All posts by aaas119x497

DIVINELY PROGRESSIVE: How Divine Chocolate is changing the Cacao Industry

Contemporary West African cacao agribusiness is fraught with problems. Most farmers are not adequately financially compensated, involved in the corporate decisions that affect their farms, and usually do not have access to the finished chocolate product that their crop creates for the Western world.

West Africa provides the majority of the world’s cacao supply, with Ghana producing 17.5%. There are about 2 million African family cocoa farms, most of which are very small, and more than 75% of cocoa farmers state that they do not want their children to go into cacao farming. Even though Ghanaian farms yield 2.8 million metric tons of cocoa per year, in 2011 the average income per capita per day for a Ghanaian farming household is less than 30 cents USD (Martin 15: 1-9).

African women, despite being an integral labor force behind the cacao industry, are many times not empowered and are disenfranchised due to problematic power structures inherent to the cocoa supply chain that echo from European colonialism and continue in many rural areas. Cacao farming is culturally considered “masculine work” and men typically are the heads of cacao plantations; as a result too many times female farmers slip through the cracks within the chocolate industry’s distribution of wealth. (Martin 15:1-9, Robertson 124-125).

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Cocoa Ghana Project photo.

Another problem with modern cacao farming is the use of child labor, which is defined by the International Labor Organization as work that is likely to harm the physical as well as psychological health of children, either due to the nature of the work or because of hazardous conditions in the workplace. According to a 2009 Tulane University study, there are about 1 million children in Ghana working on cocoa plantations, where children can experience dangers such as heavy loads, sharp tools, and pesticides with little to no protection or training. Hard labor at a young age can delay children’s development and increases a child’s likelihood of dropping out of school. (Martin 15:11-26).

Responses to the issue of child labor on cocoa farms such as boycotts, the formation of the International Cocoa Organization, World Cocoa Foundation, and the 2001 Harkin-Engel Protocol that have aimed to eradicate child labor have mixed results at best. Many corporations have denied the problem in public forums and almost never tackle the question of paying living wages to cacao laborers. (Martin 15:26-34).

And lastly, in addition to anxieties about the harms of mass cacao production on the environment (Ford) there is unfortunately a long legacy of community upheaval in West African cacao-growing societies, i.e. Ghana:

“Conflict over cocoa resources fueled monumental upheavals that took place in Ghana over the past thirty years, against the background of competition between capitalist-oriented peasants, regional ethnic groups, and a national government which sought to control export production…contributed to the fragmentation of lineages and other kinship/community groups.” (Mikell, xix)

Some ways to combat these issues include equal rights interventions, especially for women and children, grassroots in lieu of top-down approaches, knowledge and resource sharing both on the production and consumption sides of the chocolate industry, and increase pay for cocoa. When chocolate is a $100 billion/year industry, cacao farmer poverty is avoidable and inexcusable. In order for the industry to improve as a whole, there needs to be cross-sector cooperation among governments, NGOS, chocolate manufacturers and consumers with active involvement and leadership from cocoa farmers. (Martin 15).

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Martin, Lecture 15, Slide 26.

Divine Chocolate, a U.K./Ghana-based chocolate brand founded in 1998 that is increasing in popularity in both Europe and the United States, seems to tackle seemingly daunting issues in ways not unlike the solutions Gwendolyn Mikell proposes in her book Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana:

“(Because) rural vibrancy contributes to national stability…(it is in both the chocolate industry’s as well as national governments’ best interest) to…(allow) local agricultural organizations to address local socio-economic needs…(while) establishing rural labor policies which encourage a sexually balanced rural labor force.” (Mikell 253).

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Divine website.

In the 1990s a group of farmers, including Nana Frimpong Abrebrese from the Ghana Cocoa Board, set up a farmers’ co-op called Kuapa Kokoo (“good cocoa growers”) that would trade its own cocoa rather than relying on the middleman system of government cocoa agents. Kuapa co-owns Divine Chocolate Ltd; the company is dedicated to providing cocoa farmers with improved quality of life, to increasing women’s participation and recognition in cocoa farming, in addition to developing environmentally friendly ways to cultivate cocoa while contributing to community development and enrichment. The company is committed to transparency and democracy; as shareholders in the company themselves, the farmers receive a share of the profits from the sale of Divine chocolate bars, have two representatives on the executive board so they can influence how the company is developed, and one out of every four annual board meetings are held in Ghana. In 2007 after Divine Chocolate paid off original loans, the company was able to present their first cheque to the cooperative. This was a milestone in chocolate history, and a step in the right direction concerning Divine Chocolate’s mission.

Divine is made with cocoa bought from Kuapa Kokoo at the guaranteed minimum Fairtrade price of $2000 per ton which protects the farmers from the unreliable, ever-changing market.  The cooperative receives an additional $200 per tonne, which the cooperative invests into Producer Support and Development Funds.  Kuapa Kokoo weighs, bags and transports the cocoa and handles all legal issues for its members. The association now has upwards of 65,000 members in approximately 1400 village societies. (Divine: The Divine Story).

The company is also trailblazing in regards to chocolate advertising; their campaigns broaden consumers’ conceptions of African female farmers in the supply chain as well as providing positive representation of women of color, a rarity when it comes to chocolate advertisements. The women are presented as confident, independent business owners, countering stereotypes of African portrayals in the media. (Leissle 121-139).

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A not uncommon example of how African bodies are hyper-sexualized and dehumanized in chocolate advertising.(cocoh.net).

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

Ghanaian female cocoa farmers tend to have smaller, less productive farms due to low literacy rates that make them more susceptible to being cheated. Divine and Kuapa currently work towards increased literacy and numeracy training for women so that they can earn outside income through other enterprises such as selling clothing. By increasing education opportunities to Ghanaian women and girls, many of the prime causes of child labor (such as poverty) are being combatted as well. With more educated families, there is more gender equality and potential for financial mobility, all factors that decrease a region’s “need” for child labor. Divine’s Dark Hazelnut Truffle honors the work Divine and Kuapa do to ensure equality for women cocoa farmers. You can buy one here:

http://shop.divinechocolateusa.com/Dark-Chocolate-with-Hazelnut-Truffle/p/DIV-001453&c=DivineChocolate@Bars

Divine refuses to use palm oil in its products out of concern for environmental sustainability in cacao production. The company also has its own radio program that spreads farming techniques even to remote villages, a still immensely popular tool in Ghana. Since many of Ghana’s farmers are not literate, radio programs provide them with the information and advice on various agricultural issues (such as pests and fungus) in the format they can best understand it. By having this radio program, Kuapa Kokoo creates a more truly democratic cooperative by ensuring that all members understand and have access to the tenets of the organization, learn about Fairtrade standards and benefits, learn about their company’s progress, as well as hear updates on child labor programs from government officials, regardless of literacy rate. Ongoing sales of Divine chocolate fund this and other programs that focus on access to clean water, health care, education, supplying new farming equipment and sanitation to improve standards of living.  Kuapa Kokoo has also taken a lead on addressing child labor and adapting to climate change.  Today Kuapa Kokoo produces up to 5% of Ghana’s cocoa (up to 640,000 sacks of cocoa a year!) (Divine Kuapa Mmere).

In conclusion, increasing pay for cocoa farmers, empowering and educating women, protecting children, while simultaneously innovating environmentally beneficial cacao-growing techniques and improving quality of life in cocoa producing regions is going to have to be a multifaceted effort, with cooperation across multiple sectors of the chocolate industry over time. The growing success of Divine is indicative of the plausibility of this type of cross-sector cooperation (Kuapa set up Divine in 1998 with the help of The Body Shop, Christian Aid, The Department for International Development and NatWest) and highlights the success of alternative business models involving communal indigenous practices and farmer involvement, not unlike Bolivia’s El Ceibo (Healy Ch. 6,7). Because Divine was created in order to propel change in the chocolate industry, it was a historic moment when UK chocolate giant Cadbury’s converted its most popular brand Cadbury Dairy Milk to Fairtrade standards. Divine had succeeded in creating and expanding a market for Fairtrade chocolate and creating a supply chain with the capacity to support a mainstream product. When Cadbury made its decision Kuapa Kokoo started profiting from the Fairtrade premium on cocoa bought for this commodity.  Super-giants Nestle and Mars have since taken their first Fairtrade steps by choosing to buy cocoa primarily from Cote D’Ivoire.  In 2013 11% of all chocolate sold in the United Kingdom now carries the Fairtrade Mark.  Over the past 17 years. Divine has grown in popularity around the world, now available in Europe, the U.S., South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. Chocolate companies should seriously consider adapting similarly to Divine’s missions and business practices, for they are radicalizing the way that chocolate can be done.

Works Cited

A Tale of 2 Women, 2 Races, and 2 Chocolates. N/A. Image. 1 May 2015. http://www.cocoh.net.

Cacao Ghana Project. Image. 5 July 2012. Web. 1 May 2015. cocoakiss.blogspot.com

The Divine Story, Divine Chocolate. About Us. 2011. Web. 1 May 2015. http://www.divinechocolate.com

Ford, Matt. “Chocolate’s bitter sweet relationship with the rainforest.” CNN. 7 July 2008. Web. 1 May 2015.

Healy, Kevin. Llamas, Weavings, and Organic Chocolate: Multicultural Grassroots Development in the Andes and Amazon of Bolivia. Notre Dame, UND Press, 2001. Chapters 6 and 7. Print.Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 15: Modern Day Slavery.” AAAS 119x. Harvard College. April 20, 2015. course website.

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate Advertisements, Journal of African Studies, 24:2, 121-139 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2012.736194

Kuapa Radio Hour:Kuapa Mmere http://www.divinechocolate.com

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 15: Modern Day Slavery.” AAAS 119x. Harvard College. April 20, 2015. course website.

Mikell, Gwendolyn. Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana. New York: Howard UP, 1992. Print.

Nita, Catalina. Divine Chocolate with Social Flavor. Impressivemagazine. 24 July 2013. Web. 1 May 2015.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, women, and empire: a social and cultural history. New York: Manchester University Press, 2009. 124-125. Print.

Russell Brand Trews Extra. “The Dark Side of Chocolate-Modern Slavery//Top Documentary Films.” Online video clip. Youtube.com. 22 Nov 2014. Web. 1 May 2015.

VPRO Metropolis. “First taste of chocolate in Ivory Coast.” Online video clip. Youtube.com. Feb 21, 2014. Web. May 1, 2015.

Sexy Chocolate: How white women and black men are aphrodisiacs in advertising

Axe’s Dark Temptation commercial (2008) portrays a young white man who morphs into a “chocolate man” with brown skin, an exaggerated smile and bulging eyes after using the body spray. He then walks around a city while young thin white women scramble to snap his arm off, aggressively lick and bite his ears, and seem controlled by their cravings for chocolate/his body. They have no hesitations about consuming him and do not ask for permission to touch him. He seems in on the joke; at one point he breaks off his nose and sprinkles it into two white women’s ice cream cones without asking, because he already assumes their reaction will be delight and ecstasy. Even though the chocolate man is carnally exploited by white female desire, his plastered smile underlines that this is exactly what he wanted, and that is why he used the product in the first place. Despite that this commercial does not advertise a chocolate product, the fact that chocolate is used as a vessel to advertise the deodorant is significant in understanding how Western society conflates race and sexual desire, masculinity, heterosexual relationships, and chocolate as a food.

The commercial operates on the stereotype that women cannot resist chocolate and therefore will not be able to resist men who use this dark temptation spray. This is even literally written on their website advertising the fragrance today (2015).

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This trope has been done again and again in chocolate advertising involving young white women; it is implied that chocolate is something that they irrationally, orgasmically enjoy, and that in exchange for affection from these women, men should give them chocolate products (as evidenced by Valentine’s Day marketing).

http://bittersweetnotes.com/1642-valentines-day-women-being-seduced-by-chocolate

The blatant undertones of race take center stage in this ad; the chocolate man looks like a classic minstrel blackface stereotype, and the exaggerated smile has a history in chocolate advertisements such as the French company Banania’s ads that echo the Uncle Tom motif, a black man content with his exploitation for the pleasure of white consumption. There is also a history of black bodies posing as literal chocolate snacks for white cravings in Western advertising (i.e. Little Coco and Honeybunch from Rowntree’s Cocoa in the U.K., Conguitos in Spain), so this Axe storyline is nothing new (Robertson 42-44).

blackface     “classic” minstrel make-upScreen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.41.38 PM (screenshot of video above)

 

banana  Uncle Tom imagery  (France)

Axe is simply following tradition (i.e. Old Spice) by conflating the black male body with white female sexual desire and white male longing and envy when marketing their product. Axe is operating on the idea that in order to obtain the sexual attention of white women one must acquire “dark” characteristics (the product’s name isn’t even “Chocolate Temptation”—it’s “Dark Temptation.”) This ad shows that American society has a long way to go concerning portrayals of white women serving as the ultimate “trophy” for male sexual desire and black male bodies as sexual, hyper-masculine objects in chocolate advertising.

The second advertisement is for a fictional perfume for women called “White Chocolate Truffle” with the tagline “Anything but Vanilla”.

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The image of a young, curvy white woman wearing a revealing evening gown while unwrapping and eating a white chocolate truffle already echoes many themes already mentioned in this essay; white female beauty, lust, and chocolate products are all fused together, and the presence of the evening gown implies wealth and upper class status. White skin, specifically white female skin, has long been associated with quality and high social capital.  Here intersectionality plays an important role (Martin Lecture 16 Slide 11)—for even though her white skin is historically viewed as superior and desirable, she is still a woman, and ultimately in many chocolate advertisements her body itself is a commodity to be consumed, not unlike the truffle in her hand, or the implied truffles popping out of her neckline waiting to be “unwrapped” and enjoyed.

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Commodification of women’s bodies (vimeo)

The message is clear: Women need to buy this perfume to smell like white chocolate—a desirable, sweet treat so they can smell as appealing/be as appealing as this sexy woman eating an actual white chocolate truffle, with curves that mimic the truffle shape of the candy to be consumed to satisfy another type of desire (male desire), yet again drawing a connection between receiving heterosexual attention by becoming more like a chocolate product.

Whereas the Axe commercial may be seem odd at best, offensive at worst to 2015 viewers, the White Chocolate Truffle ad looks like something we have all seen before in magazines, and could easily star a buxom white celebrity such as Christina Hendricks, Scarlett Johansson, or Marilyn Monroe, which brings up other complicated issues. White women who showcase their curvy bodies are associated with glamour, class and sex appeal in Hollywood, whereas women of color with round bodies in many cases are criticized for being overly promiscuous or classless for displaying their curves (one just has to look at the backlash for the recent cover art for Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda album to understand the double standard.) (Duca).

 

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Why is society not offended when white curves are showcased? Would a milk chocolate truffle ad using Nicki’s curves be effective? 

This taps into Western cultural associations with the words “vanilla” and “chocolate” and their conflation with blandness, boringness, pure, clean, and whiteness and spiciness, exciting qualities, dirty, naughty, and people of color. This ad is communicating that this perfume is “anything but vanilla”, implying the user will be the opposite of vanilla–like chocolate—embodying the scandalous, sexually titillating qualities that chocolate (people of color) supposedly imbibe, but still while staying safely within the privilege of being white, and therefore “classy”, and like cocoa butter, sweeter and without as strong a kick. (Martin Lecture 16 Slide 12). The metaphorical imagery is allowing the white female consumer to become sexier and more sexual through the means of chocolate, while still safely and demurely playing up to common images of white female sexuality.

Ultimately, both white women and black men are consistently portrayed as sexual objects in chocolate advertising. Time will tell if this trend will continue.

Works Cited (in order of appearance)

“Dark Temptation” 10 April 2015. http://www.theaxeeffect.com/#/axe-products/dark-temptation-body-spray

Robertson, Emma. “Does you mean dis?: cocoa marketing and race”. Chapter 1: “A deep physical reason: gender, race, and the nation in chocolate consumption. Chocolate, Women, and Empire A Social and Cultural History. Manchester University Press. New York. pages 35-44.

Blackface. February 6, 2014. Hulton Archive Image. banana1015.com 10 April 2015.

Banania, French Chocolate Drink. Image. Slide 13, Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

Conguitos, Spanish Chocolate Candies. Video. Slide 14, Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

White Chocolate Truffle Ad original work of Julie Coates, conceived by Julie Coates and Dami Aladesanmi.

Six Basic Tenets of Critical Race Theory. Slide 11, Lecture 16. Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

Naked lady covered in chocolate. https://vimeo.com/6742298

Christina Hendricks advertisement. 20 Sept 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk./tvshowbiz/article-2074214. 10 April 2015.

Scarlett Johansson Gallery. mobile.fanshare.com. 10 April 2015.

“Marilyn Monroe voted cleavage queen.” http://www.santabanta.com/newsmaker/3892. Image.

Duca, Lauren. “Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ Cover Reveals Something Way Bigger than Her Butt”. HuffPost Entertainment. 31 July 2014. Huffington Post. 10 April 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/30/middlebrow-nicki-minaj_n_5635394.html

Chocolate and Vanilla. Slide 12.Lecture 16. Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

 

 

 

Edible Sculptures of Power: Sugar Subtleties in Britain

The first known introduction of sugar to England was in the 1600s and was utilized in five main ways over time: as medicine, a spice-condiment, decorative material, sweetener and preservative. (Mintz 78)

Sugar as a decorative material had to be mixed with ingredients such as gum Arabic and then mixed into a claylike substance that could be formed into various sculptures of any size, baked, and once hardened, decorated, displayed, then eaten. This tradition most likely trickled into Europe from marzipan-heavy North Africa via Italy, then to France in the 13th century, then to England. (Mintz 87).

Such displays were called “subtleties” and in many cases marked intervals between banquet courses at royal feasts. The subtleties were in the form of animals, buildings, etc. and were admired and consumed. Subtleties were confined to the kingship, noble classes, the knighthood and the clergy due to the high price of sugar and the vast quantity needed. Originally the sugar sculptures were simply meant to be a marriage of craftsmanship and confectionary skill, but over time could also very well serve as political or satirical symbols conveying messages to guests consuming it. Many of the sugar sculptures served at the coronation of Henry VI did just that; they confirmed the king’s rights, privileges and inherent authority, highlighting the unique phenomenon of a food that could be artistically formed, admired as a work, interpreted for meaning, and then eaten. (Mintz 89). Writings from Robert May (a royal cook in Britain) in the later 1600s describe elaborate works of art—a sugar stag that bleeds claret wine when an arrow is removed from its flank, a sugar castle that fires its artillery at a man of war, and gilded sugar pies filled with live birds. (Mintz 93).

Over time, the aspiring upper and middle classes began to combine “course-paste” sugar creations of their own. These new concoctions were much simpler during the mid 1700s, as evidenced by some recipes in Mrs. Hannah Glasse’s cookbooks—i.e. fruit and vegetable molds, and even a hedgehog. (Mintz 93). The lack of extravagance in these newer designs is understandable due to the fact that sugar by this time had become much cheaper and more accessible to lower class in British society. As sugar continued to become more plentiful in England, its strength as an icon of power and social status deteriorated while it simultaneously became an overwhelming source of profit. (Solow 112).

Sugar became a different substance for the wealthy to enjoy. In many ways, it still remained a symbol of power for the upper classes who profited from the Caribbean sugar trade, but not in the ways it had been in the past. (Solow 103-134). As a result, the practice of sugar as elaborate decorations died out.

In all, the relationship between trade and social stratification is evident when studying the tradition of sugar subtleties. Today, chefs and artists around the world continue to create sugar sculptures, but the market for them is small and usually used for events such as historical reenactments. Artist Kara Walker in New York City recently installed a 35 foot tall “sugar sphinx” as commentary on the history of blackness, sugar, and European commerce, an echo of the days of Henry VI using sugar sculptures to make political statements. (Smith). In conclusion, the effects of the democratization of sugar consumption in Britain still continue today; sugary foods such as candies are now consumed and enjoyed by people of all classes and ages in the Western world, proof that changes in trade can transform the social and political meanings behind a food product among classes in a society.

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Artist Kara Walker’s installation at the former Domino sugar factory in Williambsurg, Brooklyn. (2014–The New York Times)

HELP1  (illustrations of elaborate nineteenth century desserts–Mintz 78)

help4  (a royal tradition: 1977 sugar sculptures at Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee–Mintz 187)

HELP3 (architecture in sugar–Notre Dame–Mintz 188)

HELP2.1 (sailing ship, castle–recreations of past sculptures–Mintz 189)

HELP1 (female sexuality in relation to sugar: a drastically different image than the creation of Kara Walker. Whereas Walker’s hyper-sexualized, exploited Negro slave is portrayed in relation to sugar as one in bondage and labor, this sculpture of a white woman in sugar is drastically different. Rather, although also very sexual, she is spoiled, a princess, appearing to be lavishly relaxing upon a bed of sugar roses.) (Mintz 190)

A modern day sugar baker at work creating surrealist sculptures utilizing modern technologies.

Works Cited:

Mints, Sidney. Sweetness and Power. New York: Viking Penguin Inc. 1985. Print.

Smith, Roberta. “Sugar? Sure, but Salted with Meaning-A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby’ at the Domino Plant.” The New York Times 11 May 2014: Web.http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/12/arts/design/a-subtlety-or-the-marvelous-sugar-baby-at-the-domino-plant.html

Solow, Barbara L., British Capitalism and Caribbean Slavery: The Legacy of Eric Williams. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1987. Print.

Victoria and Albert Museum. “Power of Making: Sugar Sculpture by Jacquy Pfeiffer at the Victoria and Albert Museum.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube. 9 September 2011. Web. 10 March 2015.

How Cacahuatl Became Chocolate

Many modern-day chocolate enthusiasts are surprised to learn that when the Spaniards first encountered Mesoamerica they were repulsed by the cacao-beverage of the native Aztecs. Due to its gritty texture and bitter taste, some even said it was more of a drink for pigs than humans and even barbaric, due to the sight of Aztecs with red-stained mouths as if they had been drinking blood due to their achiote-laced chocolate. Spanish aversion to drinking cacao eventually dissipated, partly due to the filling, nonalcoholic nature of the beverage and out of necessity. Having palates familiar with Old World flavors, the new settlers imported livestock such as cows and sheep as well as crops such as wheat, sugar cane, and peaches. The Maya and Aztecs used honey as a sweetener but had nothing close to the sweet tooth cravings of the Europeans. Not surprisingly, hybridization began to occur between the two cultures. An entire generation of Spanish Creoles born, and this was the context in which chocolate was eventually transplanted to Old Spain and the rest of Europe, which led to the introduction of chocolate to the European colonies in North America, the Caribbean, and around the world through trade. If the original Mesoamerican cacao beverage had not undergone extensive hybridization with European customs such as taste modification and linguistic changes, then chocolate as we know it probably would have never existed.

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Imaginary scene of Aztecs creating chocolate, from John Ogillby’s America, of 1671. The artist has misunderstood the use of the metate, and has incorrectly included the post-Conquest molinillo. (Coe 113).

There is much debate concerning the origins of the word “chocolate”. In many old documents and letters chocolate is referred to as “cacahuatl”, (“cacao water”). One compelling reason for the linguistic switch among its white consumers is the reality that words and word roots in one language can become awkward and even offensive once transferred to a foreign cultural and linguistic setting. In most Roman languages, the word “caca” is a vulgar term for feces. (The term cacafuego—“shitfire” even appears in an early 18th century Spanish-English dictionary.) It is understandable why Spaniards would be uncomfortable with a word beginning with “caca” to describe a thick, brown drink they wanted to introduce to Europeans back home. One popular theory of where “chocolate” came from is the Maya word “chocol” and the Aztec word for water “atl”. It is safe to say if this name change had not happened, then the drink would have probably never become popular back in Europe, and without introducing the new methods of preparing and serving the drink, (i.e. the introduction of sugar), then chocolate would have remained a local delicacy of Central and South America among the native elites, not eventually a global phenomenon consumed by all social classes.

The chocolate drink was originally served as a cold, bitter, unsweetened beverage, probably in part due to the warm climate of Central America. The Spanish insisted on drinking their chocolate hot and regularly sweetening it with cane sugar, as well as replacing spices such as “ear flower” and the foreign chili pepper with more familiar flavors such as cinnamon, anise seed, and black pepper. Europeans also needed to figure out a way that they could transport chocolate across the ocean on long voyages back to Spain; chocolate was too perishable. The Spaniards manufactured the finished beverage from a dried wafer or tablet of ground cacao that just needed hot water and sugar added to it. Guatemalan nuns may have invented this method, but Aztec warriors were also issued similar “instant chocolate” for sustenance during military campaigns. The Spaniards used these wafers as a convenient way to store and ship the cacao as a dried product, not unlike the instant hot cocoa we continue to drink today.

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Image from nationwidecandy.com (2015)

And finally, the last change required in order for chocolate to become popular in Europe was its marketing. Unlike the sacredness and spirituality of chocolate in the Aztec context, in Europe it was marketed as medicine beneficial for all humoral temperaments (a desirable trait in the Baroque medical terminology of the time). Similar to other common drugs of the time (i.e. tea and coffee) the medicine became recreational, not unlike the Coca Cola phenomenon in the Americna South. All of these drinks engendered a craving for them by those who drank them, (due to their stimulant nature) and chocolate became a mainstream component of the European diet.

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The Family of the Duke of Penthievre or The Cup of Chocolate by Jean-Baptiste Chapentier. (mystudios.com)

Ultimately, at the time Europe had the most widespread access to the majority of the globe through colonization. In order for the Europeans to have spread chocolate to their territories, they would have to had developed a craving for the beverage, which would not have happened if hybridization of the Mesoamerican beverage had not occurred through taste, language, and initial branding as a health food.

 

Citations:

Coe, Sophia D. and Coe, Michael D. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson. 2007. Print. Chapter 4: Encounters and Transformation, Chapter 5: Chocolate Encounter Europe, pp.106-176.  

Chapentier, Jean-Baptiste. The Family of the Duke of Penthievre (The Cup of Chocolate). 1768. http://www.mystudios.com 20 Feb 2015

Dakin, Karen and Wichmann, Soren. Ancient Mesoamerica. Vol 11 Issue 1. Jan 2000, pp. 55-75.  http://dx.doi.org  08 September 2000. WEb. 20 Feb 2015. Abstract. 

Ogillby, John. America. 1671. Engraving. The True History of Chocolate. Coe, Sophie D., Coe, Michael D. 2nd ed. 2007. 113. Print.

Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows. online posting for sale. http://www.nationwidecandy.com. 20 Feb 2015