All posts by aaas119x257

The Taste of Chocolate

In the context of food, and specifically chocolate, taste is not dependent on a single element. Taste can be influenced by the sensory impression that chocolate has on the body, the social implications of being able to buy and consume chocolate, the cultural norms that have been practiced for centuries, and more. Because taste has a multitude of influences, chocolate companies have been able to create a desirable taste of chocolate in the Chinese marketplace through calculated marketing strategies that consider sensory, social, and cultural elements of taste.

The complexity of taste was first brought into widespread academic discussion through sociologist and philosopher Pierre Bourdieu’s 1979 Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Judged by the International Sociological Association as one of the top ten most important sociological works of the twentieth century, Distinction argues through theory and data that judgments of taste are acts of social positioning. The famous Bourdieu food space chart places foods on a graph with two axes: economic capital and cultural capital. Since the release of Distinction, there has been a wide range of discussion, each contributing and making slight adjustments to Bourdieu’s original argument and chart. Overall however, food writer Sarah Davis believes that “Bourdieu’s conceptualization of food space is still a useful tool and surprisingly up to date” (Davis 3)

Molly Watson, a food writer, has modified Bourdieu’s food space chart in an attempt to update it.
Molly Watson, a food writer, has modified Bourdieu’s food space chart in an attempt to update it.

Molly Watson, a well-published food writer, certainly agrees with Davis as she has created a modified version of Bourdieu’s food space chart. Watson has removed the specification of women’s free time and status and the rates of food and cultural consumption in addition to adding more modern American foods onto the chart. There is a constant food found in each of the four quadrants that is easiest to compare: pickles. The different types are pickles are as followed: homemade pickles (from weekend pickling workshop), “homemade” pickles (from gourmet store), homemade pickles (internet recipe), and homemade pickles (taught by grandmother). These pickles and their differences in economic and cultural capital refer to the Bourdieu’s argument that taste refers to the sense of what is good and appropriate and desirable — not just the sense of the mouth” (Davis 2). Assuming that all of these different types of pickles taste exactly the same, they still occupy different quadrant spaces. This is because the source of each of these pickles carries different economic and cultural associations. Pickles that were made from grandmother’s recipe may be heart-warming and cute, but they are in no sense refined or expensive, hence their lack of economic and cultural capital. Homemade pickles made from an online recipe are also inexpensive, but have cultural capital because the making of these pickles demonstrate independent thinking, creativity, intelligence, and an appreciation for creation. On the other hand, pickles bought from a gourmet store show no independent thinking or creativity, only that the buyer has the money to buy expensive pickles. The pickles that have both economic and cultural capital are pickles that are made from a weekend pickling workshop because they demonstrate not only intelligence and creativity, but also wealth, as food workshops are not cheap.

After analyzing pickles on Watson’s chart, we see that food does indeed carry a certain amount of economic and cultural capital. This economic and cultural capital, in addition to its sensory taste can be manipulated and taken advantage of by food producers. As a result, “taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition. Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit” (Grief 10). Chocolate companies are well aware of the manipulation of taste through its economic, cultural, and social associations, and as a competitive corporation, have used this knowledge to increase their sales of chocolate, as we will see in China.

My father, Yu Yu, was born in the city of XuYang in Guizhou province to a middle class family on New Year’s Eve, 1960. Growing up, he lived in a small three-room house, with his two parents and three siblings. Though his childhood was characterized by a lack of food, ill-funded education, and a struggling nation, his family led a relatively stable lifestyle. Throughout my father’s youth, chocolate was a luxury food; too expensive, too unavailable, and too foreign to be regularly consumed. Chocolate at the time was most commonly found along China’s ports because “the reality for British colonial-era merchants was that their wares rarely reached beyond the small foreign enclaves scattered along China’s coast” (Allen 9). The majority of China however, including my father in XuYang, was beyond the coast.

As chocolate companies made their way inland into China, they had the complete freedom and burden of creating the taste of chocolate that China would have, because “almost none of them had ever eaten a piece of chocolate. They were, to coin a phrase, “chocolate virgins,” their taste for chocolate ready to be shaped by whichever chocolate company came roaring into the country” (Allen 1). And so, the chocolate companies careful selected the associations they were to brand chocolate with, because their decision would forever determine the taste and future of chocolate in China.

Now, my father did not taste chocolate until the age of nine. Simply put, he did not like the sensory taste of chocolate. My father’s reaction was a common experience for many Chinese. His sensory dislike for chocolate can be traced back to the standard Chinese diet of grains and meat. The Chinese people, “accustomed to such a diet found the taste, texture, and particularly the sweetness of chocolate too foreign and too extreme” (Allen 27).

Sensory taste was not the way to market chocolate in China. Chocolate companies were intelligent in that they realized “globalization does not equal Westernization. Adoption and adaptation are transformative” (Martin, Lecture 13). Chocolate could not be promoted as it was in the West. In order to find success in China, chocolate companies had to find a way to “adapt” in order to be “adopted” in Chinese culture. Realizing sensory taste was not the way to market chocolate in China, companies found an intelligent and calculating marketing strategy by through economic and cultural taste.

My father did not enjoy the sensory taste of his first chocolate bar. However, he did enjoy the overall experience, simply explaining that he “did not like it, but enjoyed it overall.” An explanation can be found in the economic and cultural associations he made with his first chocolate tasting. His father, my grandfather was a government employee and made a business trip to Shanghai and Beijing, where he was gifted with chocolate. In turn, my grandfather gifted that chocolate to my father and his siblings. Though he didn’t enjoy the sensory taste of chocolate, my father was captured by the economic and cultural capitals associated with chocolate: the respect, wealth, and gift-giving nature.

For the remainder of my father’s time in China, chocolate remained a luxury food. The only time he ate it was when it was gifted to him, during business meetings or holiday seasons. He insists that though he never grew to like the sensory taste, he “enjoyed the experience of chocolate.”

In Chinese culture, gift giving plays an important role as a social facilitator, most commonly experienced during business relationships. My grandfather was gifted chocolate during his business trip, as a sign of respect to a state employee. The social associations of respect were passed along to my father when my grandfather gave the chocolates to him. Later on, when my father was of working age, he was only gifted chocolate when he and his team had done a successful job at work. By associating chocolate with cultural and thus economic (the more expensive of chocolate you’re gifted with, the more praise) capital, chocolate companies adapted to Chinese culture, and so Chinese culture adopted chocolate.

The cultural and economic capital that chocolate carries remains relevant even today. In China, chocolate is most commonly associated with gift-giving and building stronger relationships. In the advertisement by Dove above, a young Chinese man strengthens his relationship with his girlfriend through creating a love carriage made out of Dove chocolate containers. In comparison to American chocolate advertisements, this ad has no sexual or power associations. This is a result of the cultural difference between the U.S. and China: cultural capital differs across cultures. In China, Dove uses this proposal to further convince China that chocolate is the ultimate gift to show respect, love, and appreciation.

In addition to gift giving, chocolate companies have adopted other strategies of adapting the Chinese culture. For Chinese New Year 2015, Godiva intersected cultural capital and economic capital in their Lunar New Year chocolate Gift Box. Priced at an expensive $50, the Godiva chocolate gift is implied to carry economic worth. Furthermore, Godiva attempts to show cultural awareness and thus capital through its paper cutout of the Goat as box decoration. The paper cutout of the Goat is an example of jianzhi (剪纸), Chinese paper cutting. Chinese paper cutting is the oldest paper cutting art form and one of Chinese histories proudest creations. The economic and cultural capital associated with this Lunar New Year Chocolate Gift Box incentivizes the Chinese people to purchase Godiva’s products.

Godiva intersected cultural capital and economic capital in their Lunar New Year chocolate Gift Box
Godiva intersected cultural capital and economic capital in their Lunar New Year chocolate Gift Box

There is no such thing as “pure taste.” Taste is a combination of sensory taste, economic value, and cultural capital. Chocolate companies have used this truth about taste in order to optimize their marketing strategy, as seen in China. By integrating chocolate into China’s cultural norms and capital, chocolate companies have ensured the success of chocolate in China.

Primary Sources

“20 pc. Lunar New Year Chocolate Gift Box” – 2015 Goat” Godiva. Web. 5 May 2015

Lee, Kestrel. “Dove Chocolate’s Chinese Valentine’s Day campaign.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 9 Jan. 2012. Web. 4 May 2015.

Yu, Yu. Personal Interview. 3 May 2015

Wells, Leigh. Bourdieu’s Food Space. Watson, Molly. 2012. Web Image.

Secondary Sources

Allen, Lawrence L. Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of China’s Consumers. New York: American Management Association, 2010. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 4 May 2015.

Davis, Sarah. “In Good Taste.” Superfoods. Table Matters, 4 April 2013. Web. 5 May 2015.

Grief, Mark. “The Hipster in the Mirror.” Sunday Book Review. The New York Times, 12 Nov. 2010. Web. 5 May 2015.

Martin, Carla D. “The Rise of Big Chocolate and Race for the Global Market.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 11 March. 2015. Class Lecture.

The Imbalanced Relationship that Defines Chocolate: Cadbury’s Power and Cacao Farmers’ Inferiority

The primary message of Cadbury’s ad for Bournville chocolate is that carefully selected Ghanaian cacao beans of the highest quality are used to create a wonderful chocolate product that consumers should buy. Simply examined, the plotline of the advertisement has a representative of Cadbury traveling to Ghana to select the finestcacao beans to be used in the production of Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate. A deeper analysis of the ad however, reveals the unbalanced relationship between Cadbury and cacao farmers. Despite a mutual dependence on each other – Cadbury depends on cacao farmers for their cacao supply, and cacao farmers depend on Cadbury for their profits – the relationship between Cadbury and cacao farmers is defined by Cadbury’s position of power, wealth, and prestige and cacao farmers’ inferiority.

Kristy Leissle accurately describes chocolate ads as invitations to creating “connections among people who grow, sell, and consume luxuries like chocolate, across a visual gulf that is often too vast to bridge (122). Because this visual gap is too wide, ads often resort to stereotypical depictions and assumptions, only perpetuating historical and cultural tensions. In the Cadbury ad, the White Cadbury representative’s power, status, and wealth are initially noticed through his upscale suit and tie apparel, a sharp contrast to the simple clothing worn by the African cacao farmers. He is also accompanied by a Black chauffer, driving an expensive Land Rover, which appears to be the only car in the immediate area. The Cadbury representative’s job of judging the quality of cacao beans naturally places him in a position of power. As he appropriately sits at the head of the room, the cacao farmers wait by anxiously as he sifts through the cacao beans with his microscopic lens. While he is literally evaluating the cacao bean, the Cadbury representative also indirectly determines the fate of each cacao farmer, since each farmer’s profits and thus livelihood are dependent upon whether their cacao crop will be purchased.


In this ad, a Cadbury chocolate bar is receiving recognition and gaining wealth as its prestige reaches the international consumer market. Meanwhile, behind the scene and curtain, are laboring cacao beans (even baby cacao beans) receiving no credit or monetary compensation despite their contribution in the production of chocolate. The exploitation of cacao farmers – and at time child labor – is the foundation upon which Cadbury has built wealth and success. Cadbury’s ads are examples of how the “romanticized narratives of chocolate…are largely divorced from the material conditions of production (Robert 2).

These material conditions of production are characterized by exploitative labor (including child labor), low wages, and poverty. Many cacao farmers live tiring and fruitless lives as they produce cacao for Big Chocolate companies such as Cadbury. The discarded cacao beans in our group’s ad represent cacao farmers who spent their lives undercompensated, usurped and exploited by Big Chocolates. Looking at the data for the global chocolate market (see data table), with the total consumption of chocolate at 7.2 million tons and the revenue of chocolate production in the U.S. at $16 billion, it is unbelievable that “the average income per capita per day for a Ghanaian cacao farming household is below $0.30 USD (Lecture 15). The future of cacao farming is currently uncertain because the younger generation sees no incentive in laboriously growing the difficult crop of cacao for minimal wages: less the 25% of current cacao farmers even recommend their job (Lecture 15).
Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 4.31.53 PM

The historical colonization of the West Indies and West Africa facilitated the economic exploitation of cacao farmers by the British firms, while granting representatives of chocolate manufacturers in Britain power in influencing farming practices. Though less extreme, the power that Big Chocolates like Cadbury hold over cacao farmers today defines the relationship between chocolate corporations and cacao farmers. With younger generations aware of the imbalanced relationship in cacao farming and less people entering the cacao farming work force, what lies in the chocolate industry’s future?

Work Cited

Primary Sources

Cadbury. “Cadbury’s Bournville Chocolate Ad”. Online video clip uploaded by Pavan Kuman. YouTube. YouTube. 23 June 2012. Web. 3 April 2015.

Chocolate Ad. 2015. Pencil on printer paper. Harvard College, Cambridge.

“Global Chocolate Market” Statista. Web. 3 April 2015

Secondary Sources

Martin, Carla D. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 3 March. 2015. Class Lecture.

Leissle, Kristy. “Cosmopolitan Cacao Farmers: Refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate Advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies. 24.2 (2012): 121-139. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.

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

The Interdependent Relationship between African Slaves and British Culture

A cursory glance at the African slave trade, the sugar industry, and British culture suggests that there is little these three topics have in common. After study, it is discovered that while it is true that there is little these three have in common, a more interesting and complex relationship surfaces, one of interdependency. The cyclical interdependency that developed from the 1600s-1800s between enslaved African laborers on sugar plantations and English consumption of sugar, was driven on one end by the economic advantages found in African slave labor and on the other by the cultural, economic, and political significance sugar held in English culture. I will demonstrate the economic dependence sugar plantation owners had on African slave labor and how that developed into an English cultural dependence on the slave trade, creating an interdependent relationship.

As the American Natives succumbed to European diseases, European plantation owners looked across the ocean to Africa for their source of labor. These African slaves were procured by African slave traders through various inhumane methods and sold to European buyers on the African coast.

Alexander Falconbridge was a surgeon who took part in four voyages on slave ships, where he spoke with numerous slaves about their experiences and witnessed the slave trade firsthand.
Alexander Falconbridge was a surgeon who took part in four voyages on slave ships, where he spoke with numerous slaves about their experiences and witnessed the slave trade firsthand.

Surgeon Alexander Falconbridge wrote in his 1788 An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa, “most of the negroes shipped off from the coast of Africa, are kidnapped” (13). With a majority of African slaves procured through kidnapping, the supply of slaves was seemingly endless, essentially the entire African population, since anyone could be kidnapped and sold into slavery. Unstable politics and lack of regulation and enforcement meant all Africans were vulnerable to becoming slaves. In this, plantation farmers found an economical solution, an endless supply, to their labor supply deficiency. Scholars have since provided additional evidence that Africans were the economically prudent choice of labor. Africans were supposedly more productive than Natives: “sugar… required strength which the Indian lacked, and demanded the robust “cotton nigger” as sugar’s need of strong mules produced…the epithet “sugar mules” (Williams 3). The belief that Africans were biologically suited for labor in addition to the endless supply meant that African labor was a prudent investment, and so, 10 to 15 million enslaved Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean between 1500 and 1900 (Martin, Lecture 10). Furthermore, economists Alfred Conrad and John Meyer showed that African slave labor was not only a smart individual investment, but also a generator of global economic growth: the rate of return on the purchase of a slave stands at a high 13% while slave finance, procurement, and transport created a huge industry in which many made their fortune (The Economist 4).

Sugar plantation owners depended on Africans as laborers because of the economic advantages Africans allowed for: an endless supply of labor, biological suitability for labor, and high returns for individual owners and the world economy. Thus, sugar plantation owners came to depend on African slaves as their source of labor and producer of sugar.

Sugar was a rarity in 1650, a luxury in 1750, but by 1850, sugar had transformed into a necessity for the entire population, thus making it a commodity that motivated the need for a large labor force (Mintz 147-148). In England, sugar made its way from the wealthy mouths of the elite to the masses through cups of tea and coffee. The cultural significance of sugar (and so slaves) and the elitism associated with it can be seen through literature, art, and personal journals of the time. For example, posing in portraits with slave or sugar became quite a popular genre, representing excellent taste as well as wealth and power.

George Washington by John Trumbull. George Washington was a well-known figurehead during his time and his portraits were well publicized. It is believed that as a result, his personal servant Billie was one of the most well known slaves.
George Washington by John Trumbull. George Washington was a well-known figurehead during his time and his portraits were well publicized. It is believed that as a result, his personal servant Billie was one of the most well known slaves.
Untitled by Anonymous is believed to depict a Frenchman due to his wardrobe. The royal colors that he is adorned in, the cane he carries, and even his dominant position all lend to a aura of power and wealth.
Untitled by Anonymous is believed to depict a Frenchman due to his wardrobe. The royal colors that he is adorned in, the cane he carries, and even his dominant position all lend to a aura of power and wealth.

In Untitled, a young slave boy is offering a European plantation owner a sample of refined ground sugar while a slave woman labors in the background. George Washington poses proudly in George Washington with his personal servant and slave William “Billy” Lee in the background. In both of these portraits, the slaves are painted smaller, more demure, and with less detail, all lending their inferiority to the white man. Meanwhile, all details of the portraits depict the white man exuding confidence and importance: the color and quality of his coat, his cane, and his posture. The presence of sugar and slaves imply that this white man is wealthy and powerful.

As sugar gained popularity, the English people used it as medicine, spice condiment, decorative material, sweetener, and preservative. And so, sugar became an integral English commodity: sugar mitigated the bitterness of medicine, made meals more delicious, decorated halls and foyers, sweetened teas and coffees, and lengthened the life of short seasoned crops.

The growing demand for sugar boosted England’s economy to unseen heights: Herman Merivale, a prominent British colonial administer, answered “sugar” when asked “What raised Liverpool and Manchester from provincial towns to gigantic cities?” (Lecture 10). Sugar inspired the invention of new machinery, mass production, and consumerism. Sugar equaled progress and money. As sugar gained importance, its economic power also transformed into political power. Sir Dalby Thomas, governor of Jamaica and sugar planter, noted that the entire process of slave labor – colonial establishment, slave procurement, protection of shipping, all the way to the actual consumption of commodities – “took shape under the wing of the state,” and so each stage of the system was “meaningful politically as they were economically” (Mintz 41).

1600-1800: The rise in sugar consumption rose as sugar gained cultural, economic, and politic significance. In turn, this drove the demand for a labor force, ideally cheap and efficient.
1600-1800: The demand in sugar consumption rose as sugar gained cultural, economic, and politic significance. In turn, this drove the demand for a labor force, ideally cheap and efficient.

Sugar’s cultural significance, and later economic and political, resulted in increased demands, an exponential rise as seen in the chart. As demand rose, England became more and more dependent on the African labor force to supply their demand.

Initially, English plantation owners depended on the African slave as their cheap source of labor. As sugar gained popularity, culturally, economically, and politically, the English people also came to depend on the African slave labor to supply their demand for sugar. The interdependency between British culture and African slaves would eventually become a huge obstacle in the abolitionist movement because the end of slavery implied the end of Britain’s rise.

Work Cited

Primary Sources

Falconbridge, Alexandra. An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa. London: J. Phillips, 1788. Internet Archive. Web. 13 March 2015.

Trumbull, John. George Washington. 1780. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web. 13 March 2015.

Anonymous. Untitled. Date Unknown. Location Unknown. Hérodote. Web. 13 March 2015.

Secondary Sources

C.W. and A.J.K.D. “Did slavery make economic sense?” The Economist. Sep. 27. 2013. Web.

Martin, Carla D. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 3 March. 2015. Class Lecture.

Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power. Brattleboro: The Book Press, 1922. Print

Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. Richmond, The Will Byrd Press Press, Inc, 1944. Print.

The History of Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac: Exploring the Marriage Rituals of Mayan and Aztec Culture

The belief that chocolate is an aphrodisiac is a long-standing myth, dating back to Mayan and Aztec times. Michael and Sophie Coe note that the most extensive medical study of chocolate by Hervé Robert, a French doctor, hypothesized that because of the “caffeine, theobromine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine, chocolate enhances pleasurable activities, including making love.” The belief that chocolate is an aphrodisiac has lasted even into today. However, it is very important to note “if there has ever been a consumable substance that has not had this reputation at some time in some place” (29).

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 5.44.08 AM
Websites like Cosmopolitan, Vogue, PBS, etc, are publishing articles implying that chocolate is a strong aphrodisiac.)

Today, chocolate is still heavily associated with sex, romance, and relationships (see video). Valentine’s Day especially, the day of lovers, brings in millions of dollars of revenue for chocolate companies as people treat their sweetie to some sweets.

Fortunately for Coe, and unfortunately for these articles, commercials and Valentine’s Day, chocolate is not an especially strong aphrodisiac. A New York Times article reports that though chocolate does contain chemicals tryptophan (involved in sexual arousal) and phenylethylamine (involved in falling in love), their amounts are so insignificantly found in chocolate that scientists believe there is no “direct link between chocolate consumption and heightened sexual arousal” (O’Connor 3)

Our modern day obsession with chocolate as an aphrodisiac inspired some interest in the role cacao played in marriage rituals in Mayan and Aztec civilizations. By analyzing the cultural significance of chocolate in Mayan and Aztec culture, the hypothesis was formed that wealth, divinity, power, and strength associate with cacao reinforced the belief that cacao is an aphrodisiac.

The Mayans lived on the Yucatán peninsula and during their golden age from AD 250 to 900, built magnificent city-states, monuments, and architectures supported by advancements in agriculture and canals and created a complex hieroglyphic system to record their knowledge in astronomy and math. Their geographical location was ideal for cacao trees, so it is no surprise that “there is evidence that it [cocoa] was used by people of all classes, especially for rituals” (Presilla 12). Chocolate colored with achiote (to create a red color) symbolized a sacrificial victim’s blood, a sacred liquid that was the foundation of the Maya ritual universe (13). The presence of cacao in weddings can easily be explained due to the spiritual significance of cocoa.

In Mayan marriage ritual, a father would “invite the father of a girl whom his son wants to marry to discuss the marriage and serve him a drink [of chocolate]” in a process called “tac haa”, to serve chocolate (Martin, Lecture 3). Coe notes that there have been accounts of “a vessel of beaten chocolate” being presented whenever a Quiché Maya king decided to start looking for a wife. During the wedding day, especially for the wealthy, the bride and bridesgroom would exchange five grains of cacao to each other while their guests “chokola’j”, or drank chocolate together (61).

The Mixtec marriage of Lord Eight Deer and Lady Thirteen Serpent, who exchange a cup of chocolate
The Mixtec marriage of Lord Eight Deer and Lady Thirteen Serpent, who exchange a cup of chocolate

The Aztec (1420 -1520) also placed spiritual significance on cacao drinks as a symbol of human blood (the major difference between Aztec and Mayan views on cacao is that cacao was strictly for the elite class in Aztec civilization). While the practice of treating cocoa as currency originated from the Mayans, the Aztecs are most well known for using cacao as legal money. In fact, “commodities ranging from turkeys to sex had their known price in cacao (Presilla 17). This also meant that dowries could be paid in cacao, further intertwining cacao and marriage rituals.

There is also a rumor that the Aztec emperor Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin’s success with women was due to his consuming cacao: “from time to time they brought him some cups of fine gold, with a certain drink made of cacao, which they said was for success with women (Coe 96).

One important aspect of cacao to note is its believed power and strength. Warriors would wear cacao on their armor and shield into battle, drink cacao while marching, and for those warriors who returned victorious from war, they were allowed to enter the palace and drink cacao (Presilla 19).

From the Mayan and Aztec marriage rituals and cultural perspective of cacao, it’s important to note that cacao was always seen as a divine, wealthy, and powerful commodity. Those who owned chocolate, could afford chocolate in their wedding rituals, were allowed to consume chocolate (Aztecs) and seemed to embody the divinity that is associated with cacao were no doubt the ideal husbands. Biologically speaking, women seek a mate that has the ability to provide for her and her offspring (Bowerman). Strong warriors and wealthy men were always associated with cacao, so cacao was a measure of marriage material.

Purely based off the cultural history of cacao in Mayan and Aztec civilization, it could be hypothesized that the belief that cacao is an aphrodisiac is heavily associated with cacao’s symbolism of wealth, power, and strength in Mayan and Aztec culture.

Work Cited

Bowerman, Mary. “Biology of Attraction: Women Have Urges Too” USA Today 15 February 2014. Online

Coe, Sophie D., Michael D. Coe, and Ryan J. Huxtable. The true history of chocolate. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

Martin, Carla D. “Mesoamerica and ‘The Food of the Gods’.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 2 Feb. 2015. Class Lecture.

O’Connor, Anahad. “The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac”. New York Times 18 July 2006. Online.

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