All posts by aaas119e29

Bean-To-Bar vs. Big Chocolate Companies: The Differences

In today’s chocolate industry, big companies in the United States such as Hershey’s focus on how much money they are able to make off consumers regardless of the consumers hurt or offended in the process compared to small bean to bar chocolate makers around the world that are making an impact in the chocolate industry when it comes to health and advertising.

In history chocolate was made without large machines and extra ingredients holding the bar together. However, various ingredients and forms were introduced which changed chocolate forever. From the time of the Mayans and Aztecs to today’s present day, chocolate’s ingredients and structure has changed. Ingredients such as sugar or peanut butter enhance the flavor for most consumers. However, big companies such as Hershey’s continue to adulterate food products, often adding lead or brick dust despite the introduction to the Adulteration of Foods Act (Coe & Coe, 2013). Big chocolate companies also have cheaper, lower quality chocolate due to their usage of bulk cacao from different cacao farms (Presilla, 2009). Cacao beans which have been overly fermented, over roasted or rotten are known as bulk cacao (Presilla, 2009). Due to the cheap chocolate addiction, the increase of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes grew dramatically over the past thirty years (Albritton, 2013).

Another constant problem in the chocolate industry is the chocolate advertisements that are often offensive and degrade the personalities of women. These advertisements portray beautiful women but they are sexually ecstatic or look seductive when they consume chocolate (Leissle, 2012). There are various posters, commercials, banners and radio advertisements from Godiva, Cadbury, and other big chocolate companies which create advertisements that represent women or black men in an offensive way. Unfortunately, even the present day contains these ads. Bean to bar chocolate makers focus on the quality on their products (using fine cacao and little sugar, retaining the taste of old-fashioned chocolate) and the traditional way of making chocolate (Presilla, 2009). They represent themselves through descriptive videos without exaggerated and offensive stereotypes. A descendant of the Cadbury brothers describes the adulteration of chocolate, Taza chocolate (a small bean to bar chocolate companies in the United States) shares their entire process through tours and on their website, an offensive advertisement from Godiva demonstrates the false representation of women and Beach chocolate’s representative video are perfect examples of the positive impact of bean to bar chocolate makers and the negative impact big chocolate companies make in demonstration and quality.

This passage is from an article called “Chocolate Wars Waged With Kittens and Brick Dust.” It is based on the history of chocolate from the website “” A British historian, Deborah Cadbury, is a descendant of the Cadbury family whose company still runs today but by a different name. She was interviewed on the history of Cadbury and she described the adulteration of chocolate: “In Victorian times, only the wealthy could afford chocolate. It was this drink that got a very mixed reception because lentils and pearl barley tended to be added to mop up the cocoa butter . . . Unscrupulous traders were adding brick dust and animal fat. The Cadburys weren’t doing this. The Cadburys came up with pure cocoa in the late 1860s and business took off with the introduction of the Adulteration of Foods Acts, (which stated all ingredients had to be listed).” It is important to notice that she admits other companies have adulterated chocolate, but it seems that she could be whitewashing the history of the Cadbury company (Coe & Coe, 2013). This is the problem with larger chocolate companies is that once they have made enough money and they have earned their customer’s loyalty, it is unlikely that they would give out any negative or secret information on how they make their chocolate (Albritton, 2013). Although larger companies are hesitant to spread any secrets they have or do factory, it is likely that the Taza Chocolate factory conceals nothing from their consumers.

Taza is a small bean to bar chocolate factory in Somerville, Massachusetts. On Taza Chocolate’s website, they describe the process for making their chocolate. “Our stone ground chocolate making process is inspired by centuries-old Mexican chocolate traditions. We use authentic Oaxacan stone mills called molinos to grind our cacao, with granite millstones hand carved by co-founder Alex. These stones minimally refine the cacao beans, capturing all their vibrant flavors and allowing tiny bits of cacao and organic cane sugar to remain in the finished chocolate. The result: chocolate brimming with bright tastes and bold textures.” It seems that While companies like Hershey’s and Mars are hesitant to give out too much information and white-wash their history and goals, Taza chocolate refrains from hiding anything from consumers and they give out every step of the process that they have and their intentions. If people wish to see their process on how their chocolate is made, tours are held in their main factory in Somerville, Massachusetts. It is as if Taza is very open to the community and they want to introduce a healthier and more traditional chocolate that educates consumers about the history of as well as satisfies their taste buds. In terms of representation, big chocolate companies go for exaggeration stereotypes (Leissle, 2012).

Here is an advertisement which was released in the United States in 2012 by the chocolate company Godiva.

So in this advertisement, there are two women (one disguised as a man). The woman in the red seductive attire (also wearing a seductive smile) hands a heart-shaped box of chocolate to the woman in men’s attire. As soon as the disguised woman takes a bite of the heart-shaped chocolate, she shuts her eyes in ecstasy and reveals herself. The commercial ends with the woman in the red dress tasting the chocolate also and she shuts her eyes excitingly as well. This offensive stereotype in chocolate advertisements is very common. It is as if chocolate is a sex-object that women would prefer over men because it could give them more pleasure. This advertisement gives an offensive and negative implication. Women are animals and they are sexually attracted to a simple yet delicious commodity. It seems that chocolate companies want to represent the seductiveness of chocolate, and it could replace the relationship between a man and a woman. Big chocolate companies continue to represent the relationship between chocolate and women in this way (Leissle, 2012). This makes a negative impact on women, but markets do not care as long as their business consumes a lot of money (Leissle, 2012). Compared to the larger companies, smaller chocolate factories represent themselves differently without creating appalling labels or dramatization.

Here is a video from a vlogger named David Benjamin interviewing Henrik who works at this Costa-Rican bean to bar factory known as Beach Chocolate. Notice how Henrik is holding a cacao pod rather than a box of chocolate hearts. This important because it symbolizes the source of chocolate and source in its natural form for viewers to see.

Compared to most chocolate representations, this is a fantastic way to demonstrate the work that goes into the product rather than sexualizing it. This chocolate factory’s video does not create any wild exaggerations or stereotypes. It takes a viewer to the source of what they are consuming (or should be consuming). There is no seductive encounter with chocolate or with a man and a woman. A simple and calm interview promoting their chocolate factory is what this video’s synopsis holds. It is as if these small chocolate factories are bringing back chocolate’s old-fashioned process and ingredients to what it was in the time of the Mayans and Aztecs. It seems that they are bringing back true chocolate made with fine cacao and very little sugar, that sweet and rich treat which the Europeans discovered through their humble representation and open arms to their communities (Coe & Coe, 2013).

To conclude, small bean to bar chocolate factories make quite an impact. If there should a positive change in the chocolate industry, then consumers should become aware of the healthier chocolate options available to them as well as acknowledging and analyzing offensive advertisements. Consumers can spread the word about offensive and unhealthy chocolate amongst their family members, classmates and in their community. Bean to bar chocolate factories themselves teach us about what a true, sweet and bitter treat chocolate can be and its long history dating back to the day it was a drink rather than the bar we know today.

Works Cited  “Godiva: Valentine” (2012) “A Bean To Bar Chocolate Factory Tour Experience In Costa Rica” (2014)

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Revised Edition. Berkley: Ten Speed Press, 2009. Print.

Coe, Sophie D. and Coe, Michael D. The True History of Chocolate. Third Edition. London: Thames and Hudson, 2013. Print.

Albritton, Robert. Between Obesity and Hunger: The Capitalist Food Industry. New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. 2013. Print

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan Cocoa Farmers: Refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements, Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24:2, 121-139

Special thanks to all my peers, the guest lecturers, my teacher and teaching assistant for everything they have shared and taught me!


Women and Chocolate: The False Representation In Chocolate Ads

In chocolate advertisements, women are often portrayed as animals who are easily sexually aroused by chocolate. One of the typical stories in the advertisement would show a woman having the first bite and, in a flash, they shut their eyes in sexual pleasure. Another type of situation in a chocolate ad is when women would fight over one piece of chocolate like it is a sex-object. Most ads for chocolate from the United States (20th century to the present day) are often sexist and degrading like the first piece of evidence in this post.

This is a commercial which aired in the United States on various TV channels in 2008 for men’s cologne called “AXE: Dark Temptation.”

The ad description explains the outcome after using the product in the video description: “he becomes as irresistible as chocolate…” So there is a young man (perhaps a teenager?) applying the product to become more appealing. All of the sudden he becomes a chocolate man. He breaks off his body parts to share with girls or they just take a bite out of him (even two of them lick him in a movie theater in sheer excitement!). By the end of the video, several women rush out of the gym and against the glass window hoping to get this chocolate man. Women driving by tear his arm off like savages. The ad itself is shocking, highly offensive and sexist. It conveys negative concepts such as cannibalism and dependence on sexual activity. The ad labels women as aggressive and desperate supermodels looking for a ‘mate’ (Robertson, 2010). Assuming that women love chocolate and use it for sexual activity, it is as if the company used that concept to their advantage (Robertson, 2010). The next advertisement which is an original one I have constructed challenges the offensive label.

A sad chocolate man ponders "What could be better than me?" As he looks at a happy couple.
A sad chocolate man ponders “What could be better than me?” As he looks at the happy couple.

The woman in the ad is shown having a real relationship with a human being underneath a cacao pod (the woman pays no attention to the cacao pod). However, on the other side, the chocolate man sits there, confused and upset with unconsumed Godiva truffle organs in his body. He thinks ‘what could be better than me?’ The story ends with text explaining what is better than consuming a chocolate man for sexual pleasure, a relationship with a man which does not always involve sex. The original ad shown above is for chocolate but the woman’s personality is not stereotyped. This advert deserves its praise due to the fact that it demonstrates women are not easily tricked into buying chocolate for sexual pleasure. The ad demonstrates how women are not sexually aroused by this simple ‘enjoyable treat.’ Ads like this one should become popular in the industry, so the goal for gender equality is present. Sadly, not many like that exist in the United States.

Of course sexism in ads not only occurs in the United States, but in other countries as well.

This commercial comes from the Schmitten Chocolate company in India. It was uploaded only a year ago on the company’s official YouTube channel recently (in 2014). In commercials like this one, they show beautiful women but their personality is minimized to being obsessive over a simple, delicious treat. The models also can be negatively labeled as having remarkable beauty, little intelligence and being a part of the upper-class elite (Leissle, 2012). Consumers must take action and defend against the stereotypes women are given in advertisements. It is impertinent and appalling to see women’s personalities lowered to being sexually desperate for chocolate.

To conclude, the modern consumer needs to be aware of the false, stereotypical representations of women in chocolate advertisements and push back against these typecasts. This has become an enormous problem in today’s society and it demonstrates the gender inequality between the opposite sexes.

Works Cited

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2010. Print.

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan Cocoa Farmers: Refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements, Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24:2, 121-139

Sources for Original Advertisement

Sugar’s Bitter Side: The Continuous Use of Slave Labor

Sugar becoming an absolute necessity, and a gradual yet massive increase of sugar consumption in Europe was the main cause to the use of slave labor in British colonies in the 16th century. The history of the sugar industry has a dark side, and information about it is very important, because most of current wealth and comfort is owed to the slave labor. Even though consumer industries attempt to conceal their past or current use of slave labor, information about it spreads and becomes a public domain. Here we investigate how the growing popularity and increasing demand for sugar in Europe have been met through the slave labor, from the 11th century, to this present day.

This is a quote from a website known as SugarNutrition. It describes how sugar slowly became a luxury for the upper-class Europeans. “The first Britons to taste cane sugar were probably Christian soldiers called Crusaders who fought Muslims in the first Crusade to Syria in 1099. As cane could not grow in the British climate, sugar was not available to the people of Britain until trading and transport had developed sufficiently for sugar to be brought into the country. … It was sold at two shillings a pound (or approximately £50 in today’s money) and was therefore a luxury enjoyed by very few people.” It is as if the demand for sugar in the 11th century was not tremendously high. It is likely that there was a little need for sugar due to sugar being a commodity only for the royals, the low popularity of sugar and the difficulty to collect it (Mintz, 1985). Unfortunately, slave labor eventually became the option of choice to resolve this difficulty.

As interest in sugar consumption began to grow over time, Europeans proceeded to capture slaves to meet the growing demand. As the website LiveScience describes: “The first slave ships arrived in 1505 and continued unabated for more than 300 years … To most of the European merchants, the people they put on cargo ships across the Atlantic — a horrendous voyage known as the Middle Passage — were merely an extension of the trading system already in place.” It seems that merchants completely disregarded the fact that the slaves were human beings and they should have been treated like ones, instead of objects (Mintz, 1985). This piece of evidence shows that the profit from the sweet commodity caused disregard for the slaves’ lives (Mintz, 1985).

Gradually, the necessity for sugar amongst the middle-class emerged. Sidney Mintz describes: “A century later, [After the 17th century], the place of tea and sugar together in a working-class diet, together with treacle, tobacco and many other imported foods were made completely secure. These were the new necessities” (Mintz, 143). It seems that the sweetness of sugar had enslaved the taste buds and the minds of the Europeans. The new commodity that changed the diets of the Europeans forever had to do with the new taste that brought sweetness into the Europeans’ daily lives (Mintz, 1985). Sugar led to people demanding more quantities of it (Mintz, 1985). As the sugar industry started to thrive in Europe, the slave labor grew much worse.

There were no signs of diminishing slave labor throughout the 19th century. This is a photograph of slaves working on a sugar cane plantation in Jamaica in 1891 during the continuing growth of the sugar industry.

Slaves cutting and collecting sugar cane.

This image demonstrates that the usage of slavery still existed at the time and no firm laws banning slavery were established. Yet, the need for sugar in Europe and other countries continued to grow. Masses of western populations now became the loyal consumers of the sugar industry, and the slave trade became an essential part of western culture and economics (Mintz, 1985).

The piece of evidence presented in this paragraph comes from the website of the University of Michigan. The website describes Hugh Boyd McNeile’s article: Slave Labor versus Free Labor Sugar. Speech of the Revd. Dr. McNeile, Delivered at a Public Meeting Held at Liverpool, 13th. June, 1848: “Fifteen years after the passage of Emancipation, slavery in the production of sugar was still a topic of debate. In this speech the author responds to an argument that the lack of slave labor for the plantations was a bar to free trade and therefore against the national interest, consciously posing a humanitarian argument against an economic one” (Mcneille). This evidence demonstrates the perseverance to keep slave trades operating for the sake of profit. Even though slavery is outlawed everywhere by 1981, today large sugar and chocolate producers still rely on de-facto slave labor, yet hidden under various euphemisms. FTS_factsheet-Nov17.2 What is especially disturbing is child slave labor which multi-billion international sugar and chocolate corporations seem to use and enjoy so much:

The history of the sugar industry is the case in point demonstrating how the growth of western industries led to the growth of slave labor, from 11th century to today, and helped to establish the system of inequality between the developed western countries – and the rest of the world which corporations consider nothing but the supply of cheap labor and natural resources.

Works Cited

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

History Of Chocolate: Establishing Differences Between Mayans and Aztecs

Artifacts from Mesoamerica and journals of Spanish explorers depicting the usage of cacao and chocolate emphasize the differences between the cultures and values of the Mayans and Aztecs. These differences help to distinguish the unique beliefs and traditions which the Mayans and Aztecs had. The multimedia and scholarly examples in this post will help to illustrate them.

Both, Mayans and Aztecs, likely considered chocolate a sacred drink. In this first example, a Research Scholar from the New College of Florida, Dr. Gabrielle Vail gives a detailed description on the Mayans’ usage of Cacao. She explains how Mayans of all classes were able to have chocolate through ceremonies and rituals.

A conclusion can be drawn that the Mayan royals were able to share chocolate with their subjects despite the obvious sacred enigma assigned to the chocolate drink. The Mayans seemed to have believed in the unity of the Mayan commoners and royal people. The portrayal of the cacao tree and chocolate come up in Mayan artifacts and manuscripts which likely depict an important spiritual concept.

This is a Mayan vase from the Guatemala Highlands which depicts a moment from the rare Mayan codex titled Popol Vuh. A Maize God’s head remains suspended from a Cacao tree after the Lords of the dead had slain him. However, the Maize God remains alive throughout the codex (Coe and Coe, 39).

Here in this image is the Maize God’s head hanging from the tree. It looks like he was meant to be a part of it.

This scene and the depiction of the cacao tree can be interpreted as a transformation or a renewal. It seems that the Mayans had beliefs that imply spiritual change in deities. It is likely that the Mayans focused less on human sacrifice and more on the spiritual evolution and rebirth. The cacao plant can be interpreted as a symbol of spiritual growth as well. The cacao pods could symbolize a new life sprouting into the world. Unlike the Mayan royals sharing chocolate and extending their beliefs of rebirth to the commoners, the Aztecs had a different approach to cacao and chocolate.

Maricel Presilla, an expert on Cacao and chocolate, describes the Historia General written by Bernardino De Sagahun, a Franciscan Friar. She discusses and quotes Sagahun’s work which describes the Aztecs’ strict rules on who was allowed to drink chocolate. “Cacao’s importance can be glimpsed when Sagahun explains proverbially called ‘heart and blood’ – a treasured substance drunk by lords and distinguished persons ‘because it was worth much and there was very little of it. If one of the common people drank it, if they drank it without sanction, it would cost them their life. For this reason it was called Yollotli eztli: the price of blood and heart” (Presilla, 19). From this, it appears likely that the Aztecs had a strong hierarchy. It seems that Aztec Royals believed that this sacred drink should be exclusively in their possession. They would not allow access to chocolate for the common people, unless the latter were warriors (Coe & Coe, 98). Alike their punishments for commoners who dared to taste chocolate, the Aztecs’ beliefs on what chocolate symbolizes are more graphic.

This is the Codex Fejervary Mayer. It is an ancient pre-Columbian manuscript created by the Aztecs which portrays the cacao tree in one section of it. It is in “the direction of The Land of the Dead, associated with the color red, the color of blood” (Coe & Coe, 101).

The Cacao tree on this part of the codex can be seen on the right in between two Aztec Gods.

The Aztecs seem to have beliefs based on human sacrifices. The Aztecs’ depiction of their religious beliefs was more dismal and atrocious comparing to the Mayans’. The scene from this codex could be interpreted as a warning. Perhaps this scene represents people paying for their sins through sacrifice and confinement to the Underworld.

To conclude, the history of chocolate in Mesoamerica exposes the differences in culture and beliefs between Mayans and Aztecs.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Revised Edition. Berkley: Ten Speed Press, 2009. Print.

Coe, Sophie D. and Coe, Michael D. The True History of Chocolate. Third Edition. London: Thames and Hudson, 2013. Print.