All posts by 2016x150

Chocolate- can you taste the bitterness?

Chocolate one of the most well liked foods in all the world. So how it has been bad for America?

 Chocolate is consumed all across the developed world and has become a staple in millions of people’s diets. As a marketable, consumable product, its rise to fame was harmonious with the modernization of American culture. Chocolate gained more and more popularity as western civilization developed. Chocolate has a plethora of desirable dimensions. Traditionally it has been used as a spice, sweetener, medicine, satisfying treat or symbolic gift. In the modern era however, chocolate has gained a lot of attention through what it may symbolize- lust, joy, peacefulness to name a few. The branding and marketing of chocolate is what has truly taken control of how we view chocolate. This has lead to more delicious chocolate in our lives over a wider scale, however it has also opened the door to a slew of relatively unspoken negativity in America surrounding social issues, like race, ethnicity, gender, and class.

Cacao was first cultivated in Mesoamerica, and was very prominent in early civilizations there. For example, the Mayans who were known for “agriculture, art, architecture, astronomy, and foodstuffs, calendar system, math, religion and writing” (Martin, 2016) Our first example of how chocolate adds a negative to our culture socially is through its influences in the way we think about it as part of Mayan culture. MAYA GOLDCompanies such as Green and Blacks, or Lara Bar use the appeal of mayan chocolate to come across a more authentic. Although it doesn’t seem outwardly offensive, I argue that it objectifies their culture and leads to subtle racism limiting an entire thriving culture to just one of their many wonderful facets.

Interestingly enough chocolate in our society can have negative implications surrounding class. Chocolate can have really great impacts on health but only dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has been proven to reduce blood pressure, “Dark chocolate, lowers high blood pressure says Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Cologne, Germany.” (DeNoon, 2003). Chocolate is also it a potent antioxidant, this is very valuable because “antioxidants gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments”(DeNoon, 2003). These benefits are a great aspect of dark chocolate especially along with its great flavor. However when we start to produce milk chocolate we run into major health problems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA7dFhiHJyQ

“Our findings indicate that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate … and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.” Additionally chocolate, primarily milk chocolate, is very high in calories, LDL cholesterol, fats and carbs for what you are getting out of it. (Lee, 2016) This leads to obesity. What it also leads to is a divide in economic class. This is less the fault of the chocolate itself and more the fault of the American economic situation. However, one could still even make the argument that its dishonest for chocolate companies to sell a product that knowingly makes people unhealthy. However in a capitalist, consumerist society this is a pretty unreasonable request. Still though, the fact remains there is a divide in who can afford to enjoy chocolate and stay healthy by paying more for dark chocolate, and who will enjoy chocolate but suffer health-wise because the only chocolate within their economic range is processed milk chocolate.

Chocolate has also led to negativity surrounding gender in America. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, has become a hyper sensualized product. Women are the ones modeling with chocolate, appearing to lust for chocolate, and have been objectified sexually in order to market it.

godivaTake this woman in the above Godiva chocolate image for example, her sensual expression combined with the chocolate up to her lips emit a certain sexual desire that is being associated with chocolate. Combine this action with the slogan on the ad, “Every woman is one part chocolate” makes it seem as though woman are bound to chocolate, especially in a sexual way. To make the claim that women are bound to chocolate takes away their sense of choice, it is subtly but effectively taking away a portion of their rights.

Sadly this is not the only case of woman being objectified for the sale of chocolate. Cadbury, another major Chocolate company launched a new line of advertisements for their snowflake chocolate. Here is a picture of one of their ads:

cadbury Snowflake2This ad is completely hyper sexualized. The chocolate is again interacting with her mouth in a sensual fashion, additionally she appears not to be wearing a shirt, which takes the focus off of the chocolate bar and puts it on her exposed body. This marketing approach objectifies her and exploits her as a human. There was a study conducted where consumers talked about their thoughts on these objectifications of women as well as the discriminations between the women in men in the in advertisements of chocolate, most of those asked stated that what they were seeing was wrong. (Fusion, 2016) Sadly, the marketing still is effective and there is a population out there that takes to this kind of marketing because it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t successful, especially when analyzing how two of the biggest companies utilize this strategy (Godiva and Cadbury).

The last social injustice that chocolate brings out is about race. Racism in the current chocolate political climate is far reduced today then in the 20th century. However as the chocolate industry was growing there were countless examples of racist representation in chocolate. Roald Dahl’s Charlie in the Chocolate Factory is a great example that shows the evolution of racism surrounding chocolate. At first Roald Dahl included in his story that the oompa loompas in his factory were dark colored and from a place deep, deep in Africa. Wonka brought them to western civilization and now they work for free in his factory. (Robertson pg. 12009) However as rewrites of the novel continued to come out through them we see a decline in racist tendencies on how the oompa loompas are portrayed. By now, in the most recent re-write the oompa loompas are white, rosey-cheeked and come from Loompaland a made up place with absolutely no connection or mention of Africa. (Robertson pg. 2, 2009)
This chocolate babies advertising is an example of how racism and objectifying culture once was prominent. candy-babiesThis advertisement portrays small “babies” that come across as older men implying that they are called chocolate babies only because of the skin color and size. This is racist advertising at its maximum. The other idea that comes into play here has to do with chocolate being a skin color, and an identifier when it comes to race. Carla Martin in talks about how “Chocolate and vanilla have become cultural metaphors for race, chocolate is to blackness as whiteness is to vanilla” (Martin, 2016). Chocolate has provided one more medium in our culture for racism to exist. As unfortunate as it may be, whiteness has come to be associated with purity and cleanliness, while blackness has come to be associated with impurity and dirtiness. The fact that chocolate has come to represent a whole race of people narrows who that culture is and what they stand for, especially because they’re already battling the stereotype of impurity that is associated with their “color.” By being looked at as chocolate, it sets black culture up to be objectified because it equates them with an object, not as people.

As seen through the examples of race, ethnicity, gender, and class chocolate can bring about some major social issues. Chocolate holds a lot of power because of its popularity. Especially through advertising there are countless examples of how many companies exploit certain groups for marketability purposes or objectify entire demographics. In the case of class and certain aspects of race, chocolate inadvertently helps to reinforce certain negative trends or stereotypes that have to do with those demographics. To combat living in a world where prejudice, objectivity, and unfairness exist all around us we must be consumers with a critical lens with the understanding that even in the sweetest chocolate there may a hidden bitter flavor.

Works Cited
DeNoon, Daniel. “Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate.” WebMD. WebMD, 2003. Web. 06 May 2016.
Lee, Mathew. “Can Chocolate Make You Fat?” Editorial. SF Gate [San Francisco] 2016: n. pag. 2016. Web. 6 May 2016.
Fusion, J. (2016). Marketing to men vs women. Chron.
Martin, Carla. “Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” CGIS S, Cambridge. 5 May 2016. Lecture.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.

 

Kit Kat Conundrum

FML/GJN/PRODUCTS8/5.4.01
PRODUCTS 5.4.01 PIC GRAHAM JEPSON

The Kit Kat Advertisement features a plethora of different people “taking a break” and relaxing.

Introducing – #mybreak – the new KIT KAT commercial

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 10.34.08 PM

They are in several different settings. This is to show that a Kit Kat can be enjoyed in many different places at many different times under many different circumstances as long as those eating are not doing work (taking a break). The visuals are meant to present happy people, ranging from being towed on the back of a bicycle to having a good time in the office, or in outer space, with ones child or while communicating on the internet- all this with upbeat music playing in the background. Every scene is meant to be enjoyable as the narrator helps by contributing “Here’s to all of you who love to break.” “Have a break,” the ad says over and over again. This encourages consumers to think about a Kit Kat in two different ways. It encourages them to both relax and enjoy themselves- which everyone has a strong craving to do. It also subliminally starts to associate Kit Kat with the feeling of relaxation. Furthermore, the consumer will then be more inclined to buy a Kit Kat or desire a Kit Kat when they feel happy and relaxed. This creates a positive feedback loop of desire, association, and consumption for the Kit Kat brand.

My ad titled “Gimme a break” takes the classic slogan of Kit Kat’s brand and turns it around sarcastically on the company.

kit kat ad

There is a depiction of a white man on a throne made from Kit Kats, contrasted with a decrepit looking farmer hauling a large sack of raw cacao beans over his back. I am asking the Kit Kat brand to “give me a break” from certain issues they present in their company that their add exemplifies. For example dealing with race, in the Kit Kat advertisement there was no minority representation. This pseudo racism is not limited to only chocolate companies, other companies do it too in fact only about 5 per cent of commercials used actors from a non white background in the UK (where Kit Kat is most popular)  (Sweeney 2011) but it is particularly relevant to the chocolate industry given its history of largely African cacao workers working incredibly long, hard hours for very little pay. Furthermore, despite the fact that they acknowledge free trade, workers rights, and the value of community development, as seen by the Nestle Kit Kat’s recent ethical certification through the fair trade quality mark;(Smithers 2009)fairtrade-kit-kat-001the brand still didn’t feel is desirable to include minority groups in their advertisement- despite clearly having somewhat of an understanding of the importance of valuing culture as seen through their recent fair trade quality mark certification. The fact that they didn’t want to show it more publicly is very peculiar and says a lot about the identity of the company as a whole. This leads me to exasperatedly exclaim “Gimme a break.” Even with the certification, Nestle’s Kit Kat is having a hard time talking about the fact that their company is dependent on workers of a certain ethnicity that wasn’t represented when the chocolate was presented to the consumer.

As a critical consumer I would push for more transparency in the company. Additionally, I have a strong desire to see the positives of the company come more to light in their public communication.

References
Smithers, R. (2009, December 06). Big break for Fairtrade as Kit Kat receives certification. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/dec/07/fairtrade-kit-kat
Sweney, M. (2011, April 21). Only 5% of TV ads feature ethnic minorities. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/apr/21/tv-ads-ethnic-minorities

The Many Dimensions of Chocolate Through History

Chocolate is one of the most widely consumed foods across the world. As a product, its rise to power was very congruent with the modernization of our world. As western civilization grew and industrialized so did chocolate and its popularity. Chocolate has always been a multidimensional product; whether it be through its most traditional uses as a spice, sweetener, medicine, or symbolic gift or through differences in how companies and industries have chosen to develop chocolate for consumption. Through exploration, specifically through studying the Mars incorporation, we see that since its discovery and more specifically through its introduction to the modern world, chocolate has always been about something great than just a flavor for consumption.

When you think about other staples in human diet besides chocolate- all across the world you think perhaps about rice, chicken, milk, coffee, corn, any kind of fruit- these products serve primarily one purpose- to feed or give energy; they are one dimensional. However when you think about chocolate- yes its purpose could be to feed someone but as we look deeper it has many different aspects and serves the world in a way beyond just consumption. These additional factors are what helps contribute to the over 22 billion dollars spent on chocolate in the US alone. (Martin, Lecture 1)

To begin with, chocolate (in its raw form) has always had spiritual implication. Cacao has been depicted by the Mayans in its exchange by the moon goddess and the rain god as a sign of fertility. Again, in Mayan culture, it plays a big role in marriage rituals and even in death rituals as it was thought that cacao ease the transition to the underworld (Martin, Lecture 2) Furthermore, in Aztec culture cacao played a large role as a medicine and in healing ceremonies. These examples are but a microcosm of cacao’s multiple purposes even in ancient times. This reverence over the product is what has helped cacao and now chocolate become something more than just a food.

Moving forward through history, chocolate is seen as a comfort food,  a sign of love, not to forget all of the aforementioned purposes surrounding spirituality and medicine. In modern times one of the primary reasons chocolate has been able to achieve a multidimensional status is because of its rich history. Through a combination of fact and embellishment, modern chocolate producing industries have been able to thoroughly use this to their advantage specifically in marketing. Hershey’s Chocolate Company, for example, has been providing their chocolate to United States military personnel for decades as a quick source of energy. (Martin, Lecture 4) d_ratons_chocolate_bar_box_us_army_wwii_mm_

Figure 1: Government issued chocolate ration

Mars Chocolate industry takes chocolate as a multidimensional product to a whole other level. Mars takes it beyond food.

Since its beginning the Mars Company has always stood for something greater than just chocolate. Currently, “The Mars Five Principles of Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom are the foundation of our culture and our approach to business. They unite us across geographies, languages, cultures and generations.” It is the intangibles of the company that allow chocolate to mean something greater. In the case of Mars inc. it has been this way for for almost 100 years. http://www.mars.com/global/about-mars/history.aspxScreen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.08.15 AM

Figure 2

Because of the industrial revolution specifically as it applies to food- new preservations techniques, transportation, advanced marketing and production technologies, large companies like Mars have been able to use their chocolate product as a medium for taking on larger global issues.
mars_epa_climate_leadership_award

Figure 3: Mars Awarded Climate Leadership Award by the EPA

 

References
Mars Principles in Action | Mars, Incorporated. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2016, from http://www.mars.com/global/index.aspx
Martin, C. D. (2016, March 3). Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food Lecture Slides 2016. Lecture presented at AAAS 119x Lecture in CGIS, Cambridge.
Martin, C. D. (2016, March 10). Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food Lecture Slides 2016. Lecture presented at AAAS 119x Lecture in CGIS, Cambridge.