All posts by aaas119x578

Cocoa Beans to Better Society: Fair Trade vs. Direct Trade Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Companies

Cocoa bean products have evolved in countless ways throughout time. From drinkable chocolate beverages of the Ancient Maya and Aztec in modern-day Central America, to a worldwide audience of chocolate bar lovers, chocolate is nearly ubiquitous. The market for chocolate is extremely large and growing, with a projected $98.3 billion dollars in global sales for 2016 (MarketsandMarkets). The sweet confections serve as crowd pleasers for both children and adults alike. While many enjoy the chocolate products presented on shelves in the super market, far fewer are truly aware of the origins of the cocoa beans that they consume. In an effort to reduce the poor treatment of cocoa farmers, the Fair Trade movement took off, presented on the labels of bean-to-bar chocolate companies such as Theo Chocolate, but this effort does not necessarily help farmers as it is intended to, leaving other companies, such as Askinosie Chocolate, to pursue the direct trade approach.

Although many consider slavery to be a part of history, enslavement is still rampant and very much an issue today (Abbott 3). The Ivory Coast is home to forty-three percent of the world’s cocoa bean supply (Raghavan). Small cocoa farms are scattered throughout the West African country, providing many with labor opportunities (Raghavan). The truth about these small operations is that in some cases those working to harvest the cacao pods are young men who were either sold or tricked into slavery (Raghavan). According to a 1998 UNICEF report, many of the enslaved children used by Ivory Coast farmers come from the poorer neighboring countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo (Raghavan). These child slaves were often poached from bus stops, where they were promised riches once they arrived in the Ivory Coast (Ryan 44). While many men utilized the child labor and slavery to their advantage and profit, others were silenced in their attempts to reveal the unsavory practices (Off 119). During the 1990’s, Abdoulye Macko, who has since been recalled from his position as Malian consul general in the Ivory Coast, began to hear stories of child enslavement (Off 119). Under Macko, Malian men disguised as cocoa bean transporters reported seeing local boys worked at gunpoint (Off 121). These undercover investigators also revealed that the children were kept in unfit living conditions. The boys were worked to death, received little food, slept in locked bunkhouses, were beaten and had sores on their bodies (Off 121)(Ryan 44). In one particular instance, Macko came across a boy who had been left for dead in the middle of a field, sick and exhausted, covered by a pile of leaves (Off 124). Eventually, Macko liberated a portion of the children, but could not save them all (Off 124).

This image shows a child working with cocoa beans. Images like these represent the thousands of children forced to work without pay on cocoa farms in West Africa today.

Due to the issues with the treatment of farmers that have come to light, and continue to do so, a new wave of companies has entered the chocolate industry. These companies choose to market their brand in a way that makes known to the consumer that those involved in producing their cocoa beans receive fair compensation for their work and also enjoy a high standard of living, designated by a Fair Trade label (Abbott 3). According to Fair Trade USA, they “seek to empower family farmers and workers around the world, while enriching the lives of those struggling in poverty” (“Mission/Values”). The organization claims to carry out its mission by utilizing “direct equitable trade” which in turn helps families “eat better, keep their kids in school, improve health and housing and invest in the future”(“Mission/Values”). However, the Fair Trade movement has come under scrutiny for the lack of data showing how Fair Trade practices positively impact farmers (Haight). Additionally, companies have begun to use the Fair Trade labeling as a ploy to expand their consumer base and their profits. In other words, the conscientious consumer will most likely purchase foods labeled Fair Trade, rather than those without the label, thus encouraging companies to place Fair Trade labels on products that only contain a small fraction of Fair Trade ingredients (Rosenthal). This “halo-effect” prevents the consumer from gaining a true grasp on whether or not a company is dedicated to alternative trade and the betterment of rural producers’ living conditions (Rosenthal). Another issue with the Fair Trade movement is the fact that the premiums paid by consumers do not go directly to the hands of the individual farmers themselves (Haight). Instead these extra dollars are funneled into the cooperatives that the farmers belong to (Haight). Within the collective, “farmers vote on how the premium is to be spent for collective use” (Haight). Moreover, the poorest farmers are generally migrant workers who do not own land, cannot join a cooperative and may lose business. Finally, cooperatives must pay large fees to become Fair Trade certified (Haight).

Fair Trade certifications have been expanding throughout recent years, leading many to question the real meaning behind the symbol. Companies realize both the ethical and profit potential of using Fair Trade cocoa beans. Consumers with a desire to make clear conscience choices are more likely to purchase expensive Fair Trade brands, giving these companies a chance to gain profit while also making a difference.

Theo Chocolate endeavors to incorporate ethics into their cocoa bean purchases by following the Fair Trade guidelines. The mission of Theo Chocolate is to, “make the world a better place” by “bringing out the best in the cocoa bean” by understanding the connection between the “cacao farmer in the Congo” and “the chocolate lover in Philadelphia” (Theo Chocolate). Theo Chocolate vaguely outlines how Fair Trade works in practice on their website, stating that a certification ensures that, “producers have been paid a price that enables positive economic growth for the individual and the region” (Theo Chocolate). The company does not address the issues many have with Fair Trade foods, but instead takes great care to present their product as a healthy option by stating the high amount of antioxidants within the bar as well as the potential for dark chocolate to combat high blood pressure, inhibit inflammation and increase blood flow to the brain (Theo Chocolate). They also publicize the organic and non-GMO nature of their chocolate as a way to tap into the segment of consumers who choose not to eat foods grown with “synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers” or genetically modified organisms (Theo Chocolate).

Theo Chocolate bars feature a delicate drip of chocolate covering the additional ingredients in their products. This simplistic imagery adds to Theo Chocolate’s commitment to producing a pure product.

Askinosie Chocolate also strives to improve the lives of rural cocoa bean farmers with their products, but does so in a manner different from Theo Chocolate. On the Askinosie website, the company’s mission is to, “craft exceptional chocolate while serving our farmers, customers, our neighborhood, and one another, striving in all we do to leave whatever part of the world we touch better for the encounter” (Askinosie Chocolate). Essentially the company seeks a balance between creating delicious chocolate products and helping to improve the current state of the world. The company claims to do this by participating in direct trade practices, allowing for face-to-face encounters between Askinosie and each individual farmer who grows their cocoa beans (Askinosie Chocolate). According to Askinosie, direct trade results in superior products than Fair Trade for many reasons. First, the farmers that the company employs are held to the high quality standards of Askinosie, rather than a middleman, or broker (Askinosie Chocolate). Secondly, the origins of the cocoa beans are 100 percent traceable, as each farmer is held responsible for their supply (Askinosie Chocolate). Lastly, the farmers receive significantly higher compensation as compared to Fair Trade prices because there is no middleman receiving a cut and Askinosie pays far higher per-ton than standard Fair Trade companies (Askinosie Chocolate). Due to the close relationship the company develops with their producers, these individual farmers are even aided in creating their first bank accounts and are provided with Askinosie’s financial statements, in the farmer’s own language, so as to understand where their profits come from (Askinosie Chocolate).

Askinosie Chocolate bars feature pictures of individuals who grow their cacao. This gives consumers the ability to easily imagine the faces of the farmers that receive their money in return for their crop.

Askinosie and Theo Chocolate take pride in the origin of their respective products and also their bean-to-bar chocolate making processes. The Askinosie beans come from Davao, Philippines, Mababu, Tanzania, Cortés, Honduras and San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador and each have their own rich history (Askinosie Chocolate). On the other hand, Theo Chocolate imports cocoa beans from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Ecuador (Theo Chocolate). Askinosie Chocolate features each step of their “70-Step Process” on their website while Theo Chocolate outlines in detail the five steps the beans go through once they enter their factory (Theo Chocolate)(Askinosie Chocolate). The packaging on Askinosie chocolate bars features photos of the farmers themselves, along with a description of where they are from. This helps to create a feeling of intimacy between the consumer and the producer, while also presenting a face and reason for the high mark-ups of the bars, when compared to the relative low prices of Hershey’s and Mars bars (Askinosie Chocolate). Alternatively, Theo Chocolate utilizes simple packaging with a colorful font and an image of the fresh ingredients to come inside the wrapper. This gives the consumer a taste of what to expect and serves as a signal for the quality of the candy bar, while providing a reason for the higher prices compared to other candy bars (Theo Chocolate).

While both companies do well to follow their mission and create a world with ethical methods of production and a higher standard of living for those in poverty, they may not be meeting this goal to the same degree of success. Askinosie Chocolate provides a great deal of information to the consumer about how direct trade positively impacts the lives of farmers at the micro level while Theo Chocolate does not. They do present their products as beneficial to society, but do not choose to truly reveal how their Fair Trade practices impact individual farmers abroad. Both companies do, however, source their cocoa beans from areas free of slavery and make products far healthier than many of their competitors in the chocolate market. Overall, I think products such as these, that require a consumer to consider the far-reaching implications of their purchases, will help to create a more just world, but that does not mean that these practices cannot be improved upon.

Works Cited:

Abbott, Phillip. Purdue University. International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium, April 2003. Web. 2 May 2015.

Askinosie Chocolate. Askinosie Chocolate, 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.

Haight, Colleen. “The Problem with Fair Trade Coffee”. Stanford University. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2011. Web. 2 May 2015.

MarketsandMarkets. “Global Chocolate Market worth $98.3 Billion by 2016”. MarketsandMarkets, 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.

“Mission/Values”. Fair Trade USA., 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.

Off, Carol. Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet. New York: The New Press, 2006. Print.

Raghavan, Sudharsan and Sumana Chatterjee. “A Taste of Slavery”. UCSD. Knight Ridder Newspapers, 24 June 2001. Web. 2 May 2015.

Rosenthal, Jonathon. “Fair Trade: The Long Journey That Informs the Current Reality”. Fair World Project. For a Better World, 2012. Web. 2 May 2015.

Ryan, Orla. Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying For Cocoa in West Africa. London : Zed Books, 2011. Print.

Theo Chocolate. Theo Chocolate, 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.






The Desire for Chocolate: Embracing or Rejecting the Female Chocolate “Craving” in Chocolate Advertisements

The market for chocolate is extremely large and growing, with a projected $98.3 billion dollars in global sales for 2016, leaving chocolate companies in a competition for dominance (Omar). In today’s society, chocolate bars are often considered delicacies to be consumed as a tool of escape and pleasure, helping to increase chocolate’s popularity. Often individuals claim that their consumption of chocolate comes from an insatiable craving (Benton). In a Canadian study, around 97% of women, compared to 68% of men, reported cravings for chocolate either as a source of distraction from everyday life or as a result of weakness stemming from emotional distress (Benton). Most chocolate companies advertise their products to a female audience as a way to capitalize on the stereotypical belief that women are more helpless to the allure of chocolate than men, allowing Yorkie to take the opposite approach and target the male segment of society with advertisements that promote traditional gender stereotypes of female inadequacy and weakness.

The following video shows women giving into their guilty pleasures, or insatiable cravings of chocolate, while promoting the idea that these cravings are ‘only human’ as they are intrinsic to females across the globe. While the narrator admits that women try to be perfect, she concedes that they also need to “cut themselves some slack” and give into the temptation of chocolate from time to time.

 yorkieWhile many chocolate advertisements strive to utilize the common female chocolate craving, Yorkie, a British chocolate bar founded in 1976 and owned by Nestle, chose to approach chocolate advertising in a unique manner (“Yorkie”). While the Yorkie was originally championed as “the chunkier alternative to the slimmed down Dairy Milk bars,” beginning in 2001, the company began to target a solely male consumer base through the use of print ads barring women from their product (Omar). In the advertisement provided to the right, Yorkie features their chocolate bar covered in blue, a traditionally male color, with bold, yellow and uppercase lettering. This lettering, both in the brand name and in the wording surrounding, symbolizes the robustness of the brand and the power associated with eating the product. It also serves as a warning for women to not approach the candy. The statement, “DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS” perpetuates the long-standing stereotype of feebleness in women compared to men, while “SAVE YOUR MONEY FOR DRIVING LESSONS” serves to invalidate female ability and agency. The O of the Yorkie and the tagline beneath serve to reveal that the candy bar is “NOT FOR GIRLS,” providing proof that only ‘strong men’ can handle eating the product. Each element of the packaging and wording serves to alienate the chocolate product from the female consumer in an attempt to make men comfortable with consuming chocolate themselves. It feeds the masculine stereotype that men want to be perceived as tougher and stronger than their female counterpart.


Our ad seeks to remove the overt messages banning female consumption of the Yorkie, while still allowing the Yorkie brand to cater to the male segment of the chocolate market. Thus our ad still maintains the blue wrapping of the bar and the bold, yellow lettering. On the other hand, the ad we have created seeks to dispel the need for sexism to sell a product. By using the phrase, “DO NOT FEED THE SEXISM” our ad encourages both men and women to purchase a product that does not ostracize 50 percent of the global population. In the new ad, the tagline, “It’s for everyone” opens the consumer base up to the women of the world. Additionally, the phrase, “SPEND YOUR MONEY HOW YOU WANT” embraces the western ideals of choice and individuality that are important to both men and women alike. This phrase also speaks to the male working class population that the Yorkie was originally intended for (Omar). Previous to the sexist ads employed today, commercial segments for the brand featured truck drivers enjoying a moment in their busy schedules with the candy bar (Omar).

While Yorkie’s advertising campaign may seem shocking, the ads have stood the test of time for the past fourteen years. In fact, research shows that Yorkie sales increased by 30% just 12 weeks following the launch of the campaign in 2001 (Omar). In many ways, women are left to choose between two extremes in regard to the ads. While some women may laugh at the ads, they could be construed as buying into sexism (Mills). On the other hand, if women are offended by Yorkie’s ads, they may be seen as humorless and cynical (Mills). The real problem with the campaign is that the attempts at humor fail due to gender inequality. The fact remains that men and women are not considered equal in society, as seen by the wage gap, causing Yorkie advertisements to leave a sour taste in many people’s mouths. As Yorkie continues production, those in charge of branding may want to think about re-strategizing their print ads so as to attract more women to their brand, and grow in sales.

Works Cited:

Omar, Zain. “How Sexism Increased Sales for Yorkie”. Evidence Based Marketing. 12 June 2011. Web. 9 April 2015.

Mills, Sarah. “Third Wave Feminist Linguistics and the Analysis of Sexism”. Sheffield Hallam University. n.d. Web. 9 April 2015.

Benton, David. “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving”. Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and the Brain. Ed. Astrid Nehlig. Boca Raton: CRC Press LLC, 2004. Print.

“Yorkie”. Nestle. n.d. April 9 2015.



DoveChocolateTV. “DOVE Chocolate “Only Human” TV Commercial”. Online Video Clip. YOUTUBE. Youtube, 23 July 2010. Web. 9 April 2015.

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Sugar as a Gateway to Energy and Employment: The Benefits of Increased Sugar Consumption in England

Although added sugars make up about 13 percent of the typical American’s caloric intake, the prevalence of sugary foods and drinks in the human diet is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history (Ervin). In fact, around 150 years ago, around 85 percent of Englishmen lived on a diet of a single starch supplemented by a small selection of other foods and lived with the constant threat of hunger (Mintz 13). The increase in sugar supply from the British colonies to England beginning in the mid 17th century gave the nation a taste for sugar, caused sugar consumption to explode, meal preparation time to decrease drastically and allowed for women to more easily enter the workforce.

Human beings have always had an innate taste for sweetness, which was satisfied by products other than sugar cane and sugar beets before their introduction to the masses (Allsop 513). Before sugar plantation proprietors began to heavily import their products from the New World back to Europe, the English people consumed honey as a means to thwart their craving for sweetness (Counihan 92). Honey was so popular that the intake level of this sweetener, “at various times during history may well have rivaled our current consumption of refined sugar” (Allsop 513). Thus, sugar was not always a major component in the typical British diet, but was transplanted into the diet by first making its way into the preferences of the wealthy and elite.

Before sugar’s astronomical rise in popularity, honey was the main source of sweetness in England

While honey was the ubiquitous sweetener before the 18th century, those in power sought the status of gaining access, paying high prices and displaying sugar in their homes, a process subsequently emulated by those in lower classes, eventually making sugar an essential good of the entire population (Mintz 154). Sugar began to infiltrate the ranks of the common man as prices fell 70 percent between 1645 and 1680 C.E., giving rise to a nation fueled by simple sugars (Mintz 160). The demand for sugar was high, and the plantation owners in the British colonies artificially created this demand with their continuous influx of supply. Although prices fluctuated throughout the 18th century, the driving demand of those back in England kept production levels on the rise, and expanded the regions where sugar was grown (Mintz 160). According to Mintz, “the popularization of sucrose, barely begun in 1650, brought some of it into the hands of even the very poor within a century; then between 1750 and 1850, it…became a necessity” (Mintz 161). In other words, as the common man sought the luxury of sugar originally reserved for the elite, those in charge of production used this opportunity to deliver their product to individuals from every walk of life within society.

This is an illustration of the Richmond Estate in Jamaica. The British proprietor of the land, John Shelton, made a great deal of money by exporting sugar back to the people in England. Proprietors, like Shelton, aided in giving England a taste for sugar

The increases in the supply and the decreases in price of sugar during both the 17th and 19th  centuries led to subsequent increases in the number of ways sugar was consumed in England. Throughout the history of western cuisine, those with money tended to eat protein-rich foods like meat, fish and poultry (Mintz 193). These foods took a great deal of time to prepare and were not calorically dense (Mintz 193). Sucrose, on the other hand, was extremely high in calories and required little to no preparation. Sweetened preserves, for example, did not spoil easily and were considered pleasing to children’s tastes (Mintz 130). This increased the appeal of sugar as a food, especially for the working classes, who had little time to eat in their industrial society and sought foods with a high energy–to–cost ratio (Mintz 130). Because of this shorter preparation time, women, traditionally in charge of cooking for their household, could then enter the labor force and provide financially for their families (Mintz 130). This coincided with the advent of industrial technologies and an increased demand for female workers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Sugar offered a cheap and satisfying meal to the British people, without the need to sacrifice hours of time during the cooking process.

Jams and preserves, made possible through the use of sugar, allowed for quick meals for all members of the family unit. These preserves also made it possible for the female head of household to work longer hours and provide a second source of income.

Works Cited:

Mintz, Sidney. Sweetness and Power. New York: Penguin Books, 1985. Print.

Counihan, Carole and Penny Van Esterik, eds. Food and Cuisine. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2013. Print.

Ervin, R. Bethene and Cynthia L. Ogden. “Consumption of Added Sugars Among U.S. Adults, 2005-2010”. CDC, May 2013. Web. 12 March 2015.

Allsop, Karen A. and Janette Brand Miller. “Honey Revisited: a reappraisal of honey in preindustrial diets”. British Journal of Nutrition (1996): 513-520. Web. 12 March 2015.

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Ceremonial Cacao: The Permeation of Chocolate in Mesoamerican Celebration as the Setting for European Influence

For the people within the ancient Maya and Aztec civilizations, chocolate served as a tool to bring humans closer to a higher power. The sacred nature of chocolate ensured its utilization during countless rituals and celebrations in Mesoamerica. The prevalent use of chocolate by the Maya and Aztec people was no mystery to the Europeans, whose exposure to the beverage at banquets and ceremonies was a driving force in the adoption of chocolate consumption overseas and eventually around the globe.

This Maya representation of the two gods Chac and IxChel exchanging Cacao provides evidence for the mesoamerican idea of divinity in Chocolate. This god-worthy substance therefore found a special place in many Maya and Aztec ceremonies, where Europeans first tried the beverage

Chocolate was commonly used in offerings to gods, such as the Sovereign Plumed Serpent, as well as in human sacrifices (Dillinger et al 2058s). Cacao was widely considered a food of the gods, depicted in many Maya creation stories as a divine gift. In one Maya creation story, cacao was given to humans by the god, Sovereign Plumed Serpent, directly after humans were created from maize (Dillinger et al 2057s). Before a human sacrifice would occur, the individuals awaiting death would consume a chocolate beverage for “comfort” (Dillinger et al 2058s). Banquets, during annual festivals and in honor of distinguished guests, featured large quantities of chocolate as well (Dillinger et al 2058s). Spanish Friars and colonists experienced these events within the Aztec Empire, and wrote first hand accounts of what they witnessed, presenting the European world with the wonder of chocolate.

Those who were awaiting sacrifice were often provided with Chocolate as a comforting elixir.

From the earliest European accounts of life in New Spain, it is apparent that chocolate was present for many of the initial meetings between the Spanish and the Aztec people. As a gift of hospitality, the Mesoamerican people offered chocolate to visitors, including Hernán Cortés and Fray Bartolome de las Casas, introducing the European explorers to a taste they had never experienced before. One of Hernán Cortés’ men noticed the powers associated with drinking chocolate stating, “this drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world…” (Coe and Coe 84). This statement was published in Venice in 1556, helping to bring the myth of chocolate to a European audience. Similarly, Fray Bartolome de las Casas sheds a light on the taste of chocolate as witnessed at “the emporer’s banquet,” stating “the drink is water mixed with a certain flour made from…cacao. It is very substantial, very cooling, tasty, and agreeable, and does not intoxicate” (Coe and Coe 96). Spanish women were also partially responsible for the adoption of chocolate in Europe, as some of these women were provided with “chocolate served in golden goblets” during a huge banquet in 1538 at the Great Plaza of Mexico and reportedly became, “addicted to the black chocolate” (Coe and Coe 114). Cortés and his men, de Las Casas, and a number of Spanish women began to experience the Spanish taste for chocolate in the new world, and seeking the taste back home as well.

Following Cortes’ arrival in the New World, he comes across ambassadors of Motecuhzoma II, who warn him to turn back, but eventually Cortes’ and his men are welcomed by Motecuhzoma II with a banquet. The banquets of Motecuhzoma II commonly featured chocolate, as he had a great store of Cacao beans. This is an example of European introduction to the taste of chocolate.

Today, the influence of cacao use during Mesoamerican rituals and celebrations can be seen throughout the world. The first documented introduction of chocolate as a beverage in Spain occurred in 1544 when Kekchi Maya nobles met with Prince Philip (Dillinger 2059s). Within a century, demand for chocolate spread to France, England and other European countries (Dillinger 2059s). Today, chocolate is a global entity consumed in mass proportions. In the United States alone, chocolate sales exceeded 20.6 billion dollars in 2014 (“Statistics and facts on the chocolate industry”). The existence of this enormous market for chocolate has its origins in Mesoamerica, and can be attributed to the sharing of chocolate between the Aztec people and the Spanish explorers before the conquest of the Aztec Empire.

Works Cited:

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

“Statistics and facts on the chocolate industry”. Statistica (2013). 1-92. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Dillinger, Teresa L. et al. “Food of the Gods: Cure for Humanity? A Cultural History of the Medicinal and Ritual Use of Chocolate”. The Journal of Nutrition 130 (2000). 20572- 2072s. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. http(Photo 1) (photo 2) (photo 3)