All posts by mfraschilla

Comparing Brands and Products Found at Chain Stores

As we’ve discussed this semester, throughout history, chocolate has grown from a form of currency in Mesoamerica, to a drink for the elite in Europe, into the solid form we know and love today that makes up the chocolate industry that brings in an estimated 110 billion dollars every year, according to “Cocoa-nomics”, a CNN article that is apart of their CNN Freedom Project. This industry is made up of large manufacturing companies, such as Hershey and Mars, chocolatiers (who use already-made chocolate to create something new), and craft chocolate makers, who are small companies and are usually bean-to-bar manufacturers. All three types produce chocolate that is, in most cases, distributed nationally, or even internationally, but there are a few companies that only sell locally. Most big name chain stores like CVS, Wal-Mart, and 7-11 carry only the chocolate made by the “big five” manufacturing conglomerates: Hershey, Mars, Ferrero, Cadbury, and Nestle, and possibly a few various other smaller, yet still internationally recognizable, brands. One would be hard-pressed to find chocolate from craft chocolate manufacturers in big chain stores, however, some national stores that pride themselves on stocking smaller, more socially conscious brands, such as Whole Foods and Central Market, will carry products from these craft chocolate companies. My goal was to analyze the selection of chocolate that a local brand name store, in this case CVS, carried and what kinds of different aspects of each brand I noticed when looking at them.

Walking into a chain store like CVS, it is easy to spot the candy aisle with a broad assortment of candies, and more specifically, chocolates that people have come to be familiar with. At first glance, there are dozens of options for one to choose from, whether it is Kit Kat, Milky Way, Toblerone, or one of many other choices offered; however, after a quick glance at the back of the wrapper, it is possible to see that almost all of the available choices are all made by the same two or three companies. Milky Way, Twix, Three Musketeers, Dove, and M&M are all manufactured by Mars Inc., while Kit Kat, Reese’s, Whoppers, Symphony, and others are manufactured by Hershey. That represents a large portion of chocolate that people consume, and it’s all made by only two companies, so while there is an illusion of choice when it comes to chocolate, it is an industry consistently dominated by two or three companies. The companies that have established themselves as the major players in the chocolate industry have, without coincidence, been in business since the very early days of solid chocolate, and in some cases like Nestle and Lindt, have invented the processes that made some of the products that are popular today possible. Hershey and Mars have a long history between them, and actually used to be allies before becoming big rivals in the industry. In The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars, by Joël Glenn Brenner, he details the little known trading of information between the two companies during World War II which changed the chocolate landscape forever. Hershey sent technology and information to Mars (for M&M’s) in order to help them manufacture for the military, but Mars “exploited the opportunity. Brenner notes that, “Few people outside the industry are aware of this part of M&M’s success. Neither company is quick to advertise it. But the truth is, the histories of these two industry rivals are closely intertwined,” and goes on to make the bold claim that, “one could argue that Mars would not have succeeded without Hershey, and vice versa” (Brenner 48).


While the “big five” companies have been around for close to a century, if not longer, last few decades has brought about the rise of craft chocolate makers, who also benefit from the rise of both social and health consciousness. While each company has a different reason for doing what they do, craft companies have caught on with customers who strive to make an impact on changing how the chocolate and food industry treats both laborers and the environment. A Washington Post article detailed the founding of several different craft chocolate companies and the reasons behind each, and each had different motivations for why they decided to start making chocolate. Adam Kavalier, who launched Undone Chocolate with his wife, wanted to merge his knowledge of science with his love for chocolate. According to the article, Kavalier, who has a PhD in plant biochemistry, “started looking at the chemical makeup of chocolate using a process called mass spectrometry. He has placed an emphasis on antioxidants and on determining how the type of bean and the way it’s treated affect the amount of antioxidants that end up in the chocolate.” He took his expertise from his educational background and turned it into a successful craft chocolate company. Another example from the Washington Post article was that, “When Colin and Sarah Hartman, the married co-founders of Concept C, decided to launch their brand, they had a different health interest in mind: that of the rain forests in Sarah’s native Brazil.” They both were in graduate school together at Penn, Sarah for sustainability, Colin for business, and came up with an idea to use chocolate to help create environmental sustainability and restoration of the rain forests in Brazil, where they frequently travel to do research and build their brand.

Although the same few companies make all of these popular chocolate products found in stores, one thing that is interesting to note from these different brands is how they are marketed to their target audience. For instance, although M&M’s and Dove Chocolates are both manufactured by Mars, Dove is branded as a smoother, more elegant, higher class product (which is reflected by the price point), whereas M&M’s are more of an everyman’s candy, good for any type of person or event, and it is a lower price point which goes hand-in-hand with how it is marketed. I noticed that the products that were branded with a sense of high class to them (Cadbury Chocolate, for example) were also priced higher than the standard, familiar products. The marketing and packaging of these products was one of the main factors in determining at what kind of price point they were available to consumers.

Cadbury Milk Cadbury 73.4¢/oz
Symphony Hershey 55.8¢/oz
Hershey’s Milk Hershey 53.9¢/oz
Hershey’s White Hershey 59.3¢/oz
Russell Stover Assrmt. Russell Stover 83.3¢/oz
Lindt Assorted Lindt 210¢/oz
Ghirardelli Caramel Ghirardelli 109¢/oz
Milky Way Mars 46.7¢/oz

As one can see from this chart, the companies that do a very good job of branding themselves as luxury, high class brands (i.e. Ghirardelli and Lindt), are able to price their products a little higher than normal because they have done a great job marketing their product as superior and very fine. Also to be noted from this chart is the fact that two companies that pride themselves on signature packaging, Russell Stover and Cadbury, with the packaged boxes and purple wrappers, respectively, were able to also have their prices be higher than the standard chocolate bar manufactured by Hershey’s or Mars. Those two companies, two of the biggest chocolate producers in the world, sell enough chocolate by sheer volume that they don’t depend on the higher price points in order to gain revenue, like a Ghirardelli might. This means that their packaging and branding is able to be a little more “common” and less flashy and convincing because their brands are well-known enough to sell without those things. The packaging of these products from the “big five” found in stores like CVS is very different from bars we have in class seen from smaller, craft companies. Only one bar in the store had any reference to their process for making the chocolate, and that was Ghirardelli, and none of the bars examined had any mention of where their cacao beans came from or whether or not they were from Fair Trade production.


The packaging details the process which we learned in class, from selecting beans all the way to conching, in order to get the texture and melting right on the finished product. Many craft chocolate companies include where they get their beans and advertise the fact that they value social issues like workers’ rights and the environmental impact of their manufacturing, but information on those things were nowhere to be found on the packaging of the large brands’ products. They don’t need to sell their brand on those specific things like certain craft companies do to attract a niche group of customers, so they leave it off their packaging. Despite this omission on their packaging, on and, the official websites of Mars and Hershey, respectively, they do have sections where they describe what kinds of efforts they make to ensure both environmental sustainability and human rights. In this day and age, it is demanded of companies to be open and transparent in their business practices in order to show their customers and the chocolate/food community that they are proponents of Fair Trade practices.

Wrapping up (no pun intended), I think that while there is an appearance of diversity within the chocolate, a lot of the products that people see everyday and have come to know and enjoy are really under the manufacturing umbrella of the same two or three companies. The main takeaway from the analysis of the chocolate selection at a big chain store like CVS, is that a large part of the differential in price comes from how the brand chooses to market and package its products. This is why the advertising aspect of the chocolate industry is so crucial to a company and product’s success, and also why their ads come under so much scrutiny to get them perfect. Smaller, craft companies are very likely to use their morals and values to attract a certain customer base, whereas the established, big name brands have more success playing to the strength of their brands to sell product. Overall, the products tasted a very similar quality, and the price point is really a reflection of how the companies choose to brand, market, and advertise their products.

Works Cited

Brenner, Joël Glenn. The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars. New York: Random House, 1999. Print.

Krystal, Becky. “Washington’s Craft Chocolate Industry Continues to Grow.” Washington Post 10 Feb. 2015: n. pag. Washington Post. Web.

Schumm, Laura. “The Wartime Origins of the M&M.” History Channel. N.p., 2 June 2014. Web. 6 May 2015.

Torre, Inez, and Bryony Jones. “Cocoa-nomics.” CNN. N.p., 27 Feb. 2014. Web.

Breaking Gender Stereotypes in Advertising

Advertising in general very often uses stereotypes to attract a certain target customer base to purchase their products. This is especially visible in advertising within the chocolate industry, because as we’ve seen in both in-class examples and on our own time, many companies frequently make use of gender and racial stereotypes in order to get potential customers to relate to their product and become regular consumers of it. One such way that companies pigeonhole a specific group based on perceived common traits, is the depiction of women in ads as people who are: 1) unable to control their urges for chocolate, and 2) hyper-sexualized in contexts that don’t have any relation to the product. We can see an example of this in this Magnum Chocolate Bar commercial which shows a women doing something totally unacceptable [and probably illegal], running on top of cars in traffic, just to get her hands on a chocolate ice cream bar. This notion that women have no self-control when chocolate is introduced is bad for gender roles as a whole. 

Also, as we can see in this Godiva Chocolate ad below, they use an attractive, younger woman to show how good their product is, which we can see because she is eating it in a seductive manner, which implies that consuming the product will bring immense pleasure. The caption with the ad that reads, “Every woman is one part Godiva”, just reinforces the gender stereotype that women have to have chocolate to be themselves, or to feel complete as a person, which is a negative sentiment that we tried to avoid. George Fertitta, chief executive of Margeotes, Fertitta & Partners, the New York advertising firm that created the campaign, said to the Wall Street Journal, with regards to women as a target audience, that, “A diva…feels that an indulgent lifestyle has been earned. We decided to showcase the diva as the ambassador for Godiva.” In my opinion this shows that their thinking was that women have to indulge to feel happy and feel like themselves.







What we strived to do with our own advertisement was to break this tired stereotype of women who had uncontrollable, sexualized urges for chocolate and use a different type of advertisement that played on different, more positive impacts that our product might have on people, rather than just portraying women as both an pretty object to look at, and as a group that lacks self-control when it comes to chocolate products. We decided to focus on one impact our product has on people, which is the energy it provides to the consumer, who can then use that energy to be productive with their day and even adventurous. Our ad depicts a group of middle aged people, 3 men and 2 women, out on a mountain, hiking and consuming our product. We wanted to create a new type of campaign that focused on including people from all different age groups and activity preference, and to focus on what great things you can accomplish with the satisfaction and energy you would get from consuming our product.




Works Cited


Cho, Cynthia H. “Godiva Appeals to the Diva Within.” WSJ. 13 Sept. 2004. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.




Technological Advances and the Availability of Chocolate

In the last century, the chocolate manufacturing industry has developed into not only one of the largest food industries, but industries in general, with the top five companies that produce chocolate netting a combined $64 billion in 2014 (International Cocoa Organization). This sort of economic success requires making the chocolate products widely available and cheap, in order to cater to a wide enough customer base, which is a stark contrast against the majority of the history of chocolate in the world. In the early days of chocolate in western culture (i.e. 16th– early 19th century), chocolate was very limited in its production and consumption, usually accessible to only the highest classes of society. This was mainly due to the fact that sugar was very hard to come by during this time, before the mass harvesting of sugar cane in the Caribbean, so the sweet chocolate craved by people was not widely available. Once sugar became an everyday commodity due to the triangular trade route, chocolate also began to be produced for cheaper, which meant more people were able to consume it. The demand for chocolate skyrocketed and companies had to innovate in order to keep up with it. There were a few key processes and inventions that rapidly changed the chocolate industry, eventually into the multi-billion dollar industry it has become today.

First, in 1828 Conrad Van Houten invented the cocoa press, which was designed to squeeze out the cocoa butter from the bean, leaving the cocoa powder behind without the fat. This made the cocoa have a smoother consistency, milder taste, and along with the Industrial Revolution that was occurring simultaneously, allowed it to be produced much easier. But this invention, and the process that came with it called “dutching” (a reference to Van Houten’s native country), would lead to J.S. Fry and Sons’ own innovation that produced the first modern edible chocolate. It required Van Houten to add alkali metals to the chocolate to make it more soluble with the water, but that made it less nutritious than regular, non-dutched chocolate (Michael Gregor, M.D.).

In 1847, the grandson of Joseph Fry, Francis Fry, discovered a process that allowed him to replace some of the removed cocoa butter back into the cocoa powder, while adding sugar, creating a paste-type substance, which was then put into molds in order to harden. This became the first modern chocolate bar, or “eating chocolate”, as he called it. Up to this point, the process of “conching” had not yet been invented by Rodolphe Lindt, so Fry’s chocolate bars were still very rough, rather than smooth like the ones we are used to today.

Conching Machine, Ghirardelli San Francisco
Conching Machine, Ghirardelli San Francisco

Finally, the last major invention that helped change chocolate into a universal product, was the process of “conching” and the machine that “conched” the chocolate. Rodolphe Lindt, a Swiss chocolatier, invented the conching method when he accidentally left a mixer containing chocolate on overnight. He realized in the morning that it created a more aromatic, smooth flavor. His machines could conch a large quantity of chocolate in a relatively short amount of time, with little to no human intervention, which made them extremely important to making chocolate so ever-present like it is today. “The conching process lasts for as little as 4–6 h to few (1–3) days” (Aidoo, Clercq, Afoakwa, Dewettinck), according to a study published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology.

Erste Conche

Works Cited

Michael Gregor, M.D. “;.
7 Nov 2012. Website.

Aidoo, R. P., Clercq, N. D., Afoakwa, E. O. and Dewettinck, K. (2014), Optimisation of processing conditions and rheological properties using stephan mixer as conche in small-scale chocolate processing. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 49: 740–746.


Sanjay Acharya. Picture. “;

ChocoSuisse: Association of Swiss Chocolate Manufacturers. “;.
24 Feb 2015. Website.


Comparing Use of Chocolate/Cacao in Mesoamerica and Baroque Europe

chocolate_houseEnglish chocolate house in the 1800’s


AN00568627_001_lCodex Féjérvary-Mayer


Are some foods more than just a way to find sustenance? Even before the Classic Maya era, cacao was viewed as one of the most important goods a person could obtain, due to its deeply held social, religious, and economic value in society. It became a staple in the Mesoamerican world, and eventually, after European explorers began to realize its strong significance to the people of the “New World”, they began to bring it back to Europe with them on their return voyages, where it gained popularity mostly among the upper class, except in England, where it was easily accessible to all people. While both the Mesoamerican and Baroque European societies enjoyed cacao, they did have a number of differences in its use and significance to the society as a whole.

The earliest traces of cacao use date back to almost 1400 BC in present-day Honduras, according to Hillary Christopher’s Cacao’s Relationship with Mesoamerican Society. The system used to trade cacao was very extensive, and in some cases, shaped the economy of a community. Cacao was farmed in the rural areas of a society, where it would be harvested and brought to the urban centers, either for trade for goods not easily accessible in the distant regions, or as a tribute to the ruler. Cacao beans were very valuable and were used as currency, as noted in a Nahuatl document we viewed in class, which described the approximate worth of cacao beans in comparison to other commodities. While very important to the economies of Mesoamerican societies, cacao was equally, if not more so, important for its use in religious and social contexts. In the Codex Féjérvary-Mayer, it shows that the Mayans believed that the cacao tree played a role in creation stories and interactions with their gods. Another social role cacao played was its role in general socialization rituals. One such ritual, called tac haa, involved a courter serving a chocolate drink to the father of a woman he wished to marry. Chocolate was usually served at fancy meals and feasts for the upper classes of society.

In Baroque Europe, only the social aspect of the chocolate carried over to general society. In countries like Spain and France, chocolate was only consumed by the upper class, who had access to other goods like sugar and spices to sweeten and adjust the taste to their liking. It was a status symbol for the wealthy. In England, before tea and coffee became mainstream, accessible products, chocolate was served in “chocolate houses”, where the citizenry would gather to discuss politics and other relevant topics. These chocolate houses became important staples in the English social scene. When it first arrived, these houses promoted this new chocolate drink for its many benefits. “Within the next decade, a slew of pamphlets appeared proclaiming the miraculous, panacean qualities of the new drink, which would boost fertility, cure consumption, alleviate indigestion and reverse ageing”, said an article documenting the history of British chocolate houses in the Telegraph, a British newspaper. This led to the explosion of popularity of chocolate in England.

While the people who first discovered the use of cacao in Mesoamerica had a plethora of uses for it, which included monetary, religious, and social purposes, both the Mesoamerican civilizations and Baroque Europe used chocolate as a tool for socialization and gathering with peers.