% last year and 50% the year before. Interestingly, willingness to pay more is consistent across income groups. The study also revealed that almost three-quarters of millennials (ages 20-34) claimed they would pay more for sustainable products, up from about half last year. One of the most fascinating parts of this study was that female millennials, in particular, were willing to pay more at 75% (Nielsen). These trends towards more conscious consumption are something chocolate companies should be paying attention to. While at the moment we are most familiar with Taza Chocolate as a pioneer in the Direct Trade chocolate market, I believe we will be seeing more companies and brands come into the Direct Trade ethically sourced market to capitalize on the millennials that will be looking for such differentiated products in the marketplace. As we discovered in class, women buy the bulk of chocolate products, and if millennial women are the most inclined to pay more for an ethically sourced product, it is good news for the ethical chocolate market and for companies like Taza, who have to charge a premium to maintain their Direct Trade business. According to Steve Polski, senior director of responsible supply chains and sustainability at a top consumer company observes, “Businesses today are looking at sustainability differently than they were even a few years ago.” Polski continues, “It’s an exciting time to be working on supply chain sustainability and I think we’re approaching an inflection point among consumers as well” (Mcavoy).


Chart showing the incredible rise in millennials being willing to pay a premium for sustainable products – this is good news for ethically sourced chocolate and coffee companies that must charge a premium to stay committed to their ethical sourcing and be willing to cover the high price of maintaining an ethically sourced company with a high quality, pricey product. 

I have had my own first-hand experience with the issue of supply chain sustainability and the new millennial market that I will discuss further. First, however, I will begin by highlighting the difference between Fair Trade and Direct Trade using Taza Chocolate as an example, and then discuss my own experience creating an ethically sourced coffee company without certifications of any type, a trade model I call the “Relationship Model,” or the one-to-one model. There is much to be explored on the topics of ethically sourced chocolate and coffee and many difficulties of supply-chain management. Yet, as noted earlier, the economic trends and research data tells us that the consumer of the future will increasingly demand ethical products, particularly those transparent as to source, and be willing to pay more for these products – the chocolate market needs to think about how to adapt to these trends and answer millennial questions on sourcing.

We have discussed and explored in depth the various issues with the Fair Trade and Direct Trade certifications in the chocolate world. Fair Trade USA promises “the money you spend on day-to-day goods can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives” (Fair Trade USA). While this goal is promising, taking a closer look at Fair Trade USA’s standards reveals that this certification is not enough to directly impact cacao farmers (Martin). There is no guarantee that money from the purchase goes directly to the farmers’ pockets. Instead, farmers must shoulder high fees, pay premiums, and other charges that come with the Fair Trade certification (Martin). This furthers the sad reality that very little, if any, money actually goes the farmers at the origins of the supply chain. Fair Trade USA promises a fair minimum price for cocoa, but in reality it “barely differs from the current world market price” (Leissle). Ultimately, the research tells us that that Fair Trade USA’s promises and commitments are misleading, and “lack of evidence of impact” makes its certification less appealing to informed consumers seeking ethically sourced products, particularly among millennials (Martin).

By contrast, Direct Trade moves beyond Fair Trade USA’s standards to create a clearer connection between cacao farmers and chocolate makers, or coffee farmers and coffee makers. Direct Trade hopes to go further than Fair Trade USA and be the solution that “make[s] for more ethical, sustainable production in an industry with a long history of exploitation” (Shute). Direct Trade tries to realize this benefit by eliminating the “middleman,” allowing chocolate makers and coffee makers to speak and interact directly with the farmers at the beginning of the supply chain to negotiate prices for the beans. Such direct negotiation, eliminating the cost and burden due to the middleman, should make it possible to compensate farmers at a “premium price they should earn for the high quality cacao they produce” (Taza Chocolate). In addition, Direct Trade eliminates the fees that come with Fair Trade USA certifications. The direct interaction between the farmers and chocolate and coffee makers means the farmers and farms are not obligated to be a part of cooperatives and can thus earn even more (Martin). These structural details of the Direct Trade process make it a better solution than Fair Trade USA for consumers seeking truly ethically sourced products and who want to see more of their money getting back to the farmer and making a difference. Importantly, those who seek ethically sourced products are growing in numbers and are mostly made up of millennials, whose purchasing power is only increasing. Now is when the Direct Trade market can do well while also doing good in the world. As millennials, we care about where the products we eat come from and that the money we spend is going to a good cause, thus enabling companies to charge a premium to make sure that their products are up to our new millennial standards and be assured that these premium prices will not hinder the profits of their business.

Taza Chocolate marketing labels showing their “Direct Trade” icon and their marketing slogan, “seriously good and fair for all.” We should question what these labels mean and recognize the vague notion of “Direct Trade” and the lack of standards it implies. 

While the Direct Trade model eliminates most of the issues buyers have with the Fair Trade USA certification system, certain problems of inconsistency arise due to the lack of set standards for Direct Trade. Buyers who directly source from farmers can have different standards when it comes to what a so-called “premium price” actually represents, what “quality cacao” means, and what the expectations are for farms with “fair working conditions” (Martin). Taza Chocolate maintains that they have “direct relationships with cacao producers,” and pay a set “premium price” to cacao producers and continues to “purchase high quality beans” but does not offer too much into detail of where exactly the money from the premium pricing goes (Taza Chocolate).

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Screengrab of Taza Transparency Report meant to highlight that the transparency reports do not detail the amount of money received by individual farmers or the “premium” paid – it seems as if these “Transparency” reports are no more than a marketing scheme to appear transparent. The details of the economics of the cooperatives and the income of the farmers is left out. 

Taza’s particular company-developed souring transparency also brings forth concerns about inconsistencies in Direct Trade’s more general, less specific standards amongst other producers claiming to source their products via Direct Trade.

As a millennial, I know how difficult it is to be a conscious consumer. Until a few years ago I was unaware of the struggles farmers faced in their supply-chains and how little income farmers were able to make by selling to conventional markets or to big companies. It was only when a started a coffee company myself was I able to truly understand how difficult it is to create a great company with a great product, how difficult it is for the farmer to reap the benefits while also being able to make a profit to sustain a business. But the success of the business is a real case study in changing consumer habits and of the new supply chains consumer changes are causing. In 2011, I visited the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, Africa. There, I met Paskali Gwandu, our guide in the crater for a week and a wonderful horticulturist. He introduced my family to the most wonderful coffee we had ever tasted, grown and roasted right on his farm in his village down the road from the campsite. Over the course of the week my family drank his coffee and explored the crater. At the end of the week we exchanged email addresses so we could send some photos we had taken and keep in touch about his horticulture studies. In a couple of emails, my family asked about his family and his great coffee, which led to him sending us his coffee beans, rare Tanzanian Peaberry, for a small money transfer of $50, as a thanks for him sharing his knowledge with us. To our surprise, the coffee arrived in just over a week, wrapped in beautiful Tanzanian stamps and with a gift of a blanket interwoven with exotic cowrie shells and with my own name, “Catherine” on it – a thank you from Paskali’s wife and family.


My brother (on left) with Paskali Gwandu, the talented horticulturalist and coffee farmer. Evidence of direct relationship. 

We continued this email exchange and money transferring to receive his amazing coffee every few weeks. After a while, friends and extended family began asking about Paskali and the coffee and started buying it through us. For my senior multimedia project, I decided to build a website for Paskali as a way for it to be easier for both customers and Paskali to order coffee, naming it “Gwandu Coffee.” Since that point, I have been trying to help Paskali and his family by marketing and learning about the complex coffee business in Africa. The small amount of coffee we have sold has changed Paskali’s life, allowing him to earn tuition to send his children to school and invest in new coffee plants, things that Paskali never thought were possible before.

Screengrabs from, the website I made in my multimedia class. Fully functional credit card processing and order transfer to Paskali’s email at the village computer which he checks daily. 

I discovered that by selling this coffee direct from Tanzania to the consumer via the internet, Paskali could get $4 per pound, compared to max $.50 per pound he would get at the markets. I have seen first hand what transparency can do for both the consumer and the farmer. Paskali’s coffee is of highest quality, and he takes deep care of his coffee because he knows he is sending it directly to the consumer’s doorstep and getting paid a premium to care for the consumer and the coffee.


From, our simple infographic showing the supply-chain from farm to consumer. 

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A screengrab of my research slide detailing the current issues with the coffee market in Tanzania and how is a solution to those problems. Detailing the significant price change to the farmer. 

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A screengrab from showing again the supply chain as direct from farm to consumer, truly “Direct” trade, no middlemen (buyers, sourcers, packaging, etc. – such as Taza must use)

Here, my model goes one step further, in what I like to call the one-to-one or Relationship Model of trade. In this model, you, the consumer, know the exact farmer and farms where your coffee is grown and roasted and can directly witness the impact you make. You know that this coffee is from Paskali Gwandu, not from just from farms in a region or a cooperative. A common question that comes up from people is, “Is this coffee Direct Trade or Fair Trade” and this is where I have to tell them no, it’s much more than that. It’s a relationship trade with Paskali, his family, his village, the coffee and the consumer. It was clear that people knew about fair trade but were unaware of what it did or what it did not do for farmers.

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Straight from website under the “The Company” tab. Gwandu gvies all the credit to Paskali Gwandu and makes sure to give background to him and the company. Pictured below the information is a photo of Paskali Gwandu himself. 

These new ways of trade and sourcing chocolate and coffee beans leaves more questions to be asked pricing, quality control, marketing, and the disruption of old supply chains, and whether consumers may be exploited from labels and buzzwords, but that is a larger conversation. The important conclusion is that millennials coming into the marketplace and demanding more ethically sourced products, and willing to pay more for them, bodes well for the positive future of farmers and chocolate and coffee businesses.

Even further than the Relationship Model I propose, is a relationship much like World Vision, a charitable organization in which a specific child or family is sponsored over time by a contributing family. Perhaps in this extended relationship model, a farmer could be supported by multiple families or people over a longer period of time, to make a real difference and receive high quality coffee or chocolate. This may be wishful thinking for the future of coffee, but we must continue to think of new ways to innovate the supply-chain and how to increase transparency.


It is advised to avoid all certifications on packaging to not stray consumers with false advertising, but this is an example of a possible relationship model trade icon, if the market demands such labeling. 

Of course, not every person has access to a coffee or chocolate farmer and can create a company, but consumers can take control of their knowledge and quickly identify which companies are doing good for humanity. Something as small as a chocolate bar or a cup of coffee in the morning can change the life of a farmer half way across the world. As a millennial, I believe the market place will start to make this form of conscious consuming more available to us, as companies will want to capitalize off our changing concerns about where our food is from and where our money is going to support. Companies like Taza Chocolate and Gwandu Coffee are not only paving a new path for companies of the future, but also serving as a contrast to present company ethics and serving as a way for consumers to question current supply-chain practices. Our generation can and will create real positive change in the chocolate and coffee industry. I feel honored to be a part of this change and look forward to the future of an industry so marred with a dark past and even a dark present.


Works Cited:

Leissle, Kristy. “What’s Fairer than Fair Trade? Try Direct Trade with Cocoa Farmers.”YES! Magazine. YES! Magazine, 04 October 2013. Web. 02 May 2016.

Mcavoy, Kaitlyn. “Ethical Sourcing: Do Consumers and Companies Really Care?” Spend Matters. N.p., 15 Feb. 2016. Web. 2 May 2016. <;.

Martin, Carla. “Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/globalization.” AAAS 119x Lecture. CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium, Cambridge, MA. 6 Apr. 2016. Lecture.


Nielsen. “Sustainable Selections: How Socially Responsible Companies Are Turning a Profit.” Nielsen. Nielsen Press Room, 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 2 May 2016. <;.

Shute, Nancy. “Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers Dare to Bare How It’s Done .” NPR: The Salt. NPR, 14 February 2013. Web. 02 May 2016.

REPORT ON US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends 2014. 02 May 2016

“Taza Chocolate Direct Trade Certified Cacao.” Taza Chocolate. Taza Chocolate, 2015. Web. 02 May 2016.



Nielsen chart:

All Gwandu Coffee Images are from author and from website.

“Relationship” icon:

Taza Direct Trade and Taza Chocolate: Via Taza Chocolate website


Magnum Chocolate: Perpetuating Racial Ads

Race and chocolate have been intertwined throughout history and the marketing of chocolate follows this race connection, sometimes by accident and bad taste, other times on purpose. There exists a dichotomy of “chocolate is to blackness: vanilla is to whiteness” and their respective flavors, chocolate and vanilla, or in this case, white chocolate, as cultural metaphors for race (Martin, Slide 12). Take, for instance, the chocolate ice cream bar brand, Magnum. Magum ice cream bars are eaten all over the world, but they have had some recent marketing snafu’s that have made the brand seem all but worldly. Of course, racism in ads is nothing new to the chocolate industry as Emma Robertson pointed out in her book, Chocolate, Women, and Empire, which traces the origins of this “commodity racism” back through time, pointing out notable advertising cultural metaphor issues such as Honeybunch and Rowntree Cocoa. However, the fact that this overt racism and using race as a cultural metaphor has been observed before and over the years, makes it even more shameful that these racist chocolate advertisements still permeate popular culture today (Robertson 36).

screen-shot-2015-04-09-at-10-44-09-pmRowntree Cocoa ad, 1950 which shows Honeybunch as a stereotypical “black” young girl, entertaining the British white family. The racist ads of the past, but now the racist ads focus on luxury of race and color and chocolate. 

Unlike the racist chocolate advertising of the past, such as Honeybunch, which portrayed Honeybunch as a stereotypical uneducated young black girl with broken english, “folksy dialect… the use of such language by infantilised black characters was intended to amuse the white British audience,” the advertising of today is centered on a new take of an old idea that companies use “images of black people to enhance their luxury status” of their chocolate (Robertson 36). In the following advertising images I will explore how Magnum has used race to highlight and sell their chocolate products as luxury goods.

magnum-ice-cream-cracking-small-66364-1Magum Chocolate advertisement featuring a “cracked” black skinned woman, revealing white underneath. 

This first Magnum chocolate advertisement blatantly features race, black and white, as a selling technique. The woman featured in the ad is very dark, with typical stereotyped lips accentuated by lip-gloss, looking sensually over at her “cracked” skin which reveals a white flesh or skin underneath. We can’t help but question why a person is portrayed as the chocolate ice cream bar here and ask why is she looking at her cracked shoulder in this way. With the little facial expression we see, it appears as if she is ashamed of the crack with the white showing through, an ode to the white culture that seems to “dominate” the past of the chocolate industry and still permeates through it today. Here is where we can see the selling of “luxury” that Robertson has mentioned. The woman in the ad looks soft and well groomed, although hairless, and without a blemish. Her lips are perfectly luscious and a deep red – a color that evokes a certain luxury. It seems as if Magnum is selling their chocolate as “pure” and “smooth,” just as the woman is – words that normally describe and portray high-end luxury goods.


Magnum Chocolate advertisement celebrating white chocolate but questionably celebrating the white race. Why can we not celebrate “dark” or “milk”? 

This Magnum ad seems cute and tasteful from the outset, my roommate even looked over and said, “that’s cute!” thinking that it was the ad that I had created. Unfortunately, to me, it looks like an awkward celebration of white people over black. Why can we not celebrate white chocolate and black chocolate? The Magnum brand even created a hashtag for the event in 2015 named #CelebrateWhite. This ad seems to furthermore highlight race in chocolate advertising, but from a hyper-white perspective rather than the hyper-black perspective racist ads. Again, the luxury in this ad can be seem as the luxury of white but with hints of gold and platinum as accent colors, rather than flat white. The colors together evoke a certain class of luxury goods and metals.

Sadly, this is not the first time white chocolate has been ill conceived in advertising. This ad is reminiscent of a highly controversial 2013 ad by Ferrero Rocher chocolate advertising their new white nut chocolate:

The ad advocates for Germany to “vote white” and for white nuts to stay. This ad was criticized highly in Germany for referencing racial purity and was ultimately pulled. In the ad the crowd is chanting “white nut remain” and the giant white chocolate box is preaching to the crowd, “We want White Ferrero Kusschen forever.” The supporters in the crowd are also holding cards that translate into “Yes White Can” and “Germany Votes white.”

Another very recent chocolate advertisement is Magnum’s “Brown is in” ad, which features a prominent Indian Bollywood actress sensually eating an ice cream bar and pouring it on the guests below. At the party there are no people of color, and everything that is white or light turns brown. The ad directly sells the ice cream bar as a bar of color – brown. And directly relates this brown bar to the Bollywood actress, a “brown” Indian woman. This ad again furthers the argument that even in 2015, color and race is still being using to sell chocolate to consumers, but in a luxurious manner. The party is obviously extravagant with high-class wealthy individuals and the woman’s dress, although she is Indian and of “color,” is goddess-like and chiffon, she looks of luxury as well. She is luxury, she is eating luxury, and she is spreading that luxury.

Recent Magnum Chocolate ad featuring Bollywood Indian star, Kareena Kapoor. “Brown is in” referencing Indian skin and color. 

However, Magnum did have a brief moment of glory when they explored creative ads, which featured their famous ice cream bars exploding out and showing their contents and colors. This was lauded in the advertising community as a very catchy and unique ad, a different “Magnum” than the earlier ads, but these ads have since disappeared. They focused on the product, rather than race or gender to sell.


Magnum Chocolate ad featuring creative explosions of chocolate, lauded in the advertising and marketing industry for being beautiful and artistic. A different spin on the typical chocolate advertisement featuring people, sexuality, or race.

In contrast to the Magnum ads I have presented above, I have proposed diversifying Magnum’s image as they have done in the past and in fact using part of their past art ads as part of these new ads. The two new mock-ups I have created maintain Magnum’s tagline: “For Pleasure Seekers,” but offer a new idea of what that pleasure is. Rather than the sexual desires or pleasures that this tagline normally would evoke and has in the past, these new ads see the “pleasure” as true good, fun, and healthy pleasurable activities. When Magnum first came out with their Explosion Art Ads, they were a big hit in the creative world. I think this would be the perfect way to market Magnum as different and fresh, but also stay true to its past of focusing on “pleasure.” Most importantly, these ads would focus not on race or gender, but on the activities and the beauty of the chocolate art and the backdrop. The silhouettes of the people make it more accessible for people to imagine themselves in these scenarios and feel the pleasure that such simple, but rewarding activities provide. Furthermore, because Magnum offers so many flavors and fillings inside the chocolate, the company could run a whole ad series for each flavor. For example, the controversial “white chocolate” ad featured above could instead be the white chocolate exploding and forming the snow of a mountain that climbers are trekking along, or even something as simple as an explosion into a white comfy pillow/bed or white sofa (a homey depiction of pleasure). These ads would shift the paradigm of “pleasure” for the chocolate eater.

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Image created by author.

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Image created by author.

(APOLOGY: If I had any sort of artistic ability these ads would be a lot more seamless – the art photo of the Magnum Chocolate is supposed to mesh into the background of the sunset image. The explosion of colors and flavors/ingredients is supposed to form the sunset image itself – coming out from the Magnum ice cream bar stick)

It is apparent that Dr. Carla Martin was correct in stating that “chocolate can reveal our cultural blindspots in relation to racism and inequality” (Martin, Slide 20). Magnum Chocolate has had many issues with these cultural blindspots specifically in regard to race and appropriating race to their chocolate ice cream bars. The company must recognize their faults and blindness to their seemingly casual racism and combat that with new adverts that focus on the beauty of their product and not on the race their product could be associated with. While the use of people and color in chocolate advertising has a long history, our current society must work to inform each other that this commodity racism is no longer accepted as normal (Martin, Race Theory).


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

Martin, Dr. Carla. Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements. Lecture.

Image Sources:

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

Celebrate White:

Cracked Magnum Ad:

Magnum Creative Ad:

Ferrero White Chocolate ad:

Two original ads: Images from above and two sunset photos:







Fixing (Child) Slavery: We Must Look Home

In lecture, Professor Martin stated that, “Labor rights issues in cacao production are nothing new. They are tradition.” This is exactly the problem with the historical narrative of cacao and chocolate: the labor rights and slavery issues have not changed significantly and in many ways the issue has increased in severity with reports of rampant child slavery. Unfortunately, looking back into cacao and chocolate’s history of slavery and the numerous efforts to banish slavery completely, and have those efforts be ignored and fail, is a cruel reminder of the difficult task advocators of clean chocolate face. However, there is one company that perhaps deserves a deeper look at in order to see how a big chocolate company can approach the scandal of slavery and work to see that it is abolished. This company is Cadbury, the British multinational chocolate company.

Founded in 1824, almost 192 years ago, by John Cadbury, the company has had a history of slavery. The troubles of the Cadbury slavery issues began in 1901, when William Cadbury, a nephew of George (son of John Cadbury who took over in 1861), visited Cadbury cocoa farms in Trinidad and hears reports about slave labor on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe. This was a shocking discovery given that the British Slavery Abolition Act abolished slavery throughout most of the British Empire in 1834, legally freeing almost 800,000 slaves in the West Indies (Martin, Lecture). While William was aware of the issues of slavery and their cacao farms in Sao Tome and Principe (STP), it was not until at least four years later, in 1905 that the Cadbury family sent Joseph Burtt, a relatively inexperienced researched to report and investigate the conditions of the Cadbury cacao farms in Africa and STP (Coe & Coe) Burtt confirmed what Henry Nevinson, a British journalist who investigated slavery in the early 1900’s, had been reporting on: slavery still existed although it was meant to be abolished.


The book published by Henry Nevinson on his discovers of slavery during post-abolish times in the 1900’s. His title sadly still applies to our society today – a modern slavery as child labor now. 

Here is where we can see the connections to cacao farming and child slavery in our modern age. It has long been illegal for child labor to exist, although more and more claims are being released and studied that call attention to the fact that child labor is very much still a large part of cacao farming. Most recently even, on March 1st of this year (this month), a reporter by the name of Brian O’Keefe reflecting on how big chocolate makers have made promises to end child labor in their industry but there still exists at least 2.1 million West African children working on cacao farms (O’Keefe). O’Keefe’s disappointment with the promises of big chocolate companies today speaks to the pace at which the Cadbury company slave scandal made it out to the general public scandal. It was only in 1909 that a report was published about Cadbury’s actions, almost a whole eight years after the clear evidence of slavery was found in STP. It took years to build up the voice and courage to attack a giant such as Cadbury’s. This, I believe, is what we still face today – a fear of attacking the giants, of being ostracized, as in the end, it seems like the big chocolate company always wins – as Cadbury did in the end, since Cadbury still exists today and relatively few know of it’s torturous past. While Cadbury was the first mainstream chocolate brand to become Fairtrade certified, we can’t help but think child labor slavery is looming in the background of the Cadbury Crème eggs, that Cadbury is hiding child labor now as it once did in the early 1900’s (


Cadbury ad advocating for the support of Fairtrade. However, just as before, we need to look further into Cadbury’s labor practices – consumer driven grass roots research would be “taking a step” as the ad focuses on. 

Brian O’Keefe, in his article, poses the important question: what will it take to fix the problem? I believe the problem cannot be left to reporters or companies researchers anymore, the problem belongs to the consumers. At Oxford in 1839, Herman Merivale wrote:

We speak of the blood-cemented fabric of the prosperity of New Orleans or the Havanna: let us look at home. What raised Liverpool and Manchester from provincial towns to gigantic cities? What maintains now their ever active industry and their rapid accumulation of wealth? The exchange of their produce with that raised by the American slaves; and their present opulence is as really owing to the toil and suffering of the negro, as if his hands had excavated their docks and fabricated their steam-engines…

Every trader who carries on commerce with those countries, from the great house which lends its name and funds to support the credit of the American Bank, down to the Birmingham merchant who makes a shipment of shackles to Cuba or the coast of Africa, is in his own way an upholder of slavery: and I do not see how any consumer who drinks coffee or wears cotton can escape from the same sweeping charge (Martin, Lecture).

We must look at home to fix cacao slavery. We must look at our chocolate bars and be responsible for finding out how it was made and speak up if we believe it to be made from child’s hands or from coerced workers.


This photo is from the FORTUNE magazine article by O’Keefe- child labor is the slavery of our modern time. 


Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. N.p.: n.p., 2013. Print.

Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. N.p.: n.p., 1986. Print.

O’Keefe, Brian. “Inside Big Chocolate’s Child Labor Problem.” FORTUNE 1 Mar. 2016: n. pag. Print.


The Adaptive Rhetoric of Chocolate

Chocolate and cacao began as a source of food for the people in Mesoamerica and was introduced to early Europe under the guise of medicine. Since then, chocolate has enjoyed the status as medicine, as a dessert treat, and now even as a social justice instrument. The many hats chocolate has worn spanning such a long period of time and across many cultures is its ability to change discourse and rhetoric. The story of cacao and chocolate is a dynamic one, but centered on the idea that people will find a justification to eat and drink cacao and chocolate by whatever cultural means they must. The most important and earliest example of this idea is portrayed through the history of how chocolate found its way to Europe from Mesoamerica under the category of “medicine” (Dillinger).

Early Europeans were skeptical of the mysterious cacao and chocolate drink the Aztecs imbibed in. The Mesoamericans associated cacao and chocolate with gods and the spirits, a practice Europeans decried at the time. It was only when the Europeans became aware of the Mesoamerican and Aztec use of cacao and chocolate as medicine did they begin to look at the cacao and chocolate drink as of potential use in their modern society.

The use of cacao and chocolate as medicine was not adopted by the Europeans at first and it was a slow process. Fernandez de Oviedo of Spain was the first account of European’s using the new cacao/chocolate as medicine, albeit not ingested. Oviedo had cut his foot on a rock and cured the wound by covering it was bandages soaked in a cacao by-product, cacao butter (Coe & Coe 112). For cacao and chocolate to truly become a part of pre-modern Baroque European medicine practice, they needed to fit into the framework of medicine at the time, or the practice of “humoral theory.” The Classical Greek invention of humoral theory by Hippocrates and taken up by Galen, focused on the notion that the body contains four humors: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. The right proportion and mixture of the humors would result in good health and an imbalance would cause disease (Coe & Coe 121). Furthermore, humors, diseases, and drugs to cure the diseases and imbalances were categorized as “hot” or “cold” and “moist” or “dry” (Coe & Coe 120). It was Royal Physician to Philip II, Francisco Hernandez who first categorized cacao and chocolate using Galenic analysis and is who exposed the Europeans of the time to the medicinal uses of cacao and chocolate. Hernandez concluded that cacao was “temperate in nature… but leaning to the cold and humid” and drinks made from it would cure fevers. He goes on to suggest that adding the mexaxochil, a “hot” cacao spice, flavoring to chocolate “warms the stomach, perfumes the breath… and combats poisons, alleviates intestinal pains and colics” (Coe & Coe 122). It is in these Galenic theory medical terms that much of the Baroque commentary on chocolate and cacao is couched in. From 1570 on, the year when Francisco Hernandez made the rhetoric of cacao and chocolate relevant to European society and medical practice of the time, chocolate and cacao have adapted to fit into various cultures and time periods.


This advertisement for Milk Chocolate in London demonstrates how important the medical rhetoric of chocolate truly was at the time. The ad mentions the benefits of chocolate on the stomach and in consumptive cases. 

The story of how Mesoamerican cacao and chocolate came to find it’s place in European society under the guise of medicinal use illuminates the importance of cultural framing and cultural rhetoric for adaptation of new things. It seems of recent that American chocolate eaters are returning to these early debates on the medicinal uses of cacao and chocolate to justify chocolate consumption and perhaps create a new market of “healthy” chocolate. Chocolate advertising and rhetoric of the near future may differ from the chocolate marketing of today, with language such as “creamy” and “rich” being familiar and approachable to a past generation and replaced by contemporary buzzwords such as “antioxidant,” “heart healthy,” and “fair trade” that are more comfortable and important to the modern chocolate buyer. Just as the Europeans of the early 16th century were averse to the language of chocolate and cacao as “the food of gods” and its Mesoamerican spiritual discourse, there may exist a paradigm shift in the future of chocolate language focused on popular buzzword language. The history of chocolate and it’s ability to prosper in European society due to Francisco Hernandez’s humoral analysis, rather than as a treat or a drink to honor gods, teaches us a valuable lesson in how cultures adapt to one another over space and time.

These chocolate advertisements display the changing rhetoric of chocolate in our society today. On the left, a Dove ad uses the terms “delicious” and “rich,” words that are being used less and less in current chocolate advertisements. On the right, an ad for IQ Chocolate shows how the chocolate ads are adapting to that buzzword language and cultural relevance, as the terms “superfood,” “antioxidant,” and “bean to bar” all appear to be the main focus of this modern chocolate. 


Works Cited:

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Dillinger, Teresa. “Food of the Gods: Cure for Humanity? A Cultural History of the Medicinal and Ritual Use of Chocolate.” The Journal of Nutrition 130.8 (2000): n. pag. Print.



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