Tag Archives: affordable

From Elite to Everyday – How Chocolate Became Affordable For All

Chocolate has been consumed for over 4,000 years. Yet, it was consumed much differently at the beginning of its History, when it was actually drank as a bitter liquid beverage. Today, most of the chocolate available on the market takes a solid, edible form. The change through chocolate’s History did not only take place from a form of consumption perspective. Indeed, chocolate, in Mesoamerica and throughout most of its History was consumed as a beverage reserved only for the elite because of its exorbitant price. Globalization and mass production of chocolate products led to the spread of chocolate’s popularity; from being only available for society’s elites to becoming an affordable good accessible to members of all social classes.

(Maya God Grinding Coco – Worldstandards.eu)

From its beginnings to the recent centuries, chocolate was reserved for each community’s elites. Klein writes: “The Mayans worshipped a god of cacao and reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, priests and nobles at sacred ceremonies.” Simultaneously, during the 16th Century, drinking chocolate remained a Spanish secret. Indeed, through its decades and centuries of colonization, Spain was able to bring cacao and chocolate recipes back to the homeland without raising much interest from its neighboring countries. The high cost of transportation and production made it remain a drink for the wealthy. “Although the Spanish sweetened the bitter drink with cane sugar and cinnamon, one thing remained unchanged: chocolate was still a delectable symbol of luxury, wealth and power. Chocolate was sipped by royal lips, and only Spanish elites could afford the expensive import” (Klein). In 1606, the chocolate craze spread out of Spain, and the beverage made primarily of cacao was first introduced in Italy. The craze within the elite community was instantaneous, as chocolate spread among Europe’s nobility in 1615 when the daughter of Spanish King Philip III married French King Louis XIII.

louis-xiii-1

(King Louis XIII – NNDB)

In 1657, the first ever English chocolate house opened its doors to the public. Much like today’s elite café’s throughout Europe, chocolate houses provided with the community’s elites with an opportunity to enjoy a hot drink, discuss political issues, participate in betting games, and socialize. “Chocolate houses in Florence and Venice gained notoriety in the early 1700s. Europeans preferred to drink their chocolate from ornate dishes made out of precious materials and crafted by artisans. Like the elaborate ceramic vessels of ancient Maya and Aztec rulers, these dishes were more than serving pieces: they were also symbols of wealth.” [1]

chocolate house

(English Chocolate House – Worldstandards.eu)

The second Industrial Revolution started at the beginning of the 19th Century. Through it, much like most industries in Europe and America, the chocolate business was forever changed. Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented in 1828 what is, in a quite original manner, called the Van Houten press. “[He] invented the cacao press, which squeezed out cocoa butter from the cocoa mass. It allowed for the improvement of the chocolate’s consistency and also permitted the separate sale of cacao powder”[2]. Following Van Houten’s invention, many revolutionaries came together for improving the chocolate industry and making the products more accessible to all. Rodolphe Lindt furthered the ease of availability of chocolate products through his invention of the conching machine in 1879. It allowed for a more velvety texture and superior taste in the final product. Through the use of these developments and their implementation within factory assembly lines, chocolate was made more affordable, consistent in its production, and accessible internationally.

(Van Houten Press & Chocolate Factory – Worldstandards.eu)

[1] Worldstandards.eu

[2] Worldstandards.eu

Works Cited:

Klein, Christopher. “The Sweet History of Chocolate.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

“Louis XIII.” NNDB. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

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

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. 2013[1996]. The True History of Chocolate. 3nd edition. London: Thames & Hudson.

“History of Chocolate.” Worldstandards.eu. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

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

 

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

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

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

cvs

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

purchasing chocolate

College student purchasing Chocolate

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

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

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

Bibliography

“Chocolate Consumption.” chocolate consumption. Web. 9 May 2014. <http://www.sfu.ca/geog351fall03/groups-webpages/gp8/consum/consum.html&gt;.

“Who consumes the most chocolate?.” The CNN Freedom Project Ending ModernDay Slavery RSS. Web. 9 May 2014. <http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate/&gt;.

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

Benton, David. “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving – Health tips.” Health tips, Web. 9 May 2014. <http://health.tipsdiscover.com/biology-psychology-chocolate-craving/&gt;.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TcFYfoB1BY

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

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