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Cacao-Chocolate Supply Chain Problems and Askinosie Chocolate Solutions

Although chocolate has been a popular product for centuries, problems continue to exist along the cacao-chocolate supply chain. Issues such as farmer poverty, lack of education, oppression of women, and child slavery are tormenting. Bureaucratic and middleman costs, lack of quality control, and buyers who are detached from the farmers’ troubles also raise issues. Additionally, information needs to reach consumers to help them make informed choices about chocolate products. Artisan chocolate manufacturer, Shawn Askinosie, cares about communities and fairness to people at all levels of the supply chain and operates his business accordingly. Askinosie Chocolate opened in Springfield Missouri in 2007, as a small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer (Askinosie 2015). Askinosie buys single-origin beans directly from farmers in Ecuador, Honduras, Tanzania, and the Philippines (Askinosie 2015). The company has several products including dark chocolate bars, cocoa powder, roasted cocoa nibs, and chocolate spreads (Askinosie 2015). Through ethical business practices, Askinosie Chocolate has become part of the solution to problems in the cacao-chocolate supply chain from farmer to consumer by engaging directly with farmers, helping in communities, creating flavorful products, paying farmers well while avoiding bureaucratic and middleman costs, and educating consumers in ways reflective of the Food Justice Movement so they make better choices.

Askinosie engages directly with farmers and helps in their communities. Unlike big chocolate companies that generally employ middlemen such as city brokers who buy from third-world brokers, who buy from farmers (Presilla 2009:111), Askinosie visits farmers directly, cares about local social issues, and initiates local improvements. For example, when choosing a cacao supplier in Tanzania, Askinosie wanted to help empower women in the area. Although women in Africa have proven to be ideal stewards of development in communities, they are often portrayed in National Geographic type images in reproductive roles and as at the mercy of nature (Leissle 2012:131-132). Because their business ability is underrepresented, Askinosie intentionally chose a farming group led by women and directly funded projects in their community to help raise them out of poverty (Askinosie 2015). For instance, the farm and the village used a shallow well for drinking water that was contaminated and unsafe (Admin 2010 Fresh), shown here:

http://chocolateuniversity.org/index.php/2010/08/17/fresh-water/well-7/

Askinosie funded a project to build a new well, shown here:

http://chocolateuniversity.org/index.php/2010/08/17/fresh-water/well-8/

Shawn Askinosie is shown drinking water from his newly-completed, deep, clean-water well that supports the needs of two thousand people in his farmer’s Tanzanian village (Admin 2010 Fresh). Also, Askinosie opened the Empowering Girls Club in Tanzania to help young girls realize their value and achieve their dreams by staying in school (Askinosie 2015). Additionally, he fought malnutrition in the farming villages in Tanzania and in the Philippines by sponsoring the production and sale of hot chocolate tablets by the schools’ PTA and allowing them to use all profits to provide meals to students (Askinosie 2015). The fact that Askinosie stays involved in farmers’ communities and takes initiative to fight oppression and poverty makes his company part of the solution to problems in the cacao-chocolate supply chain.

Askinosie stays involved in the Missouri community where his manufacturing plant is located as well. Askinosie was inspired to reach out to the neighborhood because of its large underprivileged population where many children spend nights in homeless shelters (Askinosie 2015). His goal is to inspire children to be socially-conscious, aware of ethical business practice, and to let them see a world beyond their own (Askinosie 2015). Askinosie partnered with Drury University to open the Chocolate University which funds educational programs for local elementary, middle, and high school students (Askinosie 2015). Students gain hands-on experience working at the chocolate factory as shown here:

http://chocolateuniversity.org/index.php/2010/06/

This image shows a high school student working on bean samples that will be selected for products in the Askinosie Chocolate factory, giving him a better understanding of global production processes (Admin 2010 Tanzania). Students become deeply involved in global projects as well. For example, one project allowed students to travel to Tanzania, meet the farm workers, bring back beans, make chocolate, and realize the difference in taste achieved through ethical business practices and direct connection to farmers (Williams & Eber 2012:157). The students supported the Tanzania village community after returning to the U.S. by raising funds that bought textbooks for Tanzanian children (Askinosie 2015); this teaches students that they can make a difference in the world. Askinosie also helps women at the local Victory House New Life Program shelter by employing them to complete the packaging of products (Askinosie 2015), such as shown here:

http://chocolateapprentice.com/2011/05/interview-with-shawn-askinosie-of-askinosie-chocolate/

The women take the biodegradable string that comes in on bags of cacao beans from farmers and use it as ties on final chocolate products (Eileen 2011). The income the women receive helps them to gain more control in their lives while living at the shelter. Askinosie uses his chocolate manufacturing process to connect the U.S. neighborhood with distant farming neighborhoods to collaboratively solve problems while producing fine flavored chocolate.

Flavor is important in giving customers choice and in persuading customers that artisan chocolate is worth its cost. There is a huge difference in flavor between mass produced, bulk bean chocolate products made by big companies and products made by artisans from expertly harvested and processed, high-flavor, single-origin cacao (Williams & Eber 2012:172). As consumers learn this difference, they may increasingly appreciate artisan chocolate. For the most part, big chocolate companies want to mass produce consistent taste. To do this, large manufacturers blend bulk beans with criollo flavor beans (Williams & Eber 2012:175). Ghana beans are preferred by big companies because the Ghana government has created a regulated system that successfully maintains consistent high quality in bland-flavored, bulk beans (Leissle 2013:24). Ghana licenses middlemen to buy beans from farmers and sell them to the Cocoa Board which sells to big chocolate companies (Leissle 2013:24). This system pools beans and only allows buyers to do business with the Cocoa Board (Leissle 2013:29). Although some Ghana farmers have gained recognition by manufacturing their own chocolate products (Leissle 2012:131-132), this system prevents outside artisan chocolate manufacturers from buying directly from farmers. Because regulations require pooling of beans and selling to middlemen, farmers in Ghana cannot attract better prices from artisans by producing better flavored beans. Farmers miss the opportunity to be paid more by an artisan who wants to offer consumers chocolate made from a particular farmer’s cacao beans, soil type, growing environment, drying process, fermenting style, and all other handling methods that affect overall bean flavor (Presilla 2009:126). Identifying flavor with origin is referred to as terroir and it covers all conditions and processes that affect flavor of chocolate right up to the time that the final product is eaten (Nesto 2010:131). For example, to help produce quality beans Askinosie ensures that farmers grow their cacao in the shade of other tropical trees and plants (Askinosie 2015), which becomes part of his chocolate’s terroir. Askinosie visits his farmers and contracts with them to follow certain high quality standards (Askinosie 2015). Askinosie does not want to mass produce identical batches of product; instead, he creates uniquely flavored batches of chocolate that consumers are willing to buy at higher prices.

Askinosie sells his uniquely flavored chocolate at prices that allow him to pay farmers well and increases farmer profit by not burdening them with bureaucratic Fair Trade, organic labeling, or middleman costs. The Fair Trade Federation price system is meant to ensure that developing nation farmers receive fair pay (Presilla 2009:133), but there are problems with Fair Trade. For instance, because individual farmers all get paid the same, there is little incentive to improve bean quality and in some cases quality has declined (Presilla 2009:133). Also, the cost of belonging to Fair Trade is too expensive for many small farmers (Presilla 2009:133). Organic certification can also adversely affect the income of small farmers. To get organic certification farmers must stop using inorganic pesticides and fertilizers for three years, comply with complex standards, do huge amounts of paperwork, and pay more than ten thousand dollars per year in certification costs, which is generally too expensive and time consuming for small farmers (Williams & Eber 2012:199). Less than half of one percent of cocoa is certified as organic even though the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says demand for organic cocoa and chocolate is high (Williams & Eber 198-199), which indicates that many small farmers cannot afford organic certification. Additionally, organic labeling does not mean that the chocolate will taste good. Organic labeling has nothing to do with bean or processing quality; it only means that the EU and US government consider it organically grown (Williams & Eber 2012:201-202). Some small farm cooperatives gain certification but ferment their beans poorly and mix their beans within the group, producing poor quality products (Williams & Eber 2012:201). Askinosie respects Fair Trade and organic principles, but he also understands that money lost in bureaucracy does not reach the farmer (Askinosie 2015). Askinosie states that his cocoa is “unofficially organic,” grown with no chemicals or pesticides (Askinosie 2015). Askinosie calls his chocolate “direct trade” and says it is beyond Fair Trade because he cuts out middleman and bureaucratic costs; he buys directly from single-origin farmers, pays more than Fair Trade prices upfront, and shares net profits with farmers after each batch is sold (Askinosie 2015). Shawn Askinosie personally delivers checks for ten percent of the net profits to the farmers over and above the price paid upfront per batch (Presilla 2009:132). Askinosie is building a great reputation for his firm by helping communities and paying his farmers well so they are better able to educate their children and live better lives.

Customers are spreading the word that Askinosie has a reputation for ethical business practices, which eases the minds of consumers who do not want to be part of unfair practices that cause farming level poverty, child slavery, lack of education, and poor health. Consumers increasingly want to know that farmers and workers are treated fairly. Ninety percent of global cacao is produced by small farmers (William & Eber 2012:199), and seventy percent is produced in West Africa (Leissle 2013:26). Child slavery is a complex issue. On one hand, West African children work to support family as part of their culture (Ryan 2011:45). On the other hand, evidence exists that children live in poverty, sacrifice education, are sold into slavery, and work in hazardous conditions by carrying too much weight and being exposed to pesticides (Ryan 2011:48). Many pictures have been taken of young children working, such as this:

http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/chocolate_slavery_main/

This image shows a child turning cacao beans as part of the drying process on a West African farm (Anon. 2014). Information on child slavery and pictures like this would reasonably cause chocolate consumers and cacao bean buyers to worry about children used unjustly as workers. It has been reported that some parents who cannot feed their children take desperately needed money from labor brokers hoping that the child sent off to work on a distant cacao farm will be fed and perhaps prosper (Off 2008:154). Concern that children are being held captive on farms continues to hurt the image of cacao production in Africa in the eyes of consumers (Leissle 2013:29). Clearly, paying farmers more, as Askinosie does, so they are better able to care for their children, afford education, and afford to hire adult helpers would go a long way toward ending worries about slavery. By visiting farmers and staying involved in their communities, Askinosie ensures that ethical farming and labor practices are followed. This protects the reputation of his farmers and his products, which allows customers to take pride in supporting farmers and Askinosie Chocolate through their purchases.

Educating consumers about flavor, the problems farmers face, and business ethics that can help solve these problems is essential to the survival of artisan chocolate manufacturers. Consumers are interested in knowing where their food comes from and that it is ethically produced. This mindset supports educational food based initiatives such as the Slow Food Movement and the Food Justice Movement that seek to connect consumers with ethical issues concerning food. For example, the Slow Food Movement teaches consumers to be environmentally conscious, enjoy the flavor of food, revitalize artisan food production, and to protect the cultural heritage of food (Leitch 2009:409-412). It helps artisans and small farmers when consumers understand that artisan food is worth more than mass produced fast food, because artisan food is generally higher in quality, more nutritious, environmentally friendly, and tastes better. The Food Justice Movement reflects a wide range of activity for ethical changes along the supply chain of foods (Levkoe 2006:587). Askinosie reflects this same spirit in his community projects and by paying his farmers well. The underlying premise of the Food Justice Movement is that food production should be sustainable and should benefit everyone involved from farmer to consumer (Levkoe 2006:587); Askinosie’s ethical business practices follow this same philosophy. Askinosie hopes more consumers will become aware and supportive of the changes he makes. He helps inform consumers by publicizing his service to farmers, neighborhoods, and consumers on his company’s website and during factory tours (Askinosie 2015).  Additionally, information and photographs of farmers are printed on chocolate wrappers as shown here:

http://onegoldenticket.blogspot.com/2013/08/review-askinosie-davao-philippines.html

This image shows the lead farmer in the Philippines, Peter V. Cruz, who is happy to provide single-origin cacao for Askinosie’s dark chocolate (Richard 2013). Images and information on labels gives farmers personal recognition, which encourages them to take pride in their work. It also connects consumers to farmers as individuals who work hard to produce fine cacao and who are helped with each purchase. Overall, information creates wiser consumers who are more likely to support artisan food manufacturers such as Askinosie Chocolate, and thus help solve problems along the supply chain all the way back to the farmer.

By educating consumers, increasing profits to farmers, and taking direct interest in farmers and communities while manufacturing unique and flavorful chocolate, Askinosie Chocolate has become part of the solution to problems along the cacao-chocolate supply chain. Truly excellent cacao represents less than two percent of all beans produced (Presilla 2009:129). To encourage more farmers to produce high quality beans, it is important that artisan chocolate manufactures grow in number, pay farmers more, and expand ethical business practices such as those initiated by Askinosie. There are now more than thirty artisan chocolate manufacturers in the U.S. (Williams & Eber 2012:155). They reach consumers who find origin, production policies, farming, and flavor quality to be very important (Presilla 2009:132). The growth of this market relies on consumer awareness, their willingness to pay for better flavor, and their appreciation for knowing they are supporting fairness and reducing suffering. Hopefully, as informed customers and companies like Askinosie Chocolate increase in number, they will continue finding ways to resolve problems along the cacao-chocolate supply chain and continue creating a better world for everyone involved.

References Cited

Admin. (2010). “Fresh Water.” Chocolate University. N.p. Aug. Web. 1 May 2015.

http://chocolateuniversity.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Well-7.jpg and

http://chocolateuniversity.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Well-8.jpg

Admin. (2010). “Tanzania: Here We Come!” Chocolate University. N.p. June. Web. 1 May 2015

http://chocolateuniversity.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Kiefer.jpg

Anon. (2014). “Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.” Food Empowerment

Project. N.p. May. Web. 1 May 2015. http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/chocolate_slavery_main.jpg

Askinosie Chocolate. (2015). “Welcome to Askinosie Chocolate.” askinosie.com. N.p. n.d. Web.

24 April 2015.

Eileen. (2011). “Interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate.” Chocolate

Apprentice. N.p. May. Web. 1 May 2005. http://chocolateapprentice.com/wp-content/images/34_white_choc_package3.jpg

Leissle, Kristy. (2012). “Cosmopolitan Cocoa Farmers: Refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate

Advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24 (2): 121-139. Print.

Leissle, Kristy. (2013). “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate.”

Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture Fall 13 (3): 22-31. Print.

Leitch, Alison. (2009). “Slow Foods and the politics of ‘Virtuous Globalization.’” Food and

            Culture. Ed. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. New York and London:

Routledge. Print. 409-425.

Levkoe, Charles Z. (2006). “Learning Democracy Though Food Justice Movements.” Food and

            Culture.  Ed. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. New York and London:

Routledge. Print. 587-601.

Nesto, Bill. (2010). “Discovering Terroir in the World of Chocolate.” Gastronomica: The

            Journal of Food and Culture Winter 10 (1) (February 1): 131-135. Print.

Off, Carol. (2008). Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet. New

York and London: The New Press. Print. 1-8, 119-161.

Presilla, Maricel. (2009).The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao

            with Recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. Print. 95-133.

Richard. (2013). “Review: Askinosie David Philippines.” One Golden Ticket. N.p. Aug. Web.

1 May 2015. https://chocolateclass.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/213ee-askinosiedavaophilippineswraperweb.jpg

Ryan, Orla. (2011). Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. New York

and London: Zed Books. Print. 43-62.

Williams, Pam and Jim Eber. (2012). Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate.

Vancouver: Wilmor Publishing Corporation. Print. 141-209.

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Rebranding Nesquik to Attract Career-minded Women outside Traditional Stereotypes

Gender and role specific themes have long been used in advertising. Chocolate became available to the working class in the 1800s and from that point on, advertisements told mothers and housewives that cocoa is a healthy, respectable, family product (Robertson 2010:20-21). Advertisements targeting women outside this traditional stereotype developed as women became increasingly liberated from domestic roles. A close reading of a current Nestlé’s ad targeting women in child nurturing roles followed by a close reading of a response ad that disconnects women from traditional stereotypes and rebrands Nesquik as a product enjoyed by college-professional women shows both ads to use advertising techniques effectively and to be part of larger socio-historical trends.

The current Nestlé’s ad shows a woman preparing Nesquik for herself and two children. Shown here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEHdT2Ycto0

Visual aspects of this ad place the product front and center with its lid off. A milk carton is next to the product and the woman stirring a glass indicates ease of preparation. The people are dressed in casual, modern-day clothing, the kitchen is clean, and a bowl of fruit and kitchen supplies are neatly organized in the background indicating a caring, hygienic environment.

This well-kept kitchen environment contributes to ethos, logos, and pathos used as advertising techniques. Ethos or moral trustworthiness is used by presenting a mother who cares enough to keep her kitchen clean and who trusts Nesquik enough to give it to her children. Leaving the lid off the container revealing its content also encourages trust. The image indicates that ordinary families with good values use this product. Logos or logic is used by displaying a carton of milk indicating that Nesquik mixed with milk is nutritious. This is in keeping with the trend of advertising cocoa as good for growing children’s bone and muscle (Robertson 2010:21). This type of ad appeals to the stereotype of women as guardians of family health and welfare and targets women who see themselves as buying only safe and healthy products for their children (Robertson 2010:53-54). Pathos or emotion is used to persuade as well. Happiness is felt in the characters’ physical closeness, eagerness, and the little girl’s grin. Overall, the story being told is that morally-responsible, logical mothers buy Nestlé’s Nesquik and share close, happy, and healthy moments with their children.

There is a long history of ads using the nurturing mother narrative, reflecting socio-historical trend. For instance, Rowntree ran ads in the 1930s called the Special Mother Campaign (Robertson 2010:21). Exampled here:

http://www.advertisementsindia.com/2011/05/rowntrees-cocoa/

These ads highlighted chocolate as a nutritious food that mothers could feel good about giving to their children and that would supply energy to get work done throughout the day (Robertson 2010:21). The current Nestlé’s Nesquik ad is part of this longstanding socio-historical trend.

My team created a response ad to the current Nestlé’s ad by disconnecting Nesquik from motherhood and rebranding it as a product enjoyed by college-professional women. Shown here:

chocolate advertisement

Gaffney, Leah and Cornelius, Rachael.
Gaffney, Leah and Cornelius, Rachael.

The image is of two modern-day, professionally dressed women seated in an office-study area looking over papers. Visual aspects draw attention to Nesquik by placing it in center field, balancing its level of view with a coffee cup, and offering an inadvertent finger point toward it. The easy carry bottle indicates convenience. One newspaper on the table indicates a college environment and another reminds that women’s roles have changed. The industrial fire alarm indicates an office setting rather than a home.

This professional environment contributes to ethos, logos, and pathos advertising techniques used in this advertisement. The theme of women driven toward professional goals suggests responsibility, ethics, or ethos. Their intellectual focus lends trust that these women have developed a successful work routine that includes Nesquik. Using logos, Nesquik is equated with energy by placing it at an equal visual level with coffee. Consuming energy drinks to help stay alert has long been accepted as safe and logical. Pathos is also used to persuade. The vision of women working together toward a common intellectual goal creates a happy sense of professional sisterhood. Overall, the advertisement tells the story that women’s roles have changed as have the roles of products and that collaborative, intellectual experiences are augmented by drinking energy drinks such as Nesquik.

This ad targets women outside traditional roles as part of a more recent socio-historical trend. For instance, chocolate was advertised in the 1930s as boosting productivity in working roles for women such as typing (Robertson 2010:24). Ads marketing chocolate as an energy source gained momentum in the 1940s when war efforts increased the number of women working outside the home (Robertson 2010:54). Apart from the food-energy theme, the response ad emphasizes intellectual pursuit consistent with the women’s independence trend. Starting in the 1950s, ads reflected women’s social, political, and sexual liberation (Robertson 2010:54). There is an element of professional style, confidence, and intelligence offered by the women in the response ad that is similar in message to that of the new Divine Chocolate ads depicting stylish, intelligent, African female business owners disconnected from stereotyped nurturing roles (Leissle 2002:121). Exampled here:

http://impressivemagazine.com/2013/07/24/divine-chocolate-with-social-flavour/

Although the Divine ad is different from the response ad in some ways, such as culture, setting, and dress, both ads deliver the message that successful career-oriented women enjoy chocolate and both are part of the more recent socio-historical trend of women operating outside traditional stereotypes.

Both the current Nestlé’s ad targeting women in nurturing roles and the response ad targeting women in college-professional roles use persuasive techniques effectively to reach consumers and reflect ongoing trends. Running ads such as these concurrently may strengthen Nesquik’s appeal even more for women who are both mothers and career professionals. For instance, mothers who make Nesquik at home with their children may also be persuaded to take it to work in easy to use containers. Overall, ads such as these that capture the interest of certain groups and reflect socio-historical trends successfully sell chocolate.

References Cited

Divine Chocolate. (2013). Two dimensional image. Impressivemagazinee.com. Web. 5, April 2015. https://www.google.com/search?q=divine+chocolate+with+social+flavour&biw=1288&bih=768&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=BoglVbXpN8X7sAXVooGgDw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAg#imgrc=IexN32w1_W78aM%253A%3B6H4NGaE06p6vzM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimpressivemagazine.com%252Fwp-content%252Fuploads%252F2013%252F07%252Fdivine-ad.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimpressivemagazine.com%252F2013%252F07%252F24%252Fdivine-chocolate-with-social-flavour%252F%3B600%3B775

Gaffney, Leah and Rachael Cornelius. “Chocolate Advertisement.” 2015. JPEG file.

Leissle, Kristy. (2012). Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements. Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24 (2), pp. 121-139.

Nesquik commercial with Bret Loehr. (2010). Two dimensional image from video. Youtube.com. Web. 5, April 2015. https://www.google.com/search?q=nestle+nesquik+advertisement&biw=1288&bih=768&site=webhp&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=DX4lVcDmBIeXsAXR1oGoBQ&ved=0CCoQsAQ&dpr=1#imgrc=IqVG6Vi0s_COCM%253A%3Bz01l0OoAMr5zIM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi.ytimg.com%252Fvi%252FWEHdT2Ycto0%252Fhqdefault.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.youtube.com%252Fwatch%253Fv%253DWEHdT2Ycto0%3B480%3B360

Robertson, Emma. (2010). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. New York: Manchester University Press. pp 1-131.

Rowntree’s-Cocoa. (1930s). Two dimensional image. Advertisementsindia.com. Web. 5, April 2015. http://www.advertisementsindia.com/2011/05/rowntrees-cocoa/

Changes in Britain’s Use of Sugar and Potential Causes

Only the very rich could afford sugar when it was adapted into the British culture. By the 1500s, royalty used it in edible art-figures or “subtleties” displayed or given to guests at feasts as a show of wealth and power (Mintz 1986:88). Sugar had also been adopted as a spice and as a medicine; these uses faded over time. However, its use as a preservative and as a food increased especially after tea, coffee, and chocolate were made available in the 1600s. The wealthiest initially controlled the use of sugar, but as it declined in price, other classes adapted its use to their life circumstances; choices concerning sugar were influenced largely by status, wealth, or necessity.

Sugar spread to rich gentry and middle-classes, who feigned greater status by copying the wealthiest in their use of sugar as food and décor. This happened because the British West Indies and Jamaica provided more sugar and the price fell by seventy percent between 1645 and 1680 allowing four times more sugar to be consumed in England (Mintz 1986:107&160). Wealthy groups, such as prosperous merchants, wanted to make the appearance of status beyond their income level. For instance, they created subtleties using pasteboard foundations (Mintz 1986:93). Coffee houses serving coffee, chocolate, and tea, began opening in the 1650s and were frequented by the wealthier groups (Mintz 1986:111-117). Sugar was craved by all classes. It is hypothesized that the British had acquired an earlier taste for sweet drinks because they had prepared malted grain ale and honey mead for centuries (Mintz 1986:136-137). Copying the tradition of “the tea” enjoyed by aristocracy, the middle-classes created their own tea tradition with a light lunch, and lower middle-classes created a late afternoon tea time (Mintz 1986:141-142). Traditions were adapted to fit the lifestyle of different income groups in other ways as well. For instance, by 1747 the middle-classes were making homey versions of subtleties they called “jumballs” (Mintz 1986:93), viewed here:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Buttermilk_jumbles.jpg

The modification saved sugar making this middle-class version less expensive. Because the use of sugar no longer represented highest status, sugar subtleties were replaced by the rich with new rarities such as porcelains, similar to this:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meissenvanda.jpg

At this point, sugar had become predominantly a food and preservative, making its way into expensive products. For instance, by the 1830s high priced preserved fruits were marketed (Goody 2013:76). Overall, as sugar came within reach of each class it was adapted to their lifestyle and used to the extent of affordability.

Sugar’s potential to create wealth was noticed by sugar brokers and others. For instance, sugar broker George R. Porter, believed that the poor would consume much more sugar if they could afford it (Mintz 1986:174). Policies protecting West Indian planters that had kept sugar prices high were rescinded, allowing sugar prices to fall sharply after 1850 to free trade levels (Mintz 1986:177&148). Lower income classes were able to afford sugar. Coffee public houses were opened in the1870s by temperance societies to help people resist alcohol at pubs (Goody 2013:79). The timing of this would also have encouraged sugar consumption through tea. As larger amounts of sugar arrived, poor people who worked in factories bought sugar in place of other foods (Mintz 1986:118). Profits were increased by selling sugar at lower prices to all classes including the poor. These profits allowed manufacturing growth, larger bank deposits, more business loans, and other benefits to the upper classes (Mintz 1986:148). The poor bought high-calorie food that gave them energy to keep working in low-waged jobs. However, this does not mean the poor wanted to eat sugar more than other foods.

The poor were hungry and had to make choices out of necessity in using their small factory income. For instance, making bread at home had been traditional, as shown here:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yorkshire_Woman_making_oat_cakes.jpg

However, it would have been difficult to keep making bread and also keep long factory working hours. Women and children working, cooking fuel costs, and exhaustion pushed families to begin buying bread (Mintz 1986:130). The little meat available was given predominantly to the father out of a feeling of moral duty to support his more strenuous labor (Mintz 1986:144). This rationing of time and food shows that the poor chose sugar out of necessity. After 1870, bread and jam became a very important food to the poor (Mintz 1986:129). It was a staple food in daily life either purchased or made, as seen here:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vladimir_Makovsky_-_Making_Jam.JPG

The poor assimilated tea and jam into routine and special occasions, as had higher income groups, but they intensified its use out of necessity to avoid hunger. It was a cheap, less nutritious, more convenient source of energy and became traditionalized into culture.

Overall, sugar consumption transitioned down through income classes as it became less expensive and changed in use according to the circumstances of differing classes; choices were made based largely on status, wealth, or necessity. Approaching the 1900’s, sugar consumption evolved with more prepared foods flavored and preserved with sugar and packaged for convenience (Mintz 1986:147). For instance, canned condensed milk used in Britain since the mid-1800s (Goody 2013:77) was sweetened and sold as a popular creamer (Mintz 1986:143). By the 1890s, cereals were invented (Goody 2013:80), which encouraged sugar use. Popularized by jam, biscuits also changed through time and mass production techniques, making them and other sugar products widely available (Goody 2013:74). By 1900, sugar was contributing about one sixth of all calories consumed in England, weighted toward the working class (Mintz 1986:149). Clearly, the use of sugar changed over time, becoming more widespread, diversified, and intensified as it transitioned from the wealthiest to the poorest.

References Cited

Goody, Jack. (2013) [1982]. Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine.

  1. 72-88. Book.

Kandler, Johann Joachim. Meissenvanda. Circa 1750. Porcelain. Meissen Porcelain Factory

V&A Museum. Meissen, Germany. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 8, Mar. 2015.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meissenvanda.jpg

Makovsky, Vladimir. Vladimir Makovsky – Making Jam. 1876. Oil painting on canvas.

commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 8, Mar. 2015.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vladimir_Makovsky_-_Making_Jam.JPG.

Mintz, Sidney W. (1986) [1985]. Sweetness and Power. New York: Penguin Group. Book.

Mitchell, S. Buttermilk Jumbles. 7, Dec. 2007. Photograph. commons.wikimedia.org.

Web. 8, Mar. 2015. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Buttermilk_jumbles.jpg.

Walker, George. Yorkshire Woman Making Oat Cakes. 1813. Two dimensional art. New York

Public Library’s Rare Books Division Digital Library. commons.wikimedia.org.

Web. 8, Mar. 2015.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yorkshire_Woman_making_oat_cakes.jpg.