All posts by michaelhall01

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Chocolate consumption is prevalent among highly developed countries. These are countries that have advanced technological infrastructures and developed economies including Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland and United States. Even though developing countries produce most of the worlds chocolate, 16 of the top 20 consuming countries are developed countries in Europe (Chocolate Consuption). America is one of those top twenty countries to consume chocolate. “In 2012, American consumers spent 16 billion dollars on chocolate, ate a collective 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate, and on average, ate 12 pounds per person.” Carla. According to the International Cocoa Organization, Europeans account for nearly half of all the chocolate consumed in the world. “The average Brit, Swiss, or German will each eat around 24 pounds of chocolate a year” (Cnn freedom). Chocolate is a savory sweet consumed by millions everyday. What makes these people want to get chocolate and how do they decide how they consume their chocolate? In a study that I conducted on campus, I interviewed 10 people about their interest in chocolate. I plan to argue that people’s preferences for chocolate depend on a combination of their age and their budget.

While researching I surveyed 5 college students and 5 adults on how they purchased chocolate. I asked them “Where do you buy your chocolate?, How do you decide what chocolate to purchase?, How much are you willing to spend on chocolate?, and Is this price in your price range?”. Four out of the five college students said that they buy their chocolate from convenient stores such as Tedeshi, CVS, and Seven-Eleven. While interviewing one student, she told me that she typically buys chocolate off an instant impulse buy. Saying that there was one experience where she saw an ad on television for Reese’s peanut butter cups, which created this instant impulse or crave to go and consume this chocolate. The ad convinced her to get up and rush to the nearest CVS and five minutes later she had her Reese’s peanut butter cups which the ad made her desire. Of the five college students I surveyed four of the five were not willing to spend more than four dollars for a chocolate bar. The one student that was willing to spend more than four dollars for chocolate had a higher taste pallet than the other students. He ate chocolate for its quality and typically sought after organically made chocolate sold in stores such as Whole Foods and Cardullo’s.


The craving for chocolate that was exhibited by the student with the REESE commercial can be explained by David Benton’s research on taste buds. Benton argues in his research “those who crave chocolate tend to do so when they are emotionally distressed, although a separate dimension, whether one feels guilt, is also important. People often see chocolate as a comfort food. College students are frequently going through emotional distress and tension. Having to worry about exams and extracurricular projects a student might pick up creates a ton of pressure upon that student. This stress combined with television ad sparks a craving for chocolate. The chocolate often represents a symbol of coziness and helps to relax the consumer.

purchasing chocolate

College student purchasing Chocolate

Brands like Hershey and Mars are cheap and found at most convenient stores. College students are attracted to this easily accessible and cheap chocolate. When students get this craving for chocolate they like to go somewhere quick and convenient to consume chocolate. Due to mass production, chocolate producers can make products such as Kisses, Milky Way and Three Musketeers affordable and easily accessible for the typical college student. The typical college student wants to budget his or her money on food and is not willing to pay so much for a chocolate bar. To create mass production and low prices producers focus on the developments in “these four basic areas, preserving, mechanization, retailing and wholesale, and transportation”(Goody 72). The preservation of chocolate was a key component of how chocolate became a cheap and mass-produced sweet. Without the techniques of preservation such as “canning and artificial freezing” chocolate would spoil quickly and would not be able to be consumed (Goody 74). Canning was processed invented by Nicholas Appert in response to an “appeal of the Directoire in 1795” (Goody 74). This process sealed food contents in airtight containers. Big producers such as Hershey’s and Mars use canning to preserve chocolate sauce and chocolate syrup, which they can pour on their products. The use of machines in production has been monumental in the stages of mass production. They were capable to mass-produce quickly and efficiently. Not only were production and preservation huge factors, but also distribution became just as monumental. The process of distribution depends “upon the development of a system of transport that could shift the very large quantities of goods involved in the ready made market” (Goody 81). The transport system allowed producers to sell products globally. The products would not spoil and always be market ready without extraneous preparation keeping prices cheap and affordable.

Of the five adults whom I surveyed three of them were willing to pay more than four dollars for a chocolate bar. After asking them “How do you decide to purchase your chocolate?” I discovered that adults are more likely to invest in a higher quality chocolate. They seek to purchase organic chocolate, known for its smooth texture and rich flavor. During an interview with one of my professors I realized that his political awareness of poor wages for the farmers influenced his decision on purchasing chocolate. Due to his political awareness, his decision to purchase chocolate was always in support of companies supporting alternative trade.

Chocolate is a rich, decadent treat. People’s preferences for chocolate come from the two factors age and their budget. College students are often distressed and big time chocolate producers mass produce their chocolate creating cheap chocolate prices target this group of college kids. College students typically do not have a huge budget to be spent on snack foods. Because of this small budget, these college students look to save money by purchasing the cheap chocolate. In contrast to the college students, Adults have a higher budget and are willing to spend more for better quality chocolates. Adults look for organically made chocolate containing high chocolate content.


“Chocolate Consumption.” chocolate consumption. Web. 9 May 2014. <;.

“Who consumes the most chocolate?.” The CNN Freedom Project Ending ModernDay Slavery RSS. Web. 9 May 2014. <;.

Goody, Jack. “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine.” Food and Culture 3 (1994): 73-90. Print.

Benton, David. “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving – Health tips.” Health tips, Web. 9 May 2014. <;.

Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York, NY: Penguin, 1985. Print.

Guthman, Julie. “Fast Food/Organic Food: Reflexive Tastes and the Making of ‘Yuppie Chow’” Food and Culture: A Reader. Ed. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. New York: Routledge, 1997. 342-52. Pdf.

Who says sex sells?

Chocolate advertisers have focused on using chocolate as a sex symbol and aphrodisiac to grasps the mainstream audience. Sexual imagery in advertisement “grab attention and help position a brand”. Sexual images promote a brand with qualities of desirability, sensuality, and indulgence. These characteristics influence decisions such that the brand of chocolate equates to the desirable images of sex. The French chocolate brand advertisement uses sexual images of men working half naked in factories, they have a smooth eloquent opera sounding music in the background, and the factory has dim lighting all in hopes to set the mood and promote an pleasurable feeling with this chocolate.

On the other hand York Peppermint Patties use a woman to create sexual images for this chocolate. In this particular advertisement this women indulges in a bite of the Pattie and as this happens she begins to sweat, shake, and get big eyes in an attempt to show off an orgasmic sensation as someone bites into this Pattie. This advertisement connects to the mainstream audience by “conveying the effect that (York) will have on the user’s attractiveness to the opposite sex (Millward Brown)”. While sexual images capture mainstream attention with its direct message, it is not always positive. Sexual images have risks that come with them.

Though these ads grab a lot of attention, “the acceptability of sexually charged images varies considerably across cultures.” Some cultures could view such provocative ads as offensive. These ads can leave an unintended negative reaction even among brand users. To avoid the negative connotations of sexual ads my group made a progressive advertisement that targets chocolates primary consumers, which are woman. A UK study group ran a study and revealed 91% of all women admit to eating chocolate as opposed 87% of men admit to eating chocolate (cnn). The ad that Rachel, Oliver, and I create presents a direct message that chocolate can be represented as a source of energy and many pilots and aviators have used chocolate to sustain energy throughout long journeys. Our ad eliminates the stereotypes of women being housewives but instead highlights them in the world’s advancement. By showing Amelia Earhart after the chocolate bar, it implies that chocolate helped a woman fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Our ad gives women a since of pride. The ad sends an indirect message implying that by eating a chocolate bar woman can accomplish anything they put their mind to. Chocolate companies use chocolate and sex as advertisement to capture mainstream audiences but we present this advertisement of Amelia Earhart to promote a progressive movement and to break stereotypes by presenting a women aviator. This advertisement breaks the stereotype of men being aviators and women can do anything. Today we live in a world where both men and women are seen to be equals but chocolate companies still neglect women by selling their bodies in advertisement instead of seeking ways that chocolate can be used progress society and eliminate senseless stereotypes. 


Robertson, Emma. “Chocolate, women and empire: A Social and Cultural History.”  Manchester University Press, New York. 2009.


The Expansion of Chocolate Through the Industrial Revolution

Up until the early 1700’s chocolate was a treat for the elite and the wealthy. It was not until the mid 1700’s in which the Industrial Revolution occurred did chocolate became a treat to be mass produced and open to other consumers. The Industrial Revolution was a time of transition from harsh hands on man labor to new manufacturing processes. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and the development of machine tools. In 1775 James Watt, a Scottish inventor, entered into a partnership with businessman Matthew Boulton, which sparked the successful commercialization of Watt’s steam engine and this developed a faster process of making chocolate (Scherer 167)


Watt’s Steam Engine

Now that there were machines to produce chocolate, the production of chocolate became easier and faster and this led to producers experimenting and developing new techniques and approaches that revolutionized the texture and text of chocolate. In 1828 a chemist named Coenraad Van Houten developed a hydraulic press to press the chocolate liquor. The machine produces a fat (cocoa butter) and a cake (cocoa powder). Houten also introduced alkaline salts to chocolate, which reduced its bitterness. This pressed chocolate became known as today’s “Dutch Cocoa” and this cocoa was the fundamental element of the transformation of chocolate to a solid form. The discovery of the chocolate bar made it suitable for widespread consumption.


Chocolate Press

In 1847 by using this process an English producer named Joseph Fry created the first chocolate bar. By adding back melted cocoa butter he discovered that this helps mold chocolate creating the first chocolate bar. By purchasing a Watt’s steam engine to grind his cacao beans, Joseph Fry was able to spark the process in which chocolate became widely affordable producing mass amounts of chocolate bars for cheap (Coe and Coe 227). People could now access chocolate easier and now consume it as a food in its solid form instead of as a beverage as previously consumed. The discovery of the chocolate bar made it suitable for widespread consumption.

Another technique that revolutionized chocolate came when Henri Nestle discovered how to powder milk. From this discovery Nestle teamed up with Daniel Peter in 1875 to create the first ever milk chocolate bar. Milk chocolate was the first ever solid chocolate to have been made with milk or some form of milk. And In 1879, Randolphe Lynche invented the conche. The conche process acted as a polisher of the paticles and produced chocolate with superior aroma and melting characteristics compared to other processes used at that time (Coe and Coe 246).


The conche

The Industrial revolution with the adoption of the steam engine and hydraulic press lead to the chocolate industry expanding. Now that there were machines to produce chocolate, the production of chocolate became easier and faster. In today’s culture chocolate is no longer considered to be a delicacy but an ordinary snack to consume throughout the day. The mass consumption of chocolate today could not have occurred without the role the steam engine played on expansion of the chocolate industry.

Work Cited

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

Scherer, F.M., (1965). Invention and Innovation in the Watt-Boulton Steam-Engine Venture. Technology and Culture, Vol. 6, No. 2.

Cadbury, 2014b. The History of Chocolate. Mondelez International.

Cidell, Julie L. Constructing Quality: The multinational histories of chocolate.  Geoforum, Volume 37, Issue 6.  November 2006.

Chocolate and Its secret recipes

Some might not know this but chocolate has not always been known for its sweet taste that many of us have recognized it to have in today’s culture. Today many of us think of chocolate to have a sweet, sugary taste. But in early Classic period (460-480 ad) and throughout the 15th century chocolate was typically consumed as a frothy, bitter drink. Chocolate was in the form of a bitter beverage served either hot or cold. The first form of solid chocolate wasn’t created until the late 18th century. So for the majority of chocolate’s existence in human culture, we’ve been drinking it. “For about 90 percent of chocolate’s long history, it was strictly a beverage, and sugar didn’t have anything to do with it” (Bensen, 2008). It wasn’t until the 19th century when Europeans hybridized chocolate and added sweeteners such as sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to sweeten the flavor of chocolate.

            In the early Classic period the Mayans typically consumed chocolate as a beverage. Chocolate originates from the cacao plant. Mayans grew cacao trees in their backyards, and used the cacao seeds that the trees produced to make a frothy, bitter drink. This bitter drink was called “xocolatl” meaning bitter water. Up until the 15th century the Mayans were the only ones in contact with chocolate. By the 15th century the Aztecs had migrated and gained control over a large portion of Mesoamerica. The control of Mesoamerica allowed for the Aztecs to access and adopt cacao into their culture. During this time period, chocolate was still consumed as a beverage. In contrast to the Mayans the Aztecs typically would drink their chocolate cold and add many different spices to add flavor. The chocolate drink that the Aztec embraced was a bitter, frothy, spicy drink.

This is how Aztecs would froth the chocolate


The Aztecs seasoned their drinks with vanilla, chile, and pepper to capture that spicy taste. The Aztecs prepared chocolate in a liquid form called cacahuatl.


To make this, Aztecs would “put 3/4 cup of water or milk and the sliced green chile (including the seeds) in a pot and bring it to boiling. Let the pot boil for 5-10 minutes, so the water really takes on the chile flavor” (Sean). Next they would strain it to remove the chile and the seeds, and then put the water back in the pot. As the pot heats up, they whisk in the vanilla extract. Finally, once it’s boiling, cocoa powder would be added and whisked for about 5 minutes or so. The mixture should then froth easily. For today’s generation this drink might not be pleasurable as the hot chocolate we consume today. One might have to add a couple spoons full of sugar to enhance the flavor.

This is a video that portrays how to make this Aztec form of chocolate

            Europeans first came into contact with chocolate when the Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortes, brought it back to king Philip IV of Spain. Once brought over to Spain, the Spaniards experimented with chocolate by adding cinnamon and milk to the sugar and serving it steaming hot. The Spanish hot chocolate recipe has a sweet taste. In order to make this sweet chocolate, Spaniards would “pour the milk into a medium saucepan heat the milk on medium heat just until it boils, then remove from heat. They would then add the chocolate squares immediately and begin stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. Once chocolate is completely melted sugar would now be added. The mixture would then thicken quickly” (Sierra). As soon as it thickens, one would remove the pan from the heat successfully creating European hot chocolate. This form of chocolate is sweeter than the Aztecs and Mayans forms of chocolate and many people in today’s modern culture would find this style of chocolate pleasurable. 


Sierra, Tony. “Spanish Hot Chocolate Recipe – Chocolate Caliente.” Spanish Food. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <

Sean. “Melting Mug: Recipe – cacahuatl, the Original Hot Chocolate.” Melting Mug: Recipe – cacahuatl, the Original Hot Chocolate. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. <;.

“A Brief History of Chocolate.” Smithsonian. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

Bardi, Carla, and Alan Benson. The golden book of chocolate. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 2008. Print. Film how to make Aztec chocolate

“History of Chocolate.” World Standards, 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

Woman Frothing Chocolate Water, Etla Market