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The Industrial Revolution: The Transformation of Chocolate from a Rare Delight to a Global Commodity

Industrialization greatly improved the quantity, quality, and variety of food of the working urban populations of the Western World. This development was due to reasons which were two-fold: first, historical developments such as colonialism and overseas trade were structures which inspired this process, and second, specific technologies such as preserving, mechanization, retailing, transport, and the growth of the commercial catering business allowed for the distribution and access of chocolate to flourish. Technologies which were developed from the Industrial Revolution greatly changed the worldwide consumption of chocolate, greatly increasing the quantity and ease of its production and distribution and subsequently increasing the ease and diversity of consumers’ access to chocolate products.

The Industrial Revolution began in England in the early 19th century, and stemmed from factors such as a smaller population and thus a need for a more efficient workforce. Prior to industrialization, the majority of people in Europe subsisted on peasant farming and leasing land from the elite (Dimitri et al. 2). In the latter half of the second millennium A.D., voyages of discovery around the globe sparked colonialism in foreign lands soon thereafter. There were various philosophies in justification of colonialism; one was that of social evolutionism and intervention philosophies, or the idea that natives were incapable of governing themselves and in need of outside intervention. According to research published by M. Shahid Alam of Northeastern University, industrialization of countries across the world was unequal; some countries underwent industrialization centuries prior to others (Alam 5). The reason for this was partially due to the fact that some countries colonized other countries for their own imperial or industrial benefit, so the colonized countries themselves could not go undergo industrialization at that time. Great Britain, Spain (and subsequently Portugal), and France were a few imperial superpowers which underwent industrialization first and each dominated many colonies.

Image Source: Dimitri C, Effland A, Conklin N. “The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy.” USDA ERS. 2006.

Because of the far-reaching, global geography of these mother countries’ colonies, the colonial economy depended on international trade. For example, the British empire depended on the American colonies’ production of goods, as did the colonies on the goods of the British Empire. Merchants sent out ships to trade with North America and the West Indies; in 1686 alone, over 1 million euros of goods were shipped to London (“Trade and Commerce”). While wool textiles from England’s manufacturers that spurred from the Industrial Revolution were shipped to the Americas, the colonies shipped goods such as sugar, tobacco, and other tropical groceries from its plantations back across the pond. Due to Europe’s incredibly high demand for some of these American goods, the slave trade developed to meet Industrialization’s hefty needs for cheap labor (“Trade and Commerce”).

Image Source: “Colonial Trade Routes and Goods.” National Geographic Society, National Geographic, http://www.nationalgeographic.org/photo/colonial-trade/.

A few hundred years later, significant agricultural technologies spurred from industrialization. By the early 1900s, most American farms were diversified, meaning that various animals and crops were produced on the same cropland in complementary ways. However, specialization was a method which developed in farms at around this same time, used to increase efficiency by narrowing the range of tasks and roles involved in production. This way, specialized farmers could focus all their knowledge, skills, and equipment on one or two enterprises. Furthermore, mechanization allowed for the tremendous gains in efficiency with getting rid of the need for human labor with routine jobs such as sowing seeds, harvesting crops, milking cows, and feeding and slaughtering animals. Within the 20th century only, the percentage of the U.S. workforce involved in agriculture declined from 41 percent to 2 percent (Dimitri et al. 2). This greatly increased the efficiency of the production of ingredients which go into chocolate such as milk, cacao, sugar, salt, and vanilla from their respective farms.

In addition to farming technologies such as specialization, methods such as preserving, mechanization, retailing (and wholesaling), transport, and the growth of the commercial catering business improved the quality of the chocolate product itself and lessened the amount of time many large chocolate companies produced these chocolates drastically (Goody 74).

The mechanism of preserving was spearheaded by Nicolas Appert, who developed a process called canning (“bottling” in English) in response to conditions in France during the Napoleonic Wars, when the preservation of meat was important for feeding on-the-road soldiers (Goody 75). Glass containers were also developed around the same time to preserve wine and medicine. Methods such as artificial freezing as well as salt — which became such a popular form of preservation that a “salt tax” was eventually implemented — also developed to preserve foods. Pickling inside vinegar, as well as sugar, which was used to preserve fruits and jams, were also methods which advanced. This, in turn, also caused the imports of sugar to rapidly increase during the 18th century (Goody 75). With preservation mechanisms highly developed compared to before, chocolate products could finally be distributed from manufacturers and remain on shelves for quite some time — it did not necessarily need to be fresh to be sold and readily available to consumers.

Additionally, the process of mechanization was the manufacture of many processed and packaged foods, and this process was furthered by Ford’s assembly line and interchangeable parts. Through these technologies, packaged foods and products could be produced much more quickly and efficiently at greater quantities. This greatly increased the production efficiency and quantity with which packaged chocolate could be distributed, allowing for the proliferation of the some of the biggest mass-brands in chocolate production, such as Hershey’s and Nestle (Goody 81).

Video Source: “HOW IT’S MADE: Old Hershey’s Chocolate.” YouTube, 1976, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ophXa_LvUKk.

Furthermore, the process of retailing was marked by the shift from open market to closed shop; this process began as early as Elizabethan times. Back in the Elizabethan era, great efforts were made to ensure that there were no middle men in terms of sales and that there was no resale at higher prices. Eventually, however, grocers overtook the import of foreign goods. Just as imported goods became cheaper with the new developments in transport, so too did manufactured goods and items packaged before sale came to dominate the market (Goody 82-3). This allowed many various chocolate products from manufacturers all across the world to hit the shelves of grocers, readily available to consumers of any city in the United States. These products were generally branded goods, “sold” before sale by national advertising. Advertising itself, additionally, led to the homogenization of chocolate consumption, allowing similar brands of chocolate products to be distributed across the U.S. This even led to the eventual homogenization of American taste preferences for chocolate; because the Hershey’s chocolate bar was so heavily distributed and popularized, eventually, Americans were unaccustomed to anything that did not have Hershey’s uniquely sweet and salty taste (“Here There Will Be…” 108).

The final large component of industrialization which greatly increased chocolate production and distribution was the revolution of transportation. Rail transport provided the masses with cheap and wholesome food; in fact, there were certain periods of time during the Industrial Revolution in which U.S. railways were transporting goods more than people (Goody 82). Last but not least, the growth of the commercial catering business led to the decline of the domestic servant. This decline of the domestic servant also allowed English families to explore quick, sweet recipes incorporating chocolate such as brownies, cookies, and cakes.

Bigger-picture progressions in history such as colonization and international trade connected the world economy and allowed for technologies such as preserving, mechanization, retailing, and new transport to grow and flourish. These methods, in turn, caused global companies such as Hershey’s and Nestle to revolutionize the production and distribution of chocolate into a massive, global business. What was once enjoyed by the few and wealthy was now easily accessible by the masses, homogenizing the tastes of Americans to a few specific chocolate brands. None of this impact on chocolate products’ consumers and producers alike would have been possible without the historical and technological developments of the Industrial Revolution.

Works Cited

Alam, M. Shahid. “Colonialism and Industrialization: Empirical Results.” Review of Radical Political Economics, 1998, pp. 217–240., doi:10.2139/ssrn.2031131.

“Colonial Trade Routes and Goods.” National Geographic Society, National Geographic, http://www.nationalgeographic.org/photo/colonial-trade/.

Dimitri C, Effland A, Conklin N. “The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy.” USDA ERS. 2006.

Goody, Jack. “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine.” Food and Culture: a Reader, edited by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik, Routledge, 2013, pp. 72–88.

“Here There Will Be No Unhappiness.” Hershey Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams, by Michael D D’Antonio, Simon & Schuster, 2006, pp. 106–126.

“HOW IT’S MADE: Old Hershey’s Chocolate.” YouTube, 1976, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ophXa_LvUKk.

JH Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Industrialization of Agriculture.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 5 Aug. 2016, foodsystemprimer.org/food-production/industrialization-of-agriculture/index.html.“To the Milky Way and Beyond; Breaking the Mold.” The Emperors of Chocolate: inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars, by Brenner Joël Glenn., Broadway Books, 2000, pp. 49–194.

“Trade and Commerce.” Understanding Slavery Initiative, Understanding Slavery, 2011, http://www.understandingslavery.com/index.php-option=com_content&view=article&id=307_trade-and-commerce&catid=125_themes&Itemid=152.html.

Women and Valentine’s Day: A discussion on why chocolate.

On this year’s Valentine’s day, my best friend and I, being the single women we are, decided to celebrate our the night by buying ourselves chocolate and wine while watching a movie. In all honesty, none of us particularly likes chocolate but it seemed like the appropriate movie snack for Valentine’s day. This type of thinking is not unique to us. It echoes the actions of million other people from all over the world flooding retail shops to buy their significant others flowers and chocolate. It also shows the strong association that our society believes to exist between chocolate and love with or without a heterosexual romance. In other words, while most foods are marketed for their nutritional, aesthetic or dainty value, chocolates have also been sold as symbols of love and sexuality. I would like to explore the various social and historical factors that have led to this phenomenon, and the gendered lens through which Valentine’s day has been tied to Chocolate.

Stores stock so much chocolate in addition to flowers and other love symbols

Firstly, the history of cacao in Mesoamerica is essential to understand the symbolic role chocolate has played in portraying romantic love on occasions such as Valentine’s day. In her essay, on “The Conquests of Chocolate”, Norton notes that “chocolate was ritually consumed at betrothal and wedding ceremonies, and presented to visiting dignitaries” (Norton, 2004). It was presented as an offering to the bride’s father by the groom as a testament of his love for his(the bride’s father) daughter and of respect. While most people do not know this history, chocolate companies have capitalized on this knowledge to lure consumers looking for symbols to express their love to one another.  Norton argues that “the association between chocolate and romantic love continues to hold sway in our collective imagination, as evidenced by the box-of-chocolate’s status as the quintessential Valentine’s Day gift and its mythical status as an aphrodisiac”(Norton, 2004). Chocolate becomes instrumental for those men who would like to show their feelings to their women and, in a similar fashion as the Mesoamericans, chocolate also symbolizes respect between the two lovers.

Secondly, chocolate was historically, and still is to an extent, marketed as a luxury item. It was consumed by those who belonged in the wealthier class. As observed by Norton, chocolate then “played an important role in Mesoamerican society as a drink that denoted status…” (Norton, 2004). This was also true when chocolate first spread through Europe where Spaniards not only “learned to replicate the taste, fragrance, look, and texture of Mesoamerican chocolate,…” but also “internalized the association between chocolate and noble distinction” (Norton, 2004). Another author, Jamal Fahim, in his work on, “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing”, claims “chocolate advertising…arouses appetites of a social nature by promising to satisfy viewers’ deep-seated desires for sexual fulfillment and higher class status”(Fahim, 2010). This is why men tend to buy this item to make their women feel special because it is an item that has been historically tied to status and luxury- especially on a day meant to represent passion and love.

Thirdly, and perhaps the assumption we need to address, is that while both men and women have been historically associated with love, women have been, almost exclusively, associated with chocolate cravings. According to Bruinsma et.al, chocolate cravings appear to exist in 40% of women and only 15% of men” (Bruinsma and Taren 1999). These cravings go beyond the socialization of women as being sweeter and therefore liking sweet things. According to Anthony Auger, an assistant professor at UW-Madison, women are more affected by chocolate than men. He references a study conducted that shows the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates food intake, was less active in women when they consumed chocolate which is why they were more likely to eat it more compared to me. This is an interesting take that changes the way we view Valentine’s day and the view that women only like chocolate because they have socialized to love it.

This is a common image in mainstream media, especially blog advertisements of chocolate, portrays women as avid eaters of chocolate.

Yet, we do not have conclusive evidence that this is entirely biological. There are various factors that may have led to this evolutionary phenomenon in which women are more likely to like chocolate than men. One of the many explanations is that women prefer sugary foods when they are lactating- an evolutionary mechanism to protect the baby- and this might have advanced the idea that women generally prefer chocolates (McQuillan, 2014). That being said, this paper does not explore other potential explanations for women’s love of chocolate. However, this paper seeks to highlight that women’s cravings for chocolate are perhaps more than just reactions to sensualized advertisements. They might also stem from evolutionary desires that tie certain foods to the female reproduction process and thus set in motion the reaction to advertisements beckoning women to consume more chocolate.

Ultimately, Valentine’s day remains an important day across the world. It’s meaning transcends the boundaries of language and culture in the face of globalization and brings people from all corners together in celebration of romantic love. Expectedly, capitalism also remains at the forefront with companies devising new ways to sell their products. This essay is part of a large conversation on how the culture of consumerism that rises within capitalist states influences the way we understand and limit ourselves within certain gendered norms. It uses a lens of chocolate to highlight the central issue of capitalist initiatives to exploit women’s love for chocolate by branding it as a symbol of love. Yet, it does not seek to place on a moral judgement on whether this is good or bad but simply raises the question of how even food can be instrumental in shaping gender dynamics.


  1. “Why Chocolate For Valentine’s Day? | The Stories | ~GIVEAWAY~ | G.Y’s Food Talk |.” YouTube. N. p., 2019. Web
  2. Martinez, Duran. “Stores Stock Shelves For Valentines Day.” 94.9 WMMQ. N. p., 2019.
  3. Fahim, Jamal. Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate …Occidental College, scholar.oxy.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=sociology_student.
  4. Bruinsma, Kristen, and Douglas L. Taren. 1999. “Chocolate: Food or drug?” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 10: 1249-1256.
  5. Norton, Marcy. “Conquests of Chocolate.” OAH Magazine of History, vol. 18, no. 3, 2004, pp. 14–17. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25163677.
  6. “Curiosities: Why Does It Seem Women Like Chocolate So Much More Than Men Do?.” News.wisc.edu. N. p., 2007.
  7. McQuillian, Suzan. “Women and Chocolate:Think You’Re Addicted to Dark, Smooth, and Sweet? You’re Not Alone.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cravings/201410/women-and-chocolate.
  8. Editorial, SheKnows, and Dustin James. “Eat More Chocolate.” SheKnows. N. p., 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2019.

Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac: A Historical Analysis

Dating back to the earliest known origins of chocolate—or rather its characteristic ingredient, cacao—this extraordinary substance has consistently been associated with socially intimate and aphrodisiacal properties. The particular manifestation of these aphrodisiacal properties, however, and how they have taken shape over time tells an interesting story of the power of media and advertising. Much of this early knowledge is situated around the ritual practices and mythology of the Maya civilization in the pre-Columbian period, during which cacao was heavily featured and revered in the context of fertility and marriage rites. In the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Quiché Maya documenting Mayan mythology, “when the gods were creating humans in their final form,” cacao was among the “foods which were to form their bodies” (Coe & Coe 39). This notion of cacao playing a role in the creation of human life is a recurring theme in surviving remnants of Mayan society, bringing to mind a clear connection with procreation and fertility. In much the same way, archeological/anthropological research has indicated the “widespread, perhaps even pan-Maya, use of chocolate in betrothal and marriage ceremonies” (Coe & Coe 60). Similar beliefs and rituals held true for Mixtec and Aztec societies, as we can see in this detail from the Codex Nuttall (Mixtec book) displayed below, or in the Aztec poem that refers to “‘flowering chocolate’ [as] a metaphor for luxuriousness and sensuality” (Coe & Coe 104).

Figure 1: This image shows an exchange of a frothy cup of chocolate from the bride, Lady Thirteen Serpent, to the Mixtec King, Lord Eight Deer (1051 BCE) (Coe & Coe 97)

Even more explicit, is the account of Spanish conquistador, Bernal Díaz de Castillo, upon attending a lavish Aztec banquet in which he writes about the emperor, including that “ they brought him some cups of fine gold, with a certain drink made of cacao, which they said was for success with women” (Coe & Coe 96). While this certainly speaks to the Spanish conquistadors’ beliefs and interpretations of cacao, whether there is any actual truth to this testimony is unsubstantiated. However this did not stop the notion of cacao as a sexual stimulant from spreading throughout Europe after it was first introduced in Spain. Almost a century after for instance, Dr. Henry Stubbes (1632-72), a prominent English authority on chocolate, was “convinced, as were most of his contemporaries in England and on the Continent, that chocolate was an aphrodisiac” (Coe & Coe 171).

If we fast forward to the 19th and early 20th centuries, these themes associated with chocolate seem to not only persist, but become ever-more present. This is likely the consequence of two key changes in the chocolate industry, the first being Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten’s 1828 invention of the hydraulic press, which allowed for the production of chocolate in solid form. The second shift lies in the industrialization of food, which gave way to mass production and, by extension, lower food costs, resulting in the democratization of chocolate (Coe & Coe 234-235). Considering its history as a substance once only available to the elite and wealthy upper echelons of society, this new potential for chocolate to be available and affordable to the masses meant immense economic opportunity—cue mass marketing. Chocolate advertising in its earlier days often featured women providing chocolate to their families, as the ideal wife and mother—roles which were both, at the time, at the forefront of any socially accepted notion of female identity. Kids were also considerably featured in these ads, thus by placing chocolate at the nucleus of the family bond, we are reminded of the original role cacao played in marriage and fertility for the Maya.

Figure 2: Nestle poster, c. 1898 – A mother, depicted in accordance with the beauty ideals of the time, is with her kids in nature, which advances the wholesome, natural image of milk chocolate
Figure 3: Post-war Rowntree’s Cocoa ad; acts as a clear representation of the role & expectations of women

In a similar vein, ads in which chocolate is the embodiment of romance soon seem to take center stage—at least for those ads targeted toward males (which speaks to a whole other dimension on the gendering of foods, but I’ll leave that for another discussion). While this notion of chocolate is clearly linked to aphrodisia, it is also convenient for business when it comes to special occasions centered around love and affection, such as Valentine’s Day and anniversaries.

Figure 4

Figure 5

As is hinted at in the ads above, this idea of chocolate as the perfect gift for a girlfriend or wife goes beyond its supposed inherent powers of attraction, to suggest that it’s so irresistible that it could win over any woman. The implication here being that simply a box of chocolates can render a woman so feeble-minded and lacking control over her desires that it removes any sexual resistance. This, again, plays into sexist stereotypes of women as mindless, emotional, pretty, sweet objects, lacking any intelligence, authority, or confidence.

While it would be nice to think this sort of messaging has subsided in recent years, the truth of the matter is that this pattern of perpetuating socially prescribed feminine ideals and stereotypes, particularly in relation to romance and desire is still common practice, only less overtly sexist. A prime example of this is for an Axe commercial in which women uncontrollably lust over a man who, upon spraying Axe Dark Temptation, turns into a walking, talking piece of chocolate. Despite being cloaked in a veil of humor, this message here is no different from that found in earlier advertising.

In a similar vein, while society has changed over time to embrace more progressive values, namely freedom of sexual expression and independence, it’s interesting to see how chocolate advertising has used this to make even more explicit the connection between chocolate, desire, and pleasure—all the while often maintaining their use of female stereotypes and ideals, which only works to delay or set back feminist efforts. That is, women are sexualized, objectified, and interlaced with sexual innuendo in such ads where there is an apparent attempt to blur the lines between chocolate and sex. Oftentimes these advertisements are targeted towards women as a way of “encouraging self indulgence for a food that provides feelings equated to sex and love” (Fahim 7).

It’s quite interesting, or perhaps more than that, it’s rather informative of the power that lies in the hands of media and marketing to perpetuate a notion with little to no basis in fact, as evidenced by numerous studies debunking any real effect of chocolate on libido or as an aphrodisiac (Shamloul 2010, Brent 2018), yet remains at the core—in some way, shape, or form, of chocolate marketing strategy.

In analyzing the way these advertisements have marketed chocolate, we can see the progress of the way society views the female role. In the earlier times, we see how the importance of women in society is closely intertwined with reproduction as well as the simple-minded housewife trope, which was quite clearly reflected in the messaging of chocolate at the time. And, subsequently, as women’s expression of sexuality in media becomes more commonplace, the importance and relevance of chocolate in society comes in large part from overt and subtle references to its purported (yet unsubstantiated) supernatural or aphrodisiacs properties. Specifically, it aims to encourage “ self indulgence for a food that provides feelings equated to sex and love.

All that being said, while this current theme of hypersexuality, desire, and indulgence is unlikely to subside any time soon (especially considering it’s persisted over thousands of years), it will be interesting to see how and if the portrayal of women in ads related to chocolate will change in this new wave of female empowerment as a marketing strategy (e.g. the new Nike and Gillette ads), which still have their issues but show an overall positive progression towards gender equality.

Works-Cited & Sources:

Brent A. Bauer, M.D. “Do Natural Aphrodisiacs Actually Work?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Mar. 2018, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/expert-answers/natural-aphrodisiacs/faq-20058252.

Fahim, Jamal, “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing” (2010). Sociology Student Scholarship. http://scholar.oxy.edu/sociology_student/3

French, Michael. “Modernity in British Advertising: Selling Cocoa and Chocolate in the 1930s.” Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 9, no. 4, 2017, pp. 451-466. ProQuest, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1973450713?accountid=11311, doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/10.1108/JHRM-05-2017-0015.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2009.

Shamloul, Rany. “Natural Aphrodisiacs.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 7, no. 1, 2010, pp. 39–49., doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01521.x.

Multimedia Sources:





From the Food of the Gods to the Food of the People: How Chocolate Became Democratized

Referring to chocolate, the Italian conquistador Girolamo Benzoni wrote that it “seemed more a drink for pigs, than a drink for humanity” (Coe and Coe 110). Given this statement, it seems incredible that today in much of the world, we have come to know chocolate as a sweet, decadent luxury food. Much of chocolate’s transformation – from a bitter drink reserved for elites to a sweet, inexpensive candy – has to do with changes that occurred in Europe beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing through the Industrial Revolution. Colonialism, along with the advent of plantation agriculture and industrial technology, all functioned to alter the perceptions and attitudes surrounding chocolate in Europe and the New World, democratizing it, until it eventually became the mass-produced food that so many people know and love today.

Chocolate, the solid food that it is most commonly known today, comes from the fruit of the cacao tree. In ancient Mesoamerica, the cacao tree was sacred; images of cacao trees are linked to gods and the afterlife in Aztec and Maya religions (Leissle). This religious association is what led Linnaeus to give cacao the genus name Theobroma, which translates to “food of the gods” (Leissle). Archeological evidence also suggests that cacao was made as a drink primarily for Aztec and Maya elites. After Spanish conquistadors arrived in Central America and became accustomed to cacao, the association between cacao consumption and elites was transferred to Europe. The Spanish were the first to introduce cacao to Europe in 1544, when Dominican friars brought a Kekchi Maya delegation to meet Prince Philip of Spain, and they brought cacao with them (Coe and Coe). Soon after, consumption of chocolate drinks, inspired by Mesoamerican recipes, became popular in European royal courts. As chocolate’s popularity grew in Europe, its association with aristocracy was solidified. For example, it became a potent status symbol for French nobility to own a silver chocolatière, or chocolate pot, as seen in the image below. In Baroque France, distinctive silver pieces such as this one signified that the owner was of a high enough social class to be able to purchase cacao and enjoy chocolate drinks on a regular basis.

Image of a traditional French chocolatière. From: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/196366

As European nations colonized the Caribbean and Central and South America, the resulting increase in agricultural production through slave labor allowed chocolate’s popularity to grow even further as it became increasingly accessible to working-class people. The establishment of New World cacao plantations and using the labor of African slaves allowed European powers to control the production of cacao and import it at lower costs (Martin and Sampeck). Additionally, transatlantic triangular trade allowed cacao to be transported to West Africa and Indonesia, where it was also cultivated for European consumption, with West Africa, specifically Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, becoming the primary production center of cacao after the abolition of slavery (Martin and Sampeck; Leissle). Thus, under colonial influence, cacao production was able to expand to meet the growing demand for chocolate among the upper classes.

This increasing desire for chocolate was reinforced by the massive growth of the sugar industry at the same time and by the same means of production (Mintz). However, it was not until the rise of capitalistic economies and increasing industrialization that sugar and chocolate consumption really increased dramatically in Europe (Coe and Coe). Until the Industrial Revolution, chocolate was primarily consumed as a drink; a number of industrial processes were important for transforming chocolate into solid food. For example, the process for manufacturing Dutch process cocoa powder involved a more efficient method of separating cocoa butter from cocoa powder, which allowed the powder to mix more easily with water (Coe and Coe). Using this technology, the Fry company was able to create a recipe for the first true chocolate bars, involving cocoa powder, sugar, and melted cocoa butter. From then on, chocolate was on its way to being considered primarily as a relatively inexpensive food, especially as the number and size of chocolate companies grew and other technological innovations emerged for creating desirable and marketable chocolate confections.

Demand for eating chocolate and cultivation of cacao in West Africa mutually reinforced each other’s growth, which incentivized large chocolate companies to create more efficient and cost-effective manufacturing techniques. One such company is Hershey’s, an American-based enterprise which is responsible for creating a recipe for milk chocolate that could be mass produced faster and cheaper by using liquid condensed milk rather than powdered milk as European companies did (D’Antonio). The image below, from a booklet produced by Hershey’s, showcases an additional aspect that contributed to their manufacturing success: their factory. The photos of the interior of the factory underscore the massive scale of their operations, and this indicates that chocolate production had become fully mechanized at this point in time – a far cry from the small-scale production of chocolate by hand in ancient Mesoamerica.

Pages from The Hershey Corporation’s “The Story of Chocolate and Cocoa”. From: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/18558585

The printing of this pamphlet also highlights not only that Hershey’s was committed to utilizing the most current manufacturing technology, but also that large companies’ success depended a large part upon public opinion of their operations. As chocolate became increasingly affordable and available to people in Europe and America, companies needed to compete for customer loyalty within the capitalist market. Advertising was and remains crucial for companies to target specific consumers and persuade them to buy their product instead of a similar product from another company. Ads such as the one for Fry’s chocolate below often associated chocolate with images of innocence and the desire for sweetness. The customer buying the chocolate is a young girl, which associates childhood, innocence, and femininity with chocolate and sweetness. The children outside are all gazing longingly at the chocolate, too, which suggests that Fry’s chocolate is something that everyone wants to enjoy. Most importantly, the Fry name is written all over the ad, so that everyone who views the ad remembers the name.

Fry's Chocolates
Fry’s Chocolate advertisement. From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/muohio_digital_collections/3092807797/

Advertising helped chocolate companies become household names, and led to chocolate brands developing recognizable, signature tastes. Thus, chocolate was completely transformed into a commodity for all people to enjoy. None of chocolate’s evolution to this status as an industrialized, highly processed, and popular food would have been possible without the increases in production of cacao and sugar as a result of colonialism and plantation slavery, as well as technological improvements during the Industrial Revolution. All of these changes allowed chocolate’s price to drop significantly, and it also led to chocolate’s shift from drink to solid food. So, when we eat a chocolate bar, we can credit its existence to the changes in production and consumption that corresponded to industrialization and globalization in the past few hundred years.

Works Cited:

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

D’Antonio, Michael D. “Here There Will Be No Unhappiness.” Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams, Simon & Schuster, 2006, pp. 106–26.

Leissle, Kristy. Cocoa. Polity Press, 2018.

Martin, Carla D., and Kathryn E. Sampeck. “The Bitter and Sweet of Chocolate in Europe.” Socio.Hu, vol. 3, 2015, pp. 37–60.

Mintz, Sidney. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. Penguin Books, 1986.

Multimedia Sources:

Collections, Miami University Libraries-Digital. Fry’s Chocolates. 8 Dec. 2008. Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/muohio_digital_collections/3092807797/. Accessed 14 Mar. 2019.

Hershey Chocolate Corporation. The Story of Chocolate and Cocoa Booklet. 1926. National Archives at Philadelphia (RE-PA), US National Archives Research Catalog, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/18558585. Accessed 14 Mar. 2019.

“Pierre Vallières | Chocolate Pot | French, Paris | The Met.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/196366. Accessed 14 Mar. 2019.

The Development of Cacao Iconography: From Mesoamerican Artifacts to Modern Marketing Strategies

Cacao played a large role in the ancient civilizations of the Mayans and Aztecs, becoming an increasingly integral part of each one’s respective cultures overtime. It has continued to play an equally important, although different role in modern society. One can assert that the importance of cacao across civilizations can be seen through its recurring presence in iconography. The types of icons associated with cacao in Ancient civilizations were ones of documentation and reverence (Garthwaite). The images reflected their belief in the diversity of the powers of cacao stemming from its religious significance (Coe 48). With the development of capitalism, modern civilizations increased the commodification of chocolate and used cacao iconography as a means of advertisement to sell the refined product for a profit. These differences in cultural use of cacao are reflected in the differences of iconography in each civilizations culture, but when the modern begins to draw from the ancient, the mixing of modern incentives for cacao use and their representation of Mesoamerican societies’ value of the substance appears ethically immiscible.


Cacao was important to both the Mayan and Aztec civilizations because of its presence in both of these societies’ artifacts and images, which took the form of iconographical symbols. For example, the Mayans had a hieroglyph of the word Kakau that was found in scripted on a jar used for chocolate making (Fig. 1) (Martin).

Martin Lecture

The Aztecs depicted scenes crediting cacao with religious significance that would help it gain prominence in other facets of life (Fig. 2) (Coe 50).

Martin Lecture

Both the Aztecs and the Mayans used iconography as a way of expressing and documenting what was important to them at the present time, and the inclusion of cacao evidences its important role in ancient culture.

The prevalence of Cacao in each of these societies led to cacao being used for numerous functions, such as medicine, currency, and a source of energy (Coe 31). But at the root of the popularity of cacao was its religious significance. For both the Aztecs and the Mayans, there was a direct link between cacao and deities. For the Mayans this came in the form of a specific “Cacao God” and for the Aztecs Cacao was associated with their Tree God, that was emblematic of life, “emerging from the jaws of the Underworld serpent” (Martin). Through iconography, historians were able to determine why Cacao became so pervasive culturally and better understand its roles and uses in ancient civilization.

Some of those roles came in the form of ceremonies or celebratory feasts. For the Aztecs, chocolate became synonymous with nobility (Fig. 3). It was a luxury good that enhanced the various experiences of the elite, like dinner celebrations or festivals (Coe 60).

Aztec Symbols Explained

The Mayans also extolled Cacao as a celebratory food, given its religious significance. Often, the prospective groom would present a gift of Cacao pods to the father of the bride as a kind of preemptive thank you or symbolic gesture of goodwill (Martin). The depiction below demonstrates such an occurrence and further cements the role of Cacao in society (Fig. 4).

Martin Lecture

The use of iconography in ancient civilizations is at once a recording of important events and cultural traditions, while at the same time a creation of culture itself. This dual nature of iconography reveals a significance about cacao in both of these cultures given its strong presence in various types of artifacts depicting various types of scenes.


However, the choice to use images and symbols in ancient civilizations was very different from why contemporary societies might choose to use cacao inspired iconography today. The blog has discussed how and why visual depictions were important in ancient civilization, and what they did to signify the value of Cacao during this time. The same cannot be said about cacao iconography in modern society. With the shift of uses in chocolate that began with the Spanish inquisition and carried through to the modern times, chocolate plays a different, although not less popular, role in society (Leissle 18). With the advent of sugar, chocolate has positioned itself more in the realm of a desert or sweet snack, than a food with medicinal powers or religious significance, at least in the mainstream Western society (Leissle 24). As a result, we have seen a coinciding shift in the images of chocolate. The power five chocolate corporations of Cadbury, Nestle, Ferrero, Hersheys, and Mars all engage in marketing strategies in order to sell chocolate, accounting for thirty-four percent of market share (Leissle 74). These companies are not promoting it as a result of its cultural significance or medicinal powers like the Aztecs or the Mayans did, they are promoting it to make money.

2005 Hershey’s Chocolate Ad

So holding constant adaptations in technology, and thinking only about what chocolate meant to each society, it is clear from just the cacao iconography that the ancient civilizations placed a much different kind of value on chocolate. Ancient civilization saw cacao transcend commodification and become a religiously backed medium for a number of various practices, many of which are evidenced in illustration. Cacao in ancient civilization did not need to be promoted, it needed to be documented and appreciated. Given the change in the function of cacao from ancient civilization to modern society a coinciding change in the application and design of cacao’s iconography also makes sense.


But what has been less justifiable, and potentially even damaging to ancient civilizations is their renewed presence in the branding of chocolate by the west. The west has long been entranced by what it regards as the primitive or ancient. In academia, this has been a positive for ancient cultures, as it has led to the continued study of those cultures. But in the market, it has often led to the appropriation of those cultures through branding. Private corporations are not necessarily concerned with the historical accuracy of how they depict ancient civilizations. They are concerned with advertising a product so it will sell. As a result, images are created in the likeness of indigenous people but modified so it may be more appealing to their target audience. A good example of this is the “Make your Own Chocolate Kit” set that presents the viewer with an “Aztec” holding a cup of what one assumes is hot chocolate (Fig. 5).

Martin Lecture

This turns out to be problematic for a number of reasons. The first is the skin tone of the Aztec. He is given white skin as it if was a European dressed in Native American clothes. The presence of the Reese’s cup shaped chocolate in the right corner of the box is also problematic given that chocolate did not look like this in the time of the Aztecs. And the idea of presenting the consumer with the ability to make their own chocolate indicates they would undergo a similar process of chocolate making as the Aztecs. This is wholly untrue, as the most difficult parts of the chocolate making process would have been industrially carried out by the chocolate company, leaving the consumer with the easiest parts of the process and likely a dangerously false sense of satisfaction.

While the rebranding of cacao iconography is acceptable because of the changing role chocolate has fulfilled since its use in Mesoamerica, it does raise certain questions about how far this branding should be allowed to go. There is an ethical issue at hand when the appropriation of a culture leads to the misrepresentation of ancient civilizations for the purposes of marketability. Hopefully this blog has helped to explain the history of Cacao iconography and its modern uses, both positive and negative, as well as presented readers with questions regarding the ethics of advertisement.

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. Thames and Hudson, 2019.

Garthwaite, Josie. “What We Know About the Earliest History of Chocolate.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 12 Feb. 2015.

Leissle, Kristy. Cocoa. Polity Press, 2018.

Martin, Carla. “Chocolate Expansion.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard University, Cambridge. 6 Feb. 2019. Lecture.

Image Citations

Martin, Carla. “Chocolate Expansion.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard University, Cambridge. 6 Feb. 2019. Lecture.

Hershey’s Chocolate Ad. 2005. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9SCE9YO1_k.

“10 Aztec Symbols Explained.” Ancient Pages, 20 Mar. 2018, http://www.ancientpages.com/2018/03/20/10-aztec-symbols-explained/.

Chocolate Advertisements and Children


“When we get to the store, do not ask for anything.”

As a young girl, this is what my mother would tell me in a very stern and matter of fact voice before we would go food shopping. She would hear me in the living room back at home watching the commercials on the television excitedly saying “I want that! I want that!” about every product advertised. She knew my nagging would continue in the store if she did not put a stop to it. Twenty years later and my mother is doling out the same warning to my five year old brother – except now, the product advertising does not just stop when the commercials end and the television program resumes. Today, my brother and millions of other children are bombarded with images of food products nearly everywhere they go.

From “television advertising, in-school marketing, product placements, kids clubs, the Internet, toys and products with brand logos, and youth-targeted promotions, such as cross-selling and tie-ins,” (Story & French, 2012, p.1) food and beverage companies spend an estimated $10 to $15 billion marketing to children (Eggerton, 2007). In just the first six months of 2014, Hershey’s had already spent $149.5 million on television ad placements and Reese’s had spent $86.2 million (Tadena, 2014). This marketing is not done in vain as children yield considerable consumer power not only as spenders but also as influencers and future adult buyers. This is what James McNeal (1999) describes as a three in one market. It is estimated that children spend $25 billion to $40 billion annually (Story & French; Martin, 2018) and influence up to $500 billion in purchases made by families (Martin). Additionally, as children get older they will have more disposable income as well as greater autonomy on their purchasing decisions.

Martin Marketing to Children

(Martin, Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements, 2018)

Television advertising is the primary way food and beverage companies market their products. According to the Nielsen Co. children between the ages of 2 to 5 years old watch an estimated 32 hours a week of television and children ages 6 to 8 spend 28 hours per week in front of the TV (McDonough, 2009). With all this television watching children are barraged with commercials. Holt, Ippolito, Desrochers, and Kelley (2007) found that children in 2004 were exposed to over 25,000 commercials and over half of the advertisements were promoting a food product. In a study done on food advertisements seen by children researchers found that, “children’s networks had the highest percentage of food-related commercials,” (Bell, Cassady, Culp, & Alcalay, 2009) and the majority of these commercials were for unhealthy foods. Compared to other networks, the children’s programming featured 76% more food commercials – more specifically, “7.7 food commercials per hour appeared in programming on the children’s networks, which is approximately 1 food commercial every 8 minutes,” (Bell et al., 2009). This astounding frequency makes children extremely vulnerable to the marketing ploys used by the food companies.

One way in which people have tried to combat the over saturation of unhealthy food advertisements targeted to children is with the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). Established in 2007, the CFBAI is a self-regulation program that encourages its participants to advertise more nutritious food and healthier lifestyles to children under the age of 12 (CFBAI and CARU Fact Sheet, 2012). Companies who have signed up to be in this initiative are The Hershey Company, Mars. Inc., Nestle Global, and Ferrero USA Inc. (CFBAI Participating Companies, 2018). From participating in this program these companies have promised to not promote their candy directly to children. However, in a study examining how much candy advertising was being seen by children researchers discovered children viewed 485 candy advertisements in 2011, a 74% increase from the number of advertisements viewed in 2008. The researchers found that 65% of the advertisements in 2011, “were for brands that CFBAI companies pledged they would not include in child-directed advertising,” (Harris, LoDolce, Dembek, & Schwartz, 2015, p.589). Mars, Hershey, and Nestle were some of the CFBAI companies that had a 152% increase in ads from 2008 to 2011. Despite these companies’ promises to self-regulate their advertisements, children are still being overexposed to unhealthy food commercials.

The United States is not the only country dealing with unhealthy advertisements marketed toward children. A content analysis of 229 Iranian food commercials shown during children’s programming mostly featured unhealthy food such as chocolate, ice cream, and cookies (Amini, Omidvar, Yeatman, Shariat-Jafari, Eslami-Amirabadi, & Zahedirad, 2014). Researchers in Melbourne, Australia found a positive correlation between the amount of TV commercials a child watches and their preference for junk food as well as the amount of junk food they eat (Dixon, Scully, Wakefield, White, Crawford, 2007). In India, Rathod and Parmar (2012) looked at the influence of Indian advertisements targeted to children. The children were very familiar with chocolate advertisements and stated that Cadbury and Five Stars were their favorite chocolate brands. The researchers stated that children often asked their parents to buy confectionary products for them after viewing the products’ commercial. Mexico banned the broadcasting of commercials featuring chocolate, soda, and candy during children’s movies in theaters as well as during children’s television shows in 2014. It was estimated that over 10,000 commercials would be affected by the new rule. However, a week after this regulation went into effect Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risk claimed ads for Hershey’s, Nesquik, and Nestle were not compliant (Pekic, 2014). Some of the ads that the authorities singled out for not following the regulation were promoting chocolate foods – “chocolate-flavored Nesquik Duo cereals…Hershey’s chocolate flavored milk and Holanda chocolate-topped vanilla ice cream products,” (Pekic, 2014).

Emotional appeal is a widely used tactic in advertising to children. In their marketing, companies associate their products with positive emotions that are desirable to children. Page and Brewster (2007) examined product appeals in food advertisements for children in the United States and found that the most popular appeals used by companies were fun/happiness, fantasy/imagination, social enhancement/peer acceptance, and coolness/hipness. In Belgium, 46.3% of the children involved in De Pelsmaker, Schouteten, and Gellynck’s study (2013) associated Cécémel, a popular chocolate milk brand, with happiness, “cozy, desire, enjoyment and pleasure,” (p. 283).

Emotional appeal is seen throughout Hersheypark where, since 1907, Hershey Co. has welcomed families from all over the world to forge memories and experience fun in a way that goes beyond simply eating their chocolate bars. From its roller coasters, zoo, and official hotels Hersheypark is associated with adventure, family, excitement, and happiness. I remember going to Hersheypark as a young girl and staying in one of their hotels. The wallpaper was designed with illustrations of tiny chocolate bars and chocolate was available everywhere. I thought it was the coolest thing and still to this day when I think about Hersheypark I am reminded of the fun I had there with my family.

Another tactic in which companies attract children to their products is through their use of brand mascots. Mascots and cartoon characters are an easy way for children to identify products. Companies create brand mascots in the hopes of developing an emotional relationship with the young child consumer who is, “cognitively immature and vulnerable to targeted marketing because of their limited ability to differentiate between facts and persuasive marketing communications,” (Kraak & Story, 2014, p.108). Harkening back to McNeil’s three in one description of child consumers these mascots are also used to create brand loyalty with the child who will eventually grow into an adult consumer. Oftentimes, the mascots are depicted in fun and happy situations and are associated with a catchy phrase (Kraak & Story, 2014) which can help foster, “market nostalgia through transgenerational, parent-child interactions that generate…fun emotional appeals…towards company brands and products,” (Kraak & Story, 2014, p.110). The relationships that the children form with the mascots have great influence on their dietary choices. Kraak and Story examined the influence of brand mascots on children’s diet and found that children preferred their food to have a character associated with it than no character. The researchers also found that when unhealthy food and fruits or vegetables were branded with the same familiar character, the children favored the unhealthy snacks. Furthermore, children were more likely to request chocolate over fruit if there was a familiar media character associated with it.

Sonny the Cuckoo Bird was introduced in 1962 to promote General Mills’ cereal Cocoa Puffs. In the 56 years Sonny has been on television, he simply cannot resist the cereal made with “real Hershey’s cocoa”. Try as he might to keep his mind off the cereal he is always pulled back in and by the end of the commercials has gone manic off of the Puffs’ delicious chocolatey flavor. In one commercial, Sonny even goes so far as to lock his box of Cocoa Puffs in a safe but the cereal manages to find him everywhere he goes – the chocolate deliciousness is inescapable. Sonny’s love for the cereal is contagious. In many of the commercials, he is surrounded by children who are just as crazy about Cocoa Puffs as he is. In some instances the children do not think Cocoa Puffs are as good as Sonny claims they are until they get a taste of it for themselves.

In the Cocoa Puffs commercials, chocolate is depicted as a food so good it will make the person eating it go crazy. One bite of the cereal and Sonny and the Cocoa Puffs children are out of control with happiness. Many of the commercials are animated cartoons and have a very short storyline featuring Sonny either trying to avoid the cereal, persuading children to eat it, or on an adventure to find the cereal. However, when it comes time for the narrator to talk about the cereal it switches from animation to real life images. The viewers shortly leave the cartoon story. There is usually an image of some type of chocolate looking vortex followed by a close up shot of the Cocoa Puffs in a bowl of chocolate milk. The shot is against a backdrop of rich creamy chocolate. The entire scene is meant to depict chocolate.

Like Sonny, the children go crazy over the “chocolatey taste you go cuckoo for”. Sonny’s slogan, “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!” is repeated many times throughout the commercial by him and the Cocoa Puffs children. Sonny’s energetic demeanor and propensity to be in fun situations make him a likeable character to children consumers. By inserting children cartoon characters into the Cocoa Puffs commercials, the children viewers can relate to them. Furthermore, children are likely to believe the commercial’s claim that Cocoa Puffs are a part of a nutritional and well-balanced breakfast. In nearly every Cocoa Puffs commercial I viewed there was an image of the cereal alongside a glass of milk, a glass of orange juice, and a plate of toast as the narrator states Cocoa Puffs is “the chocolatey part of this good breakfast”.

Sonny the Cuckoo Bird is not the only mascot associated with chocolate breakfast. The Nesquik Bunny was introduced in 1973 and is used in commercials to promote Nesquik’s chocolate milk as well as its cereal. Like Cocoa Puffs, Nesquik cereal is touted as being delicious because of its chocolate flavor and how it turns regular milk into chocolate milk. The Nesquik Bunny also claims that the cereal is, “the chocolatey part of this good breakfast” as the bowl of cereal is shown alongside a glass of milk, a muffin, and an orange. This mascot, too, is energetic and happy – easy for the children viewers to relate to him.

Along with emotional appeal and brand mascots, logo recognition is another way companies capture children’s attention. Logo recognition increases with age and are used to build “product recognition and brand awareness in young children,” (Page & Brewster, 2007, p. 336). I am able to see the effect of brand recognition with my five year old brother. Every morning he drinks a glass of chocolate milk made with Hershey’s chocolate syrup. My brother is very particular about his chocolate milk and if it is not made the way he enjoys he will not drink it. Despite not being fully comprehensive with reading yet if he notices that the chocolate syrup does not have the Hershey’s logo on it he automatically does not like the chocolate milk.

Children are vulnerable to the marketing tactics used by food and beverage companies. These companies have developed a number of ways to appeal to the innocent minds of children and these ways are working. By marketing their products as child-friendly, children and parents are more likely to fall for the companies’ traps. In this already overly media-saturated environment children are living in, people need to be made aware of the ways food companies bombard children. The over-saturation likely will not stop but if people are aware of companies’ tactics, hopefully, their effects will have less of an impact.



Amini, M., Omidvar, N., Yeatman, H., Shariat-Jafari, S., Eslami-Amirabadi, M., & Zahedirad, M. (2014). Content analysis of food advertising in Iranian children’s television programs. International journal of preventive medicine, 5(10), 1337.

Bell, R. A., Cassady, D., Culp, J., & Alcalay, R. (2009). Frequency and types of foods advertised on Saturday morning and weekday afternoon English-and Spanish-language American television programs. Journal of nutrition education and behavior41(6), 406-413.

CFBAI and CARU Fact Sheet. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.bbb.org/storage/16/documents/cfbai/CFBAI%20and%20CARU%20Fact%20Sheet%20August%202012.pdf.

CFBAI Participating Companies. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.bbbprograms.org/programs/CFBAI/cfbai-participants/

De Pelsmaeker, S., Schouteten, J., & Gellynck, X. (2013). The consumption of flavored milk among a children population. The influence of beliefs and the association of brands with emotions. Appetite, 71, 279-286.

Dixon, H. G., Scully, M. L., Wakefield, M. A., White, V. M., & Crawford, D. A. (2007). The effects of television advertisements for junk food versus nutritious food on children’s food attitudes and preferences. Social science & medicine, 65(7), 1311-1323.

Eagle, B., & Ambler, T. (2002). The influence of advertising on the demand for chocolate confectionery. International Journal of Advertising, 21(4), 437-454.

Eggerton, J. (2007). Food-Marketing Debate Heats Up. Retrieved from http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/food-marketing-debate-heats-82753.

Harris, J. L., LoDolce, M., Dembek, C., & Schwartz, M. B. (2015). Sweet promises: Candy advertising to children and implications for industry self-regulation. Appetite, 95, 585-592.

Kraak, V. I., & Story, M. (2015). Influence of food companies’ brand mascots and entertainment companies’ cartoon media characters on children’s diet and health: a systematic review and research needs. obesity reviews, 16(2), 107-126.

Martin, C. (2018). Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements.

McDonough, P. (2009). TV Viewing Among Kids At An Eight-Year High. Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2009/tv-viewing-among-kids-at-an-eight-year-high.html.

McNeal, J. U. (1999). The kids market: Myths and realities. Paramount Market Publishing.

Page, R. M., & Brewster, A. (2007). Emotional and rational product appeals in televised food advertisements for children: analysis of commercials shown on US broadcast networks. Journal of Child Health Care, 11(4), 323-340.

Pekic, V. (2014). Children see, children do: Will Mexican kids slim down by watching less candy ads? Retrived from http://www.confectionerynews.com/Article/2014/07/28/Mexico-restricts-confectionery-and-chocolate-advertising-to-children.

Rathod, D. R. M., & Parmar, B. J. (2012). Impact of Television Advertisements on Children: An Empirical Study with Reference to Chocolate Brands. Pacific Business Review International, 5(5), 85-94.

Story, M., & French, S. (2004). Food advertising and marketing directed at children and adolescents in the US. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 1(1), 3.

Tadena, N. (2014). Hershey’s and Reese’s are the Sweetest TV Spenders in the Candy Sector. Retrieved from http://www.blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2014/07/24/hersheys-and-reeses-are-the-sweetest-tv-spenders-in-the-candy-sector/.

United States. Federal Trade Commission. Bureau of Economics, Holt, D. J., Ippolito, P. M., Desrochers, D. M., & Kelley, C. R. (2007). Children’s Exposure to TV Advertising in 1977 and 2004: Information for the Obesity Debate. US FTC.












A Survey Investigating Gendered Advertising in Chocolate

Introduction and Historical Context

Chocolate has long been associated with gender and sex; in particular, narratives and advertisements regarding chocolate have sexualized women. Records dating back to the Guatemalan Inquisition of the sixteenth century note that that women were accused of using chocolate to bewitch men into sexual submission (Grivetti and Shapiro 5999). This narrative makes it is clear that chocolate had sexual associations with women and that chocolate was a tool for women to control men. As chocolate entered the European market, witchcraft-related connections between women and chocolate faded, and luxurious self-indulgence and irresistibility toward chocolate began to take shape. Van Houten’s defatting process – an 1828 invention – brought on the development of bonbons, which were quickly associated with sexuality (Grivetti and Shapiro 6077). Popular women’s magazines of the nineteenth century were behind this association, using media to sexualize the sweet morsels. In fact, James Wadsworth claimed that chocolate would make women “… long for you know what, [i]f they but taste chocolate” (Wadsworth 137). This admittedly grotesque assertion stems from the idea that women have a higher temptation for luxurious things and self-indulgence, which in turn increased media-driven sexual desire for bonbons (Grivetti and Shapiro 6097).

Female cookbook writers also contributed to the sexualization of chocolate in the nineteenth century. Writers associated chocolate with decadence, sin, and femininity. Interestingly, the idea of chocolate as a ‘sinful pleasure’ has maintained relevance to the present-day (Grivetti and Shapiro 6057). During the mid-1800s, boxes of chocolate were designed to appeal to women. Designers added lacey frills, suggestive pictures, and romantic imagery (Grivetti and Shapiro 6058). Eventually, advertisers turned to more evocative forms of marketing. For example, some French chocolate companies resorted to overt sexuality, e.g. depictions of women in lingerie and high heels, to advertise chocolate. Overt sexuality in chocolate advertising dissipated during the first half of the twentieth century, only to make a reappearance after the Second World War (Robertson 10).

Early twentieth century advertisements took a different, more wholesome approach to target female consumers. Rowntree advertisements dating back to the 1930s focused on mothers as the target consumer-base; Rowntree’s ‘Special Mothers Campaign’ initiated this push (Robertson 20).

Image 1: Rowntree’s 1930s advertisement that focuses on family strength (source: http://www.advertisementsindia.com/2011/05/rowntrees-cocoa/)

Marketers honed in on this demographic, because families with children were the chief buying agents of chocolate. Women typically brought food into the home (Robertson 21). Chocolate companies continued to paint the loveable housewife as their primary target consumers through the 1950s – healthy, happy children and satisfied husbands often accompanying them. The roles of women in chocolate ads began to expand post-wartime. Women entered the workplace in chocolate ads, and they became more explicitly sexualized during the 1940s. Rowntree’s Judy, for example, wore skimpy outfits and delivered more seductive glares (Robertson 31).

Image 2: Rowntree’s Judy sporting hot pants and tight-fitting shirt (source: https://easyontheeye2.wordpress.com/packaging/judy-says-happy-easter/)

From that point on, chocolate advertisers focused on heterosexual love as a purchasing point for chocolate. Later, in the 1950s, women in advertisements became obsessed with chocolate (Martin). One of the most salient traditions in female chocolate advertisement is the woman being seduced by chocolate (Martin). It appears that advertisers began to diverge from the idea that female purchasers had the power, and instead that men wishing to court these irrational women ought to lure them in with irresistible chocolate. This vision of women as tempted by the powers of chocolate has permeated the chocolate ad space, culminating with hyper-sexualized images of women and chocolate of the last decade. 

Godiva image 3
Image 3: Sensual Godiva ad featuring young woman with chocolate on breast, 2004 (source: http://files.coloribus.com/files/adsarchive/part_648/6481905)

Fascination and focus on feminine sexuality and chocolate begs one to question the effectiveness on such advertising practices. Are women actually more inclined than men to enjoy chocolate? Are women more likely than men to purchase chocolate? Do the wrappers around chocolates truly make or break the purchase decision for women more than men? In order to explore these questions, I conducted a survey with 34 participants (21 women and 13 men) to find gender differences in the consumption of chocolate. Additionally, I explored the efficacy of chocolate advertising via wrappers to observe if they sway participants’ opinions of the chocolates.


Members of the Harvard community were recruited to conduct the study. The population of Quincy House was invited, as were the Harvard Men’s Swimming and Diving Team, members of Eleganza Show, Expressions Dance Company, and the Fly Club (For Gentlemen). I attempted to make the survey known to as many groups that I am involved in to get as close to a random sample as possible. Once those interested returned inquiries with availability, I put equal numbers of men and women in time slots. Naturally, Harvard students did not follow these time slots, so the ratio of men and women was skewed, as was the number of participants in each iteration (the first iteration – discussed in further detail below – had 12 participants (3 men and 9 women), while the second iteration contained 22 participants (10 men and 12 women)).

Both iterations contained the exact same 18 questions. The first 12 questions concerned 6 types of chocolates that each participant sampled. For each chocolate, participants were asked how much they enjoyed the chocolate, and also how likely they would be to buy the chocolate. The latter 6 questions asked:

  • How much do you generally enjoy eating chocolate?
  • How much does price affect your decision to buy a chocolate bar?
  • How much do the ethical practices of a chocolate maker affect your decision to buy a chocolate bar?
  • How much do you associate chocolate with sensuality/romance?
  • How much do you associate chocolate with loss of control?
  • What is your gender?

The first iteration of the survey was a traditional blind taste test; the second iteration, however, allowed participants to see and to inspect the chocolate wrappers. Participants were encouraged to read the wrappers in full. The final question asked for gender identity. This question allowed me to filter results to investigate gender differences in how participants answered questions (although ‘gender non-binary’ and ‘prefer not to disclose’ were options for this question, no participant identified with these answers, thus a pure female-male comparison could be conducted).

Image 4: Participants of Study 2 taste chocolate while inspecting wrappers and completing the survey on their mobile devices (source: David Pfeifer)

Gender-Based Results

Results will be broken down between the answers of men and the answers of women. Because Study 2 had a more balanced ratio of men and women, and because the quantity of participants was more robust (n=22), I used the data from study 2 more reliably. As mentioned before, participants were asked to rate 6 types of chocolate. While eating each one, they answered how willing they would be to buy and how much they enjoyed each chocolate. Specifically looking at those who responded that they are ‘likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to buy the chocolates, I averaged the responses across each chocolate and between genders. Using the results of Study 2 (wrappers visible), women reported that they are 10% more ‘likely’ to buy chocolate and 10% more ‘extremely likely’ to buy chocolate than men.

Figure 1

While continuing to look within Study 2, women appear to generally enjoy eating chocolate more than men. According to figure 2, women are 27% more likely to ‘enjoy [chocolate] a great deal’ than men. Contrastingly, figure 3 shows that women are not only 7% more likely to ‘not at all’ be effected by price, but women are also 20% less likely to be effected ‘a great deal’ by price. In other words, women seem to care less about price when they are considering purchasing chocolates. Men, therefore, care more, even though they enjoy it less (see fig. 3). Although results regarding sensuality and romance are mixed when looking at men and women, it is clear that women have a 13% higher likelihood of ‘moderately’ associating chocolate with romance, and a 5% higher likelihood of associating chocolate with romance ‘a great deal’ (see fig. 4).

figure 2

Figure 3

figure 4

Control versus Subject-Based Results

Results will be detailed beginning with broad Study 1 versus Study 2 insights  – those independent of gender and purely based on whether participants had access to the wrappers or not. Participants from Study 1 (pure blind taste test) will be referred to as ‘Controls’; Participants in Study 2 (inspected wrappers) will be referred to as ‘Subjects’.

As figure 5 signifies, subjects reported that they ‘enjoy [chocolate] a great deal’ 13% more than controls. Additionally, Subjects reported that they ‘dislike’ chocolate 12% less than Controls. In other words, exposure to the wrappers – complete with Fair Trade insignias, personal stories about ethics, etc. – caused Subjects to enjoy chocolate more and dislike it less than Controls. Figure 6 details how price affects the decision to buy a chocolate bar. As the graphic indicates, 67% of Controls answered that price affects their decision ‘a lot’, whereas 18% of Subjects indicated the same. Additionally, 0% of Controls reported that they are ‘not at all’ affected by price, but 14% of Subjects said they were ‘not at all’ affected. Effectively, those exposed to wrappers were less likely to care about price regarding their decision to buy chocolate. The awareness of the ethics of chocolate manufacturers appear to have marginal impact, if any, on whether participants are more willing to buy a chocolate bar. Figure 7 shows that, although Subjects are slightly more likely to buy a chocolate bar with the knowledge of fair trade, ethical sourcing, etc., Subjects are also slightly more likely to report that they are ‘not at all’ impacted by the ethics of chocolate companies. Results regarding associations between chocolate and romance (see fig. 8) appear to be insignificant. It is worthwhile to point out, however, that 23% of Subjects reported associating chocolate with romance ‘a lot’, while 0% of Controls reported so. Question 15 (“how much do you associate chocolate with loss of control”) on the survey was vague and uninformative. “Loss of control” may mean a host of different things to participants, and the results in figure 9 show that the question was not clear. There are few differences in the answers from either group, which indicates that the question missed the mark on clarity and salience.

figure 5figure 6figure 7figure 8figure 9

Discussion and Limitations

From a historical standpoint, women were the initial targets of chocolate advertising in the Wester World. Eventually, advertisers attempted to target men with the idea of tempting sexy women with irresistible chocolate. The study conducted above sought to investigate how useful these tactics were by attempting to quantify if women actually do enjoy chocolate more and if they are more likely to buy chocolate. Additionally, the study sought to shed some light on the effectiveness of branding chocolate to appear ethical or feminine.

Results show that women do enjoy chocolate more than men; a higher percentage of women ‘enjoy [chocolate] a great deal’. Results also show that price affects men’s decision to buy a chocolate bar more than it does for women. This could indicate that advertisers accurately predicted that men are the current purchasers of chocolate; because they are concerned with buying chocolate not to consume, but to court, they are more aware of the prices of chocolate. My results, when looking at opinions of romance between men and women, were mixed. When looking at results between women across studies, however, results are relatively robust (see fig. 10 below). That is to say that women in Study 1 (blind taste test) associate chocolate and romance markedly less than women in Study 2 (wrappers available). I suspect that, because some wrappers contained very romantic and feminine themes, women associated chocolate and romance more in Study 2, because they had access to such visuals. For example, one chocolate bar, the Chocolove XOXOX Strong, contains a Shakespeare Sonnet. The Divine Chocolate Bar has hearts on the logo and on the packaging in general. This finding demonstrates that marketing chocolate bars with romantic themes causes women to associate chocolate more with romance. The women did not, however, show any more enjoyment for these particularly romantic chocolate bars than any other chocolate.

figure 10


This survey was extremely fun to conduct, and I enjoyed hosting 34 people to eat chocolate, drink rosé (21+ of course!), and help me to find some answers about wrapper advertising and gender differences in chocolate consumption. That being said, this study has some serious setbacks that prevent it from yielding truly objective, statistically significant results. For one, the participants were not random. The very vast majority of participants enjoy chocolate, and chances are there was some selection bias, because only those who enjoyed chocolate offered to do my study. Additionally, the beforementioned balance issues with men and women in Studies 1 and 2 caused study 1 to be extremely unreliable. Only 12 people showed up, and 9 of them were women, so the results were too small to do a proper comparison.

Additionally, I think I could have done more than simply have the wrappers out and encourage participants to read them. Having personalized documents that detail the company’s message and ethics could have yielded more salient results. Explaining ‘loss of control’ more thoroughly would have cleared up confusion regarding question 15. It also could have been useful to ask a question regarding whom the participants buy chocolate for: themselves or for others. Having 5 responses (e.g. hate it; dislike; indifferent; enjoy; love it) made data analysis difficult. I would decrease it to 3 to be able to supply more relevant data analysis.

Chocolate advertisers target certain consumers, because they believe tactics of sexuality and femininity will increase their bottom lines. It appears that targeting women is advantageous, because they do in fact enjoy chocolate better. Whether they buy more chocolate is unknown (according to this study), because they appear to be less likely to buy due to price. Chocolate advertising has changed over the centuries, but women – whether in wholesome housewife stereotypes, or sexualized stereotypes – have remained a focal point throughout.



Sources Cited

Grivetti, Louis E.; Shapiro, Howard-Yana. Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage (Kindle Location 5939). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 9: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” Aframer 119x. CGIS, Cambridge. 28 March 2018. Lecture.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. 2010.   1-131. Print.

Wadsworth, J. A curious history of the nature and quality of chocolate. Quoted in: Fuller, L. K. Chocolate Fads, Folklore, and Fantasies. New York: Haworth Press, 1994

Cacao-Chocolate Industry and Sugar Addiction

Chocolate is one of the most consumed products in the world. The industry has been extremely successful in marketing chocolate as a healthy product. The industry relies on advertising chocolate as a healthy product. In recent times, researchers have proven that sugar has a negative impact on health. The effect of sugar on health continues to be a controversial topic because the industry has consistently misled the public, creating a perception that its products are healthy. The reality, though, is that a majority of chocolate products have more sugar additives than cacao content.

The global chocolate industry was worth $98.3 billion in 2016. Currently, the U.S. industry is worth $22 billion. The industry has been growing steadily for the last four decades. Chocolate is popular because of its rich, unique and sweet taste. In addition, ever since ancient times, chocolate had been used in a variety of different ways to treat different medical conditions as demonstrated by the image below taken from this class’s lecture.

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Image 1: Historical Medical Uses of Chocolate/Cacao

The perceived health benefits of chocolate products continue to drive the growth of the industry today. The problem though is that these products contain added sugar which plays an important role in making them palatable and tasty. Sugar is also the ingredient that makes chocolate problematic for the long-term health of consumers. The consumption of chocolate is closely associated with the development of conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes because of the sugar in it (Stanhope 52). The industry has spent vast amounts of resources in promoting the healthy aspects of chocolate. Advertising plays an important role in creating consumer awareness but it can also be used to mislead consumers about the nutritional and health value of a product. Deceptive advertising has been used to promote the nutritional value of chocolate and to obscure the negative consequences of sugar additives.

Contemporary State of the Cacao/ Chocolate Industry

Chocolate is one of the most consumed products in the world. The industry is driven by innovation because of intense competition. There are numerous chocolate products and brands that are available for different market segments. In the chocolate market, the quality and richness of a chocolate product is usually defined by the cocoa content. For example, milk chocolate contains 10% cocoa and dark chocolate contains a minimum of around 60% cocoa. With the exception of dark chocolate, any other “chocolate ” product actually contain large amounts of added sugar. Think Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Buttercups, Nutella. All of these aforementioned famous “chocolate” products contain a higher sugar content than cacao content. The pictures below are from the lecture slides found here. They outline the ingredients found in the Hershey’s Kiss and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. By convention, the first ingredient listed is the most occurring in the substance, and it is no surprise to find that sugar is at the top of the list of ingredients for both chocolate products. What is important to notice as well is that the other ingredients present in these chocolates such as milk is primarily made up of a sugar itself, lactose.

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Image 2: Hershey’s Kiss Ingredients

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Image 3: Reese’s Cup Ingredients

The perceived health benefits of chocolate products continue to drive sales. The Chocolate Industry has spent vast amounts of resources to promote the healthy aspects of its products. Chocolate is marketed as a healthy product that keeps consumers looking young, lowers blood pressure, and makes people feel good. Marketing campaigns have claimed that chocolate delays the onset of heart disease. Ultimately, dark chocolate is popular because the industry has succeeded in managing consumer perception through effective branding.

The advertising of products plays an important tool for chocolate makers to market their products. It is no longer adequate for chocolate makers to produce high-quality products because there are many strong competitors and many channels of distribution. Besides, chocolate competes with many other confectionaries. As such, advertising is a critical success factor in the industry because it creates consumer awareness and provides information about the benefits and uniqueness of the products.

Manufacturers of chocolate have used branding with considerable success. Branding has been focused on managing the perception of chocolate in the minds of consumers (Emari, Jafari, and Mogaddam 5692). The industry has taken advantage of consumer interest in health and wellness in order to position its products. For decades, chocolate brands have made well-targeted health claims. The industry has also succeeded in making their products ubiquitous. The products are readily available to consumers in drug stores, supermarkets, high-end stores and the internet. There are many products that have chocolate in them and are chocolate flavored.

Manufacturers of chocolate products have developed sophisticated targeting strategies. They have developed a universal demographic by targeting every category with different products. The product is universally appealing and is consumed by people of all ages (Shekhar and Raveendran 306). Psychological segmentation plays a critical role in the positioning of chocolate products. For example, marketers target impulse buyers with well-placed products near the supermarket check-out counter. Looking at the local CVS and you notice the many different chocolate and other confectionary products placed near the check-out counters.

Packages additionally play an important role in the marketing of chocolate products because they have nutritional claims that influence consumer decision-making (Shekhar and Raveendran 303). Apart from nutritional claims, visual cues also play an essential role in shaping consumer choices.

Big Chocolate and Health

Global chocolate production has been on a consistent upward trend from the 16th century. Chocolate is rich in cocoa which contains flavonoids which are important because they lower both cholesterol and blood pressure (Drayer n.p.). Dark chocolate has the highest amount of flavonoids. The presence of flavonoids is the basis for the health claims that are made by chocolate companies (Drayer n.p.). The challenge that chocolate companies face though, is that flavonoids have a bitter taste. Bitter chocolate does not appeal to many and the most used way to make chocolate palatable and more flavorful is to add sugar.

In the 1960s, the sugar industry withheld research findings that revealed the negative health effects of sucrose. The industry’s largest companies worked tirelessly to prevent public awareness about the harmful effects of added sugar that linked excessive sugar consumption to heart disease. Through the Sugar Research Foundation, the industry used funding to divert public attention from the negative consequences of sugar (O’connor n.p.). Scientists, such as Harvard’s Frederick Stare were paid to blame saturated fats for heart disease (O’connor n.p.). In hindsight, the unethical conduct of the industry and researchers prevented an early debate about the links between sugar consumption and heart disease. For decades, the public was unaware that excessive sugar consumption could harm human health.

Excessive consumption of sugar has been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes (Stanhope 52). The consumption of added sugars leads to insulin resistance and hyperuricemia. Also, the metabolism of fructose causes liver lipid accumulation and decreased insulin sensitivity (Stanhope 52). Researchers have also established that fructose consumption leads to reduced energy expenditure and increased energy uptake.

Excessive intake of sugar has also been linked to obesity. People who consume high amounts of sugar are more likely to be overweight or obese (Stanhope 52).   For a long time, the public has been misinformed that sugar has nothing to do with obesity. The popularity of sugar products has contributed to the obesity epidemic. Sugar constitutes a significant portion of the daily diet of most people (Stanhope 52). Obesity is a risk factor for the most severe chronic conditions including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Furthermore, sugar consumption is a risk factor for metabolic disease. Indeed, excessive consumption of fructose leads to the deregulation of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.

Sugar Addiction

Sugar addiction is a serious condition that is caused by excessive consumption of sugar. Scientists have proven that sugar has an addictive character that is harmful to human health and wellness. Experimental research on both humans and rats has confirmed that sugar is addictive (DiNicolantonio, O’Keefe, and Wilson 1).  Sugar stimulates the same parts of the brain that cocaine and heroin do. In addition, sugar has a significant impact on the mesolimbic dopamine system and activates the reward system of the brain that causes the release of dopamine (Stanhop 52). Some people find it hard to resist chocolate because of the cravings that can only be satisfied through rewarding by the high sugar content. Sugar also alters the mood by inducing reward and pleasure (Danicolantonio et al. 2).  Excessive sugar consumption creates dependence and should be considered as a public health problem. A YouTube video, albeit a pretty long one, by Ashley Gearhardt, Yale and Rudd Center for Policy and Obesity, demonstrates the complex science of sugar addiction here.

Increased sugar consumption leads to sugar tolerance. Repeated consumption of sugar leads to increased demand because the reward system adapts to the frequent stimulation. Consumers take in more sugar because the body needs more intakes for the same reward (Danicolantonioet al. 2).  Therefore, sugar consumers experience the same tolerance that is experienced by drug addicts (Danicolantonio et al. 2). Cutting sugar from the diet is not easy because of addiction and the deceptive advertising tactics of the industry.

Deceptive Advertising

Deceptive advertising refers to the use of false, misleading, and untrue statements while marketing a product. It describes marketing practices that mislead and misinform (or fail to inform) prospective buyers about the nutritional value or ingredient composition of the product they are looking to purchase.The Big Five chocolate manufacturers have engaged in deceptive advertising to obscure the health consequences of sugar products.

In 2012, Ferrero paid a California mother a total of three million dollars for false advertising (Tepper n.p). The company had depicted Nutella, a chocolate product, as healthy. The case exemplifies the misrepresentation of chocolate products on mass media, and the video here shows a Nutella ad where they intentionally neglect to mention the high sugar and fat content in it and simply present it as a mixture of cacao, hazelnut, and skimmed milk.

Marketers use words commonly associated with health and fitness and specifically gear their ads to a certain target audience. These companies have targeted women with specifically tailored messages that tie sugary products to self-worth (Union of Concerned Scientists n.p.). Children, moreover, have also been the target of customized messages and advertisements by chocolate marketers (Union of Concerned Scientists n.p.) Research indicates that children are vulnerable to advertising and failure to regulate marketing to children has been one of the shortcomings of the Federal Communications Commission.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the corn sugar industry to stop deceptive advertising by using the term “corn sugar” instead of high fructose corn syrup, a product found in many household products. The industry has invested in a marketing campaign aimed at portraying “corn sugar” as natural sugar that is safe. Scientists have argued that high fructose corn syrup is more damaging than regular sugar. The corn industry has been misleading consumers that the added sugar, the high fructose corn syrup, is natural sugar.

Aggressive and misleading advertisements have contributed to the increased consumption of sugar. Most products have “hidden sugar” in their ingredients. In the current environment, it is not enough to rely on the information provided on the label. Sugar-free labels are often misleading (Reichelt n.p). In some cases, sugar-free simply means that there is no added sugar (Reichelt n.p). In other cases, it is that the product is manufactured with sugar substitutes (Reichelt n.p). Products that contain artificial sweeteners are usually labeled as sugar-free. Moreover, sugar-free products may contain carbohydrates or fruits which have sugar components (Reichelt n.p). Most sugar-free products contain naturally occurring sugars such as lactose and fructose.

Deceptive advertising by the sugar industry targets low-income populations. A disproportionate amount of advertising for sugary products is aimed at African-Americans. These low-income areas are less likely to be aware of the harms sugar-free or sugar substitutes, such as high fructose corn syrup, actually cause.   Another method to lure people in these low-income areas to purchase sugary products is by retail outlets providing coupons and discount offers for them.

Government Regulations

The advertising of food products is highly regulated because of safety and health concerns. False or deceptive advertising is unethical and illegal. The Federal Trade Commission Act contains regulations that define false advertising. The federal trade commission (FTC) is charged with the mandate of protecting consumers from deception in the marketplace. Section 5 and 12 of the FTC Act prohibit misleading advertisements. The FTC has made clear statements about the misuse of corn sugar instead of high fructose syrup in advertisements on the internet.

The Food and Drug Agency (FDA) protects consumers by ensuring that chocolate manufacturers comply with labeling regulations. Chocolate manufacturers are expected to comply with specific labeling requirements. Chocolate product labels have to label the quantity of natural sugar and added sugar. The FDA uses warning letters to inform industry players that they are breaching labeling regulations. The regulator has already warned against the use of corn sugar instead of high fructose syrup. Also, the FDA has strict regulations governing the claims that can be made by advertisers on product labeling. Health claims can only be made if they are supported by scientific evidence. The FDA has stated that science experts must support such evidence.

Government regulations provide a basis for legal action by consumers. Chocolate makers have been sued because of deceptive advertising. Consumers who are victims of misleading advertising can contact a lawyer and take legal action. Ferrero and Nestle have settled claims out of court because of misleading advertisements. Youth targeted marketing has been one of the challenges posed by deceptive advertising tactics. However, both the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission have failed to address the marketing of chocolate to children (Union of Concerned Scientists n.p.).

What To Do With What We Know?

The chocolate industry has continued to experience growth because of the popularity of its products. Its products have been marketed as healthy and there is an increase in the amount of sugar-free or healthier foods that keep popping up on the market. It is a fair conclusion to come to that most chocolate products have more sugar additives than actual cacao. Also it is fairly evident that sugar is an addictive substance, and their presence in these chocolates makes them more desirable and more addictive.

Despite all the evidence that correlates increased sugar consumption with an increase in diabetes and fueling of the obesity epidemic, the debate about the ill effects of sugar is still ongoing.  However, due to the ever-increasing restrictions and stricter rules by the government, consumer’s rights are finally being protected. Chocolate companies are culpable to sanctions and lawsuits if they are guilty of deceptive advertising and neglectful labeling . Consequently, consumers are better protected and educated to make their own choice, whether they opt for a healthy option or not. By having the proper information available to them, whether that is understanding the names of sugar substitutes (high fructose corn syrup, etc.) or being skeptical about what is meant by sugar-free, consumers are now able to understand the harms of what it is they would be consuming. Having this information, awareness and healthy skepticism allows consumers to understand how these sugary products are being advertised to them, what is in them , and the potential effects of consuming them.

The big question that we face now though, despite the information at our disposal, is this: the next time you are at your local supermarket/CVS, will you grab a chocolate or sugary product from by the counter?



Continue reading Cacao-Chocolate Industry and Sugar Addiction

Naughty but Nice: Gendered Sexualization in Chocolate Advertising

Chocolate is recognized as one of the most craved foods in the world, resulting in the coinage of terms such as chocoholic or chocolate addict. However, going from targeted marketing by most chocolate companies around the world, one would assume that the majority of the chocolate addicts or chocoholics were, women. As soon as a woman takes her first bite, in an advertisement, a sense of ecstasy follows triggered by the chocolate, invariably showing the relationship between women’s sexual pleasure and chocolate. Women’s sexual pleasure, much like the attitude towards chocolate, is considered sinful; the juxtaposition of these two views woven into narratives through chocolate commercials, only solidifies the concept of “naughty but nice” as they objectify women sexually while they are consuming chocolate.

Women tend to be sexually depicted in commercials in two ways, one, in which women are aroused by consuming chocolate, or two, women become attractive to men after they consume chocolate. Below are examples of two ads from Dove and Godiva that exemplify these two categories of portrayal of women in chocolate advertising. 

In both the commercials, chocolate is seen as a sinful treat that women consume. In the first Dove commercial, a woman is being wrapped in chocolate coloured silk as she sighs and savors the luxury of consuming chocolate whilst being wrapped around by a luxurious fabric. It is depicting the after effects of consuming the chocolate whilst showing what a privilege it is to be able to consume chocolate. The background music and noises further alludes to the effect of sexual arousal post consumption and the use of silk in the commercial shows luxury and class, and at the same time, it represents a material that is often used to portray sex. In the Godiva commercial, three women are shown in three different locations wearing long dresses that represent three kinds of Godiva chocolates; dark, milk and white. Three men can be seen gifting chocolates to the women, which in turn sexually arouses the women and thus excites the men. It is interesting to note that the commercial does not show men consuming the chocolate, but only women. In one instance in the commercial, one of the women almost shares the chocolate with the man but then teases him as she eats the whole truffle herself, because she just cannot share it or resist it.

Professor Peter Rogers, from the University of Bristol, explains: “A more compelling explanation lies in our ambivalent attitudes towards chocolate – it is highly desired but should be eaten with restraint”, he further states that “Our unfulfilled desire to eat chocolate, resulting from restraint, is thus experienced as craving, which in turn is attributed to ‘addiction’.” (Rogers, 2007) Women in the above commercials depict this relationship of resistance and indulgence with chocolate, not only through the consumption of chocolate itself but also through their sexual desires. Due to the perception that “nice” women and their sexual pleasures should be restrained as opposed to men’s sexual pleasures, chocolate gives them the narrative, the chance of indulgence, and gives them the opportunity to be “naughty”. Chocolate then starts to show women’s relationship with their own sexual desires, that relies on chocolate to be fueled.

Chocolate, then hence is portrayed to being the food for women by commercials. In contrast, a Burger King commercial shows meat as the food for men, aptly titled “I am Man”. The commercial shows men eating burgers while chanting socially accepted norms that make them men; these are men who are strong and can lift cars and pull heavy weights, men who cannot survive on “chick food” such as quiche. Commercials such as the one by Hungry Man, as well as Mc Donald’s McRib advertisement, show only men, consuming meat products. When catered to men such as the ones that are shown in these commercials, chocolate becomes delicate and feminine. When contrasted, meat becomes the socially accepted food for men while chocolate becomes the socially accepted food for women. 

Without any concrete scientific evidence, chocolate is now widely believed to be craved by women more than men. Dr. Julia Hormes from University of Albany states in her study published in Appetite in 2011 that “half of the women [in the U.S.] who crave chocolate say they do so right around menstruation,”. (Hormes, 2011) Hormes’s study tried to correlate menstruation with chocolate craving however, she arrived at the conclusion that “These biochemical, physiological hypotheses didn’t pan out.”  (Hormes, 2011) Hormes believes that the strong influence of culture, particularly the kind portrayed in commercials plays a role in how women tend to react to chocolate.

In an interview with Kate Bratskeir of Huffington Post, Hormes talks about chocolate marketing, she says;

“Chocolate is marketed as a way for women to deal with negative emotion (like, say, the stress and headaches that come with PMS), Hormes said. It is an “indulgence” because it is an exception to the rule — women who diet and subscribe to a certain ideal of beauty should only consume chocolate when they “need” it.”…“Only in America. In Spain, for example, women don’t report craving chocolate perimensturally nearly as much as women in the U.S. do. It’s not that Spanish women have a different make-up to their cycle, it’s really that tampon and chocolate ads aren’t aired during the same commercial break. In the U.S., it seems, there’s something so strongly feminine about chocolate that fewer men report wanting it. But, “Spanish men are almost as likely to crave chocolate as Spanish women.” In Egypt, neither men nor women really report craving chocolate; “They tend to crave savory foods,” Hormes said.” (Hormes, 2011)

The need that is described above by Hormes is a culturally manufactured one that is fabricated through commercials showing women needing chocolates, specially when it comes to sex.

Ferrero Rocher Print ad. https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/12/02/guest-post-sex-desire-and-chocolate-propaganda-research/

Chocolate advertisements not only play into women’s sexual desires but also women’s body image and various insecurities. The above print ad from Ferrero Rocher shows a naked model being tempted by chocolates that are growing from the tree. The ad is attaching the narrative of Eve and the forbidden fruit to chocolate, depicting this woman as a “sinner” for consuming chocolate and having sexual desires. The ad also shows a skinny model indulging in the sinful act of consuming chocolate. The inclusion of a model, gives off an image that makes it okay for women of regular sizes to indulge in chocolate. It shows that women can still be thin and be naughty, and consume chocolate as a guilty pleasure. While talking about the relationship of female body image and chocolate marketing, in his paper, Occidental College student, Jamal Fahim writes,

In order to remain slim and attractive, women must avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar and calories. Images of the ideal body have permeated the minds of many consumers who are inclined to view the body as an object of admiration and a model for self-construction. Moreover, consumer goods may serve to compensate for a person’s “feelings of inferiority, insecurity or loss, or to symbolize achievement, success or power” (Campbell 1995:111)”.

Dove Print ad. https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/12/02/guest-post-sex-desire-and-chocolate-propaganda-research/

Chocolate companies tend to play up various different feelings that Campbell described whilst talking about consumer products, however in most cases those feelings within the wide spectrum from insecurity to success are usually related to sex and women in chocolate advertising. The print Dove advertisement above, for example, associates itself with an insecurity that is often linked with sex, lasting longer. The ad compares indulging the Dove bar to lasting longer while showing the face of a woman who is satisfied.

All the advertisements mentioned above adds to the misconception of chocolate as an aphrodisiac and that it works more on women. The New York Times article, tries to evaluate this claim stating;

“Nowadays, scientists ascribe the aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate, if any, to two chemicals it contains. One, tryptophan, is a building block of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal. The other, phenylethylamine, a stimulant related to amphetamine, is released in the brain when people fall in love. But most researchers believe that the amounts of these substances in chocolate are too small to have any measurable effect on desire. Studies that have looked for a direct link between chocolate consumption and heightened sexual arousal have found none. The most recent study, published in May in the journal Sexual Medicine, looked specifically at women, who are thought to be more sensitive to the effects of chocolate. The researchers, from Italy, studied a random sample of 163 adult women with an average age of 35 and found no significant differences between reported rates of sexual arousal or distress among those who regularly consumed one serving of chocolate a day, those who consumed three or more servings or those who generally consumed none.” (O’ Connor, 2006)

The article concludes by stating that, “if chocolate has any aphrodisiac qualities, they are probably psychological, not physiological” (O’ Connor, 2006).

This psychological perception of chocolate and sex is one that is manufactured by chocolate advertising bringing out various themes that are associated with female sexuality starting from the perception that female sexual desires are akin to a sin, to body image issues that perpetuates women’s need to be slim to various other insecurities associated with sex such as lasting longer or overall satisfaction. Even though the findings and correlation between chocolate and sex are negligible, the marketing for chocolate continues to perpetuate chocolate’s association with sex and its implied special relevance to women’s sexuality as it plays into societal expectations from women, that require them to be and make them more attractive if they are “naughty but nice”.

Work Cited:

Bratskeir, Kate. “This Is Why Women Crave Chocolate, Men Want A Burger” Huffington Post. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/chocolate-craving-pms-men-vegetables_n_6102714.html&gt;

Campbell, Colin. 1995. “The Sociology of Consumption.” Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies. London, England: Routledge.

Fahim, Jamal, “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing”. 2010. Sociology Student Scholarship <http://scholar.oxy.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=sociology_student&gt;

Hormes, Julia M, Alix Timko. “All cravings are not created equal. Correlates of menstrual versus non-cyclic chocolate craving”. Appetite. Vol 57. 2011. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21440592&gt;

Lindell, C.  Women and chocolate: A history lesson. Candy Industry, 180(3), 21. 2015

O’Connor, Anahad. “The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac”. The New York Times. 2006. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/health/18real.html&gt;

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women, and Empire. New York: Manchester UP, 2009. 

University of Bristol. “Chocolate Is The Most Widely Craved Food, But Is It Really Addictive?.” ScienceDaily. September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911073921.htm>.


Model Firms and Firm Models: Fashion, Africa, and Chocolate.

Africa sells, there is not any doubt. It would be hard to estimate the time lag between Livingstone hacking his way through the jungle and the first pretty blonde in a pith helmet, posed in the swath of jungle immediately behind him, selling some consumable product; selling the very idea of Africa. Real life in Africa, offline and out of camera range, is still more than a little bit of a mystery. We consider here the exploitation of Africa and the simultaneous advertisement of the exploitation of Africa: what it means for a model to be authentic, what it means for a product to be modern, the moral responsibilities of a corporation, and how the modern chocolate bar fits into the grand scheme of all these things.

The First Chocolate Advertising.

The chocolate business is an old business, as in thirty-five centuries old. Because of the limited suitability of the cocoa tree to anywhere but the most humid and hottest part of the tropics, cocoa was a trade product from the very beginning. In Central America and the south of Mexico elaborate trade routes sprung up and cocoa was also acquired by theft and by warfare; these cocoa proto-businesses and their ethics make for an interesting comparison or even parallel to what came later. The Princeton Vase (Mayan, 8th century AD) and other antiquities depict fashionably attired and accessorized young women caught in various poses of making chocolate, and while not advertisements, they are a related form; they are examples or models connecting the food product chocolate with its various meanings. The illustrations on these early ceramic vessels can exemplify class aspirations, luxury, conspicuous consumption, and ritual. In any case, the total meaning of chocolate is not yet separated from its act of production.

Privatization and Modernization in the New World.

It was not long after conquest of the New World that the existing cocoa businesses “merged” with the Spanish enterprises, and not long after that the cocoa trade was privatized and duly licensed by the Viceroyalty. Through forced labor, warfare, European diseases, and lack of foresight the Spanish began to lose their cocoa producers and consumers at an ever increasing rate; within a century 90% of the Preconquest indigenous population was gone. Meanwhile the Spanish modernized and in their view improved the indigenous chocolate recipes, primarily through the substitution of their own spices and the addition of more and more sugar. Chocolate at this time began to lose the religious and ritual meanings it carried for the native peoples. Likewise, since here we will be interested in clothing and fashion, we note how the Spanish began a simultaneous modernization of the clothing of the indigenous peoples, for example imposing their ideas of Christian modesty, etc. on clothing that already carried religious or cultural meanings for the natives. An odd example is the banishing of a transparent huipil (blouse) worn by women in southern Mexico; for the indigenas this look had only the connotation of formality, but thanks to the Spanish, the outlawed blouse became a headdress with sleeves intact (Covarrubias, 1954).

As time went by the New World was carved out into Spanish, English, Dutch, and Portuguese colonies and the (now mostly inferior) cocoa stock was greatly expanded. With eyes cast back across the Atlantic, new markets and uses for chocolate were developed in Europe. Already at this time the necessary connection of the idea of “modernity” with evolution and civilization is called into question. At the level of the chocolate recipe, the indigenous recipes with their greater palette of spices and flavors had more in common with today’s artisanal chocolate than the Spanish recipes (Presilla, 2009).

While entire cultures were erased in the New World, it is important to note that the indigenous peoples also willingly adopted some materials and aspects of European culture, and not every effect of colonization was automatically negative and for the worse. For example, the native peoples incorporated many foods brought from Europe into their own kitchens; likewise Spanish sheep and wool, the backstrap loom, and European techniques of construction enabled new heights of creative expression in the native clothing (Schevill, 1986). Most importantly, modernized indigenous food and clothing often became the “traditional” food and clothing in a natural and inevitable process one author has called “cultural authentification” (Rabine, 2002).

The Rise of the Model.

From the 16th century onwards, as New World products began to pour back to the European markets, the chocolate drink began its infiltration of the upper class parlor and likewise the representational painting of the age. Once again, pre the age of advertising, the beautiful young woman fair of skin and fair of French or French-inspired fashion, is caught in the act of drinking or preparing chocolate; no longer nameless she is now the Artist’s Model; hardly mute, her clothing and her chocolate consumption signal her social status, her economic status, and her taste for the good life. If we enquire into her “authenticity,” she is a real young woman in a studio, possibly British or Italian or Spanish, possibly a professional model or a countess or a maid. She is also an organic synthesis of the woman who posed and the artist who posed her. With an expressively arched hand placed here, a thumb hidden there, the dress draped just so, weight placed on this leg and not that one, in a “pantomimic gesture” (Mortensen, 1956, p. 104), she is more real than a real woman in a real room. Like the chocolate that is pressed, beaten and heated into a pleasing form that is beyond the natural, the model is an improvement on nature and engenders the aspirational aspect of the painting. The viewer that wears the same dress and drinks the same chocolate becomes the particular woman in the painting; the artist’s model is the viewer’s “future self” (reference needed).

And on to Africa.

From the 16th century onwards the cocoa trade blossomed: Guns, liquor, shackles, and all manner of manufactured goods flowed to African ports, labor in the form of Africans flowed to the New World cocoa fields, and cocoa flowed back to Europe to complete the vicious circle. African slaves now substituted for the indigenous labor force mostly exterminated in the colonization. Producers and consumers were now widely separated in geography and conscience; black hands cut cocoa pods from trees in sweltering heat while porcelain white hands rested on sterling cups of chocolate in the drawing rooms of Europe. In time with great blights of disease in the New World cocoa fields, occasional slave rebellions against greatly outnumbered plantation masters, and continually increasing world-wide competition, the forced export of so much African labor became so economically unviable it was abolished in late 19th century resignation. At this time ships were pointed to the new colonies in Africa. In one sense, this was following a natural trail along an equator that provided the necessary growing conditions for cocoa; in another sense since Africans could no longer be brought to the plantations by force, the plantations would now be brought to the Africans. Direct management of slave or slave-like labor was eventually outsourced when planters became “buyers”.

The Rise of the Model Firm.

Good business or bad business? Before the 19th century the question could scarcely be asked, as any business enterprise in cocoa necessarily involved human slavery in one form or another. The moral fragility of such a long supply chain stretching back across an ocean that had barely just been crossed in the 16th century should be obvious; by the 19th century tarnishing of the chain at both ends was clearly visible. On the one end were the graves of 10-15 million Africans hauled to the New World to work in the cocoa and other plantations, on the other end of the chain was ever increasing adulteration of factory-made chocolate to increase profits. In the midst of all this, as modern society became increasingly more concerned with labor and the other conditions of production, and companies being reflections of the society at large, the chocolate trade (which by now was concentrated into a small number of very large companies) set out to improve the safety of their products and the conditions of their labor force. British companies like Rowntree and Cadbury and their counterparts in other countries sought to become “model firms” (Robertson, 2009, p. 7).

The earliest model firms, the companies of William Cadbury and Rowntree in particular, had their work cut out for them, but the literature on these two companies shows leaders with genuine empathy for their producers/laborers in Africa (Higgs, 2012; Satre, 2005). By the 19th century the cocoa business was predicated on modern advertising, and the 20th century spirit of reform which sought to unite, in a way, the production and consumption of chocolate was balanced by the nature of advertising to conceal the conditions of production. Again it was often up to the female model (freed at last from the canvas, and readily relocatable to a magazine photo or a tin of cocoa), to articulate new meanings for chocolate. In early Rowntree advertisements pretty native girls in neatly pressed exotic garb carried baskets on their heads through cocoa fields (Robertson, 2009). This model was a type from the early 20th century: in America she dressed as a Hawaiian maiden, in Mexico she wore the Tehuana skirt and roses in her hair, and in South America the basket of cocoa became a basket of fruit. She danced her way across the first glossy magazines and the first dim cinema screens, associating products like chocolate with the hard-to-get and the exotic. Not since the Mayan chocolate vessels described above had the model represented the actual producer of the chocolate (for better or worse); because she was fashionably dressed, she represented also the fashionable young woman consumer, bringing the two a little closer than they were before. This kind of advertisement, however, can never represent the actual conditions of production because of the very nature of the fashion system: fashion never refers to any reality and only refers to itself (Barthes, 1983).


We recall that chocolate was a luxury and a status drink that eventually trickled down through the classes, acquiring new meanings along the way. Models in chocolate advertising changed their clothes accordingly. Later, beautiful and healthy young female models on bicycles or on the way to tennis matches consumed chocolate, the health food (Kit Kat bar); as chocolate by this time was mostly sugar, and sugar at this time was still considered a healthy source of calories, the authenticity of the advertisements was not automatically a problem. Chocolate advertisements in this vein continued on through the golden age of women’s magazines and into the 1970s. Again, the model in a woman’s magazine represented the consumer’s better and future self: a better mother, a better wife, or a healthier and more alluring woman.

Ghana Today.

Above we have made only the roughest sketch of the idea of the model in the history of chocolate advertising; we conclude with a 2005 advertising campaign of the Divine Chocolate company (Britain), which appeared in magazines such as Elle, Cosmopolitan, etc. The models used are described as owners of their own cocoa farms and part owners of the Divine Chocolate company (www.divinechocolate.com).

In the first advertisement a woman poses in a Ghana cocoa field in the noon day sun in a Western manner: her weight shifts to one leg as her hip slides out to the side, as her head tilts to the same side in a curve associated with the 18th century painter Hogarth (and used ever since in modeling). We note that Western magazines like Elle and Cosmopolitan are well known in the cities of West Africa and are frequent sources for custom dress making, while larger cities sponsor European-style fashion shows (Rabine, 2002). The off-the-shoulder dress in a yellow and green floral print is tailored in a European style, and described as a Holland print (i.e. literally from Holland) brought over from England by the advertising agency.

West Africa sets the fashion, i.e. the traditional fashion, for much of Africa, even though use of the word “traditional” is problematic. Most of what is considered traditional today by historians of dress, or better yet Africans themselves, are materials and styles that have been brought from one place to another. World-wide, the familiar cuts are long squares and rectangles with dignified straight cuts. Most traditional clothing, however, is made in one-offs by small tailoring shops who use curvilinear Western cuts; by now this is considered to be traditional. Traditional prints are dyed by hand using stitch resist (tie dye), flour resist, or wax resist methods. From the beginning of the 19th century to the present, the most sought-after materials are the wax resist dyed fabrics brought in immense quantities from Holland, and the Holland print is considered to be the most traditional and most African one can get (Rabine, 2002). Thus the model in the advertisement is actually traditionally dressed.

The Divine Chocolate ad is such a great contrast with the history of labor conditions in the cocoa trade that it gives one pause, and maybe some hope for the future. The advertising campaign at long last connects chocolate buyers with the actual producers in the field, and that cannot be but a good thing. The women may be artificially lighted and a stylist may be standing just outside of the frame, but the advertisement still manages to capture a small part of their real lives. The women seem healthy and happy, and they are beautiful by any standard. The world will only get smaller as time passes, and contacts get closer and closer, and through this West African cocoa farmers stand a chance to gain in real power and improve the conditions of their lives.


Barthes, R. (1983). The fashion system. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Coe, M. (2013). The true history of chocolate. London, England: Thames & Hudson, Ltd.
Covarrubias, M. (1954). Mexico South: the Isthmus of Tehauntepec. New York, NY: Knopf.
Higgs, C. (2012). Chocolate Islands. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
Leissle, K. (2012). Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements. Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24(2), 121-139.
Mintz, S. (1985). Sweetness and power. New York, NY: Penguin.
Mortensen, W. (1956). How to pose the model. New York, NY: Ziff-Davis.
Powis, T. (2008). The origins of cacao use in Mesoamerica. Mexicon [sic], 30, 35-38.
Presilla, M. (2009). The new taste of chocolate. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.
Rabine, L. (2002). The global circulation of African fashion. Oxford, England: Berg.
Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, women and empire: A social and cultural history. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.
Satre, L. (2005). Chocolate on trial: slavery, politics, and the ethics of business. Athens, OH: Ohio University
Shevill, M. (1986). Costume as communication. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

** Ava Gardner in Helen Rose dress (C) 1953 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, “The cup of chocolate” by Pierre-August Renoir (1878) is in the public domain, dark-skinned beauty ad and bicycle model ad are in the public domain, “Women with attitude” ad (C) 2005 by Divine Chocolate.