All posts by aaas119x145

Cardullo’s: A Mélange of Cultural and Historical Flavors in Chocolate

The industrialization period brought about the emergence of mass-production chocolate companies that have come to dominate the modern-day economic realm. The crucial component fueling this industry rests on the interplay between consumers and chocolate manufacturing companies, whose existence relies on accommodating the subsequent party’s needs. Competition between big chocolate companies fosters growth in the industry, however it also challenges the quality and practice of chocolate production, as companies employ cheap means in order to provide the most profitable product for the consumer. Cardullo’s is a small retail shop located in Harvard Square that historically has focused on supplying quality international foods, carrying a wide array of artisanal as well as bulk-produced chocolate. The shop very much intertwines with Harvard’s cultural values, and has adapted to provide a unique Harvard type “experience” by carrying crafted chocolates that stray from the conventional mass produced chocolates typically purchased by Americans. Cardullo’s legitimizes its products by generating a “social terroir” inviting the inquisitive Harvard community to taste the history of chocolate infused by different cultures inside the varying brands of chocolate, while simultaneously redefining the psychology behind high quality taste appreciation by promoting good ethics of production with its foreign associates and higher pricing of its chocolates. Ultimately, Cardullo’s challenges modern societies devalued sense of chocolate tasting appreciation that has been tainted by this generation’s fast pleasure-seeking life style.

Cardullo’s was established at the steps of one of the world’s most pristine academic institutions, luring in students and visitors from an array of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Franck Cardullo, who set out to fill a niche that could provide quality foods for the neighborhood’s international population, developed the store in 1950 (Culinary Cambridge, 2012). The original store was located across the street form it’s current location, however the layout and décor inside the shop remains much in the traditional style of the old days. The shop carries a wide assortment of imported chocolate, from recognized brands like Tobleron and Mars, to less known labels such as Francois Pralus and Reger. Interestingly, the store piles all the popular mass produced brands of chocolate and crams them in the lower right hand level of a shelf, while what are to be considered “finer” and more expensive chocolate brands are shelved with more precision, in a somewhat artistic manner. The two images below depict the cluttered arrangement of the cheaper over-refined chocolate in comparison to the graceful layout of the pristine deemed Godiva chocolate.


Cardullo’s carries chocolate brands and flavors specifically targeted towards an audience of consumer conscious students, as well as the bountiful international tourists flocking to the University’s historical site. Harvard students are vey much driven by moral issues, and the community fosters consciousness on many social and ethical issues unfolding around the world. I will later introduce a concept of moral and social terroir that drives Harvard’s consumer choices. A second factor driving the choices of these consumers results from the impact of history in the community. Harvard students and tourists visiting the university have a great appreciation for historical contexts and the preservation of historical traditions. Marcy Norton describes in a book on “Tasting Empire,” 16th century records from Zapoteca, Nahua, and Mayan regions depict entries in diaries of cacao drinks being prepared with cacao and maize, cacao and chili peppers, and sometimes cacao alone (Norton, 2006). The tastes of the cacao drinks may be unique to the time, but Cardullo’s has found a means to capture a similar historical essence by selling a spiced Mayan cocoa drink labeled as such, instead of simply tagging it as “hot chocolate”. The chocolate supplied by Cardullo’s can thus be seen as a connection between the past and the present, serving as a means of unifying different cultures and historical eras.

Premium chocolate blend made with Venezuelan chocolate, which is considered one of the finest in the world (also historically important in the chocolate industry). Deeply flavored, aromatic drink.

While Cardullo’s supplies chocolate containing original flavors consumed by the people in Mesoamerica, it also emphasizes the detrimental role played by Europeans in the transformation of chocolate form it’s ancient condition to renown modern form. Many scholars have argued the case that the Spanish were appalled by the taste of the chocolate drink consumed by the natives and drastically transformed it when they returned to European soil. Norton however, counters this misconception by arguing that while Europeans added their own inventions to the chocolate they brought from Central America, “there was no conscious effort to radically reinvent the substance. Instead, modifications came about because of gradual tinkering motivated by efforts to maintain- not change- the sensory impact of chocolate” (Norton, 2006). Cardullo’s further supports Norton’s argument, and seeks to educate it’s consumers on the transformative history of chocolate as a part of their experience. The image below portrays a box of German chocolates called “Reber Mozart Kuglen,” plastered with a portrait of Mozart himself. The chocolate is placed on the highest level of the shelf in the store, almost as if on a pedestal, thus accentuating the celebration of European tradition in chocolate. The label further details that the box contains “filled chocolates,” a crucial European innovation to the manufacturing of chocolate.

Classical Reber Picture Box containing 20 “Genuine Reber Mozart-Kugeln” filled with pistachio marzipan with green pistachios, almond,s and hazelnut praline. They are coated with milk and bitter-sweet dark chocolate and are imported from Germany.

Cardullo’s really builds on the idea of providing its consumers with a unique sensory experience of chocolate’s historical origins, by focusing on removing any outside influences of modern times that could be altering the pureness of chocolate appreciation. Cardullo’s captivates the interest of its consumers by appealing to their focus on good morality and strive towards a greater appreciation of the world. One of the ways in which they achieve this is by supplying single origin chocolate, as a means of directly altering the consumer’s sensory experience to a foreign region. Over the recent years, consumer preference in the US has increasingly shifted towards single origin bars, resulting from an appeal towards the “localization” of foods whose origins tend to be anonymous (Leslie, 2013). This can also be described as the “beans to bar” notion that Leslie characterizes as chocolates that are produced from a single variety of cacao produced in one region. An example of this can be seen in the Francois Pralus selection at Cardullo’s shown below, which even details the precise latitude and longitudinal coordinates of the region in which it was produced.

Different origins of the Francois Pralus chocolate. Notice the global coordinates printed above the brands logo.

Such emphasis on location of the origins of the chocolate draws on the notion of terroir, which can be described as a characteristic taste and flavor of chocolate resulting from the environment in which it is produced. Nesto argues the case for single origin chocolate, in which using site-specific, quality cacao produces a bar fused with terroir given the minimal and sensitive processing sustained (Nesto, 2013). Cardullo’s generates a “social terroir” in its selection of chocolate by providing its consumers with a taste of the history of chocolate simultaneously infused with different cultures. This attraction to the exotic and unknown is what drives consumers to purchase chocolates from origins of Sao Tome, Madagascar, and Indonesia, like the ones seen above. Madagascar for example is an attractive origin largely because of “it’s cooca’s unusually bright, high citrus notes” (Leissle, 2013).

This social terroir provides information to the consumer about the potential ethical dilemmas behind the chocolates production, while also serving as a publicity measure promoting the improvement of relations between the United States and its foreign partners. Most of the brands supplied by the store stray from the renowned brands of mass-produced chocolates that carry negative qualifications due to the ethics behind production. Cardullo’s sells brands labeled with other countries, which the United States promotes positive relations with as a tool to draw a parallel between positive foreign relations with countries and the good ethics behind their chocolate production. One can observe Cardullo’s supply of the Madagascar and Sao Tome selection of Francois Pralus almost as a diplomatic tool. As Leissle argues, Madagascar has a positive reputation in US popular understanding since it “seems culturally, historically, and politically separate from the troubled continent of Africa proper” (Leissle, 2013). On the other end of the spectrum, Cardullo’s also supplies the Sao Tome label as a means to amend the negative light shown on the region as a result of its past turmoil with the Cadbury Company. As Catherine Higgs describes in her book, Cadbury employed slave labor practices on cocoa farms in Sao Tome during the early 20th century, leaving behind a region that continues to be rocked by political and social turmoil (Higgs, 2012).

Cardullo’s strays from supplying conventional fair trade and organic stamps as a means of legitimizing its products, and instead focuses more on the price range of chocolate. If you click on the chocolate tab on the stores website (, there is a range in chocolate from the most expensive price being $65.00 for a chocolate basket, to more moderate chocolate bars sold for $10.00. The lofty price of the chocolate boxes reflects on the artistic quality of the design as well as the ingredients, but comparing similar sized chocolate bars across the spectrum there is a significant price difference that results from the quality of cocoa beans and other ingredients used. Williams et al. wrote a piece in which they argue against the cheap cocoa beans and artificial ingredients used by certain companies to make a profit, further asserting the freshness in flavor that results from the use of natural ingredients, such as in the Mast Brothers Chocolate’s products (Williams et al., 2012). People tend to develop different levels of taste appreciation depending on the exposure to different types of chocolate during their lifetime, which can be a result of the affordability in price of the chocolate. However, consumer’s appreciation of chocolate can also be influenced by the price of the chocolate. People automatically tend to associate more expensive chocolate to a higher quality and sophistication in the product, especially in modern day society where most consumers purchasing decisions are driven by financial forces. Stuckey argues there is a psychology behind consumers understanding the food they are tasting (Stuckey, 2012). This can result in consumers quite literally focusing on the taste of the price of chocolate, and lead them to try unusual flavors such as “Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar,” simply because they assume the higher price applies to higher quality.

Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar made with applewood smoked bacon,  Alder wood smoked salt, and 62% dark chocolate. Sold for $8.99

This however, serves as an important marketing strategy allowing Cardullo’s to redefine the tastes associated with more expensive, and finer chocolate.

Cardullo’s marketing measures divulges the stores concern on redefining consumer’s ordinary, present day experience when eating chocolate. The chocolate sold at Cardullo’s presents a break in tradition of which Williams et al. would describe as “a generation that wants pleasure fast,” (Williams et al., 2012) further challenging the morality and taste appreciation of the mass-produced chocolate market. The store’s attempt goes hand in hand with the Harvard culture’s desire to experience new things, while paralleling to Harvard’s exclusive nature in providing unique tastes, such as the collection of brands and flavors seen below. Stuckey argued the importance behind the psychology of taste, stressing the more food you taste the more you will develop to appreciate it (Stuckey, 2012). Cardullo’s wide selection of chocolates differing in origins and tastes therefore reflects the businesses goal in challenging the way this generation appreciates chocolate.


Works Cited

 “Cardullo’s.” Culinary Cambridge. N.p., 2012. Web. 04 May 2015 <;.

“Chocolate.” Cardulloscom RSS. Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe, n.d. Web. 04 May 2015. <;.

Higgs, Catherine. 2012. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. pp. 133- 

Leissle, Kristy. 2013. “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. 13 (3): 22-31

Norton, Marcy. 2006. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics.” The American Historical Review 111 (3): 660-691

Stuckey, Barb. 2012. Taste: What You’re Missing. pp. 1-30, 132-156

Williams, Pam and Jim Beer. 2012. Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate. pp. 141- 209

Media Cover-Up of the Harsh Realities of the Chocolate Industry

5334e3b3dc8c1.preview-620 chocolate30n-2-web

The commercial depicted above was created as an advertisement for the Turkish chocolate biscuit brand, “Biscolata Starz”. The initial concept to note is the existence of a cultural ideology influencing the audience’s appeal to the commercial. Alongside with the language and song choice, there is a clear indication the Turkish public (particularly women) seems to be the targeted audience. However, the advertisement does manage to maintain a universal notion of sexual appeal, thus allowing for it to become applicable to a broader audience. Immediately, the portrayal of highly sexualized and idealized nature of the men carrying out the different stages of the chocolate production should raise red alarms to the audience, particularly in a western culture where men are similarly portrayed in Hollywood movies. The advertisement glorifies the task of cacao processing and chocolate manufacturing, challenging the disputed racial, gender, and socioeconomic challenges historically and currently faced by the workers in the different stages of the chocolate production chain. In response to this preposterously glamorized portrayal of the industry’s supply chain, I have selected images of two women working in more realistic, not so idealized stages of the cacao collection and chocolate manufacturing processes. The highly idealized and sexual portrayal of the men in the commercial glorifies the harsh realities of the chocolate industry, while the images of the workingwomen challenge the racial and social disparities so commonly shielded by westernized forms of advertisement.

My initial reaction to the commercial was laughter, simply due to the comical nature of the over-exaggerated, sexual portrayal of the men. The advertisement also symbolizes a disparity in the common portrayals of sexualized women and laborious men. From the initial stages of picking the cacao pods from the trees, to the final stages of chocolate making, the advertisement shoots different angles in which the men ardently, and seductively gaze into the camera, and thus at the viewer, forming a three-way connection with the media and public. The men work in in paradise-like scenery, surrounded by a beautifully rich jungle, with a backdrop of a spectacularly refreshing waterfall. I argue that this glorified portrayal of the men working aims at shaping the public’s image on the realities of the un-luxurious chocolate industry, challenged by the two images of the workingwomen. This comparison also raises the gender related tension present in the industry. Jane Guyer wrote a book titled “Food, Cocoa, and the Division of Labor by Sex in two West African Societies,” in which she argues how the arrival of the cocoa industry to West Africa shifted the role of women as housewives as they began working in the production of cocoa (Guyer, 1980). This however, presented a problem since women were now expected to labor under a patriarchal system that failed to establish any protection of women’s rights. They further shine light on the lack of empowerment that emerged from women working in this industry. The scene in the two pictures is not quite so idealized, with the women depicted in a frail manner when compared to the lean, muscular figures of the men in the commercial. Furthermore, the powerlessness of the women is revealed in the clothing they wear. While the men are shirtless in all stages of the process, the women are fully covered wearing hairnets, long sleeves, and gloves, thus removing any hint of the sexualized nature typically used as a selling point to consumers in chocolate commercials. Moreover, images of workingwomen like these serve to challenge the commercials attempt of portraying the luxurious nature of chocolate to the public, which has been historically romanticized in narratives like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (Robertson).

The juxtaposition of the commercial with the two images also raises racial and social implications about the realities of this industry. It is important to note this commercial was intended for Turkish audiences, who consist of a reasonably homogenous society that has historically discriminated against minorities. The commercial creates a western twist as it portrays solely white men, challenging the popular association of cacao production with indigenous/ethnic populations. This notion emphasizing the purity of chocolate to the public can also seen in Cadbury’s campaign, aimed at showing the highly qualified environment in which their workforce labored, thus emphasizing the qualities of their products (Robertson). While the advertisement aims at emphasizing the pureness in the chocolate produced, the images of the women blending into their natural environment create a greater sense of purity in the origins of the product, shining light on the modern day chocolate industry that has been tainted by infiltration of western culture. The women laboring in the two images physically appear of an ethnicity associated with lower socioeconomic standards, thus challenging the commercials aim of removing the sense of consumer responsibility for the conditions under which commodities such as chocolate are produced, which Robertson advocates in his writing (Robertson). There is a clear cat and mouse game unfolding between the commercial and images portrayed, in which the roles of the cat and mouse are constantly shifted as a result of media manipulation.

Works Cited

“Biscolata Starz – Turkish Chocolate Biscuits TV Commercial.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <;.

Guyer, Jane I. “Food, cocoa, and the division of labour by sex in two West African societies.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 22.03 (1980): 355-373.

N.p., n.d. Web. <;.

N.d. Web. <!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_970/chocolate30n-2-web.jpg&gt;.

The Race for Chocolate

Globalization and industrialization brought about new machinery and methodologies to the chocolate manufacturing business that had far reaching influences on consumer’s perception of chocolate. As Jack Goody discusses, industrialization was particularly influential in the development of new methods of preservation, mechanization, retailing, and transportation in industrial western cuisine (Goody). These novelties directly challenged the natural and aesthetic qualities characterized by the purity and skilled nature of the original chocolate making process. The technological advances in manufacturing and advertisement during the industrialization period tampered with the acclaimed nature of chocolate by creating a reversal in its purity, which re-defined the notion of chocolate, thus entitling chocolate companies to infiltrate different cultural markets through an arms race in power of production.

After the 18th century, exponential growth in global population accompanied by industrialization transformed the nature and methodology of chocolate manufacturing. The physical and financial capabilities of providing enough resources to meet the demands of a growing population became highly unfeasible. Industrialization became a solution to this problem and would end up challenging the heritage and composition of chocolate as well as the traditional practice of chocolate making.

Chocolate making was previously in the hands of small groups of highly skilled chocolate makers, whose abilities gave them highly valued positions in society. When technological advances in machinery rolled in, the need for these skills declined as higher functioning machines could carry out chocolate processing functions at much efficient rates. The image on the left presents the Hampton Court chocolate kitchen as a symbol of meticulous labor, while the image on the right of the machinery at Hershey factory presents the technological advancement that has in some way tainted the once “pristine” image of chocolate making. This transformation to a machine run process would also re-define the social standings of chocolate makers in the fabric of society.


An image of adulteration of the chocolate making processes through industrialization gave chocolate products a more demonized nature that became highly questionable by the American public. The new methods of marketing chocolate described by Jack Goody removed the power from the public in selecting the products purchased, and instead left it in the hands of the producers and packagers, who kept their manufacturing processes behind closed doors (Goody). Consequentially, public outburst rose against the impurity and secrecy behind the manufactured products, leading to adds like the following to surface, which further warned people against the dangers of these products.


While mass production resulting from industrialization unified society by increasing the availability of chocolate, it also distanced societies as a result of the different types of products tailored to each society. Different cultures have different social contexts and taste stimuli, and as a result different variations and forms of marketing were adopted for each culture. With the sweet tooth driving American culture, Milton Hershey would be able to re-define the image of chocolate to Americans by creating sugary and creamy chocolates (D’Antonio), which would be functionally packaged to meet the satisfaction of consumers living in a highly practical and efficient society. For traditional Hershey chocolate to become popular in other cultures, the presentation and advertisement of the product would have to be transformed to appeal to the particular tastes and social contexts of each culture, such as the image of the Hershey kisses sold in China. The notion of advertisement also became an essential tool in combating the entrance of western impurities that could taint the customs of other cultures.


Competition was the driving notion behind industrialization, and therefore very much a show of power between brand industries. Mars later developed with the aim of producing a cheaper form of chocolate that could compete with Hershey’s (Brenner). Both companies wanted to gain the loyalty amongst as many consumers possible, and as a result, reverted to expanding their area of influence across the globe, trying to enter as many markets as possible. The amount of popularity of each product within the different cultures overall presented the relative global power of each company during the industrialization period. On the grand scheme of things, the ability of Milton Hershey to organize an island in Cuba in terms of production of resources for his business represents the power US manufacturing had in re-designing social and cultural contexts abroad.


Works Cited

A Little Taste of Hershey History. Digital image. Camp Martin Travels. N.p., 9 Mar. 2011. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <;.

Brenner, Joel. 2000. The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars. chapters 5, 13 pp. 49-69, 179-194

Cuba, Central Hershey, 1916-1946. Digital image. Hershey Community Archives. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <;.

D’Antonio, Michael D. 2006. Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams. pp. 106-126

Goody, Jack. 2013[1982]. “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine.” pp. 72-88

Hampton Court Chocolate Kitchen to Reopen after 300 Years. Digital image. The History Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <;.

Hershey’s Kisses Brand Hits $100 Million in China. Digital image. Business Wire. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <’s-Kisses-Brand-Hits-100-Million-China#.VQH_A0vXEdt&gt;.

 Public Health: The Use of Food Adulteration. Digital image. A Web of English History. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <;.

The Transformative Power of Culture

The Spanish conquistadors first came into contact with chocolate during their voyages to the New World, following the footsteps of Christopher Columbus. In 1502, Columbus arrived to Guanaja and came across a dugout canoe, in which he discovered “almonds” [cacao beans] that were used by the indigenous people of Mexico as a form of money (Coe & Coe, 109). A popular myth claims Columbus was the first person to try chocolate in the New World, however records suggest Columbus found these beans to be of little value and quickly left to Panamá in search of gold (Coe & Coe, 109). It was only with the arrival of other conquistador’s years later that the true wealth of these beans and their product became appreciated.

As Marciel Presilla discusses in his book titled The New Taste of Chocolate, most of what is known about the relation between chocolate and the pre-Hispanic Aztecs comes from narratives recorded after the Conquest of the New World (Presilla,18). Girolamo de Benzoni wrote a narrative in 1975 called the History of the New World, describing his bewilderment at the peculiarity and somewhat bizarre beverage drunk by the most notable members of the indigenous population (Coe & Coe, 110). In one of the excerpts, he describes the chocolate drink as one that “seemed more a drink for pigs, than a drink for humanity. I was in this country for more than a year, and never wanted to taste it…” (Coe & Coe, 110).

The following image portrays Hernan Cortez being offered the chocolate drink in his arrival to the Aztec Empire in 1519. He is portrayed in lavish ceremonial attire seemingly fit for a god, however his expression suggests his discontent with the chocolate drink he holds in his hands.


It is important to note the conquistador’s initial attitudes of dissatisfaction towards the chocolate beverage, which would soon change as a result of the direct encounter of the Indians with the European people.

Culture plays a crucial role in people’s initial perception and understanding of a new culture. I will assert the importance of culture in shaping the European settlers perspective on chocolate, while allowing them to adapt to the alien environment of the New World. As the settlers began establishing their lives in the New World following the Conquest, a process of hybridization or creolization began to take place between the two cultures. This process resulted from the Europeans and Indians adopting certain practices from each other’s cultures, and adapting them to satisfy their particular lifestyle. For example, the Spanish began consuming less wheat and more maize, and adopting Nahuatl words for native plants and animals into their language, while the Indians adopted certain domestic animals and fruit trees into their life (Coe & Coe, 112). Chocolate would follow a similar path in which it would undergo a transformation of certain qualities that would allow it to assimilate into the Spanish and European culture.

In terms of preparation of the chocolate drink, the Mayan and Aztec’s added spices such as honey, agave syrup, “ear flower” and chilli pepper (Coe & Coe, 115). The Spanish and Europeans had a “sweet tooth” due to the introduction of sugar into their culture during medieval times (Coe & Coe, 115). Cortez valued the idea of the elaborate, thickly spiced mixture drank by the Indians, which is why toasted corn and spices like vanilla and achiote would be added to the Hispanicized chocolate (Presilla, 25). However, the Europeans palate for sweetness would result in the transformation of chocolate from a think and heavily spiced drink, to a heavily sweetened drink. And so, the Spanish were the first to combine chocolate with the sugar they produced from the sugar cane plantations worked by African slaves in the Caribbean (Presilla, 25). The practice of sweetening would eventually lead to wide range of chocolate brands we have today, labeled with varying percentages of cacao and sweetness as seen in the image below.


The Europeans considered the froth of chocolate to be the most valued part of the drink. However, the greater sense of technological efficiency that steered their culture lead to the development of a new method of preparing froth that didn’t involve repeatedly poring it between two vessels (Prisilla, 26). The method involved a tool called a molinillo that would beat the chocolate and make it foam (Prisilla, 26), as seen in the video below.

The transformation of chocolate preparation asserts the importance of culture in shaping the European settlers perspective on chocolate, while allowing them to adapt to the alien environment of the New World.


“A Royal Gift – Box of Chocolate – Café Mika.” Caf Mika. N.p., 11 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Feb.       2015. <;.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print.

“Mexican Hot Chocolate.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.     <;.

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

“Sweet Dark Chocolate.” Chocolercom Expand Your Chocolate Expertise RSS. N.p., n.d. Web.     16 Feb. 2015. <;.