Category Archives: Multimedia Essay 1

Cadbury Ethics

In the early twentieth century, the Cadbury Brothers Limited was a prominent chocolate producer in Britain. In 1901, a member of the Cadbury company, William Cadbury, was exposed to the accusation of slavery in his company’s cocoa farms. The situation was such that “he was told that slave labor was used on the island of São Tomé. Shortly thereafter this unsubstantiated comment was given credence when the Cadbury company received an offer of a plantation for sale in São Tomé that listed as assets two hundred black laborers” (Satre 18). With the rumor of slavery existing and having a direct tie to the Cadbury company, William did not immediately conclude that slavery was going on because “he did not equate the labor of São Tomé to that of other forms of slavery reported in Africa” (Satre 19). Cadbury was not incorrect in observing that the labor conditions were different than the historical slavery in Africa, but it was still slavery and leads to the questioning of his ethics.

The slavery in São Tomé was different from other historical forms of slavery in Africa. “Portugal had abolished slavery in all of its colonies, including Angola, in the 1870s, but plantation owners and others still desperately craved workers” (Satre 2). “To satisfy this constant demand for labor, a state-supported system of ‘contract labor’ emerged. Wherein government agents certified that natives could, of their own free will, sign contracts committing themselves to five years of labor at a set wage.” The plantation owners abused these contracts, which lead to slavery. Nevinson, who was researching slavery in West Africa, described several reasons why people might become slaves, including the following:
“[s]ome had broken native customs or Portuguese laws, some had been charged with witchcraft by the medicine man because of a relative died, some sould not pay a fine, some were wiping out an ancestral debt, some had been sold by uncles in poverty, some were indemnity for village wars, some had been raided on the frontier, others had been exchanged for a gun; some had been trapped by Portuguese, others by Bibéan thieves; some were but changing masters” (Satre 7).
The exploitation of labor was in fact slavery, but William Cadbury wanted to be thorough in his obtainment of information because “he wanted to be absolutely fair to the responsible parties on the cocoa plantations and in Portugal” (Satre 19).
In order to come to a definitive conclusion regarding the possibility of slavery in the Cadbury cocoa farms, William Cadbury enlisted the services of Joseph Burtt, who would travel to São Tomé in order to uncover whether the rumors of slavery were true. Before Burtt could begin investigating, he had to first learn Portuguese. Cadbury might of had an expedited report if he had chosen someone who already knew Portuguese, but Burtt eventually found explicit evidence of slavery. When the time came for Burtt to publish his findings, he “added to the delays by pushing, in addition, for a ‘personal and private appeal to the planters’ to ensure they understood’ that the whole question has been taken up from a desire for decent conditions of coloured labour and not from English’ self-righteousness and hypocrisy” (Higgs 135). The delays in the report mounted to the extent that even though Burtt had been commissioned by the Cadbury family in 1905, he did not return to England till 1907. After William Cadbury read Burtt’s report and visted Africa, “he found a system he called ‘slavery in disguise’” (Vertongen).

Meanwhile, another party was uncovering the truth behind the working conditions. Henry Nevison was on an assignment to investigate the working conditions in West Africa. Nevison worked for Harper’s Monthly Magazine and would end up writing “a series of articles and a subsequent book describing slavery in Portuguese West Africa” (Satre 2). He witnessed explicit slavery and periodically published his findings in Britain. Nevison publically called for a boycott of the slave plantations.
With the information from Burtt’s report and the public scrutiny caused by Nevison’s exposure of the slavery conditions and pressure for change, William Cadbury came to the conclusion that a boycott was necessary. “1909, Cadbury Brothers wrote to Fry and Rowntree to recommend that all three firms ‘cease buying S. Thome cocoa’” (Higgs 147). All three firms began the boycott and were particularly effective in Britain because “[a]t the turn of the twentieth century, the British cocoa and chocolate business was dominated by three Quaker-owned firms-Cadbury, Fry, and Rowntree-although European companies continued to claim a large part of the British market” (Satre 14). The companies moved their cocoa farms to the Gold Coast in West Africa, where they knew slavery was not employed.

The ethics pertaining to William Cadbury’s actions in combating slavery need to be further examined. A substantial amount of time passed from when he first learned about the labor conditions in the cocoa farms and the action of the Cadbury company to boycott the slave labor being used. William is partly at fault for this delay. Although being prudent and securing a definitive report of the possibility of slavery may be wise, his choosing Burtt was problematic, since the latter had to learn Portuguese before beginning his research. The delays in the publishing of Burtt’s report were the result of Cadbury’s desire to not offend. Ultimately, William Cadbury can be criticized that the developments to end the slavery could have been conducted on an expedited time frame. Another reason for the delay was his not being convinced that the rumored conditions were in fact slavery, due to the differences between it and prior forms in Africa. He wanted more evidence of the exploitation as the Portuguese government even pledged to create better working conditions for the labors. Since “he obviously wanted to believe that the Portuguese government officials were sincere in their promise to enforce the new rules” (Satre 15), Cadbury’s delay in boycotting might be somewhat justified. In conclusion, enlisting Burtt to provide more evidence of slavery and allowing the Portuguese government time to correct the slavery problem are valid reasons for some of the delay in action, and given that the boycott of the slavery did ultimately occur, William Cadbury should not be regarded as unethical.

Works cited

Satre, L. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business

Higgs, C. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa

Vertongen, D. (Director), & Hargrave, G. (Producer). (2000). Extra Bitter: The Legacy of the Chocolate Islands [Video file]. Filmakers Library. Retrieved May 13, 2017, from Alexander Street.

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There is No Pleasure in Guilty Chocolate!

Why do you love chocolate? Because it is good! It tastes good and makes you happy. It is all that is good in the world wrapped in a beautiful candy bar. What if you learned that your delicious candy bar is a by-product of something bad, the output of someone else’s suffering?  A child’s suffering? Would you enjoy it just the same? Eating is not just a means to satisfy hunger; it is also an emotional and psychological experience.  We like to eat, and we like to eat good food without any negative connotations. Chocolate does not taste as good when it is served with a side of guilt. Chocolate tastes better when you wholeheartedly know that it came from a good place and produced in an ethical and social responsible manner.

Did you know that the global chocolate industry is nearly $100 billion dollars a year? The United States alone spends a little over 18 billion dollars in chocolate (2015), and that the average American consumes approximately 4.3 kilograms / 9.5 pounds of chocolate a year (2015). In comparison, beating the Americans at chocolate consumption are the Swiss who consume approximately a little over 9 kilograms / 20 pounds per person, then tied for second place are the Germans and the Austrians who approximately consume 3.6 kilograms / 7.4 pounds per person (Satioquia-Tan). Chocolate can be found anywhere around the world and is affordable to the masses especially to those who live in the developed world. Chocolate can be found in candy bars, truffles, fudge, cakes, muffins, biscuits, breakfast cereals, pancakes, health bars, sauces, drinks, in your café mocha, and anywhere you can sprinkle chocolate syrup. You can buy it in a specialty shop, supermarket, mini-market, drugstore, or any corner street gas station.

The majority of chocolate eaters are rather naïve in knowing the history and the current nature of the chocolate-making business. They simply eat it because they love chocolate without really knowing what it is, where it comes from, who makes and how; or any related social issues. For those consumers who are more aware of the social and economic impacts of the chocolate industry are a little more selective in choosing and enjoying their chocolate. To fully appreciate food is to experience it through all the possible senses, the physiological and psychological (Stuckey 13). Only twenty percent of what we physiologically taste happens in our mouths, the rest of the tasting experience happens through our remaining senses of sight, smell, touch, and sound. We, also, want to psychologically feel good about what we are eating. We want to know about the origins, the farming practices, and the ethics of what we are tasting (Stuckey 14). We want to know the context, the beautiful story, of what we are eating so we can enjoy it fully. The other option is to choose to remain a little ignorant of the subject as not to sour our chocolate taste, however this pleasure would be more superficial and would not represent the fullest appreciation of what we are eating. To fully appreciate today’s chocolate, we will have to fully experience it with the body and mind in full awareness of its origins, present journey and social impacts.

  1. What is Chocolate?

Cocoa is the main ingredient for all chocolate recipes.  Cocoa derives from cacao seeds, or more commonly referred to as cacao beans, which grow on the Theobroma Cacao tree.  Cacao trees are finicky trees that can only bear fruit in hot and humid tropical climates,twenty degrees from the equator at a specific altitude. These trees are highly dependent on midges, an insect, for its flowers to pollinate and bear fruit (Coe and Coe 19-21, 27). Cacao beans grow inside a fruity, pulp filled pod, approximately 30-40 beans grow inside one pod. Unlike most trees, where fruit grow dangling down from branches, cacao pods sprout directly from the tree trunk. In raw form, cacao beans constitute half its size in fat, cocoa butter. When cocoa butter is extracted from the cacao bean, what remains is the cocoa (or cocoa powder), the main ingredient of all chocolate (Coe and Coe 27). Before cacao beans turn into chocolate, cacao fruit is first farmed.  Upon harvest, fruit pods are removed from trees and cracked open to extract its beans with machetes. Cacao beans are then fermented, dried, sorted, roasted, transported, winnowed (deshelled), ground to a liquor, pressed (to remove the cacao butter), conched, and then what remains is added to chocolate-making recipes. Chocolate is the result of a labor intensive and highly processed food.

  1. Where Does Cacao Come From?

Cacao is native to the New World, the South American’s amazon basin region (Coe and Coe 25), and the Mesoamerican native cultures of the Mayans and Aztecs and predecessors were the first peoples to ever make chocolate dating back as far as 1500 BCE (Coe and Coe 33). Cacao was precious and a sacred food reserved for the elite, special occasions, and sacred rituals. Mayan and Aztecs Gods often appear alongside or in the form of cacao trees in their native hieroglyphs and surviving art (Coe and Coe 42). So precious, cacao beans were even used as a means of monetary currency. In 1545, documented is the commodity price of a tamale: one tamale equals one cacao bean (Coe and Coe 98-99). Upon colonizing Mesoamerica, the Spanish conquistadors were the first Europeans to discover and spread the taste of chocolate to Europe starting in the 1500’s (Coe and Coe 108). At the beginning of the chocolate history in Europe, chocolate was rare, expensive, and for the upper class.  Then as time passed and soon after the industrial revolution, chocolate became relatively common and affordable to the masses.

Amazon Basin
Amazon basin (based on Wikipedia, Amazon basin article, by Kmusser, using Digital Chart of the Word and GTOPO data)

After the end of the American colonial period, in the late 1800’s, the Spanish and the Portuguese introduced cacao to West Africa. Due to favorable climate conditions, cacao flourished in West Africa.  Today, approximately seventy percent of the world’s cacao comes from West Africa (Wessel and Quist-Wessel 1). The Ivory Coast and Ghana are the two major countries that supply cacao.  There are 2 million, small (3 hectares acres in size), independent farms (Ryan 52) in West Africa that supply three million metric tons of cacao per year (World Cocoa Foundation).

2000px-Ghana_Côte_d'Ivoire_Locator.svg
West Africa, Ivory Coast depicted in orange and Ghana  depicted in green (based on Wikipedia, Ghana-Ivory Coast Relations article)
  1. What Are the Social Issues Involving the Chocolate Industry?

Since the first Europeans, the Spanish conquistadors, landed in the New World, the cacao industry has been tainted with slavery and forced labor since 1650’s (Berlan 1092). Upon colonizing Mesoamerica, the Spanish forced the natives to pay tribute in labor and cacao to their new Spanish Crown.  After millions of natives died of diseases, the Spanish, like other colonists in the Americas, resorted to using chattel slavery from Africa to extract New World resources (Presilla 24, 33). Chattel slavery officially ended in 1884, however it continued in disguise in Portuguese West Africa well into the 1900’s in the cacao industry and some reports state that it persisted until 1962 (Berlan 1092).

Today, cacao farmer incomes are very volatile for it depends on operating profits, and since cacao is a commodity, the market price.  Farmers need to sell their cacao at a high enough price in order to pay off their operation expenses which includes labor, a major expense, just like most businesses. Unexpected operating expenses and / or a fall in market price can be devastating on farmer revenues/incomes. Cacao farmers, per capita, constantly live without the security of a reliable living wage. In 2015, cacao farmers earned 50 to 84 cents on the American dollar a day (Cocoabarometer). As it is, cacao farmers barely break even, and there is little economic incentive for them to stay in the cacao farming business.  Due to local poverty and lack of other options, farmers continue to grow cacao under pressure to lower operating costs and often resort to desperate means to make a profit, break even, or just enough to pay for rice and cooking oil (Off 5).

In more recent history in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, a wave of newspaper stories and documentary films exposed the existence of child labor, trafficking, and slaves in West African cacao farms which caused much consumer outrage. The media graphically showed the world the extreme poverty and hard lives of cacao farmers in West Africa and the desperate measures farmers take to lower operating costs by using child slave labor (Berlan 1089).

The documentary, Slavery: A Global Investigation (2000), especially shocked viewers by showing how easy it was to find child slaves working on cacao farms and how the local people seem to accept the practice as a way of life. On camera, journalists were able, with relative ease, to overtly interview real child slaves and get first-hand testimony about their hardships, a farm owner who openly admitted to having slaves and in how to get them, and a local official who confirmed as matter of fact that at least 90% of the Ivory Coast farms use child slave labor.  Ninety percent implies the existence of hundreds of thousands of slaves (Ryan 118). A 2000 US State Department report estimated that 15,000 Malian children worked on Ivory Coast cacao farms and that many of were under 12 years old and sold into indentured service (Off 133). Two of the local documentary crew even demonstrated how easy it was to buy slaves, posing as buyers, they went to the marketplace and were able to purchase two boys for the total of forty British pounds (approximately $40) within thirty minutes. Economics, low cacao market price, was credited as being the main reason why these farmers resorted to using slavery.  With such low cacao market prices, farmers cannot afford to pay employee wages and still make a profit, and they have no other income options. In contrast, in a free and mature economy, if a business is not profitable it goes out of business, and one can start a new business or find a new job, this is not the case for the West African cacao farmers.

Since the West African child labor scandals, there has an increased awareness and legislation attempts to eradicate forced and most hazardous child labor. Child labor in general is so embedded into the West African culture, not all children who work on farms are slaves or working with hazards. Most children work as part of the family on their family farms. It was deemed impossible and impractical to create a law that would abolish all form of child labor, however a voluntary agreement, The Harking-Engel Protocol, was signed among the Ivory Coast and the International Chocolate and Cocoa Industry in accordance with the International Labor Organization to end the worst forms of child labor in 2001 (Ryan 44, 47). Because of extreme poverty and lack of options, there are children who are better off working for they will at least have access to some food. Today, consumers are more aware, corporations have put efforts in demonstrating social responsibility in self-certifications, and nonprofit/advocacy organizations, have emerged and increased advocacy. There is still much poverty among cacao farmers, and many children  are still working on farms and some are still suspected of being forced to work against their will.  The child labor problems still exist today.  We, the world, hoped for that the state of child labor in West Africa would be better, however it could be worse.

It is natural that corporations would seek to do business with a poorer and less mature economies so to benefit from cheaper labor costs, but there should be limits when business practices violate human rights and the ability for workers to make a livable wage. It is evident that cacao farmers need more money so can they afford to hire farm workers to help cultivate their labor intensive cacao farms. In the least, the cacao market price needs to go up. It may mean that consumers would have to pay a little more for their chocolate treats. Would you be willing to pay a little more for your candy bar if it would end child and forced labor?

I realize that blindly throwing more money at the problem will not necessarily fix it if local corrupt governments and other stakeholders are still there to scheme away the extra money intended for the cacao farmers. This is a complex issue which requires multi-approach solution. We, the consumers, the governments, NGOs, the corporations, the media (or lack of media), the farmers, are all part of the problem, and we could also all be part of the solution. West African farmers and their children need special consideration for they are the most powerless demographic group in the chocolate food chain. The ones with the most power in the chocolate food chain by default have the most ability, and therefore the greater responsibility, to effect change. Wealthy companies and consumers are in the best position to invest and apply influence in the solution. We, the consumers, should expect that our chocolate companies to conduct business in an ethical and social responsible manner or make better consumer choices if they do not.

Here, in the first world, we would not accept the practice of child labor or slavery in our backyard, and we should not accept it elsewhere and in the products that we use and the foods we eat.  The West African modern-day slave issue is especially heartbreaking for it involves children in producing sweets that we all so enjoy so much. If we all knew that children were being kidnapped and forced to cultivate cacao, we would all enjoy the taste of our chocolate a little less. As consumers, we need to be more conscious about what we eat and learn as much as possible so we can make better consumer choices, maybe write a customer complaint to your chocolate provider or your congressman to influence change in law.  There is no better tasting chocolate than the one that is free from social guilt. In the end, we should all have the right to enjoy good and good-tasting chocolate.

Works Cited

Berlan, Amanda. “Social Sustainability in Agriculture: An Anthropological Perspective on Child Labour in Cocoa Production in Ghana. The Journal of Development Studies, vol. 49, no. 8, 2013, pp. 1088-1100. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2013.78004.

Cocoa Barometer 2015 report, USA Ed. Cocoabarometer.org. http://www.cocoabarometer.org/International_files/Cocoa%20Barometer%202015%20USA.pdf

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed., Thames & Hudson, 2013.

Off, Carol. Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet. The New Press, 2008.

Presilla, Maricel. The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Ten Speed Press, 2009.

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

Satioquia-Tan, Janine. Americans East How Much Chocolate? CNBC.com, 23 Jul. 2015, 7:41 PM ET.  http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/23/americans-eat-how-much-chocolate.html

Stuckey, Barb. Taste What You Are Missing: The  Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good. Free Press, 2012.

Slavery: A Global Investigation. Produced and directed by Brian Woods and Kate Blanchet.  A True Vision Production in Association with HBO, 2000. TopDocumentaryFilms, topdocumentaryfilms.com/slavery-a-global-investigation.

Wessel, Marius, and Foluke Quist-Wessel. Cocoa Production in West Africa, a Review and Analysis of Recent Developments. NJAS – Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences., vol. 74-74, pp. 1-7, 12-2015. doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2015.09.001.

World Cocoa Foundation, http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/category/program-region/africa.

Battle of the Bars: Chocolate Bars that is!

Chocolate is a high commodity. In most cases, if you are on the hunt for chocolate it is most likely that you will be able to walk into any store; convenience store, mom and pop shop, grocery store, etc., and find chocolate. In the United States “in 2016, American consumers spent $22 billion on chocolate, ate a collective 3 billion pounds of chocolate, and on average, ate 12 pounds per person.” (Lecture Slide 4, Class 4) If an American is able to consume 12 pounds of chocolate in one year then that’s a clear indication that Americans are able to find some cheap, high supply, and conveniently located chocolate in many parts of the country.

 

If one were to ask what the quality of the 12 pounds of chocolate that an American is consuming in a year tasted like my guess would be that this chocolate contains high counts of sugar and less cacao. Those who have not studied chocolate or know much about what goes into chocolate believe that when they are in line purchasing their Hershey bar that they are getting a high quality chocolate bar. That is not the case. On average, premium chocolate that can be found in more exclusive stores will be much more expensive. Why is that? The observation I would take from this scenario is that the more cacao being used in the chocolate the more expensive the product. Why would a snickers bar, Twix, or Kit Kat be cheaper to purchase? More sugar included in the product costs less to make? These are the type of questions that need to be answered.

 

In this paper I will be comparing the chocolate I find in CVS to a store in my city called Janssen’s Market. Jansen’s is quite different from CVS in that it is not a chain convenience store, but a one-location store in a more ritzy area of the city. If one were to walk into Janssen’s they would find aisle after aisle of organic, locally farm grown products. The prices of items in Janssen’s are also very different from the prices of products in CVS in that they are much higher and in my opinion extremely overpriced.

IMG_0032Chocolate stand from CVS, Wilmington, De

In the CVS close to my house in Wilmington, Delaware I found a section marked “Premium Chocolates” where it placed all of the more exotic tasting chocolates. If you look closely at this picture you will notice that all of the chocolates on the racks have a yellow sticker hanging from them stating if you buy 1 at $3.79 you will get the 2nd bar for free. This sounds like a great deal to me. Two bars of chocolate and you notice at the top the Ghirardelli chocolates are made with more cacao, for the price of one chocolate bar. WIN! Then I stood there and wondered, “Why are these premium chocolates which are supposed to be the best of the best at this CVS on the shelf begging to get sold by having a yellow sticker hanging from them?” They seem to be screaming for someone to scoop them up, purchase them, and indulge in a chocolate soiree but how come? Shouldn’t they be so exclusive that people are snatching them off of the shelves before the store even opens?

IMG_0020

CVS in Wilmington, DE

It is my observation that the intended audience in the CVS does not prefer to purchase premium chocolates, but would rather purchase candy bars like Hershey bars, dove bars, reeses cups, and other brands associated with those candy bars. The reasons I feel that the intended audience would prefer that type of chocolate over the more exclusive brands are because of the sugar content. “It [sugar] is very cheap and it produces a craving, and in the case of Pepsi and Coca-Cola there is often strong brand loyalty too- a sure formula for fabulous profits in the food industry.” (Albritton, 344) Sugar is a cheap commodity to make and gives off an addictive craving, so these brands above that are selling candy bars for $2 to $3 dollars at CVS are filled with sugar. This sugar in return gives off a feeling of satisfaction, which makes the customer want to go back and buy more of this product. The sugar content in this Dove Milk Chocolate Bar below is 23 grams however the serving size in this bar is about 2. So the sugar content in this entire milk chocolate bar is roughly 46 grams of sugar. This is an outrageously high amount of sugar that the average American is consuming on a daily basis. I do not see a Fair Trade or Direct Trade Certification stamp on this candy bar. Without seeing this stamp on the wrapper means that the farmers growing the cacao that is used in making this Dove chocolate bar barely make any money off of the sale of the beans. The quality of life for the cacao farmers is already below poverty level, but it is especially bad for those who are not under the fair trade certification.

 

 

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Google images: Dove Milk Chocolate Bar

 

When I entered the Janssen’s Market I noticed a whole different environment. Many people were purchasing organic products, ecofriendly, and most seemed to be in shape and concerned with their health and wellness. “The fine chocolate market exhibits what she calls “resistance” – a form of agency – distributed in a fine chocolate assemblage of connoisseurs, products, producers, and institutional discourse, and characterized by a group force or momentum to link sensual enjoyment with ethical concern.” (Martin-Sampeck, 52) Every aisle was geared towards organic products. As I was walking around the store I was in search of the candy aisle. What was a bit surprising and shocking to me was that they didn’t have a candy aisle. Every grocery store has a candy aisle! But, Janssen’s does not. Instead they had a stand right by the check out counter where they sold their deluxe chocolate bars.

IMG_0001

Janssen’s Market, Greenville, Delaware

The selection of chocolate bars were somewhat similar to the premium chocolates sold at the CVS about 3 miles away, however they cost way more money with a much larger selection of chocolates to choose from. If you notice from comparing the pictures of the premium chocolates at CVS to those at Janssen’s you can see the markup of pricing at Janssen’s on very similar bars. However, a very interesting thing I found at Janssen’s was the Fair Trade & Direct Trade Certification. When I saw that stamp I instantly got very happy! For those who aren’t aware of what these certifications do, “an attempt to redeem the free market, rather than introduce an alternative form of globalisation, Fair Trade is perhaps the most revolutionary and hopeful initiative for workers in the poorest countries of the planet.” (Sylla, 17) With this label alone, many chocolate consumers who are conscious about what goes into making chocolate, the laborers, etc., will spend the $5 to $10 on this candy bar because they know that by purchasing this bar not only is it certified and organic, but that the proceeds from this bar will in fact go to the farmer with a higher compensation increase than a chocolate bar that is not certified. In Robertson’s article Chocolate, Women and Empire she states “the politics of commodity chains have gained wider popular currency… the shift is related to worries over health (the use of pesticides in agriculture for example), the environment (the carbon footprint of each product), and the exploitation of workers in a global economy. Ethical consumption, now an essential element of middle-class identity, depends partly on a sense of consumer responsibility for the conditions under which commodities such as chocolate are produced, and a guarantee of a fair price for the producer.” (Robertson Pt 1, 4-5)

 

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Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food, Lecture 9, Slide 10

 

Found at Janssen’s Market, Greenville, DE

 

As you can see by the writing on the wrappers, Madécasse pure dark chocolate and green & black’s organic dark chocolate are very different from the typical brands of Hershey’s, Mars, and Cadbury. This was great. Finally some real authentic cacao with one brand from Madagascar made with Heirloom Cocoa with 80% content. The other brand Green & Black states right on the front of the wrapper a very important piece of information to the modern chocolate conneisuer that this dark chocolate bar was made with fine Trinitario with 70$ cacao content. This is great information to see to those who have studied chocolate. They are able to determine exactly what kind of bean was used in making this bar, how much actual cacao was used, and/or what part of the world these beans came from.

 

The Madécasse Company works directly with the cacao farmers engaging in direct interaction with the laborers. They get to know them on a first name basis and also become comfortable getting to know the farmers families. This makes for better business because they understand the struggle that farmers go through on a daily basis with production being low at different times of the season, or even just not receiving the proper compensation for the amount of work they do. They also make the chocolate in Madagascar where the cacao is grown. The purpose for this is to try and keep the clarity of the product secure, so what is advertised on the brand is a true indication of what is in fact in the bar.

 

Also, the advertisement of the chocolate is very important in the sale of the product at different stores. It is easier for people to watch television and see countless TV ads on Hershey kisses and self-indulgence associated with that little “kiss”, as well as reeses cups with the half bitten portion left at the end of the commercial. Many people watching television see these advertisements and decide to run to the nearest convenience store, which in my case would be the CVS, and pick up those delectable treats! You don’t usually, if ever, see any advertisements on the more exclusive chocolates. For this reason alone, the demand for Hershey and Mars products would be greater than a brand like Black & Green’s or Chuao.

 

Conclusion

Different social environments tend to sell goods and services that tailor to the demographics in that specific area. In terms of chocolate, people who are willing to spend more money on organic, pure cacao chocolate bars will find these bars in grocery stores that cater to naturally produced items. I spoke about Janssen’s Market, which is located in a higher social class demographic, and sold organic fair and direct trade chocolate from companies who embody values and morals tailoring to the cacao farmers in third world countries. For those who do not have access to Janssen’s, a similar market comparable would be a Trader Joes. They are smaller grocery stores that catch the eye of a buyer interested in environmental friendly products.

 

CVS almost does the opposite of what Janssen’s is trying to do. If you live in a city you can most likely find multiple CVS’ in a small radius because they are the go to convenience store that has all of your essential products. They also have at least two aisles that are filled with candy. Most of this candy is pure sugar. On average, people would prefer to indulge in sweet tasting chocolates to bitter dark pure chocolate. But, isn’t it true that if it tastes good it’s usually not good for you but you still eat it anyway! My assumption is that if most people are willing to indulge in a piece of chocolate they are most likely going to go after the typical candy bar that you will find in your local CVS over a pure 90% cacao bar that has less sugar in it.

 

It seems that some of the chocolate that is sold in the CVS may be unethical due to the fact that the chocolate companies treat the cacao farmers less than they should actually be treated and with much less compensation. In fact, they do not know the farmers at all. Have no idea how they are compensated, their living conditions, and so on. With most of the chocolate sold in Janssen’s it seemed to me that almost all if not every single bar had a fair trade or direct trade certification stamp on the wrapper. This is indicating that those chocolate companies are treating the cacao farmers appropriately by giving them the fairest wage possible, by engaging with the farmers on a name to face basis and going lengths to meet family members also. They care about the well being of the cacao farmers that they are paying to grow their supply of cacao, and try to make them feel appreciated.

 

Would you rather enjoy sugar filled chocolate that is being produced by individuals who may have never even tasted a piece of chocolate in their life, or delicious dark chocolate bars that have less sugar and are made from companies that participate in the Fair Trade Agreement where you know the farmers will earn more for the sale of their cacao and are treated with respect?

 

 

References:

Albritton, Robert. “Between Obesity and Hunger: The Capitalist Food Industry.” Food and

            Culture. 3rd ed. New York/London: Routledge, 2013. 342-51. Web.

CVS, Wilmington, Delaware

Janssen’s Market, Greenville, Delaware

Martin, Carla D., and Kathryn E. Sampeck. “The Bitter and Sweet of Chocolate in Europe.”

           The Social Meaning of Food (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History.

Manchester/New York: Manchester UP, 2009. Part 1. Web.

Sylla, Ndongo Samba. The Fair Trade Scandal Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2014. Print.

History and Marketing: Chocolate References in Popular Music between 1990-2015

 

Njoroge Njoroge begins Chocolate Surrealism with the line “Music always expresses the interrelationships of movement, memory, and history” (Njoroge 2016). Music, especially popular music, is composed of many different elements of society and culture. This essay demonstrates how popular music from 1990 to 2015 reflects both chocolate’s history and the industry’s marketing of chocolate products. This exercise is thought provoking in revealing how certain pieces of chocolate’s history are found in western popular music and others are largely absent. Particularly, the elements of chocolate’s history that are unhelpful for advertisers are missing from the chocolate references in western popular music. Marketing is a powerful force in our society. “Advertising has created, and reinforced, particular uses and identities” for different chocolate products (Robertson 2009). Importantly, popular music supports these uses, identities, and histories of chocolate provided by the chocolate industry. This further uplifts some elements of chocolate’s past while suppressing other parts of it. This essay demonstrates chocolate references in western popular music from 1990 to 2015 are rooted in chocolate’s history and the industry’s marketing of chocolate.

Chocolate has historically been attributed many medical properties and health benefits. This history is reflected in “Cigarettes and Chocolate” by Rufus Wainwright (2001), “Morphine & Chocolate” by 4 Non Blondes (1992) and “Chocolate Makes You Happy” by Xiu Xiu (2010). The Aztec believed cacao could be used to combat fatigue. The Aztec Emperor Montezuma II is quoted as saying chocolate is a “… divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue.” (Castell et al 2013). The Europeans who took cacao and chocolate from the natives of Central America also became interested in the medical properties of cacao. M. de la Cruz, a Spanish instructor at Santa Cruz College in Mexico City, suggested that cacao “be used in case of angina, constipation, dental problems in case of tartar, dysentery, dyspepsia, indigestion, fatigue, gout, and hemorrhoids” (Lippi 2013). Between the mid-16th century and the 18th century, chocolate was considered, by various members of the European medical community, everything from a treatment for kidney disease to a universal medicine (Ibid).

More contemporary chocolate advertisements have utilized links between chocolate and various health benefits. Rowntree, the English chocolate company, targeted housewives arguing that their cocoa was “more bone and muscle building” and that good mothers should provide Rowntree cocoa for their children (Robertson 2009). Similarly, the Rowntree cartoon “Coco” was depicted battling bears while “fortified by Rowntree” products (Ibid). During World War Two, female demolition workers were pictured drinking mugs of cocoa and the caption read, “and that’s what Amazons are made of” (Ibid). This reference to the Amazons, a mythical tribe of powerful female warriors, implies that drinking chocolate makes these workers stronger, more Amazon-like.

The three song selections presented below reflect the above history and chocolate companies’ efforts to promote the purported benefits of chocolate. The 4 Non-Blondes (1992) sing:

“Morphine & chocolate are my substitute, substitutes,

morphine & chocolate can bring me up,

can warm my heart whenever I want it”

 

While Xiu Xiu (2010) sings:

Chocolate makes you happy, and it keeps you awake”

In both examples above chocolate is presented as a stimulant and a mood booster. In the 4 Non-Blondes track chocolate is equated with the drug morphine. Morphine is an opioid pain medication which is used to “treat moderate to severe pain” (Morphine 2017). This is a powerful allusion. Chocolate is depicted in this song as having a similar effect on the body as a potent pain drug. While both songs present chocolate in a positive light, Rufus Wainwright’s “Cigarettes and Chocolate” does not. His lyrics go:

“Cigarettes and chocolate milk,

These are just a couple of my cravings,

 everything it seems I like’s a little bit stronger,

A little bit thicker, a little bit harmful for me”

 

In this song, Wainwright recognizes the negative qualities and impacts of chocolate with the line, “A little bit harmful for me.” At the same time, Wainwright points to chocolate as a craving. Chocolate is presented as something that pulls at him like cigarettes. Cigarettes contain the incredibly addictive chemical nicotine which causes people to develop a physiological addiction to them. The highlighting of chocolate’s drug-like qualities and addictiveness in popular music reveals the influence of chocolate companies’ marketing because modern science has largely refuted the popular view of chocolate’s addictive ability and is unclear at best about whether chocolate provides the consumer with any health benefits.

In her history of the medical use of chocolate, Lippi (2013) provides an illuminating vignette about chocolate and medicine. She relays the following story about chocolate’s early years in Florence, Italy writing, “Zeti was worried that … ‘bad talking’ about chocolate could provoke a decrease of customers and … wrote a short book in defense of chocolate” (Ibid). Francesco Zeti represents an untold number of chocolate producers who strove to ensure that their products were viewed as having positive health benefits. Major chocolate companies, like Rowntree and Cadbury, have followed in this long tradition by promoting the benefits of chocolate in their advertisements and at times burying evidence that might impact their products’ sales (Satre 2005).

While chocolate advertising has perpetuated claims about its health benefits, a review of clinical evidence for chocolate’s health benefits provides a picture that is mixed at best (Castell et al. 2013). The article points out that cocoa has been linked to “enhance[d] antioxidant defenses and “a cardioprotective effect” (Ibid). These claims are tempered by their conclusion that “further studies are necessary in order to identify the active constituents in the nervous system among the various cocoa polyphenols and to understand their mechanism of action in the brain” (Ibid). This conclusion is far from a ringing endorsement and arguably evidence to suggest that marketing by chocolate companies has influenced public perception of chocolate’s health benefits and medical uses.

In addition to its medical properties, chocolate has been long associated with pleasure, romantic courtship, and female sexuality. These associations are found explicitly in popular music’s references to chocolate. These associations are rooted in both past and present chocolate marketing.

In her review of Rowntree and Cadbury advertising, Robertson (2009) argues that their “adverts… placed consumption firmly within heterosexual courtship: chocolate was to be a gift from a man to a woman.” She goes on to explain that Rowntree used snippets of love letters in their advertising of certain products (Ibid). Furthermore, early chocolate advertisements suggested that dissatisfaction in a relationship could be resolved by a gift of chocolate. An example of the above shows a woman complaining that her man is “so interested in his awful football match that he didn’t seem to notice me” (Ibid). This dissatisfaction is then alleviated by the presentation of Black Magic chocolate as a makeup gift. While Rowntree and Cadbury were using these techniques in the 1940s and 1950s, modern advertising has continued promoting the link between chocolate and romance.

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/7xlZ/russell-stover-assorted-chocolates-on-valentines-day

The above Russell Stover ad says, “give her” the chocolate in a heart shaped box. This ad encapsulates contemporary efforts to connect chocolate consumption to romance and love, continuing another marketing tradition.

This connection between chocolate and romance was the most common use of chocolate in popular music. “Chocolate” by Snow Patrol (2003), “Chocolate Box” by Cold Cut (1993), “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.” by Pulp (1995), “Sweet Like Chocolate” by Shanks & Bigfoot (1999), and “Chocolate” by Kylie Minogue (2003) all provide examples of this connection.

Comparing “Chocolate Box” (Cold Cut 1993) and “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.” (Pulp 1995) highlight the diverse ways in which this connection can be used in music. In this comparison, there are two contrasting uses of the iconic chocolate box, but in both chocolate boxes are explicitly connected to romantic relationships. In “Chocolate Box”, Cold Cut (1993) sings, “I send my love a note, in a chocolate box.” This line is part of larger love song with lines like, “And in that loving note, I offered him my hand, Gave him my heart, True love from the start.” In this song, the chocolate boxes are part of a positive relationship experience. In “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.” by Pulp (1995), chocolate boxes are used as a positive ideal to contrast the singer’s experience. They sing:

“So what do I do?

I’ve got a slightly sick feeling in my stomach.

Like I’m standing on top of a very high building,

oh yeah, all the stuff they tell you about in the movies.

But this isn’t chocolate boxes and rose, it’s dirtier than that”

 

In these lyrics, the artist argues that life and relationships are not simply chocolate boxes and roses, the good and positive ideals. Relationships can be hard and complicated, and the chocolate box is used as a positive ideal to contrast with the challenges of reality. While in different framings, both songs use chocolate boxes in a way that connects chocolate directly with romantic relationships.

The next pairing demonstrates using chocolate as a metaphor for a positive relationship or relationship experience. In “Sweet Like Chocolate” by Shanks & Bigfoot (1999) the United Kingdom dance duo use the lyrics:

“You’re sweet like chocolate boy,

Sweet like chocolate,

You bring me so much joy,

You’re sweet like chocolate boy,

 

In a very similar vein, “Chocolate” by Australian artist Kylie Minogue (2003) features the lyrics:

“Hold me and control me and then,

melt me slowly down,

like chocolate come here,

zoom in, catch the smile,

there’s no doubt it’s from you and I’m addicted to it now”

 

In both examples chocolate represents the positive aspects of a relationship, “you are sweet like chocolate,” you are so good I am “addicted” to you. These lyrics clearly indicate chocolate’s connection to romance and courtship.

The final song in this section uses chocolate a bit more indirectly than the first four examples. “Chocolate” by Snow Patrol (2003) does not mention chocolate at all in the song’s lyrics, but still connects it to romantic relationships. This song is written from the perspective of a person who has messed up a romantic relationship and wants to start over. It features the lyrics “A simple mistake starts the hardest time, I promise I’ll do anything you ask, this time.” The song’s title alludes to the history of using chocolate as a makeup gift, an attempt to “resolve” dissatisfaction in the relationship. This example recalls the Rowntree women complaining about her husband and the company’s proposed solution of presenting her with chocolate. Chocolate companies past and present have sought to connect their products with romance and courtship. They have been incredibly successful, as popular musicians now often use chocolate in very similar ways to their advertisements.

In addition to songs that connect chocolate to romantic relationships, there are another set of popular songs that explicitly relate chocolate and sex, at times specifically to sex with a black person. This connection also has roots in chocolate’s history and company marketing. The below link is to the music video for “Ms. Chocolate” by Lil’Jon, featuring R. Kelly and Mario (2010).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SIetxPjTBs

This song features lyrics such as “This is for the chocolate girls, all around the world”, “So sweet, so round, so thick, so nasty… so smooth, so creamy,” and “So hot you gon’ melt, eat you all up by myself… It’s a chocolate fix I’m after” (Lil’ Jon 2010). As seen in the video, the artists are shown with several scantily clad black women. Interspersed throughout the video are pictures of chocolate bars and other chocolate products. This song objectifies the black female body and uses the word chocolate to describe that body as a sex object.

In addition to Lil’ Jon’s work, there are less explicitly sexual songs that do not directly objectify the black body. Soul Control’s (2004) “Chocolate” includes the lyrics:

“Everybody in the world likes chocolate,

Hmm we love it,

Oh it makes you happy,

Yeah it gets you sexy,

It makes you fat…

but we don’t care about that”

And this is followed by:

“Everybody wants a chocolate (A choco choco)

All the girls want candy candy,

All the boys get randy randy

Everybody want a chocolate”

In a live performance of this piece, as shown in the below link, the singers thrust their hips suggestively with each “All the boys get randy randy.” This song is less explicitly about sex but it is largely implied through the lyrics and chocolate is a thinly veiled metaphor for sex.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAjIn6SJK5Y

The use of chocolate as a metaphor for the black body has been satirized by the creators of the American adult sitcom South Park. “Chocolate Salty Balls” (1998) is a song performed by American artist Isaac Hayes on South Park. While originally featured on the show, “Chocolate Salty Balls” (1998) received international radio time, hitting #1 on the United Kingdom Singles charts (Official Charts 2017). Isaac Hayes sings:

“Say everybody, have you seen my balls?

They’re big and salty and brown,

 If you ever need a quick pick me up,

Just stick my balls in your mouth

Ooh, suck on my chocolate salted balls

Stick ‘em in your mouth, and suck ‘em

Suck on my chocolate salted balls

They’re packed full of vitamins and good for you

So suck on my balls”

 In this case, the lyrics are absurd. They are exaggerating the very sexualization seen in Lil’ Jon’s “Ms. Chocolate” (2010) with comedic intent.

            The metaphors seen in the above songs again have their roots in chocolate marketing. Women in Dairy Box rhymes were frequently referred to as ‘sweet’ themselves, “implying that they may be consumed following the courtship gifting ritual” (Robertson 2009). In addition, this was a clearly observable strategy during the Second World War as chocolate companies “objectified women as sexual objects to maintain male morale” (Ibid). This technique of equating chocolate with sex can be seen in a substantial amount of contemporary chocolate advertising.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzOchsY4RhQ

The above link is for a chocolate ad by the French company Chocolat Poulian and features a woman sensually enjoying the touch of cacao beans. It is directly playing on the connection between chocolate and sex. This connection is promoted by chocolate companies through advertisements, is then picked up by popular music artists, and in turn gets reinforced through their music.

In the above examples from popular music, chocolate was used as a metaphor for sex with the black body, extolled for its stimulating properties, and celebrated for its taste. These uses at times reflect chocolate’s history and at others reflect chocolate industry’s marketing techniques. There are also instances when the history is a product of marketing techniques as seen in the example of chocolate’s connection to romance and courtship. It is critical to notice who and what is missing from the above references. Robertson (2009) argued that “Imperial violence seems to have no place in the past of such a pleasurable commodity.” She is right and it is apparent from the fact that there is no mention of the cacao worker in these examples from western popular music. A celebration of chocolate in western popular music does not acknowledge its actual production or its colonial history. It is helpful that Rufus Wainwright (2001) at least recognizes that milk-chocolate is not healthy, but even his references to chocolate leave the people behind chocolate invisible. Much of chocolate industry marketing presents chocolate a certain way and ignores the people who provide the raw cacao and struggle to make chocolate available to the developed world. Popular music artists pick up on these marketing themes and continue to ignore the darker side of the chocolate industry. This invisibility makes it much easier for cacao workers to be exploited by companies thousands of miles away.

 

 

 

Work Cited

4 Non Blondes. 1992. Morphine & Chocolate.

Castell, Margarida, Francisco Jose Pérez-Cano, and Jean-François Bisson. 2013. “Clinical Benefits of Cocoa: An Overview.” In Chocolate in Health and Nutrition, edited by Ronald Ross Watson, Victor R. Preedy, and Sherma Zibadi. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-1-61779-803-0.

Cold Cut. 1993. Chocolate Box.

Hayes, Isaac. 1998. Chocolate Salty Balls.

Lil’ Jon. 2010. Ms. Chocolate.

Lippi, Donatella. 2013. “History of the Medical Use of Chocolate.” In Chocolate in Health and Nutrition, edited by Ronald Ross Watson, Victor R. Preedy, and Sherma Zibadi. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-1-61779-803-0.

Minogue, Kylie. 2003. Chocolate.

“Morphine: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Warnings.” 2017. Drugs.com. Accessed May 4. https://www.drugs.com/morphine.html.

Njoroge, Njoroge. 2016. Chocolate Surrealism: Music, Movement, Memory, and History in the Circum-Caribbean. Caribbean Studies Series (Jackson, Miss.). Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

“Official Charts Company.” 2017. Accessed May 6. http://www.officialcharts.com/artist/39995/chef/.

Pulp. 1995. F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.

Robertson, Emma. 2009. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Studies in Imperialism (Manchester, England). Manchester ; New York : New York: Manchester University Press ; Distributed in the United States exclusively by Palgrave Macmillan.

Satre, Lowell J. 2005. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. 1st ed. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.

Shanks & Bigfoot. 1999. Sweet Like Chocolate.

Snow Patrol. 2003. Chocolate.

Soul Control. 2004. Chocolate.

Wainwright, Rufus. 2001. Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.

Xiu Xiu. 2010. Chocolate Makes You Happy.

 

Shortening the Supply Chain: How Taza Chocolate’s Direct Trade Benefits the Chocolate Industry

The supply chain which governs the production of chocolate is full of complex relationships, blind spots, and middle men.  With these issues, inefficiencies and exploitative practices run their course throughout the chain.  Fixing these problems is not a one man or company job, but a change that must start with a small step.  This step has come with Taza Chocolate.  With Taza’s certifications, specifically its one concerning Direct Trade, and its “Bean to Bar” philosophy, they have shrunk the cacao/chocolate supply chain to take out these inefficiencies and harmful, exploitative practices in order to benefit both the growers and the consumers.

Launched in 2005 in Somerville, Massachusetts by founder Alex Whitmore, Taza strives to create “unrefined, minimally processed chocolate” with an incredible flavor (About Taza, 2015). Not only does their chocolate taste great, but it is ethically sourced.  This means they partner directly with the cacao farmers they buy from and pay a premium above the Fair Trade price for their cacao (About Taza, 2015).  Additionally, they only partner with farmers who “respect the rights of workers and the environment” (About Taza, 2015).  Taza uses a “Bean to Bar” philosophy, which utilizes their Direct Trade certification.  The video below gives you a sense of what “Bean to Bar” means to Taza, its partners, and workers.

Direct Trade ensures that Taza workers partner directly with the growers and maintain a face-to-face relationship with their farmers.  Additionally, Taza pays well above the market price for cacao beans, which currently stands around $1800 per metric ton. (Nasdaq: Cocoa, 2017).  To showcase how this buying works, Taza puts out an annual Transparency Report that highlights their program, prices, and key statistics.  Click here to view their 2016 report.  As you navigate this page, be sure to examine particular partner reports as they emphasize this program’s price benefits, stability, and room for farm improvement.

Their “Bean to Bar” and Direct Trade practice has shrunk the supply chain significantly.  The only non Taza or grower related dealer is the import company, which ships the cacao beans to Taza.  A typical supply chain for Taza can be seen below.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 11.49.44 AM
Typical Taza Chocolate Supply Chain

This chain comes specifically from Taza’s partnership with the Alto Beni Cacao Company from Bolivia.  As you can see, Taza uses Atlantic Cacao as their importer and has developed a relationship with them such that they are used for all imports coming from the Caribbean and Central American region.

So, how does the chocolate supply chain look for a chocolate producer or retailer that does not operate as Taza does?  The answer is it is a lot longer with more independent players.  Below is an image depicting what this supply chain might look like.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 12.18.26 PM
Typical Chocolate Supply Chain*

Throughout this chain, there are many actors with varying roles and profit margins.  The proportion of a final bar price for some individuals in the supply chain is as follows: farmers receive 3%, cocoa buyers receive 5%, manufactures receive 20%, and retailers receive 43% (Martin, Lecture 1).  This highlights a major inefficiency and exploitation that occurs during chocolate growing and production.  With little pay received by the growers, there is essentially no money left after operating expenses have been paid.  This means less money is put into the farm to improve the crop and harvesting process.  Additionally, apart from the growing and harvesting itself, no money is left to improve the lives of the farmers and their families.

This lack of money feeds into an even larger problem, which has become a topic covered extensively by media and activists, child labor.  There is certainly a negative side to this sort of labor, but it is very much a part of the African culture.  It is very typical for a young son or daughter to accompany his or her parent to the farm and help with simple tasks such as carrying food or lesser manual labor (Ryan 45-46).  This is generally deemed acceptable if the child does not miss out on schooling that will help him or her with their long-term career.  This is often not the case.  With the poverty and small income that come with being a grower, there is a benefit to having one’s child work on the farm.  With fewer employees to pay, there is a lower cost associated with family labor (Berlan 1093).  However, this mentality breeds an even worse form of child labor, trafficking and debt bondage.

Child trafficking has become an all too familiar phenomena on cocoa farms.  In 1998, UNICEF wrote a report that described how the transactions of children work out.  “Recruiters” will seek out children at bus stops of busy cities who have left home seeking work that will bring in more money for them and their family (Off 130).  The transporter then receives money from the farmer who uses this fee as overhead for the child’s contribution on the farm; thus, the child receives no money from working (Off 130-131).  Conditions for the worst kind of child labor are quite grim as they may work at gunpoint, eat little, sleep in bunkhouses that are locked at night, and are subject to horrible sores on their backs from carrying heavy bags of cacao beans and from being beaten (Off 121).  The image below showcases how grueling this labor can be and the types of dangerous tools children use while working.

Child Labor
Child Cutting Cacao Pod

One area of tension that arises when chocolate producers and organizations talk about exposing and ending child labor is the possibility of a boycott from a growing area.  For many African countries, a boycott on their cacao beans would be devastating to the economy as most depend on jobs in the cacao industry (Off 142).  Firms and larger chocolate companies and producers have attempted to eradicate this problem, but their efforts have been mostly ineffective.  Put in place in September of 2001, the Harkin-Engel Protocol was an attempt to solve this problem:

Cocoa beans and their derivative products should be grown and processed in a manner that complies with International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (Harkin-Engel Protocol).

This objective would be accomplished with the help of governments, global industry, cocoa producers, organized labor, non-government organizations, and consumers (Harkin-Engel Protocol).  Many big chocolate companies such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle supported this protocol and hoped to solve the problem of child labor in cocoa farms by 2005 (Martin, Lecture 8).  While having big companies backing this program promises a source of funds, they have continued to push back the deadline and now have it stand in the year 2020 (Martin, Lecture 8).  So, perhaps a large-scale, top-down approach is not the best solution to the problems plaguing the chocolate supply chain.  While I have digressed from Taza, now is great time to return to their company approach, as they work a more effective grass-roots style.

As seen in the diagram above highlighting Taza’s supply chain, there are fewer players at work in the production of their chocolate.  To tackle how their process is more efficient and beneficial compared to that of a larger company with a longer, more complex supply chain, we shall examine the benefits and even some of the drawbacks seen within the growers, in the production process, and with the consumers when Taza chocolate hits the shelves.

Starting with the grower, the benefits seen with Taza’s partnered farmers compared to the conditions seen on farms of those who supply to larger companies all stem from Direct Trade.  With Direct Trade, Taza can form a long-lasting relationship with farmers.  By traveling directly to the farms, Taza buyers can see who they are buying from and the conditions of the workers and those living on or near the farm.  This eliminates the poor labor practices that may take place on farms that supply larger companies, as these big companies are unable to see the conditions of their cacao growers.  In fact, Taza is so in touch with their partners that they share on their website profiles of these farms and their workers to showcase this relationship and the benefits it provides.  Here is a link to a profile on Maya Mountain Cacao that tells you a bit about their farm and the fermentation and drying facility built by Taza.

In addition to the relationships formed with the farmers, as published in their report, Taza pays a premium for the beans purchased from suppliers.  It has been noted by many scholars that the key problem the chocolate industry faces is poverty among primary producers, yet no large-scale programs have been implemented to address this issue (Off 146).  By paying a premium for their cacao beans, Taza is attempting to address this economic issue.

Apart from these benefits, there are some faults with Taza’s model.  The first is the small scale and limited reach of direct trade.  In 2016, Taza purchased only 233 metric tons of beans (Taza: 2016 Transparency Report).  This pales in compassion to the millions of metric tons purchased by the chocolate industry each year.  A second issue can be identified in the types of farms Taza partners with.  The beans that Taza purchases are high quality, fine cacao beans, which tend to be more expensive to grow.  Therefore, some of these farms are more wealthy, and Taza is in fact not benefitting the farms in dire need.  Of course, these negatives do not outweigh the positive work Taza does in the chocolate industry.  To start a change, small steps must be made, and Taza’s Direct Trade is a step in the right direction.

Turning to the production of Taza chocolate, their process is vastly different than those of larger companies and this difference is directly influenced by Direct Trade.  There is a high degree of care and precision that goes into crafting each bar of chocolate.  Taza strives to limit the amount of processing involved in production to “let the bold flavors of (their) organic, Direct Trade cacao shout loud and proud” (Our Process, 2015).  A diagram of their production process is presented below and highlights the easy to follow and minimalistic process used by Taza.

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 5.14.15 PM
Taza Chocolate Making Process

Lastly, in regards to their process, ingredients used are source known, which is a direct benefit of Direct Trade.  When you flip over the wrapper to read your bar’s ingredients, there are simple, organic ingredients that can be easily traced back to their origin.  This allows for confidence in consumption and in knowing ingredients come from a sustainable, humane farm.

The last component of the supply chain involves the consumer.  Taza certainly plays on a feel-good sensation seen by a consumer when they purchase a bar of Taza chocolate.  This feeling stems from the smart, ethical sourcing associated with Direct Trade.  When a consumer picks up a bar and sees the Direct Trade certification, they feel that they are helping tackle many of the problems in the chocolate industry.  Is this an ethical practice for Taza or are they preying on the gullible emotions of consumers?  With Taza’s small-scale production relative to the chocolate industry, it is acceptable to question whether you are actually making a difference when you buy a bar of Taza chocolate.  However, you are contributing to their mission.  Taza has ambitious goals, but is also thinking about the well-being of all cacao farmers.  They may not be helping all of them, but they are trying to make a difference.

In conclusion, Taza’s Direct Trade does mean something and is making a difference. By shrinking the supply chain seen with larger chocolate companies, Taza is eliminating many of the exploitative labor practices and economic inefficiencies seen in a typical supply chain.  So, next time you are craving some chocolate, head to the store and grab that Taza bar.

 

* Process information found on http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/bccca/creating-a-sustainable-chocolate-industry/the-supply-chain-for-chocolate.html; image made in PowerPoint

Works Cited:

“About Taza.” Taza Chocolate, 2015, https://www.tazachocolate.com/pages/about-taza. Accessed 3 May, 2017.

Berlan, Amanda. “Social Sustainability in Agriculture: An Anthropological Perspective on Child Labour in Cocoa Production in Ghana.” The Journal of Development Studies, vol. 49, no. 8, 2013, pp. 1088-1100.

“Cocoa: Latest Price & Chart for Cocoa.” Nasdaq, 2017, http://www.nasdaq.com/markets/cocoa.aspx. Accessed 3 May, 2017.

“Harkin-Engel Protocol.” Chocolate Manufacturers Association. 19 September, 2001, http://www.globalexchange.org/sites/default/files/HarkinEngelProtocol.pdf. Accessed 3 May, 2017.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 1: Mesoamerica and the “food of the gods”.” Aframer 199x. CGIS, Cambridge, MA. 01 Feb., 2017. Lecture.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 8: Modern day Slavery.” Aframer 199x. CGIS, Cambridge, MA. 22 Mar., 2017. Lecture.

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

“Our Process.” Taza Chocolate, 2015, https://www.tazachocolate.com/pages/our-process. Accessed 3 May, 2017.

Ryan, Órla. Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. Zed Books, 2011.

“2016 Transparency Report.” Taza Chocolate, 2015, https://www.tazachocolate.com/pages/2016-transparency-report. Accessed 3 May, 2017.

Picture and Video Source:

“Boy Cutting Cacao Bean.” Google Images, Accessed 3 May, 2017.

“Creating a Sustainable Chocolate Industry.” Business Case Studies, 2017, http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/bccca/creating-a-sustainable-chocolate-industry/the-supply-chain-for-chocolate.html. Accessed 3 May, 2017.

“Taza Chocolate Making Process.” Taza Chocolate, 2012, https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0974/7668/files/Taza_Chocolate_Making_Process.pdf?10043542871181577895. Accessed 3 May, 2017.

“Taza Chocolate “Bean to Bar”.” Taza Chocolate, 2012, https://vimeo.com/33380451.

“2016 Partner Report.” Taza Chocolate, 2015, https://www.tazachocolate.com/pages/2016-partner-report-alto-beni-cacao-company. Accessed 3 May, 2017.

 

 

 

 

“The Drink of the Elite”

Today, due to the commonality of chocolate as an everyday treat, except for the most expensive, finest-quality chocolates consumed by the those with “well-lined pockets,” (Coe 95), it might be difficult to imagine chocolate as “the emperor’s banquet” (Coe 96). However, pre-Columbian customs reflect a history of chocolate as “the drink of the elite” (Coe 95). The history of this truth lies in glyphs and memoirs recounted by sources who bore witness to this luxury. Chocolate held a place in society by which commoners rarely partook. The historical significance of this custom allows one to trace the history of chocolate as it has evolved for today’s culture to appreciate. History often does not offer palatable derivation.

To extrapolate upon this history, one has imagined that the cacao bean is “the bean of the gods.”

1192575_900

The Aztec elite – the royal house, lords and nobility, long-distance merchants, and warriors (Coe 95) imbibed chocolate, adding to the glory of their imperial existence. With exception, soldiers were welcomed to join, but chocolate was mostly confined to the noble class. This distinction also excluded priests. Coe contends that this chocolate ritual might resemble champagne toasts among today’s elite. This insertion might help present-day society understand the importance of the historical feast that these rulers enjoyed: for champagne is not the usual drink of twenty-first century patrons.

One should note that chocolate was served at the end of the meal. Much like tobacco, brandy, and cigars, chocolate was a delicacy to be appreciated at banquet’s end (Coe 95). Every cultural norm deserves study as one envisions the life of those who celebrated these rites. It is purported that Aztec Emperor Montezuma drank more than his fair share of chocolate!

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The sources upon which this tradition rests include eye-witness accounts of grandiosity and extravagance. Keep in mind that these centuries-old tales were often passed down by the emperors themselves. One story from Bernal Diaz del Castillo involves a “colossal event” in which “300 dishes were prepared especially for him” (Coe 95). Coe adds that Bernal Diaz was in his eighties when he recollected this celebration. Coe also suggests that the hyperbolic manner in which this tale is presented includes other dubious statements in his testimony. However, other accounts, including one from Fray Bartolome de la Casa, might seem more reliable as he, a Dominican friar, was less removed from this glory (Coe 96). According to Las Casas, chocolate was drank from calabash, painted vessels, from the gourds of the calabash tree (Presilla 12) and not from chalices of gold and silver. Regardless of the storyteller, Aztec artifacts confirm that chocolate was not for mere mortals but rather that of the upper class. These artifacts include glyphs and painted pictures that told a story of chocolate’s history. Vessels have been discovered with these artifacts, proving this legacy.

Many desired this social standing: for the pochteca, long-distance traders, regularly enjoyed chocolate drink (Coe 96). Those merchants who aspired to be among those ranks were obliged to host expensive banquets to prove their ability to maintain this economic status (Coe 97). This obligation deserves attention because it is a reflection of “climbing up the ranks” by which today’s society is held. Chocolate was synonymous with “luxury and status” (Presilla 14), but the costliness of this endeavor is a price that many sacrificed. This membership with its costly expenditures was tied to chocolate etiquette (Coe 98). Without this history, one might not appreciate the value of Aztec goods.

 

Works Cited

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

Presilla, Maricel. The New Taste of Chocolate. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2001.

A Pretense of Ethics: Slavery in Cocoa and Sugar Production

While slavery has technically been abolished in much of the world since the end of the 19th century, that does not prevent it from still occurring. Specifically, the chocolate and sugar production industries are notorious for slavery and poor labor conditions in the production of their products. Tactics were used by various chocolate and sugar producers to distance themselves from slavery while still supporting the system. The companies and its leadership would appear to be anti-slavery and pro-livable working conditions, however, those same companies used slaves in their production chains or ignored the use of slavery elsewhere. This allowed the companies to continue to use free and cheap labor to increase their profit while maintaining a positive public image.

The major concerns of all companies are profit and public image. Profit keeps the business afloat and successful. Public image ensures that consumers will continue to buy the company’s product, further helping their profit. These aspects take precedence over ethical dilemmas that companies may face even if the leadership of that company might strongly believe in resolving the ethical dilemma. A prime example of this is how the Cadbury company handled allegations that slavery existed in São Tomé and Príncipe, where they purchased over 45% of their cocoa for chocolate production (Satre 18).

The Cadbury family was known not only for being liberal and progressive but also decidedly anti-slavery. George Cadbury, the chairman, was a Quaker with many humanitarian and abolitionist friends, a member of the Anti-Slavery Society and the owner of the Daily News (London), which he used as a platform for the Liberal Party to advance its agenda that included abolition (Satre 16, 21). Cadbury even has a blue plaque publicly displayed in the United Kingdom professing his dedication to philanthropy, suggesting that he had an ethical and moral compass.

Blue_plaque_George_Cadbury
Blue Plaque to George Cadbury in England (Wikipedia Commons)

William Cadbury, another member of the company, when dealing with the issue of slavery in São Tomé and Príncipe constantly expressed interest in stopping it. In June 1902, he wrote, in reference to the Angola slave trade “I am willing to help any organised plan that your Society may suggest for the definite purpose of putting a stop to the slave trade of this district,” (Satre 22) clearly showing his support for ending the slave trade. However, all this talk of support was met with very little action that benefited the enslaved community in São Tomé and Príncipe that produced nearly a majority of the cacao purchased by the Cadbury company. It was not until seven years after Cadbury received the initial reports of slavery that their own commissioned report on the problem was hesitantly released (Satre 32).

The image of morality extended to the company itself. Scholar Charles Dellheim discusses the company culture of Cadbury and throughout the beginning, he attests to the ethical values held by Cadbury. The first things he says about Cadbury is “The Quaker beliefs of the Cadbury family shaped the ethic of the firm” and “The Cadburys practiced benevolence” (Dellheim 14). The fact that he opened with this praise of Cadbury ethics shows that the public image of Cadbury as an ethical company was strong and prominent. And they still had yet to actually stop purchasing cacao from plantations in São Tomé and Príncipe where slavery was present.

This disconnect between their talk and action was largely driven by Cadbury’s desire to increase profits and maintain a positive public image. William Cadbury, who was known to be liberal and anti-slavery, explained that the slavery he faced with his company now appeared different to him. He “admitted that one ‘looks at these matters in a different light when it affects one’s own interests’” (Satre 19) and he displayed this inability to see the issue of slavery as the same because it affected his own interests when he explained that Cadbury “should all like to clear our hands of any responsibility for slave traffic in any form” (qtd in Satre 19). This approach to slavery is very different from what he portrayed before about putting an end to the slave trade. Here, he wants to dissolve any responsibility that he or the company has with the existence of slavery, but it does not necessarily follow that slavery must be abolished for this to happen. In fact, when they eventually boycotted cacao from São Tomé and Príncipe, slavery was not eradicated, instead, they were no longer responsible and another chocolate company took their spot in purchasing cacao from São Tomé and Príncipe.

Despite the Cadbury’s professed commitment to abolition, they still allowed slavery to continue in São Tomé and Príncipe because ending it would “affect [their] own interests,” meaning the profit of their country. It would be costly to try to move production elsewhere and additionally pay more to purchase the new cacao because the laborers would actually be paid wages. Even Cadbury said, as paraphrased by Sir Martin Gosselin, that “this might mean paying a somewhat higher price at first; but they were ready to make this sacrifice, if by so doing they could put a stop to a disguised slave Trade” (Satre 24). Unfortunately, if this were truly the case, Cadbury would have worked to end the slave trade in São Tomé and Príncipe rather than just leave the region, still open to slavery, because they started to get pressure from their consumers.

Through all of this, Cadbury was additionally protecting their public image. While publicly they seemed to be anti-slavery, it is clear that their actions did not reflect that. However, they continued to push the image that they were moral, ethical and fair. Cadbury had several ads claiming that they chocolate was “pure”. Once such ad is shown below. While pure probably literally meant that there were physically no additives that might contaminate the chocolate, the word choice connotes a sort of innocence. Purity is associated with something clean, moral and without scandal.

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Cadbury Advertisement in 1900 (The Advertising Archives)

Even in the report, they had commissioned on the working conditions in São Tomé and Príncipe, they sugar-coated the issue. There was an initial report that was revised to be less offensive to the Portuguese government and Higgs describes the difference in Chocolate Islands saying “The most striking difference between the two reports was the careful language in the 1907 version. As Burtt acknowledged, great care was taken to avoid ‘referring to the serviçaes as slaves or to the serviçal system as slavery, because, approaching the matter as I did with an open mind, I have wished to avoid question-begging epithets”(Higgs 136). Intuitively it would follow that Cadbury would look to end slavery in order to preserve their public image. However, their public image did not depend on whether slavery exists, it depended on whether they were tied to the slavery that exists, or as Cadbury put it, they were responsible for the slavery. Instead of actually working to end slavery, Cadbury looked to distance itself from the slavery that existed in their supply chain. This meant that they moved their production elsewhere, but did not ensure that slavery actually ended. As a result, the slavery continued even after they stopped purchasing from São Tomé and Príncipe.

In the following podcast, the story of William Cooper is explored. William Cooper was similarly anti-slavery and even started his own sugar production company that did not use slave labor. However, he owned slaves himself. Again, there is a contradiction between what is ultimately done versus the principles he held.

Ultimately, the motivations of profit and public image drive companies to do things that may not seem to fit with what they believe ethically. This creates a huge gap in justice and equality in production. It also allows the companies to feign ethics and morality without actually acting in defense of those things.

 

Works Cited

Cadbury. Cadbury magazine advertisement. The Advertising Archives. 1900,

http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/detail/37639/1/Magazine-

Advert/Cadburys/1900s.

Catherine Higgs. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, Colonial Africa. Ohio University Press,

2012, Athens, Ohio. 136.

Charles Dellheim. “The Creation of a Company Culture: Cadburys, 1861-1931.” The

             American Historical Review, vol. 92, no. 1, February 1997, pp. 13-44.

Lowell J. Satre. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business.

University Press, 2005, Athens, Ohio. 16-32.

Oosoom. Blue plaque to George Cadbury at 32 George Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham,

England. Wikimedia Commons. April 7, 2007,

2007, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blue_plaque_George_Cadbury.jpg.

“Sweet Talk: A History of Sugar.” From BackStory, 7 February

2014, http://backstoryradio.org/shows/sweet-talk.

 

 

Bernardino de Sahagún: First Anthropologist?

Anthropologists study people throughout the world, their evolutionary history, how they behave, adapt to different environments, communicate, and socialise with one another (Royal Anthropological Institute 2017). They do so with a scientific interest, they look to understand the people they are studying and look only to understand. There are no ulterior motives in true anthropology and they do not strive to change their research subjects in anyway. Bernardino de Sahagún has often been called the “First Anthropologist” for the work that he did studying the natives of Central America. While Bernardino de Sahagún should be recognized for his contributions to the field of anthropology and our understanding of Central America before the Spanish conquest, giving him the title of “first anthropologist” goes too far given his study’s evangelical motivations.

Born in 1499, Bernardino de Sahagún grew up and spent the first third of his life in Spain. He studied at the University of Salamanca which at the time was a “principal center of culture in Western Europe” (Leon-Portilla 2002). At the University he joined the priesthood and in 1529 he set sail with a group of Franciscan monks for the New World. Less than a decade after Cortes’ conquest the land of New Spain was filled with conflict when he arrived. During the early part of his time in the New World, he demonstrated a talent for learning native languages and worked at the Imperial College of Santa Cruz in Tatelolco instructing natives in a variety of different subjects. It was there that he trained his main collaborators who would assist him in the creation of a number of works about the people of Central America before the Spanish conquest. In 1547, he undertook his first research endeavor collecting 40 Huehuetlahtolli which were orations from the pre-Spanish literary tradition. His research efforts continued to expand until 1558 when he began his general study of New Spain which would led to the creation of the Historia General otherwise know as the Florentine Codex (Leon-Portilla 2002).

The Historia General is an incredibly important text for which Bernardino de Sahagún has received a number of accolades and acknowledgements. It is one of the few texts that describes life in Central America before the Spanish Conquest in great depth. In The True History of Chocolate, the Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe (2013, 65-66) argue “Fray Bernardino de Sahagún [is] rightly held by many in the anthropological profession to have been the world’s first field ethnographer.” Stuart B. Schwartz (2000, 24-25) points out “The Florentine Codex has been called one of the greatest ethnographic works ever.” The below is a statue erected to de Sahagún in Hidalgo, Mexico. There is also a statue of him in his hometown in Spain. These statutes illustrate the high levels of praise Bernardino de Sahagún has received for his work in New Spain.

BDSStatute

Among the number of biographies written about Sahagún, he has been called “the creator of anthropological research methodology” (Leon-Portilla 2002, citing D’Olwer) and “one of the high points of Spanish science” (Leon- Portilla 2002, citing Graibrois). Leon-Portilla’s (2002) biography is even called Bernardino de Sahagún: First Anthropologist.

While Bernardino de Sahagún’s work deserves many accolades, the claim that he is the “first anthropologist” goes too far. The explicit motivations for his study run counter to the central goals of anthropology as a science. He embarked on this research to learn as much as he could about the “idolatrous, human, and natural things” of New Spain (Leon-Portilla 2002, 133) in order to make evangelizing the natives of New Spain easier. Anthropology at its core is focused on understanding for understanding’s sake. De Sahagún’s project was focused on understanding with the aim of changing and eradicating. Leon-Portilla (2002, 133) admits this saying “it would be wrong to postulate that he was moved primarily by what we would qualify as scientific interest.”

The evangelizing goal of de Sahagún’s mission is indisputable. In the prologue to the first book of the Historia General he says that Fray Francisco de Toral ordered him to conduct and complete the work. The evangelizing mission is not about celebrating or understanding another culture or group of people. It is about changing a group of people’s beliefs and way of life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=484cFgk-p1c

The above link shows a clip from the 1986 movie The Mission which is about 18th Century Spanish Jesuit Missionaries in South America (Joffe and Bolt 1986). In this clip the natives are shown singing and chanting songs they have been taught by the missionaries. This is a dramatic representation of the missionaries’ tendency to encroach into the lives they are interacting with rather than just observing and understanding.

Bernardino de Sahagún should be acknowledged for this contributions to the world including pioneering some essential anthropological methods. His portrait by Cecil O’Gorman shown below rightly includes a book that alludes to his work among the natives in New Spain.

BDS

Bernardino de Sahagún should be remembered for this work, for showing the world what life in Central America looked like before the Spanish conquest. To call him the “First Anthropologist” goes too far and is ignoring reality. De Sahagún’s evangelistic motivations disqualify him from that title as the missionaries sought to understand and change, whereas anthropology at its core is about celebrating and understanding in and of itself.

The Anthropologist Ruth Benedict is quoted as saying “The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences” (Royal Anthropological Institute 2017). The work of missionaries does not align with this purpose. Bernardino de Sahagún was certainly an indigenist and an appreciator of native culture but he was a missionary and not the “first anthropologist.”

 

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D, and Michael D. Coe. 2013. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd edition. London: Thames & Hudson.

Joffé, Roland, and Robert Bolt. 1986. The Mission. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video.

León Portilla, Miguel. 2002. Bernardino de Sahagun, First Anthropologist. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Royal Anthropological Institute. 2017. “What Is Anthropology?” Discover Anthropology. https://www.discoveranthropology.org.uk/about-anthropology/what-is-anthropology.html.

Schwartz, Stuart B. 2000. Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico. Bedford Series in History and Culture. Boston: Bedford/StMartin’s.

 

The Evolution of Cacao-Based Drinks in Mexico

Millions of tons of chocolate are produced each year, yet few today would guess that this sugary treat had its origins in frothy, semi-sweet cacao drinks prepared for Maya and Aztec royalty. Chocolate bars, candies, cakes, and pastries are the most popular forms of the food in most of the US and Europe today. Chocolate milk and hot chocolate retain some basic similarity with the cacao drinks of thousands of years ago, yet they combine the chocolate with milk, sugar, and other ingredients that would have been foreign to the Maya and Aztecs. Yet, in Mexico, a tradition of cacao beverages has been preserved from the fall of the Aztec empire to the present day. In this paper, I investigate modern cacao drinks and argue that though they are often marketed with references to the Maya and Aztecs, modern drinks represent a unique hybridity of ancient traditions and European ingredients and styles of preparation.

Chemical analysis has shown that cacao beverages were produced in Mesoamerica as early as 1100 BCE.[1] Cacao beverages were prepared by both the Maya and Aztec, and were considered very precious because cacao beans were used as a form of currency.[2] Maya drinks, especially those produced in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, were known for being prepared hot, while Aztec cacao drinks were generally cold.[3] In Aztec times, cacao beverages were often prepared in different ways depending on the quality of the cacao. High quality cacao was combined with water and frothed, while lower-quality cacao was often combined with other ingredients, including corn, seeds, chili peppers, vanilla, and other flowers.[4] By the time the Spanish arrived in the 1600’s, cacao beverages were sold in markets across Mexico, though cacao remained expensive and had high social significance.[5] Because of the wide range of different flavorings combined with cacao drinks, different regions of present-day Mexico each had unique interpretations of cacao beverages during Aztec times.[6]

Today, Mexico still has a wide range of cacao-based drinks available in different regions of the country. During lecture on February 1st, we watched a video detailing the preparation of Champurrado, a popular chocolate beverage in Mexico today.[7] In this video, the drink is prepared using pre-processed bars of dark chocolate, rather than the raw cacao that would have been used in ancient beverages. Additionally, the Champurrado is mixed with sugar, milk, cinnamon, and star anise – additions that are distinctively European. However, Champurrado also contains masa harina (a form of corn flour) and water, and makes use of a traditional molinillo (an item introduced to Mesoamerica by the Spanish[8]) to mix the ingredients and create a froth. Though the mixture of cacao and water is distinctively Mesoamerican, the additional ingredients and use of a molinillo reflect the influence of Spanish colonialism.

However, Champurrado is just one of many popular cacao drinks in Mexico today – and just one of many unique combinations of ancient recipes and European influences. Today there are a variety of different cacao drinks made in different regions of Mexico, for example bu’pu in Tehuantepec, chorote in Tabasco, tascalate in Chiapas, and tejate in Oaxaca.[9]

Tejate is perhaps the most authentic, as archaeological research has shown that many of its ingredients, as well as the vessels it is served in, reflect the style of cacao beverages produced in Oaxaca for thousands of years.[10] According to a 2009 article from The Atlantic, in tejate’s recipe “you’ll almost always find a blend of nixtamal corn, cacao beans, mamey seed, and rosita de cacao–the secret ingredient that makes tejate truly special. Rosita de cacao is the flower of the funeral tree (Quararibea funebris).”[11] Once the ingredients are combined, tejate is served combined with water and topped with a pile of frothy foam.[12] Similar cacao-foam-based drinks can be found passed-down from generation to generation in Cholula, Puebla, and other regions of Mexico.[13] Though tejate combines cacao, corn, flowers, and abundant foam, much like ancient drinks, it also includes modern influences. Today, tejate is served with a sugar-based syrup, and some have experimented with serving tejate paste “in cookies, cake, ice, powder,” and other forms that stray away from the traditional liquid.[14] Though tejate recipes have been passed down for generations and represent a unique cultural inheritance, they have not been immune to the ingredients and new tastes imported by Spanish colonizers.

The video below describes a drink that can be found in Mexico City, Espuma de Cacao[15] – a beverage very similar to the tejate prepared across Oaxaca. However, it is notable that this version of the drink specifically calls it “El elixir de los Dioses” – the elixir of the Gods – a direct reference to the elite pedigree of cacao beverages in Maya and Aztec times. The video does not reference the influence of Spanish colonialism, yet the inclusion of sugar in the recipe reflects the changes to traditional recipes that occurred under Spanish rule.

Video is from OZY travel blog article.[16]

Besides the recipes for cacao-foam drinks passed down in communities across Mexico, there are also recipes that have been created specifically to recreate the cacao-drinking experience of the Aztecs and Mayans. Munchies documents some such recipes made by Fernando Rodriguez, a businessman in Teotihuacan.[17] Rodriguez uses recipes for ancient drinks, found in such sources as the Popul Vuh and Florentine Codex, to design modern drinks that rely on the same key spices, flavors, flowers, and production methods.[18] Though Rodriguez bases most of his drinks on the historical clues he finds from ancient writings, he still makes some blends that introduce cinnamon, ginger, and other spices that were first introduced to Mesoamerica by Spanish colonizers.[19]

Though different areas of Mexico each have their own variations on how to prepare and serve cacao-based drinks, there are common threads that connect all these beverages. In all areas, modern Mexicans are proud of their unique cultural heritage stemming from Aztec and Maya civilization, and market modern cacao drinks for the ancient wisdom and tradition that they perpetuate. Many of the ancient drink-making customs remain the same – corn, flowers, and water are often added, and foam is still often considered a desirable element to top the beverage. Yet, Spanish and European taste and colonial influence can also be seen in many variations of these drinks. The most common manifestation of this is the addition of sugar, though cinnamon, ginger, star anise, other spices, and milk also reflect the influx of European ingredients and taste preferences. The cacao beverages produced across Mexico today are unique, with no clear counterpart in most other countries, yet they represent both the heritage of ancient civilizations and, more subtly, the complex and difficult legacy of Spanish colonialism.

 

[1] John S. Henderson, Rosemary A. Joyce, Gretchen R. Hall, W. Jeffrey Hurst, and Patrick E. Mcgovern, “Chemical and Archaeological Evidence for the Earliest Cacao Beverages,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104, no. 48 (2007): 18937. http://www.pnas.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/content/104/48/18937.full

[2] Sophie D. Coe, and Michael D. Coe, The True History of Chocolate, 3rd ed. (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013), 81-84.

[3] Coe and Coe, The True History of Chocolate, 83-84.

[4] Coe and Coe, The True History of Chocolate, 86-94.

[5] Daniela Soleri, Marcus Winter, Steven R. Bozarth, and W. Jeffrey Hurst, “Archaeological Residues and Recipes: Exploratory Testing for Evidence of Maize and Cacao Beverages in Postclassic Vessels from the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico,” Latin American Antiquity 24, no. 03 (2013): 345-62, 345-347, accessed via Hollis, http://www.jstor.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/stable/23645680?seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents

[6] Coe and Coe, The True History of Chocolate, 94.

[7] Dr. Carla Martin, “Mesoamerica and the ‘Food of the Gods,’” February 1, 2017, slide 82, https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1FzrAQvjXJZnu7lTixblZ1FsyfDjnXtQ-8JyXd2uq5ZM/edit#slide=id.gef490479d_4_279

[8] Coe and Coe, The True History of Chocolate, 83-85.

[9] Soleri, et al, “Archaeological Residues and Recipes,” 347.

[10] Soleri, et al, “Archaeological Residues and Recipes.”

[11] Alex Whitmore, “Cacao Tejate: Ancient Chocolate Drink,” The Atlantic, April 28, 2009, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/04/cacao-tejate-ancient-chocolate-drink/16609/

[12] Whitmore, “Cacao Tejate.”

[13] Margot Castaneda, “How Mexico Is Rediscovering (and Reinventing) Ancient Cacao Drinks,” Munchies (a branch of Vice News), January 7, 2017, https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/how-mexico-is-rediscovering-ancient-cacao-drinks

[14] Castaneda, “How Mexico Is Rediscovering (and Reinventing) Ancient Cacao Drinks.”

[15] Libby Coleman, “This Chocolatey Mexican Drink Will Get You Foaming at the Mouth,” OZY, January 24, 2017, http://www.ozy.com/good-sht/this-chocolatey-mexican-drink-will-get-you-foaming-at-the-mouth/75134

[16] Coleman, “This Chocolatey Mexican Drink.”

[17] Castaneda, “How Mexico Is Rediscovering (and Reinventing) Ancient Cacao Drinks.”

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

 

Bibliography

Multimedia Sources 

Castaneda, Margot. “How Mexico Is Rediscovering (and Reinventing) Ancient Cacao Drinks.” Munchies (a branch of Vice News). January 7, 2017. https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/how-mexico-is-rediscovering-ancient-cacao-drinks

Coleman, Libby. “This Chocolatey Mexican Drink Will Get You Foaming at the Mouth.” OZY. January 24, 2017. http://www.ozy.com/good-sht/this-chocolatey-mexican-drink-will-get-you-foaming-at-the-mouth/75134

Whitmore, Alex. “Cacao Tejate: Ancient Chocolate Drink.” The Atlantic. April 28, 2009. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/04/cacao-tejate-ancient-chocolate-drink/16609/

 

Academic Sources 

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013.

Henderson, John S., Rosemary A. Joyce, Gretchen R. Hall, W. Jeffrey Hurst, and Patrick E. Mcgovern. “Chemical and Archaeological Evidence for the Earliest Cacao Beverages.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104, no. 48 (2007): 18937. Accessed via Hollis. http://www.pnas.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/content/104/48/18937.full

Martin, Carla. “Mesoamerica and the ‘Food of the Gods.’” February 1, 2017. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1FzrAQvjXJZnu7lTixblZ1FsyfDjnXtQ-8JyXd2uq5ZM/edit#slide=id.gef490479d_4_279

Soleri, Daniela, Marcus Winter, Steven R. Bozarth, and W. Jeffrey Hurst. “Archaeological Residues and Recipes: Exploratory Testing for Evidence of Maize and Cacao Beverages in Postclassic Vessels from the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico.” Latin American Antiquity 24, no. 03 (2013): 345-62. accessed via Hollis. http://www.jstor.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/stable/23645680?seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents

Hershey in War, from Rations to Friendship

Headquartered in rural Pennsylvania, over 87% of Hershey’s total revenues are based in North America, despite corporate strategies promoting global market expansion. Of Hershey’s twelve production facilities, ten are in North America and only two are in Asia.[1] Despite production and consumption based in the United States, the Hershey name has made a significant impact internationally through its association with the American military. This relationship heightens the dichotomy between cacao as a source of sustenance and a luxurious treat. Cacao promotes athletics and war on the one hand, pleasure and enjoyment on the other. In the U.S., Hershey supplied ration bars for soldiers. Its classic candies have bridged cross-cultural divides from World War I through the Berlin Airlift, the swamps of Vietnam to the deserts of Iraq.

The first documented histories of chocolate reveal the origins of the bean’s association with both indulgence and nutrition. Civilizations in Latin and South America recognized that “Armies travel on their stomachs.” The Aztecs, for example, believed that chocolate provided energy to fighters, who consumed the beverage before battle. [2] This tradition extended to European society. Britain’s Cadbury proclaimed that its cocoa, “Makes men stronger,” while Hershey deemed its chocolate bar “A meal in itself.”[3] Enjoyment of chocolate thereby spread from royal circles to the masses while it maintained its association with energy and success.[4]

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Soldiers continued to rely on chocolate as portable, high-energy fuel. In the French and Indian War, Benjamin Franklin sent each colonial officer six pounds of chocolate. The Continental Congress set price controls on cocoa, and the Americans rejoiced after the British left behind pounds of chocolate at the Fort of Ticonderoga.[5] World War II marked the intersection between the commercialization of chocolate production and the mass mobilization of armies. Mars created M&M’s in 1932, after Forrest Mars saw Spanish troops eating chocolate beads encased in sugar (to prevent melting). Mars sold M&M’s exclusively to the US military during WWII until turning to the public market in 1948.[6]

While Mars approached the U.S. to begin their relationship, the state reached out to Hershey.[7] The Office of War Information popularized the “militarization of food” through posters, film shorts, radio broadcasts, and propaganda that the Allie would win from combining democratic institutions with productive capitalism.[8] The initial request for Hershey in 1937 was for a 4 ounce bar, high in energy, resistant to heat, and tasting “little better than a boiled potato.”[9] The resulting product was terribly dense, earned the moniker “Hitler’s Secret Weapon” for its effect on the digestive system, and found itself more often discarded than eaten. Hershey continues to revise the recipe, introducing new iterations from Korea to Vietnam.[10]

Sugar-filled, traditional version of American chocolate became tools of diplomacy across language, culture, and generational gaps, a narrative that Hershey helped build. World War I saw troops from opposing trenches across the western front held a temporary truce in December of 1914.[11] British soldiers shared Rowntree chocolate biscuits, sent to support soldiers from its headquarters in York. They broke the biscuits together and then they played friendly games of football, at least until the war resumed the next week.[12] During World War II, this process began at home. Hotel Hershey interned 300 Vichy diplomats in the United States from 1942 through late 1943, since C-suite officials of Hershey offered the Hotel to the State Department.[13] Diplomats and wealthy businessmen, including the Hershey family and even the Vichy diplomats, continued to frequent luxury French dining establishments to enjoy chocolate, despite rationing restraints.[14] Meanwhile, the general public was forced to remove sugar from large parts of their diet.[15] Thus, the elite continued to mix chocolate and business, while soldiers and the poor traded in traditional sweet treats for subpar alternatives.

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Chocolate from the United States began to foster goodwill among noncombatants soon thereafter. Operation Vittles earned international acclaim during the Berlin Airlift, when 1st Lt. Gail Halvorsen included a few pieces of candy for children in his drops. Soon, his fellow soldiers began to participate, chipping in Hershey treats from their rations. As the public grew aware of the effort, corporations began to donate massive shipments of candy. Ultimately Halvorsen dropped 12 tons of candy and gum for the children of West Berlin from his C-47.[16]

Memoirs of American soldiers exchanged dropping candy out of planes for personal contact with children through candy. David Todeschini arrived in Vietnam as a medical aid provider at age 19. In his first visit to an orphanage, he recalled how,

[The children] ran out to greet us, asking for candy bars, and to have their pictures taken. We had a box full of assorted candies, chocolate, and peanuts donated by the GIs on base, which we distributed immediately upon our arrival; the cache being depleted in less time than it took for the medics to unload their medicine and equipment from the jeeps.[17]

Though the friendship began with sugar and smiles, he argued that the children “sure took notice of us, and it certainly goes beyond the fact that they always begged us for chocolate and candy—you could see it in their eyes, and many of us could see ourselves in their faces.”[18] Steven Alexander expressed similar sentiments in his memoir. The soldiers dreaded receiving C-ration boxes with tropical Hershey chocolate bars, too hot ever to melt and inedible. He instead found joy through chocolate by giving children Hershey bars and then seeing their reactions. Alexander reflected, “I only wished I had a real chocolate Hershey bar from home so she could really enjoy the candy. But she seemed to be happy with what I gave her.”[19] His tropical bar ration may not have added to his happiness, but the classic Hershey treat let him give temporary good cheer to others.

However, these relationships sometimes soured. Todeschini recounted a horrific, heart-wrenching dilemma that faced some of his comrades. The Vietcong began using children as weapons, playing on the moral affinity of American soldiers for local children:

Here comes an innocent child running down a dirt path, barefoot, and carrying about five or 6 pounds of high explosives heading right for you. The child may be racing several others to get there first; to be the first to get a Hershey bar. You know that in 10 seconds, you, your comrades, and the children will die.[20]

Could any man bring himself to shoot? The Vietnam War left behind some valid, anti-American sentiment. However, many of the soldiers attempted to build relationships with local communities based on trust, companionship, and shared appreciation for Hershey. These efforts sometimes ended tragically, but they facilitated an image of generosity regarding American soldiers toward Vietnamese children.

Most recently, the U.S. Air Force has been engaged in dropping food, water, and medicine to people struggling in remote areas, separated from relief by fighting. Another single pilot began this wave, this time Master Sergeant Stephen Brown, who added a little candy to each drop before his peers joined him.[21] Of the 109 bundles of 10,545 gallons of water and 7,056 Halal Meals Ready to Eat, each contained Hershey bars, Starbursts, or other sweets. Brown reflected that they hoped to provide “something that will make a dire situation a little brighter, even if it’s just for a few moments.”[22] Though Hershey remains a distinctly American brand, its reputation has thus extended overseas through the military, from the trenches of France to the desserts of Iraq. Hershey chocolate’s role in military rations and in civilian contacts recalls a dichotomy that has existed since the earliest days of chocolate, between sustenance and pleasure. However, the reality that Hershey chocolate, in both cases, is provided by Americans to soldiers and to children, respectively, shows that it continues to reflect a legacy of luxury and elite access, even in this arena.

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[1] “The Hershey Company,” 10-K (Hershey, PA, December 31, 2015), https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/47111/000004711116000095/a2015_formx10-kq4.

[2] Sophie Coe and Michael Coe, The True History of Chocolate, 3rd ed. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2013), 73.

[3] Ibid., 239.

[4] Ibid., 234. The rise of financial systems in Protestant countries, with capital stores and technological framework, facilitated this democratization of chocolate. The estates of sugar plantations in outposts of empire reduced the price of sugar. And two inventions specifically improved taste and lowered price: Van Houten’s addition of alkaline (to reduce bitterness) and Fry’s creation of milk chocolate (to increase sweetness and lower price).

[5] Though these blocks did not have sugar added, their caffeine content energized soldiers just as they had the Aztecs. Rodney Synder, “History of Chocolate: Chocolate in the American Colonies,” Colonial Williamsburg, http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume9/jan11/featurearticle.

[6] Mars formed a partnership with Hershey’s, founded in 1898, to supply the milk chocolate for this confection until he could produce the filling internally. M&M’s remain a part of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) today. Laura Schumm, “The Wartime Origins of the M&M,” History.com, 2017, http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/the-wartime-origins-of-the-mm.

[7] Allison Carruth, “War Rations and the Food Politics of Late Modernism,” Modernism/Modernity 16, no. 4 (January 1, 2010): 767–95, doi:10.1353/mod.0.0139.

[8] Carruth, 770; U. S. Office of War Information, Food for Fighters, 1943, http://archive.org/details/FoodforF1943. This short film argued that “Food correctly used means fighting strength for our soldiers and better health for civilians,” discussing food plants, university laboratories, and quartermaster corporal studies. These promoted “good food in plenty of variety,” supplied on the front using repurposed assembly lines from candy companies.

[9] Stephanie Butler, “D-Day Rations: How Chocolate Helped Win the War,” History.com, http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/d-day-rations-how-chocolate-helped-win-the-war.

[10] For more information on the evolution of Hershey through military research, alongside other food developments, see Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat (New York, New York: Current, 2015). These chocolate bars have remained relatively unpalatable given the difficulty of replicating the melting temperature of good chocolate once eaten without turning into a puddle in desert heat.

[11] Iain Adams, “A Game for Christmas? The Argylls, Saxons and Football on the Western Front,” International Journal of the History of Sport 32, no. 11 (June 2015): 1395.

[12] Gemma Mullin, “New Exhibition Reveals How Chocolate Was Morale Booster for Soldiers,” Mail Online, July 22, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2701170/How-chocolate-helped-win-WW1-New-exhibition-reveals-important-confectionary-morale-booster-troops-trenches.html.

[13] This hotel was the center of the resort town centered on the Hershey factory in Pennsylvania. The State Department did pay Hershey a $256,643 bill, and the Hotel reopened to the public the next year. Jackie Kruper, “A Sweet Prison Camp,” World War II 20, no. 2 (May 2005): 58–60.

[14] Carruth, 779.

[15] The poor, at this point, relied on inexpensive treats like chocolate for 30% of their daily calories, so the rationing significantly impaired their nutrition. Sidney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power (New York: Penguin, 1985), 256.

[16] “Berlin Airlift: The Chocolate Pilot,” PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/airlift/sfeature/candy.

[17] David Todeschini, Land of Childhood’s Fears – Faith, Friendship, and the Vietnam War (Lulu.com, 2005), 105.

[18] Ibid., 19.

[19] Steven Alexander, An American Soldier in Vietnam (Page Publishing, 2013), chpt. 9; 10.

[20] Todeschini, 258.

[21] Dorian de Wind, “The ‘Candy Bombers’ of Iraq,” Huffington Post, September 4, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dorian-de-wind/the-candy-bombers-of-iraq_b_5769316.html.

[22] “The ‘Almost’ Candy Bombers of Iraq,” U.S. Air Force, accessed March 16, 2017, http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/494965/the-almost-candy-bombers-of-iraq.aspx.

~~~

Works Cited

Alexander, Steven. An American Soldier in Vietnam. Page Publishing Inc, 2013.

Butler, Stephanie. “D-Day Rations: How Chocolate Helped Win the War – Hungry History.” HISTORY.com. Accessed March 15, 2017. http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/d-day-rations-how-chocolate-helped-win-the-war.

Carruth, Allison. “War Rations and the Food Politics of Late Modernism.” Modernism/Modernity 16, no. 4 (January 1, 2010): 767–95. doi:10.1353/mod.0.0139.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013.

Kruper, Jackie. “A Sweet Prison Camp.” World War II 20, no. 2 (May 2005): 58–60.

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

Mullin, By Gemma. “New Exhibition Reveals How Chocolate Was Morale Booster for Soldiers.” Mail Online, July 22, 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2701170/How-chocolate-helped-win-WW1-New-exhibition-reveals-important-confectionary-morale-booster-troops-trenches.html.

Salcedo, Anastacia Marx de. Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat. New York, New York: Current, 2015.

Schumm, Laura. “The Wartime Origins of the M&M – Hungry History.” HISTORY.com. Accessed March 16, 2017. http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/the-wartime-origins-of-the-mm.

Synder, Rodney. “History of Chocolate: Chocolate in the American Colonies.” Colonial Williamsburg. Accessed March 16, 2017. http://history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume9/jan11/featurearticle.cfm.

“The ‘Almost’ Candy Bombers of Iraq.” U.S. Air Force. Accessed March 16, 2017. http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/494965/the-almost-candy-bombers-of-iraq.aspx.

“The Berlin Airlift: The Chocolate Pilot.” PBS. Accessed March 15, 2017. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/airlift/sfeature/candy.html.

“The Hershey Company.” 10-K. Hershey, PA, December 31, 2015. https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/47111/000004711116000095/a2015_formx10-kq4.htm.

Todeschini, David. Land of Childhood’s Fears – Faith, Friendship, and the Vietnam War. Lulu.com, 2005.

S. Office of War Information. Food for Fighters, 1943. http://www.archive.org/details/FoodforF1943.

Wind, Dorian de. “The ‘Candy Bombers’ of Iraq.” Huffington Post, September 4, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dorian-de-wind/the-candy-bombers-of-iraq_b_5769316.html.