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“Not in Harry’s Name”: The Harry Potter Alliance And Its Push for Ethically Sourced Chocolate

Beyond its incredible presence in the real world, chocolate is intimately tied into our imaginations of many fictional worlds as well, especially those aimed at children. From Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Patrick Skene Catling’s The Chocolate Touch, the link between chocolate and fantasy has been made clear. And even in fantasy worlds in which chocolate does not necessarily play a central role, it can still have great significance. In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, for example, chocolate is seen as a cure to the depressed state associated with the happiness-sucking dementors, creatures that guard the wizards’ prison. It brings back feelings of warmth and happiness, and as pointed out by David Colbert in his book The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, “doctors say [chocolate] can make depressed people feel better…[and]…has some of the same effects as the medicine that doctors prescribe” (Colbert 66). We see then that though chocolate is not necessarily a key or central part of the world, it nevertheless has important value beyond just being a food commodity.

This clip from the third Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, shows the harmful effects of the dementors – meant to represent depression – and the value of chocolate, which is portrayed as an effective cure. (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2/5) Movie CLIP – Dementor on the Train (2004) HD.”)

However, in the real world chocolate has also been linked – historically and in the modern day – to forced labor and slavery, including that of children (“Chocolate’s Child Slaves”; Martin Lecture 15; Lockwood Lecture 14). Especially in recent years, there have been movements to promote ethically sourced chocolate in an effort to reduce and eventually eliminate this slavery (“International Cocoa Initiative”; Martin Lecture 18). Outside of just citing the evils of slavery, the fact that chocolate is in our minds tied to something so fundamentally good and uplifting and that brings the consumer so much joy and pleasure has been part of the push to end the use of slavery in the chocolate supply chain. Because chocolate is viewed in this way, it can be “tarnished” and “polluted” by slavery in a way that we don’t see included in the rhetoric against use of forced labor to make iPhones, for example (Gibson). To focus on one specific group, the Harry Potter Alliance’s Not In Harry’s Name campaign has linked not just the idea of the purity of chocolate but also the idea of the goodness and inspiration of the novels to help motivate their fight against slavery in order to draw people in and get thousands of fans involved. They succeeded in getting Warner Brothers to declare that all Harry Potter chocolate products would be Utz or Fair Trade certified by the end of 2015, which has been lauded as a great success by the consumers and fans. However, this should not turn to complacency, as there are still problems with Fair Trade certification and therefore the so-called “victory” may not be as thorough as hoped, and furthermore working to eliminate unethically sourced chocolate in Harry’s name alone does not account for the vast amount of chocolate produced via forced/child labor that still circulates in the rest of the industry. Moving forward, then, these are some critiques of the movement that should be tackled in order to truly push against modern slavery and for better working conditions across the board.

To go back to the connection between Harry Potter and chocolate, outside of the novels this link can be found in the products made and sold under the Harry Potter brand – specifically confections like the chocolate frogs mentioned in the books. Though there are numerous recipes for makings one’s own chocolate frogs (“Honeydukes’ Chocolate Frogs”) and though there are a few different companies that make them (“Harry Potter Chocolate Frog – 0.55 oz”), the most official version is that created by Warner Brothers, the studio that created the Harry Potter films.

Chocolate Frog

The 150 g solid milk chocolate frogs that form the bulk of the Harry Potter chocolate products, over which the “Not In Harry’s Name” was run to push Warner Brothers to use ethically sourced cocoa for these frogs (“Chocolate Frog – with Authentic Film Packaging.”)

These WB chocolate frogs are available at locations such as the  Harry Potter Theme Park at Universal Studios and the Studio Tour in London, as well as online (“Chocolate Frog – with Authentic Film Packaging.”). These frogs are one of the main food products under the Harry Potter brand, and as such are very popular. However, in 2008 concerns were raised regarding whether the 30.9% cocoa solids content of the frogs was ethically sourced (“Not in Harry’s Name”).. The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), a group that “turns fans into heroes…by making activism accessible through the power of story [to work for] equality, human rights, and literacy” (“The Harry Potter Alliance: What We Do”) created the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign to pressure Warner Brothers to investigate their sources and ensure that their Harry Potter chocolate products were Fair Trade certified.

The rhetoric surrounding this campaign focused primarily on the role that chocolate has in the Harry Potter novels and in relation to fantasy and childhood in general, the values that the novels espouse in relation to equality and justice, and the idea that child labor and unethically sourced chocolate are in fundamental contrast to these roles and values, and could in fact ruin the purity of chocolate. Through a close reading of the novels, including the points regarding the effects of chocolate against dementors, we can see an association between chocolate, purity, innocence, and happiness. The Washington Post’s article on the “Not in Harry’s Name” movement phrases it as such:

“Chocolate and candy play an important role in the Harry Potter books. After he leaves his abusive aunt and uncle to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry is boggled by the abundance of sweets his peers have access to; chocolate is a symbol of how Hogwarts will be the first place that really nourishes Harry’s body and his mind. And chocolate is big real-world business in the Harry Potter empire: You can buy Chocolate Frogs, one of the series’ signature sweets.” (Rosenberg).

Citing one of the novels mentioned earlier, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Hamida Bosmajian in 1985 similarly discussed the “pleasing associations of chocolate, whose high concentration of energy-producing compounds combined with caffeine and theobromine makes it truly a food for the gods as well as for those who, like Charlie, are empty buckets of deprivation” (Bosmajian) – as is Harry, too, prior to attending Hogwarts.

Based on these associations, statements such as those seen in this video sought to galvanize Harry Potter fans to sign a petition and protest Warner Brothers’ use of chocolate that had not been certified as ethically sourced.

This video shows a montage of clips that serve to summarize the progression of the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign and to celebrate the letter the Harry Potter Alliance received from Warner Brothers in December 2014 pledging to make Harry Potter chocolate products UTZ or Fair Trade certified. From this video, we can identify a number of comments and remarks that showcase the types of rhetoric as mentioned above. (“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”).

This video showcasing the movement included quotes such as this one from a speech at the Yule Ball in Cambridge, MA in December 2010:

Speaker: “When you are facing a dementor after a dementor attacked you what is the best thing you should eat?”

Crowd: “Chocolate”

Speaker: “But what if that chocolate was made by a child who was kidnapped from their family and forced into slavery on the Ivory Coast”


Speaker: “The chocolate would not work.”

(“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”)

The HPA Facebook page similarly made a post urging supporters to  “protect your friends and loved ones from using faulty chocolate against Dementor attacks” (“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page” 2013).

This idea that the unethical production of chocolate would sully it enough so that its beneficial effects would be lost speaks to the value that we associate with chocolate, especially so for Harry Potter fans. Another quote from the video states “It doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that something that is for children, essentially, Harry Potter chocolate, should not be sourced by children” (“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”). HPA founder Andrew Slack pushes this point by asking readers to

“Picture a 9 year old enjoying a Chocolate Frog at the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando. She is happy to be a part of JK’s Rowling’s magical world — a world that inspired in this young girl a love for reading and a commitment to human rights. Now imagine a 9 year old boy in West Africa, kidnapped and enslaved… all so that he can harvest the cocoa use to make that very chocolate frog” (Slack).

As we see from these quotes and from the books mentioned at the beginning of this post, chocolate is associated with children and children’s fantasy, and here the interesting contrast is posed between those children who have the chance to enjoy a childhood of this fantasy and consumer products associated with them, and those children who are forced to labor in order to produce the raw materials for these products.

Scholar and University of Southern California professor Henry Jenkins additionally points out that:

“The effort defines HPA members as fans of the franchise and as consumers likely to buy affiliated products, but also mobilizes content-world expertise to challenge studio decisions:

[6.5] When Hermione Granger discovers that the food at Hogwarts, chocolate included, is being made by house elves—essentially unpaid, indentured servants—she immediately starts a campaign to replace exploitation with fairness…In Harry Potter’s world, chocolate holds a unique place: it is a Muggle item with magical properties. Chocolate is featured prominently throughout the books as a powerful remedy for the chilling effects produced by contact with dementors, which are foul creatures that drain peace, hope and happiness from the world around them…It is doubtful that chocolate produced using questionable labor practices would have such positive effect, both in Harry’s world and ours. (Harry Potter Alliance 2010b)

[6.6] Rather than seeing the licensed candies as mere commodities, the HPA evaluates them according to their meaningfulness in the content world and then links their “magical” powers to the ethics of how they are produced and sold: “As consumers of Harry Potter products, we are interested in supporting and purchasing products that are true to the spirit of the Harry Potter franchise.” Throughout its campaign, the HPA holds open the prospect of a meaningful collaboration with corporate interests, but it also pledges to use boycotts and buycotts against the studio and its subcontractors.” (Jenkins)”

Ultimately, through what Andrew Slack calls “cultural acupuncture” – the “practice of mapping the fictional content world onto real-world concerns [to help] empower young people to become civically engaged and politically active” (Jenkins) – the HPA got 400,000 signatures, the support of J.K. Rowling, and finally in December 2014 a letter from Warner Brothers stating that by the end of the following year, all of their Harry Potter chocolate products would be “100 percent Utz or Fair Trade certified” (“Not in Harry’s Name: A History”).

Daily Prophet

Projecting the real-life success of the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign onto the fictional The Daily Prophet newspaper from the Harry Potter series, this image showcases the sentiments felt by members and supporters of the HPA following the letter from Warner Brothers.


The letter from Warner Brothers to Andrew Slack reveals the plan to make all their Harry Potter chocolate products Utz or Fair Trade certified by the end of 2015 – the victory that the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign had hoped for.

However, while this was lauded as a victory for the HPA, there remain issues both with the outcome and with the way the campaign was framed. The HPA blog showcases Fair Trade as a sort of panacea for ethical issues associated with chocolate and for the struggles endured by cocoa farmers, stating that Fair Trade International “[ensures] that their products are produced by people making a living wage, and are not being produced with harmful or inhumane practices such as the use of child labor” (O’Brien) and provides “fair exchanges with farmers and artisans” alike [to make] certain that there is enough money to issue better working conditions, health-care, [and] education for the children of the workers” (Simeti). However, as we learned in class Fair Trade is still quite problematic. For one, though in theory Fair Trade should eliminate child labor, because it “does not ensure a direct relationship between producers and buyers” and lacks thorough quality control there have been cases where child labor is still used on Fair Trade-certified cooperatives but has gone unnoticed (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”). Therefore, the chocolate in chocolate frogs being Fair Trade certified is not guaranteed to solve the specific problems that the HPA seems to think it will. And beyond this, in reality Fair Trade puts a “significant burden for new producers and manufacturers [who have to pay to be certified], and drains money from the sourcing relationship” (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”), making it difficult for small farmers especially. Therefore, while getting Warner Brothers to use Fair Trade certified cocoa is certainly a step in the right direction towards the goal of chocolate being ethically sourced, there is still work to be done – and the fact that the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign is portrayed as a huge success, and has been covered by many prominent media outlets, can be misleading and affect how the general public sees Fair Trade. Ultimately, a push towards Direct Trade – the sourcing model used by Taza Chocolate, which cuts out the middlemen and provides more benefits to farmers and producers – would be even more desirable (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”).

Furthermore, while the use of Harry Potter and all the emotions and values associated with it to galvanize such a huge movement of people in favor of ethically sourced chocolate was immensely creative and has had results, this should not limit the scope of the push against forced and child labor. The statements “We wanted to make sure that child slavery would no longer be carried out in Harry’s name,” “Maybe we can’t end child slavery altogether, but we can at least get Harry’s name out of it,” and “Not in Harry’s name and not in ours either” (“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page” 2015; “Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”) were helpful in promoting the movement, but problematic in that they focus too much on the consumer and the value of Harry Potter rather than condemning child slavery in general – though of course I do not think that is the message the campaign intended to send with this. Focusing on Harry Potter was simply a way of rallying this online community to fix specific problems one step at a time, but moving forward this approach needs to be broadened to protest all unethically sourced chocolate, not just those products which happen to be associated with a beloved fantasy world and the ideas of purity and childhood.

Luckily, it seems both issues mentioned here are being addressed: Walk Free, the anti-modern slavery movement that partnered with HPA in its campaign, is “designing and propagating a new certification for slavery-free supply chains” and Slack “hopes to use Warner Bros.’ decision to pressure other chocolate chains, such as Hershey and Nestle, and mobilize fans of other franchises” (Rosenberg). As Slack said,

“If ‘Harry Potter’ [as a franchise] were to be in alignment with the values of Harry Potter [himself], it could be a real symbolic and coherent victory… [Harry Potter] represents righteousness, nobility, love, so much beauty and a place of safety that people go to, and moral authority. If the ‘Harry Potter’ brand were to move something like fair trade, it would be making a statement that not only is the ‘Harry Potter’ brand a cut above the rest but that [other franchises] have to catch up to it.”

Jenkins, too, sees potential here beyond just this one campaign, identifying that HPA is “developing messaging tools that can be adapted to any number of causes, rather than identifying campaigns and then developing strategies for them” and suggesting that “‘In some ways, the flexibility of what the Harry Potter Alliance is doing is very useful…It can form new kinds of alliances, it can again evolve over time as the cultural references change’” (Ibid.). And in the broader scheme of things, “the cocoa campaign proves that the impact of Rowling’s novels isn’t limited to the pleasure it gives readers, or to a win in a single campaign for more ethical chocolate” (Ibid.).

Overall, we see a very interesting situation play out here where consumers have really taken control and, through their personal associations with the Harry Potter series, its values, and the role of chocolate in it, have fought back against unethical labor conditions. This is truly a fan-based internet movement, and can be seen as proof that online mobilizing really can have real-life effects. While the HPA was successful in getting Warner Brothers to make their chocolate products Fair Trade certified, however, we see that there are still problems with this “victory” – and moving forward, we certainly hope to see a push for more direct, regulated supply chains that truly do benefit the producers and others who historically have gotten the short end of the stick. And while “Not in Harry’s Name” has been a great movement in terms of bolstering people to care about these issues, we should turn to protesting unethical chocolate simply because it is unethical.

Works Cited

Bosmajian, Hamida. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other excremental visions.” The Lion and the Unicorn 9 (1985): 36-49. <>.

“Chocolate Frog – with Authentic Film Packaging.” Warner Bros Studio Tour London. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Web. <>.

“Chocolate’s Child Slaves.” The CNN Freedom Project Ending ModernDay Slavery. Cable News Network. Web. <>.

Colbert, David. The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts. Wrightsville Beach, NC: Lumina, 2001.

Gibson, Carl. “How the IPhone Helps Perpetuate Modern-Day Slavery.” The Huffington Post., 11 Sept. 2014. Web. <>.

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2/5) Movie CLIP – Dementor on the Train (2004) HD.” YouTube. 26 May 2011. Web. <>.

“Harry Potter Chocolate Frog – 0.55 Oz.” Jelly Belly Candy Company. Web. <>.

“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery.” YouTube, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. <>.

“Honeydukes’ Chocolate Frogs.” Web. <>.

“International Cocoa Initiative.” International Cocoa Initiative Foundation. Web. <>.

Jenkins, Henry. “”Cultural acupuncture”: Fan activism and the Harry Potter Alliance.” Transformative Works and Cultures 10 (2011). Web. <>.

Lockwood, Sarah. AAAS 119x Lecture 14: Exploiters or Exploited? Cocoa Production in West Africa. 23 Mar. 2015.

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 15: Modern day slavery. 25 Mar. 2015.

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 18: Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/Globalization. 6 Apr. 2015.

“Not In Harry’s Name.” YouTube, 29 Jan. 2012. Web. <>.

“Not in Harry’s Name: A History.” The Harry Potter Alliance. Storify, Jan. 2015. Web. <>.

O’Brien, Kara. “Organic versus Fair Trade.” The Harry Potter Alliance. 31 May 2011. Web. <>.

Rosenberg, Alyssa. “How ‘Harry Potter’ Fans Won a Four-year Fight against Child Slavery.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 13 Jan. 2015. Web. <>.

Simeti, Angelia. “How Fair Trade Chocolate Can Help.” The Harry Potter Alliance. 10 May 2011. Web. <>.

Slack, Andrew. “Accio Sunlight!” The Huffington Post., 23 Jan. 2013. Web. <>.

“The Harry Potter Alliance: What We Do.” The Harry Potter Alliance, 2014. Web. <>.

“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page.” Facebook. 13 Jan. 2015. Web. <>.

“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page.” Facebook. 24 Mar. 2013. Web. <>.

“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?.” TAZA Chocolate. Web. <>.

But Who Actually Gets It?: The Consumer-Producer Disparity in Advertising Representation

In the world of chocolate sales, advertising is everything. Companies try to develop brand loyalty through customers who will promote their chocolate effectively from “cradle to grave” (Martin Lecture 13). The problem with such chocolate ads as that shown below for Nutella is not just that they posit the idea of chocolate being universally desired – which, though not the case, is perhaps justifiable given that this is after all advertising  – but that they gives the implication that this product is available and accessible to everyone, ignoring the state of affairs in many of the places where cocoa is grown. For example, Africa produces 75% of the world’s cacao but only consumes 3% of its chocolate (Martin Lecture 14). Essentially, this advertisement is part of a trend that focuses exclusively on the consumer and their experience, because those are the people buying their products and in order to sell chocolate the companies want consumers to be able to put themselves into the shoes of those they see eating chocolate in the ads. Furthermore, through this manner the companies are also able to avoid addressing issues of sourcing which could potentially harm their sales if consumers see the direct connection between any unethical practices they might be involved in and the food they are purchasing.1 In contrast, the ad we created in response is not promoting any particular company, but rather is simply meant to draw attention to those who make the production of chocolate possible yet often take little share of the profits, and in many cases work under harsh conditions – the cocoa farmers in West Africa. In focusing on the state of the producers rather than the contentment of the consumers, our ad places itself within a growing trend of concern about ethical chocolate sourcing. Thus it is a reflection of much of the conversation regarding chocolate today.

An advertisement for Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread that portrays the desires and experiences of the consumer.
An advertisement for Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread that portrays the desires and experiences of the consumer.

Created by graphic designer college student Chee Aki in Ha Noi, Vietnam in June of 2011, the original advertisement displays a girl with Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread smearing around her mouth and a jar of Nutella balanced on her head (Aki). The girl appears to  be relatively young, with a backpack hanging off of one shoulder – likely a high school or college student.  Though the girl depicted does not look overly model-like, nevertheless we see her sexualized in a way that we have seen in many other chocolate advertisements that include women, portraying the idea that women have urges and cannot control themselves around chocolate (Robertson 35). Advertising can be said to be fundamentally based on imagination – when viewing someone on screen thoroughly enjoying a bite of chocolate, it is the fact that we can imagine ourselves in their place that makes our mouth water in anticipation of also eating that chocolate. The purpose of this advertisement therefore appears to be to promote the idea of eating of chocolate as very desirable, so viewers of the ad can imagine themselves in the place of the girl depicted and then hopefully buy chocolate to satisfy the resultant cravings. It “ignores the history behind the creation of what is now known as ‘chocolate’ from the cocoa bean….[instead it taps] into popular western understandings of the commodity as luxurious, hedonistic and sensual” (Robertson 3). Though there is no full narrative arc depicted, the emotions played on by this advertisement are those related to desire, fully centered on the consumer experience.

Such a portrayal – and especially the words “everyone wants it” – can be seen as problematic as they imply not just that the product is universally desired, but in a way also that it could be seen as universally accessible, when in fact we know that to not be true. Taking Nutella as an example, while the cocoa used for the product is produced and supplied from Nigeria, there are no factories or main sales offices anywhere near the West Africa region, suggesting that the product is perhaps limited in its availability there (Ferdman).

This map of the global value chain of Nutella shows the disparity and uneven distribution between where the cocoa is produced and supplied from and where it is processed and sold.

To push back against the Nutella advertisement, we created an image that draws focus to the cocoa producers unacknowledged in and not targeted by the first advertisement. Using an image produced by Nutella itself of the world’s continents made out of bread and coated with the chocolate spread – again problematic as it implies Nutella is equally present throughout the world – we placed images of West African cocoa farmers in that region on the map, to draw attention to their role. While some of the portrayed workers appear content, if not perhaps particularly wealthy, we also have an image of a child identified by Henrik Ipsen and the Huffington Post to be a child slave forced to work in cocoa production, and through this we highlight the worst problems with the cocoa supply chain (Gregory). In answer to the problematic statement from the original advertisement, “everyone wants it,” we reply with the follow up question “but who actually gets it?,” again underlining the production, consumption, and overall economic disparity between those who make cocoa and those who get to eat it. We created an ad that supports wider acknowledgement of these issues and, we hope, would help inspire action against them.

Our advertisement drawing attention to the producers of raw cocoa, including those who are child slaves
Zoomed-in version of our advertisement
Zoomed-in version of our advertisement

Luckily, there has in recent years especially been increasing focus on these producers and the issues with the current supply chain, though often outside of the big chocolate companies, and our advertisement is therefore part of this trend (Martin Lecture 18). One interesting and perhaps unconventional example of this is the work done by the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), an activist group working against human rights violations. As recently as this past December 2014, after four years of campaigning they succeeded in having Warner Brothers, the company that produces Harry Potter chocolate products, announce that they would make all of those products with UTZ or Fair Trade certified cocoa (Rosenberg). Their campaign video here shows similar representations of forced child labor to what we see in our advertisement, and therefore is also part of the growing trend that takes a critical look at cocoa sourcing.

This video was part of the Harry Potter Alliance’s campaign for Warner Brothers to use ethically sourced cocoa in their Harry Potter chocolate products.

We certainly see increased focus on the producers and their well-being as a positive shift – however, this does not come without any further issues. Though the HPA’s campaign is an example of consumer-driven activism, and though “studies indicate that more U.S. consumers would be willing to purchase products at a premium if they were aware of the child labor concerns at stake in the supply chain” (Baradaran and Barclay),  there are many different actors who could take up the mantel, so picking who should represent these issues can be difficult – there is pressure for regulation by law, the companies, and/or the industry itself (Martin Lecture 18). Furthermore, there are critiques with this countermovement in so much as that some certifications such as Fair Trade, for example, may help eliminate some of the worst forms of child slavery but may not actually end up alleviating the more widespread problems of poverty in cocoa-producing regions (Martin 18). This, then, is a problem that stems from our current advertisement – drawing attention to the issues is certainly necessary, but there is still much to do in moving forward. Overall, though, pushing against the mainstream trend of focusing on consumers and their experience alone is one which will hopefully move the cocoa supply chain and industry as a whole in the right direction.

  1. Although this is a possible explanation, I don’t think it is as strong as the one I am advancing so I will not be dealing with it in this post, but anyone interested in the relations of big chocolate to labor issues can look at and, among other sources. From these, we see that chocolate companies have been against regulations that would force them to have to label their chocolate fair trade, as they would largely be unable to comply and therefore their product might be seen as tainted by conscientious consumers.


Baradaran, Shima, and Stephanie Barclay. “Fair Trade and Child Labor.” Columbia Human Rights Law Review 43.1 (2011). Web. <>.

Ferdman, Roberto A. “A Map of All the Countries That Contribute to a Single Jar of Nutella.” Quartz. 11 Dec. 2013. Web. <>

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 13: The rise of big chocolate and the race for the global market. 11 Mar. 2015.

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 14: Exploiters or Exploited? Cocoa Production in West Africa. 23 Mar. 2015.

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 18: Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/Globalization. 6 Apr. 2015.

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

Rosenberg, Alyssa. “How ‘Harry Potter’ Fans Won a Four-year Fight against Child Slavery.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 13 Jan. 2015. Web. <>.

“Not In Harry’s Name.” YouTube. YouTube, 29 Jan. 2012. Web. <;.

“Nutella Is Turning 50 in 2014.” Nutella® Stories. Nutella, 2014. Web.<>

Images (In order of appearance)

Aki, Chee. “Nutella Advertising.” Behance. Adobe Systems Incorporated, 4 June 2011. Web. <>.

Ferdman, Roberto A. “A Map of All the Countries That Contribute to a Single Jar of Nutella.” Quartz. 11 Dec. 2013. Web. <>

To create our own advertisement:

“Nutella Is Turning 50 in 2014.” Nutella® Stories. Nutella, 2014. Web. <>

“International Day of Rural Women.” The Frog Blog UK Ireland. Rainforest Alliance, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. <>.

Gregory, Amanda. “Chocolate and Child Slavery: Say No to Human Trafficking This Holiday Season.” The Huffington Post., 31 Oct. 2013. Web. <>.

“Family Life.” The Story of Chocolate. National Confectioners Association’s Chocolate Council. Web. <;.

Our Sweet Spot: America, Chocolate, and Industrialization as viewed through Commercials

Despite the long history of cacao and indeed even of European associations with cacao products since the fifteenth century, the rise of what we today think of as chocolate occurred only around 100 years ago and hinged on the successes of the “emperors of chocolate” – small confectionary businesses that within a short time became massive companies. The role of industrialization and mass production in this development of modern chocolate, as well as the production of a consumer market, is epitomized by the Hershey’s Kiss commercials that continue to grace TV screens and the internet. Commercials such as this and others which can be seen here have aired in recent years, at a time when many people are increasingly seeking out organic, locally sourced foods. The focus on the inner workings of the Hershey’s factories, then, shows the level to which such companies as Hershey’s associate with their roots stemming from developments in industrial production, and also speaks to the fact that Americans are comfortable with this image of mass-production at least in relation to some foods.

 The Hershey’s Kisses “Off to Work We Go” represents the role of industrialization and production lines in chocolate making by big companies.

While showing the process of a Kiss being created, the advertisement only starts at the piping of the chocolate into the desired shape and skips the earlier steps of the chocolate-making process that we have learned about and that create the quality and texture of the chocolate in the first place (though we do catch glimpses of cacao beans off to the side). We can view this omission of earlier steps as Hershey recognizing that the company does not need to show the consumers where their product comes from, but rather that they simply care about the finished product that arrives, as in the commercial, neatly wrapped and ready to be eaten. The industrial production, which signaled a significant change in chocolate manufacturing, are the highlight of this video and therefore show the importance placed on these processes in terms of enabling Hershey’s to grow into such a large company and mass-produce chocolate at this level. Additionally, in the commercial the only people present are the on the other side of the wall – the consumers. No factory workers or trace of human presence appears within the industrial settings, though the commercial still managed to tie into the American sense of industry as hard work through the anthropomorphic Kisses. The lack of human workers, though, reflects the level of mechanization pioneered by Forrest Mars, who “studied the production of steel to learn how to conduct a product with his plant without touching it” (Brenner 67).
Whereas the Hershey’s commercial is lighthearted and does not feel the need to provide justification or explanation as to why the consumer should purchase the product or where the ingredients are from, in contrast this commercial for Horizon Organic milk shows a very different angle and focuses almost exclusively on that which the Kiss commercial omits:

This commercial for Horizon Organic milk is much more descriptive than the Hershey’s Kisses commercial and therefore represents consumer concerns about milk.

We see that Horizon Organic’s commercial is much more informative, and that it discusses what the company does, how it partners with family farms, where the milk comes from, and what the state of the cows producing the milk is. The commercial also notes what will not be found in the milk – namely pesticides, antibiotics, added growth hormones, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors and colors. This seems to address potential concerns of consumers, showing that Horizon believes those who buy its products care about this background knowledge. This milk commercial is an interested example of contrast to the chocolate one because milk production was mechanized and industrialized – with a change from manual to machine labor – around the same time as that of chocolate, largely the mid-twentieth century and continuing up to present day (Guptill, Copelton, and Lucal 108). Yet we focus on where milk comes from but chocolate and the cacao it is made from seems largely exempt from this scrutiny. Another commercial, this one for the Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly, also highlights this fact – in exploring the origins of the bar, the video travels not to the plantations where the cacao is grown but rather to a farm where fictional cows float in the air, supposedly providing the “bubbly” milk that makes the chocolate.

Though incorporating fantastical elements, this commercial for Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly chocolate represents the desire the know about origins of milk, whereas the origins of the other chocolate ingredients – namely cacao – are not addressed.

There is a constant impetus to exhibit the milk as fresh, whereas in the chocolate commercials examined here there is no such push for the cacao used. For chocolate, the focus is much more on the industrial process, and as consumers it appears that in general consumers are satisfied with this and require no further information about chocolate in order for it to sell, in contrast with how we view other foods.
Overall, then, we see that the crux of change that industrialization and mechanized equipment provided for the chocolate industry is a factor that chocolate companies such as Hershey’s are able to accept and do not need to shy away from – it is intimately tied to their roots and to their present dominance of the American market. And just as the companies are able to accept this important aspect of how they function, American consumers too largely then must accept this fact – as evidenced by the fact that the chocolate commercials viewed here showcase the factory and provide no information about the origins of the materials, whereas milk-related commercials have a bigger onus to address the quality of the milk and where it has come from, an onus likely driven by the consumer drive to know more about how their food is sourced. Chocolate, then, can be thought of as a consumable product for which we have a collective “sweet spot” – it seems Americans largely do not need to know where the ingredients come from or see people involved in the process of making the chocolate, rather it can simply be placed in front of us and we will consume it. However, more change is upon us – and with the rise of fair trade chocolate and an increased emphasis on knowing the origins of foods extending now even to cacao, it will certainly be interesting to see how these associations and viewpoints of both company and consumers develop in years to come.

Works Cited

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

“Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly Television Commercial.” YouTube. YouTube, 7 Aug. 2012. Web. <;.

Guptill, Amy Elizabeth, Denise A. Copelton, and Betsy Lucal. Food & Society: Principles and Paradoxes. Malden, MA: Polity, 2013. Print.

“Hershey’s Kisses “Off to Work We Go”” YouTube. YouTube, 27 Jan. 2009. Web. <>.

“Horizon Organic: Why Horizon?” YouTube. YouTube, 15 Mar. 2012. Web. <>.

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 7: Sugar and Cacao. 2015.

Cacao: A Genetically Modified Organism

The variety of cacao pods seen here helps showcase the abundant biodiversity within the species, and raises questions of how this can be harnessed.

Before humans roamed the Earth, the landscape looked significantly different. Not just the absence of buildings and bipeds, roads and machines, but also aspects which today we might consider a natural part of our world. The plants which we consider to be “nature” very often have been modified from their original forms. These, in a way, were the original Genetically Modified Organisms, their characteristics changed not through playing around with their DNA directly – inserting genes from other organisms, for example – but through artificial selection and selective breeding. Humans realized early that crossing plants with desirable characteristics led to offspring plants with desirable characteristics. From corn to leafy greens to cacao, we have molded aspects of the natural world to accommodate our likes, preferences, and tastes, a fact both fascinating and worrisome – it is important to consider the impacts of past and future modifications to the organisms that provide our foodstuffs, such as cacao. Looking forward, the goals within this scope of human-made modification should be to make cacao growing more sustainable while also realizing that excessive alteration can be harmful.

Many of the ancestors of our modern-day produce are unrecognizable because they differ so substantially from the plants that we are used to seeing. As Professor Martin stated in class, “We’ve been tinkering with plants since we’ve figured out as humans how to do that – to make them taste sweeter, less bitter” (Martin). Corn, especially, has dramatically been stripped of nutritional value in favor of making it taste sweet, and even supposedly healthy foods like spinach are lacking in nutrients when compared against wild plants (Robinson).

Examples of now-common fruits and vegetables in their original forms, prior to human efforts to selectively breed them.

We have been able to select for particular characteristics that we want to emphasize or others that we want to minimize. For example, from a single wild mustard plant we have been able to breed several individual strains that we now see in grocery stores.

Shows the variety of our leafy greens that were in actuality derived from the same wild plant by selecting for different characteristics, and therefore the level to which humans have played a role in creating new strains and varieties, historically a phenomenon that occurred simply through stochastic chance and selective pressures in nature.

Though this may have led to better-tasting food, the issue is that it has also stripped the plants of much of their nutritional value. Overall, I argue that the domestication and selective breeding in which humans have engaged, here in the case of cacao, is representative of the largely unique human ability to significantly change one’s environment. And while this has been beneficial in some ways, namely the cultivation of more edible foods, we have also lost some of the nutritional value of these foods, as evidenced by the corn example. Furthermore, on a larger scale our development of the earth is causing global warming and climate change, which in turn may affect the geographic range of cacao. It is important, then, to consider these biological and ecological aspects to the historical and modern production of cacao, especially as they have bearing on an uncertain future. And as cacao is an especially picky crop to cultivate, it is possible that by 2050, those regions in which cacao is now grown may not be able to sustain such production (Martin). Additionally, cacao is highly susceptible to disease, which has been a “consistent threat [in many areas] since at least the nineteenth century” (Presilla 74).

To combat this threat, growers of cacao have cross-bred varieties in the hopes of producing sturdier strains that will produce more cacao and also be of high quality. Even after early cultivation, those seeking to further “improve” the plant created hybrid trinitario trees – first created by accident in the 18th century – with the goal to “combine the desirable vigor of the forester plant with the superior quality of the criollo bean” – that is, the hardiness of the former with the flavor of the latter, a project that still continues till today (Coe and Coe 26). More recently, in the 1930s and 40s at the Imperial College in Trinidad, in the face of rampant cacao diseases, specifically witches’ brooms disease, healthy cacao were found, tested for resilience, and then crossed, resulting in the “world’s largest germ plasm bank” (Presilla 85).

In the modern day, these efforts to modify cacao continue. This video describes the efforts of IBM, Mars, and the USDA to sequence the cacao genome, with the purpose of identifying ways to make it a more hardy, disease-resistant crop that can be grown with increased ease and reduced effort.

It is clear, then, that such genetic modification could have some benefits – especially as we face a future in which with populations growing and climates changing, we need to secure our food supplies. However, while disease resistance is certainly a beneficial characteristic for cacao to have, those who are engaging in genetic modification, whether by gene transfer or selective breeding, should be cautious and steer clear of the nutrient-deficient pitfalls that have befallen other produce organisms on their way to the grocery store. After all, chocolate is the Food of the Gods and it would not do for such a food to be in any way lacking.

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D., Michael D. Coe, and Ryan J. Huxtable. The True History of Chocolate. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

Harrell, Eben. “Chocolate Potentially Made Safe From Climate Change.” Time Magazine15 Sept. 2010. Print.

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 7: Sugar and Cacao. 2015.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Random House LLC, 2009.

Robinson, Jo. “Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food.” New York Times 25 May 2013.