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Churning into the “Chocolate Age:” How Industrial Age Technologies Created a New Chocolate Era

You may be surprised to find out that the chocolate that we know today is a relatively new, tasty discovery- one that came about from the Industrial Age.

When the Industrial Revolution took place, the world revolutionized with it, and industries of all kinds were forever altered. The chocolate industry, still in the Mayan age, sprouted into a new field and its effects can still be traced today. The technology in the Industrial Revolution provided the tools to advance the field of chocolate, which allowed for mass consumption and commercialization, giving way to the “Chocolate Age.”

Chocolate’s “God-Like” Beginnings

Cacao was considered the “food of the gods,” and was treated as such: before the Industrial Age, chocolate was made the traditional way that the Mayans made it with a long, drawn-out process of cracking shells and traditional grinding to create a bitter chocolate drink (unlike the chocolate of today) (Szogyi, 1997).

20100214_01a_kjf_ps_120.dng

Modern Mayan woman demonstrating how her ancestors

would grind cacao (Smithsonian)

This treat was considered to be a drink that was both a commodity and spiritual experience; although it was available to the masses, the wealthy certainly had more access to the treat because they could afford it. Cacao was taken as such a serious product that the Mayans used its seeds as currency; further, it was used to promote fertility and life, and cacao pods are found all over elite and ancient artifacts, temples, and palaces. Clearly, these uses and techniques demonstrate how luxurious chocolate was to them; these processes stayed this way even during the era of the Aztec empire and many centuries later (Horn, 2016 & Szogyi).

The Industrial Difference

This process of chocolate was so revered that it essentially did not change until the Industrial Age with a ground-breaking invention for grinding that used the newly-innovated steam and hydraulic process; in 1778, Doret, a Frenchman, invented a hydraulic machine that grinds cocoa beans into a paste (Beckett, Horn). Before then, the process of grinding was long and tedious and this machine allowed the process to become easier to create for the masses. Soon after, more inventions came along for grinding that further made consumption more popular. For instance, Dubuisson invented a steam chocolate grinder in France because it was even cheaper to replicate than Doret’s product, which allowed for an even higher level of mass consumption of chocolate. The Industrial Age created the environment to allow for this change – without steam and hydraulics, and the friendly and booming business atmosphere for support, Doret and Dubuisson would certainly not have been able to create these inventions. Where would be chocolate be today? One could reasonably predict that we could have eventually have had these technologies, but it is safe to assume that it would have taken the chocolate industry much longer to reach its glory.

The steam engine and hydraulic system are considered staples of this Industrial Age with new technologies across the boards for trains, factories, and buildings, but we can also appreciate how these technologies allowed for the advancement of chocolate technology. The value of chocolate significantly decreased because it was accessible to everyone; from here on, it was no longer an “elite” product or just a “food of the gods,” but, rather, a food for everyone. Thus, the Industrial Age that changed the world on so many fronts quickly churned into the “Chocolate Age” as well.

The idea of the mass consumption of chocolate from the Industrial Age can be traced along the later part of the history of chocolate. Quickly after the revelation with the cocoa beans came a new way to make chocolate an even more accessible product with commercialization – via “dutching” (Squiciarinni & Swinnen, 2016). In 1828, Van Houten, a Dutch chemist, invented a method to press cocoa by separating the cocoa butter by pressing it with alkali, making the matter soften up enough to produce cocoa powder, which was light and fluffy; unlike the current chocolate of that time, dutching made chocolate highly digestible, which would attract new consumers and open up a whole new market for chocolate – just like these technologies helped do so in other industries such as the construction field (i.e. making materials more affordable and attractive for building).

Van Houten’s cocoa press (World Standards)

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Additionally, cocoa powder was the secret ingredient needed for the chocolate industry and companies to seamlessly make solid chocolate bars and coat them as well as bring in new flavors such as white chocolate. From there, a second wave of the Chocolate Age had been set and was about to take place.

 

A Second Wave of the Age – Mass Commercialization and the Chocolate Bar

With the mass consumption of chocolate from these new Industrial technologies came mass commercialization. Quite simply, we can see that chocolate companies would not be what they are today without this commercial influence; specifically, the dutching process sparked a spread of commercialization across Europe, which allowed for the worldwide chocolate industry we have come to know and love. For example, Cadbury, one of the largest chocolate companies today, and Joseph Fry (founder of what is known as Mondolez International today) bought the dutching press; these two companies are credited to be the first companies to create and sell the chocolate bar. They also made the chocolate bar a highly accessible treat with aggressive advertising; this marketing scheme raked in millions of dollars for these companies (Beckett, Horn). It was the catalyst behind the beginning of giant factories built to keep up with this demand.

Thus, the chocolate bar became (and still is) a symbol for a quick, delicious treat for everyone and anyone.

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Fry’s chocolate bar packaging (Foods of England)

Moreover, the dutching system then inspired the chocolate exportation business that brought chocolate on to an international stage – a few decades after the start of the chocolate bar, the Van Houten presses became powered by steam engines, and, just like with the Dubuisson’s steam engine, came with another Chocolate Revolution. The mass consumption and commercialization of chocolate began in European countries such as Germany and France, which eventually led its way to the United States (Beckett, Szogyi). These countries then started their own chocolate giants such as Hershey’s and Nestlé, which embody the same mass consumption and commercialization ideals that have advanced the history of chocolate along and allowed it to further churn.

Without the Industrial age, chocolate would just not be the same. It is literally unrecognizable from its Olmec and Mayan roots. From the Industrial Age, the Chocolate Age churned on and on – all starting with the advancements in steam and hydraulics.

 

References

Beckett, S.T, et al. Industrial Chocolate – Manufacture and Use. Wiley Publishers: Hoboken.

Horn, Jeff. The Industrial Revolution: History, Documents, and Key Questions. (2016). ABC-CLIO: Santa Barbara.

Squicciarini, Mara P & Swinnen, Johan. (2016). The Economics of Chocolate. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Smithsonian. Retrieved from http://newsdesk.si.edu/releases/power-chocolate-reveals-true-roots-celebrated-food

Szogyi, Alex. (1997). Chocolate: Food of the Gods. Greenwood Publishing Group: Westport.

The Foods of England. Retrieved from http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/chocolate.htm

World Standards. Retrieved from http://www.worldstandards.eu/chocolate%20-%20history.html

 

 

 

Industrial Progress: How the industrialization of chocolate morphed function and accessibility

Throughout its history, chocolate has maintained a relatively stable existence in terms of its functions and production.  While there have been periods of change, there have also been long stretches of time where chocolate use stayed consistent.  For example, in Mesoamerica from as early as 1800 BCE to as late as 900 CE chocolate was consumed as a beverage and used in a variety of religious ceremonies (C-Spot).  However, when brought to Europe in the early 1500s, chocolate went through a period of rapid change. Most significantly, chocolate’s industrialization led to a change in its accessibility, highlighting how advancements in production methodology and advertising of chocolate altered its social standing and class function.  Through careful examination of key events in the industrial timeline of chocolate, four stages can be identified that each show a transition in the industrial development, ultimately linked to societal structure and function.

Starting in the 16th and 17th centuries, chocolate was introduced to Europe as a drink for the aristocracy.  Over these two centuries, chocolate served a variety of functions, of which some are no longer recognized in modern society.  In 1556, the earliest recipe for chocolate was documented in Spain.  This recipe, collected by a lieutenant of Captain Hernán Cortés, relates how the cacao beans are ground into powder, mixed with water until foamy, and then stirred with gold or silver spoons until drunk.  This was an especially common recipe in Mesoamerica.  The entry then declares that this drink is the “most wholesome and substantial of any food or beverage in the world…whoever drinks a cup of this liquor can go thru a whole day without taking anything else even if on a cross country journey” (C-Spot).  This account clearly relates cacao’s function as a hearty beverage with a substantial amount of nutritional value.  However, the function of cacao changes in the 1580s when it contributes to the humoral theory of medicine in that its “hot” nature combats poison, alleviates intestinal discomfort, and cures a variety of other ailments (Coe 122).  This functional form sticks with chocolate into the 1600s where its increasing demand eventually leads to European plantations in the Caribbean that operate to ensure a steady supply of cacao for the European elite.  In fact, the elite were so floored by chocolate that in 1657 the first chocolate house was established in London (C-Spot).  These houses were the cultural and political hub for society’s elite (Coe 223).  To get a historical and social sense of a chocolate house in England, this article by Dr. Matthew Green published in The Telegraph is quite informative. Dr. Green does a great job of capturing the sophisticated nature of these houses, particularly those of the super elite on St. James Square.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, chocolate was served to the elites of Europe in a variety of functions ranging from a medicine to a simple, yet powerful, beverage.  However, as the 18th and 19th centuries approached, a more transitional period of chocolate began to take form, in which production was industrialized and the final product was made more accessible to the middle class.  Starting in 1764, the first power machinery was used in chocolate production, in the form of a grist mill, used to grind cacao beans by Baker’s Chocolate in Dorchester, Massachusetts (Coe 227).  Baker’s Chocolate was founded on the pillars of purity of product, mass production, money-back guarantee, and affordability (C-Spot).  These pillars emphasize the shift from the chocolate drink as an item of the elite to a mass produced and advertised product accessible to a range of social classes.  This evolution of chocolate manufacturing continued in 1828 when Coenraad Johannes van Houten received a patent for his screw press, used to separate fat from the roasted cacao beans (C-Spot).  This method was an inexpensive way of removing fat and leaving behind a cake that could be ground into a fine powder (C-Spot).  Later call the Dutch Process, it was promoted by van Houten as “for the rich and poor – made instantly – easier than tea” (C-Spot).  It was even thought of as a more suitable chocolate for women and children as this process removed the bitterness found in untreated cacao (C-Spot).  The last industrial innovation of note was the first mass-marketed chocolate bar produced by Fry’s Chocolate.  In 1847, Francis and Joseph Fry were able to perfect the chocolate mixture in a moldable form, thus forming the first bar (Coe 241).  As can be seen in the advertisement below, Fry’s Chocolate consumption was directed at children due to its sweeter taste, and thus more accessible when compared to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Frys_five_boys_milk_chocolate
Fry’s Chocolate Advertisement

Following the development of the Fry’s chocolate bar, many chocolate companies began to follow suit by creating chocolate treats that could be mass produced and bought by the public.  This was a time in which “industrial decadence”, or the ability for food to be produced on an industrial level, greatly improved the quality and variety of diets for the middle and working class population (Goody 72).  This statement holds true for chocolate production.  In fact, the time stretching from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s was a period marked by innovation and branding of different forms of chocolate delights.  Below, one can find a timeline of the most popular brands of chocolate introduced during this period.  These brands still exist today and mark the beginning of a period of refined

Slide1
Timeline of Chocolate Brand Introduction

and obtainable chocolate for all social classes.  There are a few events deserving specific attention as they highlight the theme of chocolate industrialization and its effects on accessibility, mass marketing, and mass production.  For example, in 1875, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé created milk chocolate using Nestlé’s powdered milk, creating a sweeter chocolate to be enjoyed by a wider range of people (Coe 247).  Other similar advancements include, Rudolph Lindt’s conche machine in 1879, which created a smoother sensory experience and the invention of the Toblerone in 1908 as a different approach to chocolate involving a mold and filling (Coe 247, 248).  These developments, along with the introduction of a variety of chocolate products, ushered in an era of mass production and accessibility.

 

The last stage of chocolate industrialization is the current one.  While the bars and candies discussed above still exist today, there is now a distinction between this “grocery store chocolate” and fine chocolate made by the chocolatier.  This term is used to describe a person that uses fine chocolate to create unique creations using machinery but also hand production (Martin, Lecture 4).  An example of this process is seen at Taza Chocolate factory in Somerville, MA.  Below is a video of their production process, which highlights their hands-on and “bean to bar” practice.  It appears that this distinction between fine

and “grocery store” chocolate has arisen due to a change in consumers’ preference for sustainable and fair trade foods.  While people occasionally love to get their hands on a Milky Way, many consumers are attracted to the idea of a pure chocolate bar whose ingredients can be traced throughout the entire production process.

Over time, the function and accessibility of chocolate has shifted to mirror the industrial aspects of its production.  When first introduced to Europe, chocolate was produced in colonialized islands and intended as a drink for the elite, while also serving a purpose in the medical world.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, chocolate underwent a transitional period where industrialization was introduced in the form of mass production and advertising, thus making chocolate accessible to all classes.  This period was followed by a rapid expansion of the chocolate industry where chocolate was consumed in solid form and constant advancements were made to appeal to the variety of tastes craved by consumers.  Finally, today, we still enjoy a variety of mass produced chocolate candies, but now we strive for a bar crafted with sustainability, purity, and fairness in mind.

 

 

Picture and Video Source:

Fry’s Chocolate Advertisement:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Frys_five_boys_milk_chocolate.jpg

Taza Chocolate Video:

https://vimeo.com/33380451

Timeline:

Made in PowerPoint with dates extracted from C-Spot’s Concise History of Chocolate

Works Cited:

“A CONCISE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE.” The C-spot. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and

Hudson, 2013. Print.

Counihan, Carole, and Penny Van Esterik. Food and Culture: A Reader. New York:    Routledge, 2013. Print.

Green, Dr. Matthew. “The Surprising History of London’s Lost Chocolate Houses.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 4: Popular Sweet Tooths and Scandal.” Aframer 199x. CGIS,   Cambridge, MA. 22 Feb. 2017. Lecture.

Chocolate,Chocolate Everywhere

As I ponder the selections of chocolate available in my local Trader Joe’s , it is important to understand a bit of the history of chocolate that is included in The True the History of Chocolate by  Coe & Coe .Cacao, Chocolate originated in Meso-America and is referred to as the “Food of the Gods” consumed by the elite and used in sacrifices to please the gods.  

Did you know that unlike money cacao really does grow on the pods and barks of trees.The chocolate trees were scientifically named Theobroma cacao in 1753 by the “great Swedish Naturalist” Linnaeus (1707-78). 

Theobroma cacao
Linnaeus- Swedish Naturalist that named the cacao tree-theobroma cacao

Raw Cacao beans don’t taste anything like the chocolate bars we consume.  After the cacao beans are harvested the cacao and pulp are fermented once fermentation is complete the beans are laid out to dry in the sun.  Once dried the beans are then sorted and roasted.  After the beans are roasted they are winnowed and finally  the cacao nibs that are used to make chocolate reveal themselves. The cacao nibs are naturally bitter therefore sugar and other ingredients are added when making chocolate to reduce the acidity and bitterness and increase the sweetness.

Sidney Mintz in his book Sweetness and Power reminds us that sugar and sweetness is introduced to us at a very young age , “the first non milk food that a baby is likely to receive in North American hospital is a 5% glucose and water solution used to evaluate its postpartum functioning because newborns tolerate glucose better than water.”(Mintz, 1985)  The fondness for sugar influences the chocolate that we consume as “most Americans instinctively go for blends with a high West African cacao content – this is a dominant cacao in some mass-produced brands that most American have eaten since childhood that is naturally identified with full chocolate flavor. Americans gravitate towards very light chocolate.” ( The New Taste of Chocolate, p. 136) Sweetness is a preferred taste from a very young age Cacao and sugar go together sort of like peanut butter and jelly. Alone each tastes okay but together they taste wonderful.

Chocolate has always evoked pleasant happy memories for me. From my childhood I can remember the heavenly aroma of chocolate from the Lowney Chocolate Factory wafting  through the air as we walked to school, the anticipation of devouring my  grocery store chocolate Easter bunny after Mass and the way the chocolate icing on a Honey Dew Donuts éclair melts in your mouth in an explosion of chocolate mixed with Bavarian cream. 

As I matured my love of chocolate did not waver and I stayed loyal to brands like Hersey and Nestle and for special occasions Godiva was the go to brand.  Then one day in 1987 a local chocolate shop called Puopolo’s Candies opened nearby.  As a big believer in supporting local business I felt that it was my duty to check out the new chocolate shop.  It was heaven!  The aroma and the wide assortment of chocolate confections was astounding. There wasn’t a Snickers, Milky Way or Kit Kat in the place and it didn’t matter because these chocolates didn’t require brand recognition as one could see, smell and anticipate the chocolate truffles melting smoothly on your tongue while the milk chocolate flavors come to life. I never knew exactly why I came to prefer the chocolate sold at Puopolo’s over Hersey, Nestle or even Godiva, until now.

The big chocolate manufactures like Hershey, Nestle and Godiva appeal to the masses for both taste and price of their products.  The chocolate  is made in huge factories using industrial equipment. Each batch of chocolate is made to taste exactly the same as the other so that there is no variation  of taste, color or texture in the thousands of candy bars that are made each day. Chocolate manufactured in this manner is referred to as industrial chocolate.

 

Shops like Puopolo’s are known as chocolatiers’ that appeal to people who appreciate and will pay for high quality chocolate . Chocolatiers’ produce chocolate creations on a much smaller scale and create confections in small batches by melting large bars of chocolate.

 

Sailboat and Anchor Favors
Puopolo chocolatiers’ confection

Another player has come on the scene and companies like  Taza chocolate  are part of a growing movement of small companies that produce  bean to bar products.

Image result for taza chocolate

 

The bean to bar companies are conscious of the long history of exploitation in the chocolate industry including children being used as forced labor on cacao plantations. (Off, 2006)  The bean to bar companies produce an ethical and sustainable product by controlling all stages of their chocolate making including choosing and grinding their own cacao beans.
The advantage of industrial chocolate for the consumer is that whether you purchase a Hershey bar in Alaska or Massachusetts the wrapper texture, color and taste of the chocolate will be the same. Whereas the smaller manufacturers including chocolatiers and bean to bar, aim to produce small unique batches of products.  Cacao beans alone are bitter thus sugar and sometimes other flavorings like vanilla and milk are added to cocoa beans to make the chocolate bars more palatable.  The more cacao content in a product the more intense the chocolate flavor which to many tastes bitter.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a local chocolatiers nearby so I set out to my local Trader Joe’s  to utilize my new-found knowledge and analyze their chocolate section.

Mintz states ” food choices and eating habits reveal distinctions of age, sex, status , culture and even occupation.” (Sweetness and Power).  Trader Joe’s is a slighty upscale, funky progressive full service grocery store who cater to their customers food and need to shop at a socially responsible store. Customers that shop here generally care about where and how the ingredients in their food come from . Trader Joe’s listened to their customers and according to the timeline listed on their website in 1997 they “made a commitment to eliminate artificial trans fats from all private label products (along with artificial flavors, artificial preservatives & GMO ingredients… but that’s old news by now).”

Trader Joe’s shoppers are diverse and span the  socio economic scale. They want to feel as if they are being socially and environmentally responsible without spending a lot of cash. They will however spend a bit more for a product if it makes them feel like they are achieving the goals of being a responsible consumer.   One such chocolate bar checks all those boxes the  Fair Trade Organic Belgium Chocolate Bar is  included in the wide selection of chocolate products that are displayed throughout the store. These bars were included in the chocolate bar section located at the back of the store at the end of an aisle near the milk.  The majority of the chocolate bars were 3.5 ounces with price points between $1.99 for the Fair Trade Organic Belgium Chocolate bars , $2.99 for a Valrhona dark chocolate bar and for $4.99 you could purchase a milk and almond pound plus bar.  There were quite a few chocolate products located in the impulse buy zone at the front of the store including dark chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate covered almonds for $4.99 each.

As I strolled the isles I noticed some chocolate bars above the seafood section that had pretty and exotic looking labels.  Upon closer inspection it is revealed that these are dark chocolate bars made with 70% cacao and delicious fillings like coconut caramel and toffee and walnuts.  Along side these bars there was a 65% Dark Cacao bar that is made from single origin fairly traded beans from Ecuador. These chocolate bars highlight the cacao content to entice those that believe the claim that chocolate is good for your heart . However,  James Howe  advises  that the claim that chocolate is heart healthy  is not scientifically proven that chocolate consumption alone is the primary element in increasing cardiovascular health. ( Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health, 2012) The artwork depicts nature scenes to enhance the natural allure of these chocolate bars that are priced at just $1.89.

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In spite From the  lovely artwork and detailed descriptions highlighting the cacao content and country of origin of the beans it is clear from the price points of $1.89 that these are mass marketed  industrial made chocolate bars covered in cleverly  designed Trader Joe’s wrappers. The wrappers contain all the buzz words and images  the consumer wants to see so they feel like they are purchasing socially responsible products.  When I questioned the  store manager about the private label chocolate bars he did not know what company Trader Joe’s bought the chocolate bars from however he assured me that they were made from the finest organic ingredients yet… only a few chocolate bars are labeled organic or Fair Trade.

IMG_1461IMG_1462 IMG_1463

The Trader Joe’s Chocolate truffles look decadent on the shiny red background of the package. They even provide directions on how to”taste these delicate truffles”.  Trader Joe’s selections so far were on target for their consumers, good cacao content, some organic selections. therefore  I was very surprised when the first ingredient listed in the Cocoa Truffles was vegetable oil , the second sugar and finally cocoa powder appears as the third ingredient. This was disappointing  as it is not as high quality chocolate product as it appears and not consistent with the prior products viewed.

After reviewing the chocolate bar and other chocolate products at Trader Joe’s  I’ve concluded that Trader Joe’s should expand their chocolate selections to include more Fair Trade chocolate products and add a few  Bean to Bar and local chocolatiers products to the inventory.  It would be a clear statement to Trader Joe’s customers and the chocolate industry  that  Trader Joe’s cares about ethics and is committed to providing  their customers with more Fair Trade, organic and local chocolate products.  While the typical Trader Joe’s customer appreciates a bargain , many would be willing to pay more for chocolate if they know that their purchase directly benefits the cacao farmer or the small business person.  Trader Joe’s has the opportunity to make a difference in the chocolate industry if they go beyond selling private label chocolate bars and include bean to bar and local chocolate makers.
If you want to make an effort to consume Fair Trade organic chocolate the key is read the labels or find your local chocolate shop , either bean to bar or chocolatiers you won’t be disappointed.

 

Works Cited

Coe, S. D., & Coe, M. D. (2013). The true history of chocolate. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Mintz, S. W. (1986). Sweetness and power: The place of sugar in modern history. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

“Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health: The Kuna Case Reconsidered.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 12.1 (2012): 43-52. Web.

The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Ed. Maricel E. Presilla. New York: Ten Speed, 2009. 61-94. Print.

Carol Off, Bitter Chocolate: the dark side of the world’s most seductive sweet.2006. The New Press.  print.

 

Multimedia and internet sources

Google Images , date accessed 5/7/16. http://exhibits.mannlib.cornell.edu/chocolate/images/content_img/CacaoGod.jpghttps://madhuwellness.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/cacoa.jpg
http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/~/media/fairtradeuk/farmers%20and%20workers/images/text%20images%20440px/fw_cocoa_440px.ashx?la=en&h=280&w=440
http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0738/3955/products/Taza_Stone_Ground_Chocolate_80_perc_Dark_B_grande.jpg?v=1438702196
http://newwoodbridge.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/WelcomeTJ.jpghttps://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/cocoa#
http://www.traderjoes.com/images/fearless-flyer/uploads/article-428/95474-Trader Joes 95475_Fair_Trade_Chocolate.jpg

Websites referenced.
http://www.traderjoes.com

Hershey’s Chocolate Making Process. htttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TcFYfoB1BY-
http://www.traderjoes.com/our-story/timeline
http://cspinet.org/transfat/timeline.htm
http://honeydewdonuts.com/
http://www.nestleusa.com/brands/chocolate/nestle-milk-chocolate
https://www.hersheys.com/en_us/home.html
http://www.godiva.com/
https://www.snickers.com/
http://www.milkywaybar.com/
https://www.kitkat.com/http://www.puopolocandies.com/
https://www.tazachocolate.com/
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/02/13/171891081/bean-to-bar-chocolate-makers-dare-to-bare-how-its-done.
USDA Organic guidelines.  https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification

 

Pushing Back on the Sexualization of Women in Chocolate Advertising

The below video is a Dove commercial of a woman experiencing different “senses” as she eats a piece of Dove chocolate. This advertisement epitomizes the sexualization of women in chocolate advertisement as discussed by Emma Robertson and Dr. Martin. With an advertisement I created, I attempt to push back on this type of advertising and present a woman eating chocolate in a different context: while working in a non-stereotypically feminine job. The analysis of my advertisement shows how companies can take a different approach to chocolate advertisements that is less likely to alienate women. Advertisements similar to the one I created provide a multi-faceted view of women as people, rather than women as sexual objects without control of their emotions.

I took some screenshots of key moments in the video to aid in my analysis (with the time in the video included); below is one such screenshot. The woman is depicted sighing as she is draped in a silk chocolate cloth. The sound of her sigh is sexual in nature and she seems not in control of her responses. Robertson explains how women in advertisements “were pictured apparently lashing out” (21-22). Robertson is discussing the idea that women are often depicted in advertisements as out of control and this advertisement is one such example.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 9.45.09 PM

The Dove commercial becomes even more sexual and problematic towards the end, specifically with the scene shown below. A nut explodes at the same moment that a women yells “Oh!” in a manner similar to an orgasm. Robertson describes this trend in Aero chocolate advertisements: “In each advert a different woman is depicted taking a bite of an Aero bar. Some look a little guilty at being caught in the act, while others look sexily at the camera at the camera. The orgasmic pleasure brought about by their ‘urges’ being satisfied is revealed in the projected responses…” (Robertson 35). In this commercial, it is implied that the woman’s response to eating Dove chocolate is an orgasm. This is extremely sexual and problematic. It presents women as sexual beings incapable of controlling their responses.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 9.46.43 PM

Below is my advertisement that attempts to push back against these depictions of women. A woman is pictured eating chocolate while working, specifically programming. Many people, men and women, use chocolate as a quick snack while working, so this is a more realistic view. Additionally, the woman is not posed in a sexual manner and is focused on her work rather than the chocolate. Robertson discusses how there was a trend to fetishize “women as housewives and mothers” (Robertson 20). This advertisement also challenges this trend because it shows a woman working, and on a stereotypically “male” task.

BP3_Ad

Leissle writes about Divine’s attempt to place female cocoa farmers in a more realistic manner: “… the Divine women – cocoa farmers who appear in a fashionable, cosmopolitan aesthetic – provide visual evidence of African women’s participation in luxury consumption, while at the same time offering the idea that such African consumerism is possible, and inviting its repetition” (Leissle 134). My advertisement does the same; it attempts to provide visual evidence for a woman’s levelheaded consumption of chocolate in a non-sexual context. As Divine’s advert attempts to provide something that is a “realistic of African women’s lives,” my advert attempts to do the same for American women’s lives (Leissle 136).

The Dove advertisement is clearly meant to suggest a sexual connection between women and chocolate. Sexual music with women sighing and yelling “Oh!” plays in the background throughout. My advertisement attempts to place women’s relationship with chocolate in a more realistic light. In decoupling women’s relationship with chocolate and sex, it provides a less problematic way for advertisers to connect with women and sell their products.

 

Sources:

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010. pp. 1-131

Leissle, Kristy. 2012. “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in DivineChocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24 (2): 121-139

 

Multimedia sources:

Dove “Senses” commercial: embedded video

Two still images of video: computer screenshots taken of video

if working image: original advertisement

Godiva Chocolate. It speaks for itself.

Advertising.gif
Figure 1. This depicts how vast the global advertising industry really is.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary advertising is a form of business marketing used to promote a product. The purpose of advertising is to convince prospective customers that their services are superior to the competition. The issue with modern day advertising is that large corporations will do whatever it takes to turn a profit even at the expense of delivering honest messages about their products. According to Carat – a global media agency – the world spent an estimate of $592 billion dollars on advertising in 2015. What is concerning about the advertising industry is not this rapid growth but the increasing occurrence of manipulative exploitation of race, gender and class in order to turn a profit. Advertisements have become less focused on the products they are trying to sell and more about the consumers they are trying to attract even regardless of the messages the ads may convey. This essay will analyze an existing advertisement from the Godiva chocolate company and propose a counter to their current advertisement.

chocolate-dark-chocolate-small-51123
Figure 2. This Godiva advertisement depicts chocolate as a luxury good and uses sexual appeal to attract the eye of prospective customers. 

Godiva, “You can see it in her eyes”

The Godiva chocolate advertisement displayed above is a perfect depiction of the issues in modern day advertising. Godiva is a chocolate company trying to sell chocolate, however, at first glance it is almost impossible to see that. The focus of the advertisement is on a young, white women gazing into the ad in a very sexual manner with nice clothes and makeup on. The only semblance of chocolate is one small piece placed above her breasts. It is as if the chocolate is a decoration rather than a food. Furthermore, the company name Godiva is written at the bottom of the page, but the ‘GO’ is faded out so that you focus on the ‘DIVA’. Lastly, the slogan of the advertisement is “you can see it in her eyes”, which again places less emphasis on the chocolate product itself and more on the sexuality of the image. As Professor Martin says it is “discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of sex.” (Martin)This sexualization in chocolate advertisements is not a new phenomenon. In the book entitled Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History, author Emma Robertson states that “chocolate marketing followed the cultural trends of the Second World War, in objectifying women as sexual objects to maintain male morale.” (Robertson, 31) Robertson goes on to say that, “the chocolate thus gains in value through association both with a dynamic adventure/romance narrative and with an imagined ideal of feminine beauty.” (Robertson, 32) This infatuation of sexualized advertisements in the chocolate industry is degrading to women but also takes away from the product and everything that goes into producing chocolate.

On that note, this advertisement romanticizes chocolate as a whole. The people who are cultivating cacao beans are making next to nothing and starving but we do not see them on the cover of the advertisement. We see chocolate as a luxurious good, suited for wealthy people in high classes of society. This marketing strategy much like the sexualization of chocolate is also not new. As Robertson mentions in her book, “Cadbury drew explicitly on upper-class stereotypes to distinguish their ‘cup’ brand of cocoa in the early 1930’s. Adverts featured well-dressed, educated and well-travelled consumers pouring themselves a delicate cup of cocoa from an ornamental jug.” (Robertson, 18) Appealing to separate social classes separated Cadbury much like it separates Godiva from its competition but it also appeals to a select portion of the population.

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Figure 3. Our proposed advertisement eliminates issues of sexualization and focuses solely on what is important, the chocolate.

Godiva, “It speaks for itself”

The Godiva advertisement that we created ‘lets the chocolate speak for itself’. A question that professor Martin brought up in class when analyzing advertisements is “who is included in the advertisement and why?” (Martin) Our idea was to remove everyone from the picture entirely so that the focus is purely on the chocolate and nothing else. In a time when ads are intricate and hard to follow, this advertisement is straight to the point and brings your attention directly to the product. The advertisement is merely a piece of chocolate in front of a blank white background. There is no deception or psychological manipulation, it is strictly the product. The other reason we chose this advertisement is that we believe it appeals to a wide array of people. One theme that is apparent in advertisements today is that they focus in on a select audience to sell to. Whether it be high class people, or white people or men it limits who the product appeals to. This advertisement is for everyone, there is no discrimination and no class, race or gender we exclude.

Conclusion

In an ideal world the advertisement for a product would include an unbiased, comprehensive analysis of the product. It would include who produces it, how it is produced and any relevant information a consumer would be interested in. The fact of the matter is that customers may not be looking for that much information at first glance but rather than deceive them through psychological manipulation we believe it is better to keep it simple and ‘let the chocolate speak for itself’.

Works Cited:

  1. Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.
  2. Martin, Carla. (2016). Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Class in Chocolate Advertisements. (Powerpoint Slides). Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_kGt6Sj1X5bYUY0UWg0Y1h2TTA&usp=sharing

Better Than Sex

Advertising is rarely about a product itself. Usually, it is about convincing consumers that if they buy a product – be it perfume, a car, or chocolate – they will somehow gain something else they want. Advertisements sell ideas, more than actual products. An ad might sell the idea of a happy home, for example, or a good job, or a fun escape from worry. These are not things that can actually be guaranteed by purchasing a cleaning agent, or a new suit, or a specific brand of beer, but the job of good marketing is to manipulate the subconscious, not appeal to logic. Most often, now, advertisements sell sex. Print ads, television commercials, they all promote otherwise unrelated products in the same way. You can’t feel how soft your hair will be if you use a conditioner shown in a commercial any more than you can smell the cologne advertised on a billboard, but these ads will convince consumers that these are the things they want by being appealing on a more basic level.

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Source: http://media260chocolate.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2014/03/03/godiva-appeals-to-women-with-diva-campaign/

 

One of the easiest ways to sell sex in this day and age is to put an attractive woman in a compromising position – often in little to no clothing – and have her interact in some way with the product being advertised. It’s sexist and exploitative, but it’s effective, and chocolate is a prime candidate for selling sex. From its inception in Western culture, chocolate has been linked with sex. Its origins in the New World lent it a sense of exotic mystery, and it has long been believed to be an aphrodisiac. Women in particular are the focus of the seductive powers of chocolate, and they are used shamelessly to sell it.

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Source: http://media260chocolate.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2014/03/03/godiva-appeals-to-women-with-diva-campaign/

Godiva Chocolatier ran an ad campaign that fully embraced the sexiness inherent in chocolate. The vice president of marketing in North America stated that “Inside every female is a diva,” (Cho), and the ads used provocatively dressed models to display the company’s treats. “There is something aspirational about it that can appeal to a broad range of women,” (Cho) said the Harvest Communications founder and managing director, and that is what Godiva was going for, in an attempt to broaden the spectrum of core-buying women. The campaign appeals to women’s sense of self-indulgence, and the desire to feel sexy. They even used Victoria’s Secret models, like Frankie Rayder. But the ads themselves have very little to do with chocolate, they look more like Victoria’s Secret ads with the addition of small chocolate confections to remind buyers of what it is they are supposed to want. The idea this campaign is selling is that chocolate is a self-indulgence suited for a diva, and that divas, as well as chocolate, are sexy.

While various companies go through phases of marketing primarily towards women as mothers or wives, there’s always a tendency to swing back towards a more seductive track. This appeals to men as well as to women, both for purchasing power, but for other reasons as well. “Chocolate marketing can be seen… to follow the cultural trends of the Second World War, in objectifying women as sexual objects to maintain male morale,” (Robertson, 31). The exploitation of women was considered acceptable because it was for the good of men, and this particular trend, while not powered by the need to uplift the spirits of men in battle continues today. Even when aimed at female consumers, there is the drive for those consumers to appeal to men and their needs.

It seems odd that a product so clearly driven by female consumers primarily exploits women. While chocolate ads featuring men do exist, the idea is usually that these men will be purchasing chocolate as gifts for the women in their lives, selling a romantic idea. Why shouldn’t men enjoy chocolate themselves? And why shouldn’t female consumers be drawn in by attractive men the same way male consumers are so often drawn in by attractive women? The counter ad campaign here uses professional athletes – players from the National Hockey League – to sell Hershey’s chocolate, specifically Hershey’s Kisses. Titled “Better Than Sex: The Hustler Campaign” it uses men to appeal to women.

As with Godiva’s Diva Campaign, the Hustler Campaign doesn’t use chocolate to sell chocolate, it uses something entirely different. It uses hockey, and hockey players. Instead of using attractive female models, here are attractive men telling consumers this is a thing they should want. Whether they are fighting, winning games, or showing off their assets, the presence of chocolate keeps the idea alive that it – Hershey’s chocolate – is what is making it all possible. Not a particularly logical conclusion, but, after all, ads sell what the consumers want, whether or not the product can hold up to the promise.

References:

Cho, Cynthia H. Godiva Appeals to the Diva Within: Chocolatier’s Upcoming Ads Target Younger Consumers; Dinner with Sarah Jessica? The Wall Street Journal, 2004.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, women and empire: a social and cultural history. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.

Hershey’s Kiss Image from https://www.hersheys.com/en_us/products/hersheys-kisses.html

Kit Kat Conundrum

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PRODUCTS 5.4.01 PIC GRAHAM JEPSON

The Kit Kat Advertisement features a plethora of different people “taking a break” and relaxing.

Introducing – #mybreak – the new KIT KAT commercial

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They are in several different settings. This is to show that a Kit Kat can be enjoyed in many different places at many different times under many different circumstances as long as those eating are not doing work (taking a break). The visuals are meant to present happy people, ranging from being towed on the back of a bicycle to having a good time in the office, or in outer space, with ones child or while communicating on the internet- all this with upbeat music playing in the background. Every scene is meant to be enjoyable as the narrator helps by contributing “Here’s to all of you who love to break.” “Have a break,” the ad says over and over again. This encourages consumers to think about a Kit Kat in two different ways. It encourages them to both relax and enjoy themselves- which everyone has a strong craving to do. It also subliminally starts to associate Kit Kat with the feeling of relaxation. Furthermore, the consumer will then be more inclined to buy a Kit Kat or desire a Kit Kat when they feel happy and relaxed. This creates a positive feedback loop of desire, association, and consumption for the Kit Kat brand.

My ad titled “Gimme a break” takes the classic slogan of Kit Kat’s brand and turns it around sarcastically on the company.

kit kat ad

There is a depiction of a white man on a throne made from Kit Kats, contrasted with a decrepit looking farmer hauling a large sack of raw cacao beans over his back. I am asking the Kit Kat brand to “give me a break” from certain issues they present in their company that their add exemplifies. For example dealing with race, in the Kit Kat advertisement there was no minority representation. This pseudo racism is not limited to only chocolate companies, other companies do it too in fact only about 5 per cent of commercials used actors from a non white background in the UK (where Kit Kat is most popular)  (Sweeney 2011) but it is particularly relevant to the chocolate industry given its history of largely African cacao workers working incredibly long, hard hours for very little pay. Furthermore, despite the fact that they acknowledge free trade, workers rights, and the value of community development, as seen by the Nestle Kit Kat’s recent ethical certification through the fair trade quality mark;(Smithers 2009)fairtrade-kit-kat-001the brand still didn’t feel is desirable to include minority groups in their advertisement- despite clearly having somewhat of an understanding of the importance of valuing culture as seen through their recent fair trade quality mark certification. The fact that they didn’t want to show it more publicly is very peculiar and says a lot about the identity of the company as a whole. This leads me to exasperatedly exclaim “Gimme a break.” Even with the certification, Nestle’s Kit Kat is having a hard time talking about the fact that their company is dependent on workers of a certain ethnicity that wasn’t represented when the chocolate was presented to the consumer.

As a critical consumer I would push for more transparency in the company. Additionally, I have a strong desire to see the positives of the company come more to light in their public communication.

References
Smithers, R. (2009, December 06). Big break for Fairtrade as Kit Kat receives certification. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/dec/07/fairtrade-kit-kat
Sweney, M. (2011, April 21). Only 5% of TV ads feature ethnic minorities. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/apr/21/tv-ads-ethnic-minorities

Audrey Hepburn Sells Chocolate

    In the advertisement above a computer generated image (CGI) of Audrey Hepburn is used to sell Dove dark chocolate (Rohwedder). It is most likely aimed at the target demographic of women whom Audrey represents. The advertising company cleverly resurrects the adored late Audrey Hepburn. Her computerized look alike cleverly portrays Audrey’s iconic persona so convincingly that it almost feels like Audrey is and always will be with us. This association of Dove dark chocolate with Audrey the immortal legend who represents beauty, innocence, and sweetness refreshingly stands out amongst other ads which use sexualized imagery to sell chocolate products. The Dove chocolate advertisement emulates Audrey’s feminine and naive innocence, and the purity of 1950’s. Together these elements stand in stark contrast to the typical and predictable techniques to sell products with overt sexualization.

    The story line and narrative of the advertisement which is set in the idealized 50’s era, cleverly recreates the feel of the 1953 film “The Roman Holiday” starring Ms. Hepburn. The delightful visuals of a charming coastal Italian town, with hints of romance and the purity of an era of film long past, all work perfectly to set the tone. The computer generated Audrey Hepburn and her handsome lead man who closely resembles the iconic Cary Grant give a sense of a whimsical light-hearted unpredictability. The story starts with lovely Audrey sitting on a packed public bus which is stuck in a traffic. The mayhem is due to a collapsed fruit stand and it’s flamboyant owner. Audrey (or the CGI version of Audrey) looks longingly into her purse at her bar of Dove dark chocolate, then she glances out her bus window and meets the eyes of a handsome man in a car alongside the bus. When their eyes meet he gives Audrey an inviting wave gesturing her to his car. She smiles and without hesitation strolls out of the bus and playfully takes the bus drivers hat on her way to the handsome strangers car. She places the bus driver’s hat on the handsome man’s head, takes a seat in the back of his car- intimating and officiating him as her chauffeur. Looking slightly put out and yet besotted with her at the same time he drives away with Audrey in the back seat. The final scene is of Audrey with the handsome man driving on a winding coastal road as she snaps off a piece of Dove dark chocolate, placing it into her mouth framed by her perfectly scarlet glossed lips when the words “It’s not just dark. It’s Dove” appear against a perfect blue Italian sky. The advertisement refreshingly sells the chocolate by leaving the audience with the resonating feeling of romance, happiness, and beauty and lingering warm thoughts of chocolate. Moreover, the ad refreshingly empowers lovely and pure Audrey to sell their dark chocolate.

    Now that I have discussed the CGI version of adorable, innocent and flirty Audrey Hepburn as the star of the Dove chocolate commercial. For my advertisement, I created a montage of another side of Audrey. She remains the star of the ad, and similarly she is not sexualized in the ad in order to sell chocolate, but she does represents and evoke the opposite emotions of the romantic advertisement. The opposite of sweet, flirty, and happy go lucky is angry, sad, and unromantic and these emotions used correctly can also sell chocolate. In my advertisement, Audrey portrays women’s darker emotions and the audience is left with the resonating desire to consume dark chocolate. While both advertisements use the technique of using emotion to persuade, opposite emotions are employed in each ad. Audrey sells both while retaining her purity, innocence, and charm. Ultimately both advertisements sell chocolate, one to celebrate and relax and the other to comfort and calm, both appeal to the demographic of women.

    In the advertisement I produced the clips and scenes were drawn from a few Audrey Hepburn films to give the tumultuous and intense emotions of sadness, stress, and anxiety, which call require chocolate. Sometimes chocolate can be the only fix to receive comfort during these times. My advertisement implicitly delivers the message that if you need comfort, only a bar of dark chocolate will do. When I chose to use the more realistic, misunderstood, sad or angry, and even comical sections of Audrey’s films the technique of persuasion even worked on me. While editing my advertisement I had to eat dark chocolate. My persuasion technique was effective on me, who doesn’t turn to chocolate to comfort themselves. Find an escape in chocolate in good times and in bad like Audrey and every other woman.

“For the Brightest & Darkest of Times… Dark Chocolate”

References:

Grant, Eilidh L. “AUDREY HEPBURN SELLS DARK CHOCOLATE: Advertisement for Class.” Youtube. Eilidh Grant, 8 Apr. 2016. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ROK7JZSZyY&feature=youtu.be&gt;.

“”It’s DOVE:Feat. Audrey Hepburn” 2014 Commercial.” Youtube. Cinemagia Filmes, 15 Mar. 2014. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB44n4ADg2Y&gt;.

Rohwedder, Kristie. “How Did They Make the Audrey Hepburn Dove Chocolate Commercial? Let’s Take a Look.” Bustle. Bustle, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2016. <http://www.bustle.com/articles/22563-how-did-they-make-the-audrey-hepburn-dove-chocolate-commercial-lets-take-a-look&gt;.

The Cost of a Sweet Tooth

Instant Gratification. The desire to experience pleasure without delay, without worry, without thought. Each and every day we look at our phones, computers, or televisions sets, this craving is fed for a fleeting moment. With just a swipe of a finger, a click of a mouse, or a switch of the channel, we are promptly bombarded with an image designed to feed this desire. Although every person has their own set of unique preferences regarding what appeals to them, advertisers know what is most alluring to all of us. Sex. Power. Spectacle. Consequently, the majority of advertisements are 30-second displays of the crude and bizarre. Particularly, advertisements concerning consumer chocolate have followed the “crude and bizarre” blueprint quite religiously. Ignoring the factual and unsettling history of cacao production, many chocolate companies appeal to our lucrative need for instant gratification. Therefore, these chocolate advertisements—laced with undertones of racism and sexism—impede society’s progress towards equality in the name of profit.

Dove Chocolate Abs

Above is an advertisement created and promoted by Dove. Flipping through a magazine with this imagine occupying an entire page. As the standard vanilla-white pages skip by, one would catch your eye. An alluring, milk chocolate brown would jump out at you, piquing your interest. The distinction between “standard vanilla” white and “alluring, milk chocolate” brown is significant; in our present day, vanilla and chocolate serve as cultural metaphors for race (Martin, 2016). Thus, vanilla is to whiteness as chocolate is to blackness. Going a layer deeper, whiteness exemplifies the respected standard: purity, chastity, and regality. Yet, due to it’s ubiquity, whiteness is also old-fashioned, tepid, and boring. Boring, the one word that keeps advertisers up at night. Therefore, looking to stand out amongst the crowd, advertisers look for the polar opposite of whiteness: blackness. Blackness embodies desire, impurity, and sexuality, words that advertisers swear by. Thus, as the alluring colors of black and brown dominate the image, advertiser draws the reader in instantly.

The picture itself is of a black man, or rather a black man’s abdominal region. The man is faceless and nameless; his defining characteristic is his muscles, turning him into an awe-inspiring spectacle and nothing more. As detailed by Robertson (2010), this depiction of black men in the advertisement of chocolate products is not something novel. Throughout the history of cacao production and consumption, black men were used as spectacles, whether it be to display wealth or the exotic. Additionally, the man’s body appears to be caught in a brief flash of light, indicating that blackness enveloped his body the moment before. Once again, this is a ploy by the advertiser to emphasize the alluring elements within the image; what once was a silhouette is now something desirable. Furthermore, the space behind the man’s body is milk chocolate brown, as if to suggest that the man is made from chocolate. In sum, the color scheme and depiction used within this advertisement takes advantage of the racism inherent chocolate due to its production in Africa.

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Woman are often depicted to be bizarrely obsessed with chocolate.

Finally, as if tacked on as an afterthought, a small image of the Dove product is accompanied by a faint tag line at the bottom of the image that reads “Six Pack that melts a girl’s heart. Dove chocolate.” In effect, Dove announces that its chocolate is for women and that the advertisement is meant to feed their desire for a muscular man that seduces her. Like the objectification of black men, the simplification of women in chocolate advertising is also indicated throughout history. As Kawash (2014) details, chocolate companies build their adverting campaigns on the stereotype that women “crave” certain products. This blatant sexism not only mocks the consumers of chocolate, but also its producers; many African women are involved in the cacao production process, so advertisements such as these both attack their ethnicity and gender.

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In response to the Dove advertisement, I have created my own advertisement above. Gone are any elements of sexism, racism, or any other form of inequality. However, the advertisement still aims to draw the reader in, to feed their desire for instant gratification. At a glance, the reader notices friends grabbing out for something, laughing in the sand with their hands at full stretch. In short, it’s a spectacle, something advertiser strive to show as simply as possible. At closer inspection, the reader notices that the people are reaching for a bag of Dove chocolate. Thus, the advertisement connects friendship, fun and laughter with a desire to have Dove chocolate. Finally, at the top of image, a tag line that reads, “Just Remember, Sharing is Caring,” bringing home the message that chocolate brings people of all walks of life closer together. Such a messages coincides with society present path towards equality, rather than exploiting the history of inequality for profit.

 

Works Cited

Kawash, Samira. “Sex and Candy.” The New York Times. Web. 08 April 2016.

Martin, Carla. “AAS 119x Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements.” Web. 08 April 2016.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, women, and empire: a social and cultural history. New York: Manchester University Press, 2009. 124-125. Print.

“Six Pack that Melts a Girl’s Heart.” 2007. Dove Chocolate, Mars Company. Web. 08 April 2016.

“Woman eating chocolate.” Web. 08 April 2016.

Creme Culling: Suicide Ideation, Pleasurable Euthenasia, and Death by Chocolate

Death by Chocolate: a phrase used by many to describe a pleasurable act of suicide. The phraseology associates infinite mountains of rich chocolate-covered delicacies with the ability to gorge upon them until the “sweet” kiss of death. In these Cadbury Crème Egg commercials, aired in the UK in the mid- to late 2000’s, the finality of a sweet death is all but denied to the beatific eggs, as their “life-goal” is to expose their goo or “guts” before their life-span (season) ends. To be certain, the Crème Egg commercials equate consumption with suicide, euthanasia, and pleasure, while my created advertisement engenders the eggs to create a life-cycle akin with Easter and Spring’s natural state.

The suicidal eggs are always shown against a white background with the implements for their destruction already at hand. All that is left for them is to remove their inhibitions (their colored foil wrapper) and to hop to their “goo”-ification. The suicidal eggs explicitly say “goo.” The slogan “Here Today, goo tomorrow” indicates that Cadbury’s Crème Egg season has a hyper-accelerated timetable (Jan 1 – April 4), as well as a subversive new ad campaign (“Crème Egg”, 2016). My advertisement attempts to create the same effect: the accelerated sales timeline, with a white background, yet no tools for destruction are present; the egg has revealed its “goo” in the form of a hatched chick, thus ending the Crème Egg season with the advent of spring.

Cadbury’s advertisement relies on several emotional responses, each of which illicit a desire to watch and enable the exposure of the “goo.” The most shallow of these emotions is humor, amplified by watching the eggs commit their “goo”-ey suicides utilizing household objects; thus they can be recreated by the consumers should they also wish to laugh at the mess. Eggs are unable to use tools or manipulate their surroundings, which elicits another emotion: compassion. The consumer, being aware of the Crème eggs’ inherent immobility, feels compelled to alleviate the eggs’ suffering (suffering from their loss of “goo”). When a consumer eats a Crème egg, they commit an act of euthanasia, a mercy killing of the egg, whose desire for death/”goo” cannot be self-satisfied (Nordqvist, 2016). The final slogan “Here Today, goo tomorrow” indicates the immediacy of the Crème eggs’ plight (“Here Today, Goo Tomorrow”), which is epitomized in the act of suicide; this engenders panic. Panic motivates consumers to gorge themselves en masse upon the Crème eggs before they lose their “goo” (and die). Joyfulness is then finally enjoyed by the egg, at death, and by the consumer, upon the facilitating of the egg’s death.

New Easter Chocolate
My original mock advertisement. The age old chicken and egg conundrum and cyclical seasons.

My advertisement creates rather than destroys the Crème egg. “Goo,” having been synonymous with death and loss, is now birth and permanence. It encompasses only those emotions which are associated with transformation and renewal. The joy felt upon the sight of the hatched chick is not the joy of immediate gratification upon consumption, but rather the acknowledgement of the time to come outside of the realm of the picture: spring is coming and winter is over, raising the hopes of consumers. This raising of hope will also bring about the realization that eggs are cyclical in nature: consumers need merely wait until the next Crème egg season to have their fill once again. The finality is not in death but in life. This renewal or resurrection can be easily paralleled with Christianity’s Easter narrative, as Christ’s Resurrection is merely days away from the end of the Cadbury Crème Egg Season (this year Easter fell on March 27) (Hillerbrand, 2015).  Spring is a time of renewal and of natural joy, not the depressive suicidal ideations of winter that Cadbury proposes. The Crème Egg season is the harkening of spring; one must wonder then, why is Cadbury romanticizing death without the possibility of a life-continuum? Another narrative inherent in my advertisement is: who came first, the chicken or the egg? Eggs by their nature are the limitless possibilities of potential life and a egg hatching is merely the propagation of cyclical existence.

 

The word “goo” is central to the Crème eggs’ suicidal narrative. Focus is not drawn to the chocolate coating but the “Crème” filling, which is just colored fondant without any milk product (“Crème Egg”, 2016). Crème is defined simply as a sweet liquor of a viscous nature, without the need for having dairy incorporated into the blending (“Crème”, 2016) . Yet this is not the primary reason the focus is pulled away from the chocolate and towards the crème-goo. The goo is the sweetest part of the Crème egg and thus what will ultimately produce the joy in both the egg and the consumer. The chocolate is merely a container with the sole purpose to hold the goo or “soul” of the egg until the moment of consumption. The Crème eggs say “goo” constantly to focus the viewer on the eggs’ innards (even when they have yet to be exposed) so that the explosions of “goo” seem eroticized and desired rather than horrific and traumatizing. Finally, the multitude of suicides illuminates the ideation of death and to that end, the demographic (Martin, 2016), ages 15- 35 approx., which is most drawn to suicidal ideation, would then be most drawn to these grim reapers of chocolate advertisements.

honeybunch
A Rowntree advert featuring Honeybunch, a young black cartoon girl featured in advertisements to white, English consumers. Photograph from: https://hughcrosfield.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/reflecting-on-emma-robertsons-chocolate-women-and-empire/

Britain has a long history of subversive chocolate advertisement campaigns making the unerotic the erotic and the distasteful the most succulent; this is similarly illustrated by Rowntree’s Honeybunch advertisements, which attempted the removal of racial fear and replaced it with safe inter-racial interaction (Martin, 2016). Cadbury’s suicidal eggs are the symptom of the much larger food disease which grips the stomachs and minds of many food advertisement viewers and consumers. Suicidal food consumption is apart of the subversive advertising narrative that engenders sympathetic eating, dangerous overconsumption, and a finite existential nature of food. The finality of existence is a lie told through advertisements to push immediate gratification in fear of future existential ambiguity. Consumption is cyclical. Food’s final goal is not to die but to live and impart its life through the absorption of nutrients; a cyclical existence, the longue durée.

The interpretations expressed in this blog are subjective to the blogger and not necessarily the original intention of the Cadbury advertisements, for more information concerning the “original” intent see this site’s video (“Here Today, Goo Tomorrow”).

 

Bibliography

“1971: Creme Egg Is Launched.” The Story. Accessed April 04, 2016. https://www.cadbury.co.uk/the-story#1800-1850.

“Creme.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Accessed April 08, 2016. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/creme.
“Creme Egg.” Cadbury.co.uk. Accessed April 08, 2016. https://www.cadbury.co.uk/products/Creme-Egg-2392?p=2392.
“Here Today, Goo Tomorrow.” Cream Inspiring Innovation: Best Practice Best Ideas. 2008. Accessed April 8, 2016. http://www.creamglobal.com/17798/16472/here-today,-goo-tomorrow.
Hillerbrand, Hans J. “Easter.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. January 22, 2015. Accessed April 08, 2016. http://www.britannica.com/topic/Easter-holiday.
“March Equinox – Equal Day and Night, Nearly.” March Equinox. Accessed April 08, 2016. http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/march-equinox.html.
Martin, Carla. “Lecture 9: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” Lecture, Lecture 9, Harvard University, Cambridge, March 30, 2016. Accessed April 8, 2016. https://matterhorn.dce.harvard.edu/engage/player/watch.html?id=c3b55f87-1e28-4ba7-9074-dc67a9deabdc.
Nordqvist, Christian. “Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.” Medical News Today. April 8, 2016. Accessed April 08, 2016. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182951.php.
Nordqvist, Christian. “What Are Suicidal Thoughts? What Is Suicidal Ideation?” Medical News Today. September 26, 2014. Accessed April 08, 2016. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/193026.php.
RetroAds. “Cadbury Creme Egg Ads: An Ode to Suicidal Eggs.” YouTube. January 27, 2016. Accessed April 08, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opr3NtWlyzY.
@pickledplaice. Rowntree Honeybunch Advertisement. Digital image. WordPress. September 30, 2012. Accessed April 8, 2016. https://hughcrosfield.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/reflecting-on-emma-robertsons-chocolate-women-and-empire/.                          
Sausage Party – Official Restricted Trailer – In Cinemas August 11. Youtube. March 14, 2016. Accessed April 8, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VoNgLnjzVg.