Tag Archives: Branding

A Study of New Orleans’ Piety and Desire Chocolate

Disclaimer: While this is an ethnographic look at the Piety and Desire Chocolate brand, it is incomplete simply for the fact that I have not actually seen the store, factory, or products in person myself, nor have I ever visited New Orleans or conducted significant research of the sociocultural atmosphere of the place. This post is also strictly meant to be read in an academic and is not an endorsement of the Piety & Desire Chocolate brand, nor is it sponsored by the company.

Meet Piety and Desire Chocolate

Piety and Desire Chocolate is a craft “chocolaterie” in New Orleans, Louisiana, not far from the French Quarter. Owner and chocolate maker Christopher Nobles opened the “factory and boutique” in 2017 and has started making a name for the brand in the realm of local, artisanal products in New Orleans. I encountered them surfing the “#beantobar” tag on Instagram, evidence of the brand’s commitment to marketing its process as a way to distinguish itself in a competitive food market.

According to their website, the brand describes itself as:

Piety and Desire Chocolate mines the fine lines. Just as its holy beginnings as a “food of the gods” led to its transformation into a seductive delight, so we strive to strike the perfect harmony between reverence and passion in the balance of science and art, the parity of piety and desire.

Detail-oriented and passionate about their product, Piety and Desire appears to uphold the commitment to high-quality products of the craft food movement. (Martin) The name of the company is striking, too, and clearly important to the business’s philosophy of chocolate making. Piety and desire – both human elements with long histories with cocoa – are at the foundations of the company’s motivation, according to an interview with Nobles:

I wanted a name that reflected my family’s six-ish generations of New Orleans history in an honorable, non-fleur-de-lis-laden or culturally appropriated fashion… I’m the third of the past five generations to settle in (Faubourg) Marigny. [The name] Piety and Desire mirrors the history of cacao itself. Beginning as a sacred food of the gods in ancient Mesoamerica (among many spiritual aspects), these noble seeds also represented more secular aspects of life, from its use as a currency to its use as an aphrodisiac.

Christopher Nobles, Freund interview

Immediately from these two sources of information about the company, its website and its owner, a prospective consumer is marketed a product that is desirable for more than just its taste – it is desirable for its cultural and religious symbolism, for its connection to nobility, and for the sensual experience so highly associated with it.

Another important part of the company’s model is its commitment to the environment. According to its frequently asked questions section, the company website states:

Not only are our chocolate bars are all packaged with recycled paper and compostable cellophane, but the outside sleeve is wildflower-seed-infused. You can simply plant this sleeve to support your local pollinators!

a photo featuring two bars of single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate by Piety & Desire Chocolate; to the right, we see that the 55% bar is wrapped in a biodegradable sleeve as Nobles discussed in his interview with The Advocate

This specific packaging choice shows a real dedication to environmental issues and the health of the planet. In addition to recyclability, compostability, and the extra benefit of encouraging consumers to plant wildflowers after indulging in their confections, Piety and Desire also offers vegan options among its products. The impact of veganism of the environment is a highly contentious issue, but including vegan products widens the audience of the store such that people who may already be concerned about the environment (and thus choose to be vegan) are more likely to bring their patronage.

The packaging also points to another result of Piety and Desire’s bean-to-bar philosophy: it lacks many certifications that some would expect as givens for a craft chocolaterie. They are not certified organic, according to their frequently asked questions, but the company offers a worthy explanation as to why they do not have this certification for the cacao they buy. Bean-to-bar chocolate requires a certain level of engagement between chocolate makers and cacao farmers that does not exist in other corners of the industry. By pointing out that the cacao they buy is most likely grown organically but grown by farmers who may not be able to afford the fees associated with official certification, Piety and Desire goes one step further and puts their customers in direct conversation with the farmers who supply their cacao. Consumers who talk with Nobles or read their website, or even scroll through their Instagram account, are made to think about the conditions of cacao farmers. Piety and Desire engages in direct and conscious trade, lacking a “fair trade” certification, as well. The willingness to explain why these perhaps-expected certifications are absent is very positive because, as we have seen since our first lecture, not all certifications mean what we as consumers may think that they mean. (Martin, “Chocolate Politics…) Ethical actions do not always come with labels to brand them as such.

More Context

One cannot discuss Piety and Desire Chocolate without discussing New Orleans. The culture and history of the place is inextricably linked to the chocolate that Piety and Desire creates in many different ways.

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The flavors and shapes of the bonbons that Nobles crafts in-house are very specifically situate the brand in New Orleans. From King Cake and Sazerac bonbons to the use of very New Orleans flavors like bourbon, coffee, and rum, the brand appeals to local tastes.

Nobles also specifies that he uses “100% raw Louisiana cane sugar” in all his products in various interviews, on the packaging for Piety and Desire Chocolate, and on their website. Despite the historical connection between cane sugar production and plantation slavery (in Louisiana, no less), the use of a local sugar to sweeten the chocolates and confections he makes seems to be seen as a point of pride and a dedication to crafting high quality products. After all, emblazoning “made with 100% raw Louisiana cane sugar” on packaging makes it into a marketing tactic.

In this vein, I became interested to know more about this “raw” sugar. Piety and Desire Chocolate uses sugar from Three Brothers Farms in Louisiana, a family owned operation. As we know, to get to any crystalline form of sugar, heating is necessary (Mintz, pp. 21); therefore, the “raw” label of this sugar boggled me. Having discussed the use of buzz words like “raw” in class as a tactic to increase perception of chocolate as a healthy food, it is unsurprising to see on this packaging, especially having seen packets of “Sugar in the Raw©” in coffee shops all around Harvard Square. But I digress.

On top of using local flavors, cultural institutions like Mardi Gras, and some local ingredients, the language used in the official company Instagram page was fascinating to me. Here, I wish that I had more personal knowledge of New Orleans’ cultural norms, especially due to the complicated and fraught racial history of the region, but I will attempt to unpack what I can. The language used, presumably by Nobles as the proprietor of Piety and Desire Chocolate, very clearly uses ebonics and stylized writing in order to communicate a “blaccent.”

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This reminded me of Robertson’s discussion on how people talk about chocolate:

In the mythology of chocolate the power relations of production and consumption are subsumed by a more attractive narrative of exotic peoples and their surroundings, and by historical anecdote. Chocolate seems to generate a particular type of history writings – even in purportedly ‘academic’ texts – one which delves unashamedly into the realms of fantasy and romance.


Robertson, pp. 85-6)

A huge aspect of white fantasy is the fantasy of black bodies, black actions, and black words – we can see as much is the gentrification of hip hop and rap by artists like Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus, to point to one modern example. The use of the blaccent in advertising initially made me, as a spectator, imagine that the person making this chocolate was black. Of course, as someone very far removed from New Orleans, I am not sure this is a fair assumption to have had, but it was an assumption nonetheless. Then, through my research, I saw that Christopher Nobles was the owner of Piety and Desire Chocolate – a white man.

This context put almost everything I had thought about Piety and Desire in a new light. While there are bonbons in the store’s offerings that use common, locally-based flavor profiles, there were also more complex, rare flavor offerings including saffron, matcha, jasmine, and goat cheese, to name a few. While there may may be no such thing as an “average consumer,” (Martin, “Haute patisserie…”) and generalizations simply do not apply in the real world of consumer palates, seeing flavors like this – flavors that a consumer could never find in the candy isle of a drug store – made me think even more about Piety and Desire’s audience. As someone from a low-income background, I know that I have seen my family members turn their noses up at flavors which come from outside our comfort zone or flavors which have been marketed in such a way as to emphasize their “gourmet” qualities (one immediately thinks of truffle, for example). I wonder if this, too, is something that narrows the audience of a craft chocolate store like Piety and Desire, and how that can be amended – I firmly believe that flavors should not belong to certain classes, as food is a human right.

Without a detailed investigation of the demographics Piety and Desire serves, one cannot be certain of any sort of racial or class-based disparity in consumers, especially not in terms of flavor-profiling according to generalized perceptions of different races/classes. It is simply something to that I thought about as I continued to learn about the company; it became especially curious to me when I found this post on the company’s Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

Happy Juneteenth! In our hope to spread the celebration of this important commemoration of the abolition of slavery in the former Confederacy on June 19th, 1865, we will be giving away a free chocolate of your choosing simply for stopping in and saying, “Happy Juneteenth!” starting today and running through the end of June! No purchase necessary; truly Free, as all should be. Sadly, slavery still persists in this world in various places, most notably in the form of child slavery in the commodity cacao trade, chiefly in West African nations that supply the majority of the world’s industrial chocolate makers. This is one of many reasons we only engage in Direct Trade, paying well above market and “fair” trade pricing for an ethically produced and -traded agricultural product of the highest quality. Thank you for helping us make a small dent in this injustice through your patronage and for helping to spread the joy of the Change that manifested on Juneteenth while we Hope for the future to bring much more Love and Equality. ✨❤️✨

A post shared by Piety and Desire Chocolate (@pietydesirechoc) on

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I encountered it twice – once before seeing that Christopher Nobles was white, and then again after. My first impression was that the brand was attempting to raise awareness of cacao slavery and use its platform to try to inspire change. Additionally, giving away chocolate, however small of a boon it may seem in the grand scheme of things, seemed to be a form of reparations for a community which has been seeking long-deserved justice and reparations for generations. Before going more in depth on this particular topic, I’d like to evaluate the ethical stances of Piety and Desire Chocolate as a company more broadly.

Ethical Criteria

In an interview, Nobles is quoted as saying:

…our movement [craft chocolate] being a global business has a greater thread of social responsibility. Many of us go above and beyond the standards of Fair Trade, paying many times more than that price directly to producers, cooperatives and farmers in what’s known as direct or conscious trade. I feel it’s my responsibility to source from organic sources, who, by intercropping or abandoning less environmentally sustainable agricultural models, make the world a little bit greener.

Christopher Nobles

The ethical awareness, then, can be seen as foundational to the company’s operations. Beyond operations, the company’s impact on the consumer seems to be targeted as well, as best as these things can be. Without tasting the chocolate, the true sense evidence that would be able to tell someone if Piety and Desire Chocolate is doing anything different from the crowd of commodity chocolate brands with its chocolate, I am not sure I can address this; however, from its attempts to educate consumers not only about how its chocolate is made but also about social issues surrounding cocoa production, I think that Piety and Desire Chocolate is very good to its consumers.

Another positive aspect is the commitment to environmental health, evidenced by packaging choices that go above and beyond sustainability. While the pleasure-based language of much of its advertising does lead me to believe that physical health is not a priority of Piety and Desire, its use of local and some organic ingredients as part of the craft food movement, putting it in opposition to the heavily processed commodity food industry, makes me more hopeful about its health consciousness as a company. It is also transparent about its production process, both enumerating steps on its website and having an open-space design in its shop that allows consumers to see different stages of chocolate production.

Tying back to the conversation on Juneteenth, slavery, and reparations, an issue I had with Piety and Desire Chocolate’s model is that they seem not to use West African cacao. We know that most cacao comes from West African farmers, but that the craft food movement has been loath to use West African cacao due to questions of quality. (Martin, “Haute patisserie…”) Additionally, the McNulty article on Piety and Desire Chocolate stated that “Beans arrive fermented and dried in burlap sacks from farms in Central America and South America,” implying that there is no use of West African cacao in the company’s products. Of course, a direct inquiry in necessary to ascertain the validity of that claim, but operating on that assumption reveals some hypocrisy in the brand’s supposed activism.

How can Piety and Desire say that it is trying to promote awareness of the slavery in cacao farms when their direct/conscious trade cacao is not from West Africa, where this problem is the worst? How can they tie together the historical trauma of slavery in Louisiana to the slavery of modern day cacao farmers without acknowledging the greater similarity: that both involved the exploitation of West African people by white people? (Off) By not buying West African cacao, Piety and Desire is also not helping to end slavery on West African cacao farms. Using this tactic and connection to promote itself to an audience that likely includes people of the African diaspora in Louisiana seems tone deaf.

In conclusion, Piety and Desire Chocolate seems to have been founded from a place of immense privilege, as most artisanal chocolate is. This does not mean that their products are not created ethically or of lesser quality than they could be, but that they are simply one of many craft chocolate companies attempting to makes its mark on the industry without making much of an impact on the actual issues endemic to the industry. I think that Piety and Desire Chocolate does its part as well as it can in the context of the craft food movement, but I would like to know more about their pricing, the sources of their cacao, and the demographics of their customers.

Works Cited

A Lot Can be Learned from the Selection of Chocolate at CVS

As a massive international corporation, CVS offers numerous products and services to their customers around the globe. Traditionally, they have acted as a pharmacy and drug store. Yet, within recent decades, CVS has become more of a convenience store in that it still offers pharmaceutical services and drugs, but it also now offers everything from cleaning supplies to ice cream. Furthermore, considering the fact that many Americans live relatively close to a CVS, it could be argued that many of the smaller consumables, such as chocolate, are purchased there. Thus, in analyzing the modern-day chocolate market for the majority of the public, CVS is an excellent case study to examine how chocolate is being sold to the masses. Thus, this multimedia essay will utilize the chocolate selection from CVS as a case study to determine how chocolate is being marketed to the public.

Race, Gender, Luxury and How Chocolate is Advertised

            The history of chocolate advertisement is one that is extremely rich with influence from countless external forces and cultures. Since its conception, chocolate, and the advertisement for its consumption, have been heavily influenced by both race and gender. The relationship between chocolate and race is strong and the two have related to one another since the Europeans found out about chocolate. Chocolate and chocolate production have historically been related to slavery, particularly African slavery, which continues to this day. The enslavement of African men and boys does still continue to this day and, “in a 2000 report on human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, the U.S. State Department estimated, with startling candour, ‘that 15,000 Malian children work on Ivoiran cocoa and coffee plantations… Many are under 12 years of age, sold into indentured servitude for US$140 and work 12-hour days for $135 to $189 a year’” (Off 133). Along with gender, race’s long connection with chocolate and chocolate production can still be seen to this day within the form of chocolate advertisement. That is, many of the ways in which chocolate is advertised play on these relationships between gender and race and chocolate. This can be seen in the fact that, “contemporary chocolate advertisements as well as wrappings feature black bodies or distorted images of blackness in order to promote chocolate products” (Hackenesh 98). Within the context of gender, “the consumption of chocolate in the west became feminized early in its history” (Robertson 20). That is, “women were charged with providing wholesome cocoa for respectable consumption within the family” (Robertson 20). Along with race and gender, the idea of chocolate as a luxury item is yet another aspect of its history that can be seen to this day. This early western idea of chocolate as a luxury good can best be seen within the coffee and chocolate houses of the seventeenth century. That is, “from the male-dominated coffee and chocolate houses of the seventeenth century, chocolate became associated with luxury and leisure in the domestic sphere from the eighteenth century” (Robertson 20). The influence of this idea of chocolate as a luxury item cannot be overstated and its influence can be seen to this day. This influence has been so powerful that it remains one of the most utilized tropes within modern chocolate advertisement. Thus, although race and gender have influenced chocolate throughout its history, and can be seen within many forms of multimedia chocolate advertisements, this idea of chocolate as a luxury good remains one of the strongest advertising tropes and one that can be seen throughout the selection of chocolate available at stores such as CVS. So, because of this, the luxury aspect of chocolate advertising will be the main focus of the remainder of this case study of the chocolate selection available at CVS.

A racist chocolate advertisement relating African skin color to chocolate treats
Source: Lecture 4, Slide 5
A classic feminized add for chocolate
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/14/opinion/sex-and-candy.html

The Chocolate Selection at CVS

            As CVS has expanded its selection of items, particularly its selection of consumables, its chocolate so too has expanded. When you search for chocolate on the CVS website or you enter a physical CVS location, you are immediately confronted with the classic brands that you would expect. This includes brands such as: Dove, Hershey, Cadbury, Toblerone, Mars, Lindt etc. These brands have remained staples throughout America, and the world, for decades and thus they have garnered loyal support from many customers. That is, “the main reason for this longevity [of the major chocolate producers] is consumers’ usually strong loyalty to the taste of their chocolate; many consumers make a lifetime commitment to thei favorite chocolate brands” (Allen 21). Seeing these brands immediately made me feel comfortable. I felt that because I knew these brands, I could make an informed decision based on the brand name. At no point was I concerned with how the chocolate was produced, or even the ingredients of the chocolate, my decisions were based solely on brand name and packaging. Furthermore, as I view chocolate as a luxury and not something that should be eaten all the time or in large quantities, I was not concerned with the calorie content of any of the items. I knew that I was buying this luxury good to splurge and thus, calories were of no concern to me. Many of the large brands utilized images and colors on their packages so that they seemed luxurious and special. Dark purple and blue are often used on the packaging, as well as gold, in order to exude a certain type of luxury and exclusivity. Although much of the selection from the larger brands, such as Mars and Hershey, revolved around their classic treats, there was also a number of chocolates that were a darker chocolate with more cocoa. These chocolates were attempting to be more luxurious and exclusive even though they come from a well-known and inexpensive brand like Mars, Hershey, or Cadbury. An example of this can be seen in the Hershey’s Kisses Special Dark. Hershey’s kisses are a classic product from Hershey, and arguably one of the most famous chocolate treats in America. They are inexpensive and not considered to be the highest-end or most luxurious chocolate treat. Yet, by changing the packaging by adding a dark purple color and wrapping the Kisses in purple tinfoil rather than the classic silver foil the treats seem much more luxurious and high-end. The addition of ‘Special Dark’ on the label speaks to a certain level of prestige and luxury, and it also hints at the ingredient content of the treats which seem to be of better and higher quality. This attempt of a large brand that is not necessarily known for extremely high-quality and luxurious chocolate, like Hershey, attempting to advertise a luxurious and high-end product differs from a large brand that is more synonymous with high-end chocolate. This can be seen in the packaging of the Lindt Lindor chocolates. Lindt is more synonymous with a higher-end and more luxurious chocolate than is Hershey, thus all of their products immediately have that luxury cachet simply because of the brand name. The Lindt Lindor packaging is simple and elegant and includes colors such as dark blue and gold.

The ‘luxurious’ packaging for Lindt Lindor chocolates which are synonymous with luxury and exclusivity
Source: https://www.cvs.com/shop/lindt-lindor-truffles-dark-chocolate-prodid-271345
A screenshot from the first products that come up when one searches ‘chocolate on the CVS website
Source: https://www.cvs.com/search?searchTerm=chocolate

The Dangers of Chocolate Advertising

            One aspect of these attempts at utilizing luxury as a selling-point for chocolate is that these companies use this idea of luxury without backing it up through an explanation how the chocolate is produced and why it is of better quality than other treats. The containers focus on textures and mouthfeels of the various products, yet do not speak about what makes the particular chocolate more expensive and of better quality than other products. The Lindt Lindor packaging, for example, says “Irresistibly Smooth” on the front, yet does not speak to the actual quality of the chocolate and the ingredients of the product. This is an ingenious ploy by the chocolate companies because they need not drastically increase their cost of production, but rather just adjust the advertising and increase the price to create the lure of luxury and exclusivity. Thus, consumers must become aware of these ploys by the chocolate manufacturers and ensure that they are paying for quality of production and ingredients, not luxurious advertising.

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Works Cited

Allen, Lawrence L. Chocolate Fortunes :the Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of China’s

            Consumers. AMACOM, American Management Association, 2009.

Hackenesch, Silke. “Advertising Chocolate, Consuming Race? On the Peculiar Relationship of

            Chocolate Advertising, German Colonialism, and Blackness.” Vol. 12, no. 1, 2014, pp.

            97–112.

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

Robertson, Emma. 2010. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History.

Delicious Products, Admirable Sentiments, Unreal-istic Mission

Bar

Walking through Whole Foods one Sunday afternoon in Nashville, TN, two years ago, a small crowd caught my eye near the front of the store. The reason turned out to be peanut butter cups, halved and waiting on parchment paper for the avid samplers to consume. Organic and fair trade, these chocolates lacked any artificial preservatives or coloring, boasted higher protein and fiber content than any of their peers, and featured dark chocolate almond butter and coconut quinoa crunch. I recently rediscovered the Unreal brand on Facebook, thanks to an aggressive social media campaign. Additional research has confirmed that Unreal’s latest project offers a quality product that tastes as good, or better, than its competitors. The product is well worth purchasing for the taste and healthier ingredients alone, and corporate values do enhance the value of the product. However, when analyzing the founders’ claims to operate as small company in order to combat unethical sourcing and, more importantly, nutritional deficiency, it becomes clear that the lofty mission proclaimed on the website falls a bit short in practice.

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First, it is important to understand the background of the company. Viewers who open the Unreal website find a barrage of fluorescent colors and pithy slogans. One of the last pages on the website tells the well-publicized story of Unreal’s founding.[1] In a TEDx Teen talk delivered in 2013, a few months after the first iteration of Unreal products hit stores, 18-year-old Nicky Bronner delivered a 15-minute presentation about his company’s story, mission, and products. Calling his parents “junk food pirates,” Nicky shared the very marketable story of the moment that led him and his brother to set out to change the candy industry. Three years before, the 12-year-old Nicky and his 15-year-old brother, Kris, returned from trick-or-treating to have their candy confiscated from their health conscious parents. After conducting some online research to attempt to prove them wrong, the brothers found that the ingredients in their favorite candies were, in fact, damaging to health for their chemical additives and contribution to obesity. After 1,000 recipes by acclaimed Spanish chef Adam Melonas, Unreal bars launched to 25,000 stores nationwide and featured unpaid endorsements by Bill Gates, Matt Damon, Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady, and Jack Dorsey. In a very direct fashion, Nicky proclaimed that his mission is “not to sell candy, but to sell you on an idea, which is that you can change the world, because the world needs change.”[2] Coming from a gangly, nervous 18-year-old, this seems a bit heavy-handed, but his passion and enthusiasm for his product are clearly genuine.

Founder1
Co-founder Nicky Bronner with 1st edition of products (2012)

From 2013 to today, the story and the products have changed somewhat, but the mission has stood fast. Today, interviews for the company feature the CEO and CMO, who discuss product alignment and core messaging to target consumers alongside merchandizing strategies and bring-to-market plans. The initial plan targeted all stores and matched the price point of Mars and Hershey products, but the black packaging and numbered, QR-code inspired naming system deterred consumers. Simply renaming the products did not boost sales sufficiently. The company scaled back. Unreal created new recipes based on the peanut butter cups and M&M’s with trendy ingredients (ie. quinoa, coconut, almond butter), re-designed colorful packaging with a quirky style, and re-launched in 1,000 health foods stores. [3]

The chocolate itself might be tasty, but Unreal has always marketed itself as more than just another candy bar. How, then, does the corporate structure of the company compare to Hershey and Mars, two direct competitors that Unreal seeks to unseat in the marketplace? Initially, in 2012, Unreal planned to move into non-processed snacks, breakfast foods, and soda. The initial CEO John Burns, managing partner at the VC investors Raptor Consumer Partners, promoted their selection of the candy sector not due to a teenage whim but in response to a lack of innovation in the marketplace, which focused instead on product line extensions and new packaging. Raptor provided $8 million in Series A funding, and many of the stars who promoted the product have, rather than receiving compensation for their endorsement, actually invested in the company. However, far from two inquisitive, motivated teenagers creating a company from nothing, Forbes revealed that their father, Michael Bronner, was a multi-millionaire entrepreneur who funded Unreal’s first steps. Moreover, he was a family friend of the Boston-based celebrities who highlighted the brand, especially Bundchen, Brady, and Damon.[4]

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Another early backer, Bill Gates, invested in Sun Microsystems founder Vinod Khosla’s VC firm that provided the next wave of funding for Unreal. Gates wrote on his website:

Let’s be honest. Even with better ingredients, candy is still candy. But this candy may be an example of how innovation can be successful when it creates a better product, and proves that all of the junk and high amounts of sugar in many of our most popular foods (also exported around the world) may not need to be there in the first place.[5]

Far from Nicky’s seemingly innocent comment at his TEDx Talk, “it turned out we needed money to start a company, and investors loved our mission and saw the potential to create change,” the Bronners were able to leverage their family connections to get their company off the ground. For someone who shared that he was “up for adventures of all kinds,” a teenager proud that he climbed Kilimanjaro, played tennis in Antarctica, and went skydiving in New Zealand, Nicky clearly had a rather advantageous platform for launching his company as a homeschooled boy in Boston.[6] As Bon Appetit wrote in October 2012,

But hey, slightly more healthy candy bars made by a vastly wealthy 15-year-old are still slightly more healthy candy bars—let’s just hope that his love for candy matures into a well-funded grown up passion for actually changing the world for the better. [7]

So how does Unreal compare to Hershey and Mars, two notoriously secret companies? Industry specialists have speculated that one or both of these companies may bid to buy Unreal, or copy its marketing techniques, if the brand picks up steam.[8] One Business Insider writer who grew up in Hershey, PA boasted a close personal connection to the Hershey Company. She loved the products after Unreal sent them to her for a tasting, the first in a series of promotional efforts after an additional $18.7M in funding helped the company roll out the new line of products in 2015.[9] Like Bronner, Milton Hershey founded a company at the turn of the twentieth century that always sought to go beyond providing a product for consumers. “The Hershey idea,” biographer Michael D’Antonio wrote, was “a business that would create something nobler than profit…at the very height of the progressive movement’s power.” Hershey founded a utopian community in 1904 with ready built homes and an ordered town park, which tied in his company to the local community’s economy, and Hershey bequeathed his fortune to found a philanthropic school.[10]

Mars, on the other hand, has earned renown for its intense privacy. Despite earning $33 billion in global revenue each year and 200 million consumer transactions per day, Mars maintains a nondescript world headquarters in McLean for 80 employees. Still 100% family owned without any debt, Mars boasts incredible employee loyalty, as seen through unparalleled retention rates, and ranks among the best companies to work for in the United States.[11] Both Hershey and Mars control a disproportionate share of the chocolate, and snack foods more broadly, industry. In the United States, Hershey held on to 44.1% and Mars to 29.3%, together accounting for 73.4% of the domestic market.[12] In this context, despite the significant advantages that the Bronner brothers received from their father and the funding accessible to them through his connections, Unreal is clearly trying to shake-up the industry from a weaker financial position. They deserve significant credit for this courageous move.

Companybreakdown
Segmentation of Major Consumer Product Conglomerates, Featuring Mars and Nestle (major players in the candy industry) as well as Kellogg, General Mills, Pepsico, CocaCola, and Kraft

This very structure, as an industry disruptor, has allowed Unreal to challenge the status quo for ingredients and recipes in the candy industry. First, Unreal’s pledges to be organic, fair trade, and sustainably harvested, certified gluten free and vegan. The company associates its product with “good,” opening with “good is back,” then “good never tasted better,” and finally “doing good isn’t so hard.” Declaring themselves “people people and planet people,” the company proceeds to discuss how it creates color in the M&M-like candy through vegetable dyes, uses 93% Fair Trade ingredients, and engages in sustainable sourcing of palm oil—for every hectare harvested, the supplier plants two more.[13] Organic and Fair Trade have become important trends in sustainable chocolate, in particular, over the last decade. The Fair Trade platform pledges to build:

A trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers—especially in the South. Fair trade organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.[14]

Though it is debatable whether the proceeds of fair trade benefit farmers as much as its proponents claim, both Fair Trade and Organic certifications are important steps toward improving wage and labor conditions for cacao farmers in the Third World.[15] Although these labels features prominently on the Unreal website, the company focuses less on its ethical considerations than its nutritional mission for health.[16]

Second, and most importantly for Unreal’s corporate success, the Bronner’s recognized that candy companies have not changed their recipes to reflect the medical consensus linking processed foods to obesity over the last century. The Sugar Association of lobbyists disregarded scientific evidence that sugar was poisonous and slowly killing millions of Americans. Private documents show how this turn recalls that of Big Tobacco decades earlier. Government regulations accordingly speak of sugar in vague generalities in response to industry pressure, funded by companies like Hershey and Mars through the Sugar Association. Those who testified to Congress about the wholesome nature of sugar earned millions from the very companies whose business they defended. In an industry still “facing the inexorable exposure of its product as a killer,” companies like Hershey and Mars, whose mass production model is based inherently on the addictive properties of sugar, are trying desperately to forestall such public knowledge of sugar’s true properties.[17] Scientists have conducted studies to confirm that sugar is addictive, in addition to impairing liver performance and inhibiting digestive capacity.[18] Among ancient cultures, chocolate was used in more pure forms, ground up as cacao and added to beverages intended to provide stimulation or serve ritual importance among the elite.[19] It did not have the sugar and preservatives added to candies today.

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The documentary Fed Up! explored the damage that processed foods wrought on the health of Americans and, to an increasing extent, the rest of the world that consumes our exported foods. Exposes like this provided the basic information for the Bronner’s as they created their mission. Though the McGovern Report, issued in 1979, warned that obesity would soon be the #1 form of malnutrition in the United States, the industry pegged fat as the culprit, rather than sugar. Companies replaced fat with chemicals, so raw sugar and high fructose corn syrup increased psychoanalytical tendencies toward behaviors associated with obesity. Commercials targeted children to solidify the social constructs surrounding processed foods, especially chocolate candy. When individual senators, President Bush, and First Lady Michelle Obama attempted to combat the obesity crisis in schools and in grocery stores, lobbyists paid off doctors, politicians, and companies to suppress their efforts.[20] Even the Clinton Foundation, which claimed to fight child obesity and large corporations, takes donations from The Coca-Cola Company ($5M-$10M) and The Coca-Cola Foundation ($1M-$5M). This conflict of interest undermines the forcefulness of President Clinton’s message in the documentary.[21]

Given this complicated reality, by which the close intersection between business and politics prevents concerted public health efforts to combat the obesity epidemic, how can Unreal, such a small company, despite its funding, make a difference? One of the statistics that Unreal used in its early promotional materials emphasized the troubling fact that, by 2020, 40% of Americans will be clinically obese and 50% will be diabetic. As a result, its first candy bars averaged the following, as compared to their traditional equivalents: 45% less sugar, 13% less fat, 23% less calories, 149% more protein, 250% more fiber. In addition, they registered as low Glycemic Index and avoided hydrogenated oils or synthetic colors.[22] Unreal tried to promote its status as a healthy food with initially absurd comparisons to fruit, which analysts and food bloggers aptly criticized.[23] Later efforts used Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady’s reputations as exceptionally health conscious to bolster their brand.[24] Some blogs even misinterpreted the basic nutritional facts around the candy. Vegan bloggers, for example, claimed that Unreal’s mission was “about veganizing popular candy bars” to remove “animal products and additives,” a claim far beyond what the founders intended.[25]

This reputation, however, is largely unfounded. Unreal’s nutrition comparisons are complicated by the fact that the packages were, on average, 19.4% smaller. This amplifies the value of the increased protein and fiber, but it reduces the significance of the caloric, sugar, and fat adjustments.[26] However, the primary issue at stake is that, as even Bill Gates acknowledged, Unreal is, at its core, a candy, not a health food. An early Huffington Post article that took issue with Unreal argued, “Candy is candy, not fruit, not food, not the stuff of everyday sustenance…Americans don’t need more obfuscation when it comes to food.”[27] As discussed in Fed Up!, a key issue with the obesity epidemic is that companies offer too many products and alternatives, adding more rather than taking options off the shelf.[28]

Unreal’s strong mission undercuts the corporate conglomerates like Hershey and Mars, whose reliance on the sugar industry has hampered any significant progress toward recipe change. However, replacing one dessert with a healthier version cannot rectify economic inequality or solve the magnitude of the obesity epidemic, for a candy is still a candy. For consumers seeking a treat with a little less guilt, Unreal offers a great alternative to traditional candies. For those seeking to address series ethical and medical issues, however, the solution must aim much higher and reach much further than the Unreal brand is currently capable of doing.

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End Notes

[1] “Chocolate Snacks Made Good,” Unreal Chocolate, accessed May 3, 2017, http://getunreal.com/.

[2] How to Change the World, TEDx Teen (New York, N.Y.: Scholastic Auditorium, 2013), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd7dz0HKGb4.

[3] Abigail Watt, “Unreal Relaunches Line of Unjunked Candy,” Candy Industry, February 17, 2015, http://www.candyindustry.com/articles/86634-unreal-relaunches-line-of-unjunked-candy.

[4] Caleb Melby, “Meet UNREAL, A Natural Candy Maker Endorsed By Jack Dorsey, Matt Damon, Gisele And Tom Brady,” Forbes, September 28, 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/calebmelby/2012/09/28/meet-unreal-a-natural-candy-maker-endorsed-by-jack-dorsey-matt-damon-gisele-and-her-husband/.

[5] Bill Gates, “Candy Innovation That’s Really Unreal,” Gatesnotes.com, October 26, 2012, https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Candy-Innovation-Thats-Really-Unreal.

[6] Bronner, How to Change the World (TEDx Talk).

[7] Sam Dean, “Unreal, the New Candy Made by a Super-Rich 15-Year-Old (and Promoted by Tom Brady),” Bon Appetit, October 1, 2012, http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/unreal-the-new-candy-made-by-a-super-rich-15-year-old-and-promoted-by-tom-brady.

[8] “Unreal Brand Candies – A Better Choice?,” Fooducate, January 18, 2013, http://www.fooducate.com/app#!page=post&id=57A34A73-F78C-9C05-476E-8D4F3A8DC556.

[9] Maya Kosoff, “I Tried ‘Unreal’ Peanut Butter Cups, and They Tasted Better than the Real Thing,” Business Insider, February 4, 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com/unreal-candy-tastes-just-like-the-real-thing-2015-2.

[10] Michael D’Antonio, Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams, Reprint edition (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 115.

[11] David A. Kaplan, “Mars Incorporated: A Pretty Sweet Place to Work,” Fortune, accessed May 4, 2017, http://fortune.com/2013/01/17/mars-incorporated-a-pretty-sweet-place-to-work/.

[12] “U.S. Market Share of Chocolate Companies,” Statista, 2016, http://www.statista.com/statistics/238794/market-share-of-the-leading-chocolate-companies-in-the-us/.

[13] “Chocolate Snacks Made Good.”

[14] Carol Off, Bitter Chocolate: Anatomy of an Industry, Online edition (New York: The New Press, 2014).

[15] Jack Goody, “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine,” in Food and Culture: A Reader, ed. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik, 3 edition (New York: Routledge, 2012), 88.

[16] As discussed during Bronner’s TEDx, How to Change the World.

[17] Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens, “Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies,” Mother Jones, accessed May 4, 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-lies-campaign.

[18] Nicole M. Avena, Pedro Rada, and Bartley G. Hoebel, “Evidence for Sugar Addiction: Behavioral and Neurochemical Effects of Intermittent, Excessive Sugar Intake,” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 32, no. 1 (2008): 20–39, doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019; for a detailed overview of additional studies, refer to “Chocolate in Health and Nutrition,” Nutrition and Health (New York: Humana Press, 2013).

[19] For a detailed history of the origins of cacoa, see Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe, The True History of Chocolate, 3rd ed. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2013).

[20] Stephanie Soechtig, Fed Up, Documentary, (2014).

[21] “Contributor and Grantor Information,” Clinton Foundation, accessed May 4, 2017, https://www.clintonfoundation.org/contributors.

[22] Gates, “Candy Innovation That’s Really Unreal.”

[23] “Unreal Brand Candies – A Better Choice?”

[24] Sarah Shemkus, “Tom Brady Inflates Sales for Boston ‘healthy’ Candy Company,” Boston Globe, October 30, 2015, https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/10/29/tom-brady-inflates-sales-for-boston-healthy-candy-company/SqYCbLsiI7cEql2AN9tueL/story.html; Tom Brady, Watching Tom Brady Eat Halloween Candy in Slow Motion Will Be the Highlight of Your Day (Boston, MA: Brady Family Kitchen, 2016), http://people.com/food/tom-brady-unreal-candy-video-diet/.

[25] Hannah Sentenac, “Unreal Is Veganizing Popular Candy Bars; Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Peanut Butter Cups Hit Stores,” Latest Vegan News, April 15, 2015, http://latestvegannews.com/unreal-is-veganizing-popular-candy-bars/.

[26] Melby, “Meet UNREAL, A Natural Candy Maker Endorsed By Jack Dorsey, Matt Damon, Gisele And Tom Brady.”

[27] Rachel Marie Stone, “The Problem With ‘Unreal’ Candy and Nutrition Facts Labels,” Huffington Post, January 15, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-marie-stone/misleading-nutrition-labels_b_2477807.html.

[28] Soechtig, Fed Up.

Works Cited

Avena, Nicole M., Pedro Rada, and Bartley G. Hoebel. “Evidence for Sugar Addiction: Behavioral and Neurochemical Effects of Intermittent, Excessive Sugar Intake.” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 32, no. 1 (2008): 20–39. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019.

Brady, Tom. Watching Tom Brady Eat Halloween Candy in Slow Motion Will Be the Highlight of Your Day. Boston, MA: Brady Family Kitchen, 2016. http://people.com/food/tom-brady-unreal-candy-video-diet/.

“Chocolate in Health and Nutrition.” Nutrition and Health. New York: Humana Press, 2013.

“Chocolate Snacks Made Good.” Unreal Chocolate. Accessed May 3, 2017. http://getunreal.com/.

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

“Contributor and Grantor Information.” Clinton Foundation. Accessed May 4, 2017. https://www.clintonfoundation.org/contributors.

D’Antonio, Michael. Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams. Reprint edition. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

Dean, Sam. “Unreal, the New Candy Made by a Super-Rich 15-Year-Old (and Promoted by Tom Brady).” Bon Appetit, October 1, 2012. http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/unreal-the-new-candy-made-by-a-super-rich-15-year-old-and-promoted-by-tom-brady.

Gates, Bill. “Candy Innovation That’s Really Unreal.” Gatesnotes.com, October 26, 2012. https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Candy-Innovation-Thats-Really-Unreal.

Goody, Jack. “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine.” In Food and Culture: A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik, 3 edition. New York: Routledge, 2012.

How to Change the World. TedX Teen. New York, N.Y.: Scholastic Auditorium, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd7dz0HKGb4.

Kaplan, David A. “Mars Incorporated: A Pretty Sweet Place to Work.” Fortune. Accessed May 4, 2017. http://fortune.com/2013/01/17/mars-incorporated-a-pretty-sweet-place-to-work/.

Kosoff, Maya. “I Tried ‘Unreal’ Peanut Butter Cups, and They Tasted Better than the Real Thing.” Business Insider, February 4, 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/unreal-candy-tastes-just-like-the-real-thing-2015-2.

Melby, Caleb. “Meet UNREAL, A Natural Candy Maker Endorsed By Jack Dorsey, Matt Damon, Gisele And Tom Brady.” Forbes, September 28, 2012. http://www.forbes.com/sites/calebmelby/2012/09/28/meet-unreal-a-natural-candy-maker-endorsed-by-jack-dorsey-matt-damon-gisele-and-her-husband/.

Off, Carol. Bitter Chocolate: Anatomy of an Industry. Reprint edition. New York: The New Press, 2014.

Sentenac, Hannah. “Unreal Is Veganizing Popular Candy Bars; Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Peanut Butter Cups Hit Stores.” Latest Vegan News, April 15, 2015. http://latestvegannews.com/unreal-is-veganizing-popular-candy-bars/.

Shemkus, Sarah. “Tom Brady Inflates Sales for Boston ‘healthy’ Candy Company.” Boston Globe. October 30, 2015. https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/10/29/tom-brady-inflates-sales-for-boston-healthy-candy-company/SqYCbLsiI7cEql2AN9tueL/story.html.

Soechtig, Stephanie. Fed Up. Documentary, 2014.

Stone, Rachel Marie. “The Problem With ‘Unreal’ Candy and Nutrition Facts Labels.” Huffington Post, January 15, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-marie-stone/misleading-nutrition-labels_b_2477807.html.

Taubes, Gary, and Cristin Kearns Couzens. “Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies.” Mother Jones. Accessed May 4, 2017. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-lies-campaign.

“Unreal Brand Candies – A Better Choice?” Fooducate, January 18, 2013. http://www.fooducate.com/app#!page=post&id=57A34A73-F78C-9C05-476E-8D4F3A8DC556.

“U.S. Market Share of Chocolate Companies.” Statista, 2016. https://www.statista.com/statistics/238794/market-share-of-the-leading-chocolate-companies-in-the-us/.

Watt, Abigail. “Unreal Relaunches Line of Unjunked Candy.” Candy Industry, February 17, 2015. http://www.candyindustry.com/articles/86634-unreal-relaunches-line-of-unjunked-candy.

CVS: Chocolate Value Store

In a city square home to L.A. Burdick Chocolates and Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe, one would not necessarily first select CVS for the purpose of purchasing chocolate products. However, as I commenced my chocolate crawl of Cambridge to analyze chocolate displays around Harvard Square, I realized I did not need to venture any further than CVS to encounter a chocolate emporium. Although CVS exhibits a vast variety of chocolate products, ranging from mass-produced, “Big 5” chocolate brands to more premium, craft chocolate brands, to appeal to consumers’ differing taste preferences and criteria for selecting and purchasing chocolate, I would contend that CVS more adeptly encourages consumers to purchase chocolate products through an economically-based methodology. In particular, by targeting consumers’ economic sensibilities through the prominent display and advertisement of sale prices and ExtraBucks reward promotions, CVS draws upon consumers’ desire to mitigate indulgent, “impulse buys” of chocolate products by emphasizing the sound economic advantages that result from purchasing their store’s chocolate products.

Before analyzing CVS’ economic methodology, it is productive to first provide a report of my field study’s findings on the CVS store located at 6 JFK Street. After entering CVS, I discovered that two of the four aisles on the store’s first floor are replete with chocolate. Aisle 3, which is labeled as “Bagged Candy” and “Candy,” contains shelf after shelf of chocolate products, most of which hail from the Big 5 chocolate companies. Colloquially known at the “Big Five,” Nestle, Mars, Cadbury, Hershey’s and Ferrero represent the largest chocolate companies in the world today (Martin and Sampeck 2016: 50). Along the shelves of Aisle 3 were products manufactured by Hershey’s, Nestle, Cadbury, and Mars in all varieties and size combinations, which ranged from multipacks of individually wrapped fun size bars to resealable snack packs to individual bars. The varying quantities of these packages indicate that consumers desire different size combinations, according to their particular needs and interests. For example, one consumer might be seeking a personal snack while another consumer might be interested in buying a multipack to share with other people.

IMG_7922
An example of the yellow tags in Aisle 3 of CVS that advertise special sales prices and ExtraBucks rewards associated with chocolate purchases. 

In addition to the plethora of chocolate products available to consumers, the shelves of Aisle 3 also provide evidence of CVS’ economically-based marketing strategy: emphasis on sales and future monetary rewards. As part of its company, CVS promotes a customer rewards program, the ExtraCare program (https://www.cvs.com/extracare/home). Based upon their purchases at any CVS location, members of the ExtraCare program will receive ExtraBucks, a coupon with a monetary amount that can be applied to a future purchase. In the case of Aisle 3, certain chocolate products were eligible for both a sales promotion and ExtraBucks rewards. Bright yellow tags, which dangled from the aisle’s shelves, advertised that one could purchase 2 chocolate products at the reduced price of $6 and that such a purchase would generate $1 in ExtraBucks.

IMG_7925
Aisle 4 of CVS, the “Seasonal” aisle, included a glut of Easter chocolate products, which were steeply discounted at 50% off clearance.

After this close observation of Aisle 3, I rounded the corner to Aisle 4 and encountered a continuation of chocolate displays. In particular, Aisle 4, the “Seasonal” aisle, featured displays of chocolate products and other candy items, mostly from the Big 5 brands, that were packaged and labeled for Easter, a holiday that occurred the weekend prior to this field study. These seasonal products disclose the marketing tactics of the Big 5 chocolate companies, which rebrand their products with special shapes (e.g. eggs), pastel packaging, and images synonymous with Easter (e.g. chicks and bunnies). The contents of Aisle 4 also underscored the vast quantity of chocolate on the market: even after the celebration of Easter, a holiday culturally-associated with the purchasing of candy and chocolate to fill Easter baskets, CVS still possessed a glut of Easter-specific chocolate products.

For the purposes of this field study, I also noticed the continuation of sales prices and economic incentives in Aisle 4. Larger, bright yellow tags placed perpendicular to the aisle’s shelves announced that the entirety of Aisle 4’s items were on clearance and 50% off. Although many of the chocolate products in Aisle 4 were exactly identical in taste and quality to those of Aisle 3—a Reese’s seasonal, egg-shaped candy has the exact same taste as a Reese’s peanut butter cup—the store granted the Easter products a special sale price because their packaging was no longer relevant and, more importantly, was no longer a compelling factor to make consumers purchase those particularized, Easter-appropriate items. Therefore, the economical advantage, rather than the packaging or seasonality, of purchasing these Easter chocolate products emerged as the chief marketing tool utilized by CVS to encourage consumer purchase.

IMG_7932
The Brookside display appears at the end of Aisle 2 in CVS. Note the continuation of the yellow sales tags on this special chocolate display.

On the whole, my field study sensitized me to the pervasiveness of CVS’ sales tactics with regard to chocolate purchases. Indeed, the sales, discounts, and monetary rewards associated with the purchase of chocolate products extended well beyond the chocolate-specific aisles, Aisle 3 and Aisle 4. In meandering around the first floor, I also discovered two chocolate display cases that were distinct and separate from the aisles: a Brookside chocolate display and a “Premium Chocolates” display. Both displays consisted of a pop-up cardboard structure placed at opposite ends of Aisle 2, a strategic juncture that could, in turn, attract a consumer’s attention as he or she moved between or along aisles. The Brookside display seemed to align well with the contents of Aisle 2, the “Grocery” aisle, since it featured snack-type chocolate products, such as “Crunchy Clusters,” chocolate-covered almonds, and chocolate-covered dried fruits. In addition to these items, the Brookside display also featured bright yellow tags that announced the special rate of 2 chocolate products for $6.

In contrast to the snack-packaging of the Brookside display, the Premium Chocolate display included mostly individually-packaged bars from Lindt, Ghiradelli, Ferrero Roche, and Chuao, among other premium brands. Even those these brands were specially labeled as “premium” and therefore associated with luxury and higher cost, the “Premium Chocolate” display also featured the same bright yellow sales tags, which advertised the special rate of 2 chocolate bars for $5. Therefore, just as ubiquitous as the presence of chocolate products on the first floor of CVS was the presence of sales tags and special rates for chocolate products—the sales pricing did not discriminate based on chocolate quality but rather applied to Big 5 brands and premium brands alike.

IMG_7926
The “Premium Chocolates” display at the end of Aisle 2. Even more premium brands, such as Lindt, Chocolove, and Endangered Species Chocolate, were subject to special sales prices.

Even if I had somehow managed to avoid the two aisles or two prominent displays of chocolate on the first floor, this CVS store ensured that I, along with every consumer, would encounter chocolate while waiting in line to make a purchase. On both the first floor and second floor, this CVS store possesses checkout lines, each of which is replete with shelves lined with individual candies and chocolate bars. The presence of chocolate in the CVS store is inextricably bound with the promise of savings: the individual chocolate bars at the checkout areas also benefited from sales promotions: 2 individual chocolate bars or candies for $3.

After completing my observational field study of this particular CVS location, I conducted research into CVS as a company. CVS, which stands for Consumer Value Stores, opened its first store in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1963; this first store exclusively sold health and beauty products (https://www.cvshealth.com/about/company-history). Although CVS brands itself as a pharmaceutical store, it has developed far beyond its origins as purely a purveyor of health and beauty products. Inherent to the company’s expansive, national growth has been its acquisition of other competing stores throughout the United States. As part of this nationalization of CVS as a franchise, CVS has also worked to secure consumer loyalty, especially through its emphasis on providing value to customers. In fact, CVS was the first national pharmacy retailer to launch a loyalty card program, the ExtraCare Card, which it established in 2001(https://www.cvshealth.com/about/company-history). Therefore, an understanding of CVS’ company history demonstrates its focus and commitment to consumer value, which it achieves through the employment of sales prices, special discounts, and ExtraCare membership rewards.

Based upon my field study of the Harvard Square CVS store and a fuller understanding of the CVS company history and programming, I derived a few salient impressions about CVS in relation to its marketing and selling of chocolate products.

CVS possesses a keen understanding of the current landscape of the chocolate market with regard to consumer taste, interests, and needs. According to Heike C. Alberts and Julie Cidell, the United States has been experiencing a “chocolate revolution” during the last few decades: American consumers have expanded their chocolate consumption “beyond traditional mass-market chocolate such as Hershey’s” and the other Big 5 companies to include “more premium chocolates…and more dark varieties” (Alberts and Cidell 2016). Stores like CVS have responded to meet this shift in taste among American consumers by stocking more premium chocolate brands, including European brands. Although European chocolates were “largely limited to specialty food stores and import stores” a few decades ago, European brands like Milka, Ritter Sport, and Lindt are now “available in many grocery stores, department stores such as Target and Walmart, and drugstores such as Walgreens and CVS” (Alberts and Cidell 2016). Although much of the CVS chocolate selection in Aisles 3 and 4 belongs to traditional mass-market chocolate brands, such as the Big 5 companies, the inclusion of brands like Lindt in the Premium Chocolate display at the Harvard Square CVS attests to the entrance of European brands into American markets and its increasing availability among these markets to include pharmacy stores like CVS.

In addition to Americans’ burgeoning interest in European chocolates and premium brands, American consumers have also begun to consider the social and ethical components of chocolate products. In response to the various ethical facets of cacao production, such as labor conditions, compensation, etcetera, many American consumers have been drawn to the fine chocolate market, which exhibits a “resistance” characterized by “a group force or momentum to link sensual enjoyment with ethical concern” (Martin and Sampeck 2016: 52). The fine chocolate market has been utilizing strategies, such as certification programs like Direct Trade and FairTrade, to demonstrate their companies’ commitment to rectifying social injustices. Such campaigns and endorsements speak to consumers’ desires to enjoy chocolate in an ethically and socially-conscious manner. For example, Endangered Species Chocolate, one of the brands available in the “Premium Chocolates” display of the Harvard Square CVS store, promises to donate 10% of net profits to its GiveBack Partners that help wildlife and endangered species (http://www.chocolatebar.com/?page_id=18). Thus, as observed at the Harvard Square CVS, CVS recognizes the differing tastes of chocolate consumers—brand name, perceived quality of products, and socially-conscious choices—and seeks to cater to their customers by selling a varied selection of products that will meet these consumer preferences.

In addition to recognizing the need to meet consumers’ broad spectrum of tastes, CVS also utilizes psychology to attract customers and promote chocolate purchases. In primarily pharmaceutical stores like CVS, the average customer does not necessarily visit with the express purpose of purchasing chocolate. Instead, chocolate purchases at CVS can be classified as “impulse buying,” which may be described as a spontaneous purchase bought “without thoughtful consideration why and for what reason a person should have the product” (Fennis and Stroebe 2010: 274). For example, CVS’ placement of its chocolate products at the checkout areas on both the first and second levels capitalizes upon this psychological understanding of consumer behavior because “chocolate bars and other tempting sweets are often displayed near the checkout counter when customers are distracted by thoughts about paying for their purchases” (Fennis and Stroebe 2010: 275).

In addition to encouraging a psychological response of impulse buying, CVS strategically situates chocolate displays to capitalize upon knowledge of the scientific, neurological basis of consumer behavior. In other words, CVS utilizes its displays as visual stimuli that can activate the neurological systems that motivate customers to purchase chocolate products. A 2014 scientific study entitled “Neural predictors of chocolate intake following chocolate exposure” utilized neuroimaging technology to verify how exposure to chocolate stimuli can predict the subsequent intake of chocolate (Frankort et al. 2014). In this study, participants were exposed to the smell of chocolate over the period of an hour and then shown images of chocolate (Frankort et al. 2014). Neuroimage results of this exposed group revealed that the brain regions involved in food reward, including the amygdala, striatum, hippocampus, insula, ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra, were activated by these external stimuli of chocolate and directly correlated with the later consumption of chocolate (Frankort et al. 2014). In essence, “neural correlates predict subsequent behavior (i.e. chocolate intake)” (Frankort et al. 2014). Based on such scientific evidence, there is a demonstrated neurological basis for chocolate consumption, which can be stimulated by external cues like the time of day and place (Benton 2004: 215). Therefore, customers at CVS who are stimulated by visual stimuli like chocolate displays have a greater likelihood of subsequently purchasing and consuming chocolate.

While these scientific and psychological aspects underlying consumers’ chocolate purchases are certainly important factors acknowledged and employed by CVS in its marketing strategy, I would contend that CVS utilizes economic incentives as the primary means of convincing customers to purchase chocolate.

This economic component complements and augments the psychology of chocolate purchasing. In particular, scientists and psychologists have determined that the phenomenon of impulse buying is “more likely for low priced products” (Fennis and Stroebe 275). Many of CVS’ chocolate products could be considered “low priced products” because they were part of a special sales promotions (2 for $6) and/or associated with the acquisition of future money-off coupons ($1 in ExtraBucks). As a result of transforming their chocolate products into low priced products through the use of economic marketing strategies, CVS increases the motivation of customers to act upon their psychological response of impulse buying. CVS’ use of economical savings as a marketing strategy to increase chocolate purchases proves a psychologically-astute method. Scientists have demonstrated that the “control motivation” consumers might attempt to exercise to prevent impulse buying is lowered when “the desirable items are not very expensive” (Fennis and Stroebe 2010: 275). In other words, consumer satisfaction resulting from saving money and making economically-sound purchases overpowers their control motivation and mitigates feelings of guilt that consumers might experience in buying chocolate products, which are often classified as luxurious, indulgent items. CVS makes luxury chocolate products, especially “premium” chocolate brands from Europe or brands with socially-conscious values, affordable to the masses.

In the broader historical context, chocolate has been inextricably bound with economics and social class. After its introduction to Europe, chocolate was primarily enjoyed by European elites; however, changes in the 1800s resulted in a broadening of the availability of chocolate. Due to the industrialization of food, including massive mechanization, retailing, and transportation changes, chocolate transformed from “an elite, expensive product” to “an inexpensive…low-cacao-content chocolate bar to be consumed as a food by elite and non-elite alike” (Martin and Sampeck 2016: 50). Given this democratization of chocolate, chocolate producers had to meet this new, increased demand, and, as a result, “large chocolate manufacturers became the producers of the majority of the world’s chocolate” (Martin and Sampeck 2016: 50). Chocolate became an industry that needed to market to different social sectors. Due to chocolate’s historical and intrinsic connection with socioeconomic class, CVS’ economically-based approach of sales prices, discounts, and other monetary incentives emerges as a very efficacious method for appealing to the different social statuses of customers.

In summary, this field study of the Harvard Square CVS store reveals the varying tactics and approaches a retail store may employ to encourage the purchase of chocolate products. While visual stimuli, such as chocolate displays, store layout, variety of products, and other tools may be utilized to promote chocolate purchasing, CVS employs an efficacious economic model to increase its chocolate sales. Truly hearkening to its roots as a Consumer Value Store, CVS convinces its customers that they can have their chocolate at a cost-effective price and eat it, too!

 

Sources:

Alberts, Heike C. and Julie Cidell. 2016. “Chocolate Consumption, Manufacturing, and Quality in North America and Europe.” In The Economics of Chocolate, edited by Mara P. Squicciarini and Johan Swinnen, 119-133.

Benton, David. 2004. “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving.” In Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain, edited by Astrid Nehlig, 205-216.

Fennis, Bob M. and Wolfgang Stroebe. 2010. The Psychology of Advertising.

Frankort, A. et al. 2015. “Neural predictors of chocolate intake following chocolate exposure.” Appetite 87: 98-107.

Martin, Carla and Kathryn Sampeck. 2016. “The Bitter and Sweet of Chocolate in Europe.” Presented at The Social Meaning of Food Workshop, The Institute for Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, June 16-17, 2015, Budapest, Hungary.

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

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

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

Chocolate’s “God-Like” Beginnings

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

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Modern Mayan woman demonstrating how her ancestors

would grind cacao (Smithsonian)

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

The Industrial Difference

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

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

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

Van Houten’s cocoa press (World Standards)

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

 

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

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

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

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Fry’s chocolate bar packaging (Foods of England)

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

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

 

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Cacao: For Luxury, Flavor, or Health?

Wherever I share information about cacao, it is the Maya obsession with cacao that people find most surprising.

From religion, marriage ritual, and chokola’j drinking ceremonies to fete visiting dignitaries, to economics, agronomy, botany, and currency, to death and the afterlife, cacao was as vital as maize to ancient Mesoamerican diets.

It is understood that this importance started  with the Olmec and probably even earlier. But the cacao obsession continued for the Maya, the Aztec, and forward from there, even into the post-Columbian. There are still pockets of ritual chocolate drinkers in central America and southern Mexico, but so much knowledge has been lost to time, in this regard and others. Colonialism brought about the end of most of the native cacao plantations, as the cacao plantations throughout mesoamerica were laid waste by disease, and by the loss of aboriginal peoples who also succumbed to abuse, neglect, and disease (Ferry, 1989).

The loss of ancient expertise which spanned back over millennia after so many from the native populations were lost (Acuna-Soto, 2002; 2005), and the over-all colonial mismanagement and exploitation, eventually brought about the end of a colonial enterprise in cacao.  There was clearly a cause (the co-option by  the colonial Spanish), in depleting the widespread native stake in the cacao agronomy, and the concomitant extinction of ancient varieties and strains of cacao. It is easy to imagine that the Spanish cacao plantations, in contrast to the native Cacao forests, were hostile not only to growing healthy cacao, but also beneficial insects and any similarly symbiotic plants, bacteria and fungi that might keep pests and diseases at bay.

Fortunately there were a few Spanish colonial priests who diligently recorded so many aspects of native Mesoamerican life. And by their works we know some about the medical conditions that the American peoples used cacao for. Some of these made their way to Europe, where Europeans expanded greatly on the indications for cacao, much of it very often quackery and superstition (Coe, 1996).

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Censer Lid with Woman Holding Cacao
Guatemala, Maya, A.D. 250-450
Coastal Plain
Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala City

One additional cause of surprise  for people that I visit with about cacao, is the possible myriad health benefits of consuming cacao (as dark chocolate). When I understood that the Madécasse company had found their cacao sourced in Madagascar from plantations apparently growing an old line of Criollo, there was a mix of happiness and trepidation. Happiness on learning my taste buds are discerning for having discovered this otherwise low visibility chocolate bar to be yards ahead of the rest (as far as cost, taste, and aftertaste goes). Trepidation because  of what will happen as elites jump on a criollo dark chocolate bandwagon with a well-monied vengeance. I also envision supply issues for cacao, as what was done to the subsistence grain Quinoa (Philpott, 2013).

Perhaps my trepidation is a form of misplaced paranoia, as Madécasse does not appear to compete with the overpriced much-hyped hipster founded and hipster marketed brands. Madécasse bars taste so much better than the bars I have tried at twice the price earlier, when I was experimenting with taste and price. My reasoning is that the elites will spend their money on fancy wrapping and understated marketing themes that play to ideals of exclusivity, narcissism ,and greed. Hopefully they might be leaving the plain wrapped Heirloom Madécasse bars for humbler, albeit savvier consumers. And by that route spare us related supply issues.

The company at the top of the chocolate Elite is Amedei, the Tuscan manufacturer of “The World’s Finest” chocolate. At 17 dollars a bar on Amazon.com, the Amedei bars are rightly called the “world’s most expensive” Chocolate.

It is a lovely, even elegant manufacturing facility.

But are they distinguishable from less expensive bars?

I am not well-to-do so I will not be taste testing Amedei any time soon. What I can do is contrast the Amedei marketing and branding with Madécasse’s marketing and branding. This video above, of the Amedei processing plant, is very stylish and even understated. The stylish understatement speaks volumes to a new elite sensibility around inconspicuous consumption (“Luxury Branding,” 2015).

I had become aware of the fine Amedei wares but had passed on the opportunity to purchase. To begin a contrast, I was completely unaware of the flavor bonanza in Madécasse’s bean to bar product at 5 dollars or so a bar at Whole Foods (which is why I grabbed an “Heirloom” bar) and I was very willing to try it without knowing anything about the product. I was completely aware of the luxury symbolism pre-loaded into my psyche by the pricing alone of Amedei’s product line. My stopping point has been consistently around 6 dollars when I regularly contemplate the dark chocolate display at Whole Foods.

“Generally, luxury brands increase in profitability when consumers perceive that these goods offer more value (or premium degree) than other comparable products… We’ve found that symbolic brands can be more easily exported into nonadjacent categories than functional brands and can succeed in these categories when they consistently promote their core symbolic attributes.”      Reddy, 2005

The Madécasse company has a remarkable founder story in a field replete with fairly sentimental gestures (as opposed to effective gestures) underlying the basic marketing themes that Fair Trade has come to signify (unfortunately). Two Peace Corps volunteers who worked with the corps on the Island of Madagascar off the coast of Southeast Africa, decided to start a chocolate manufacturing concern in Madagascar.

The west coast of Africa where nearly 75% of the world’s chocolate is grown, does not produce chocolate product in any measurable quantity. The founders of Madécasse, Tim McCollum and Brett Beach, went beyond the Fair Trade gesture of direct relations and direct sourcing from farmers in developing countriesin the purchasing of raw materials, and decided to manufacture the product in-situ on Madagascar. Instead of the more common practice of exporting the raw cacao to be produced in more developed countries.  (Evans, 2014)

Moving a bit beyond the caring connections idealism in Fair Trade symbologies and signifiers, such as farmer stories and founder stories, Amedei, with its implications of an inconspicuous consumption that is a signifier to elites (Eckhardt, 2015), is a stark contrast to the practically shy (by comparison) marketing themes of the Madécasse brand.

However, another complicating discovery for my consideration here, is that the Forastero cacao of a few areas in Brazil that were tested and compared to Nacional of Ecuador, and Trinitario of Venezuela and New Guinea, are highest in flavan-3-ols (Oracz, 2015) under varying roasting conditions.

And so now we have three confounding consumer ideals, the inconspicuous elite consumers  of Amedei (varietal craft chocolates), the tasty and cheap Madécasse (heirloom criollo bars), and the additional health benefits such as what might be obtained via consumption of Brazil forastero dark chocolate products.

cacaobeancomparison

The health benefits of cacao clearly show promise for the most common health issues in our times. One disease in particular which may have some treatment options with combinations of compounds found only in cacao, is Trigeminal Neuralgia (Cady, 2010). Also known as “suicide disease” trigeminal neuralgia has a severe impact on well-being by the intense and unrelenting facial pain associated. The sufferers are not always responsive to an array of treatment regimes for it, which include medications. Without relief by medication, the treatments will culminate in surgeries that may or may not work. At the end of options, the suicide disease leads to irreversible decisions of too many of its sufferers. But the likelihood of those afflicted with trigeminal neuralgia finding an avenue for relief by dietary intake of pure dark chocolate, is greatly decreased by the actions of chocolate marketing by producers.

When otherwise beneficial chocolate products are branded and publicized as either luxury, revived ancient heirlooms, or for perceptions of a rarified tastiness, the likelihood is greatly decreased that a general public realizes the benefits of cacao as a supplement that can possibly alleviate an issue so drastic as Trigeminal Neuralgia, and possibly other debilitating medical issues as well.

While it is understandable that a company will distance its products from liability for any claims of health benefits, there are still ways for chocolate producers to inform the public and enhance well-being by providing access to information as a sideline in their marketing. But if cacao producers are more concerned with taste and pricing, there is  going to be little to no energy expended on figuring out how to boost the beneficial compounds, such as might be done by a careful attention to roasting temperature and humidity.

The importance of cacao health benefits in marketing chocolate, has taken a rear seat to the luxury and taste components when it comes to marketing and branding cacao products in the form of consumable dark chocolate bars. This is an artifact of the times, where marketing and branding is imprinting tastes and compulsions with imagery, symbology, hierarchy and status; by appealing to more base human emotions and selfish drivers of human behavior. In that context, might it also be unethical to ignore the health benefits in order to reach consumers with status and hierarchy concerns, vis-a-vis developing needs for taste and status at the expense of educating about less tasty/less status, but with more health benefits?

The amount of energy and expenditure in creating branding ideals around chocolate that have less to do with its intrinsic life-improving benefits and more to do with perceptions of materialistic benefits, is truly wasted effort.

Bibliography & Works Cited

Acuna-Soto, R, DW Stahle, MK Cleaveland, and MD Therrell. “Megadrought and Megadeath in 16th Century Mexico.” Emerging Infectious Diseases. 8.4 (2002): 360-2. Print.

Acuna-Soto, R, DW Stahle, MD Therrell, Chavez S. Gomez, and MK Cleaveland. “Drought, Epidemic Disease, and the Fall of Classic Period Cultures in Mesoamerica (ad 750-950). Hemorrhagic Fevers As a Cause of Massive Population Loss.” Medical Hypotheses. 65.2 (2005): 405-9. Print.

Bertoldi, D, A Barbero, F Camin, R Larcher, and A Caligiani. “Multielemental Fingerprinting and Geographic Traceability of Theobroma Cacao Beans and Cocoa Products.” Food Control. 65 (2016): 46-53. Print.

Cady, RJ, and PL Durham. “Cocoa-enriched Diets Enhance Expression of Phosphatases and Decrease Expression of Inflammatory Molecules in Trigeminal Ganglion Neurons.” Brain Research. 1323 (2010): 18-32. Print.

“CHOCOLATE MAKERS DISCOVER “EXTINCT” COCOA IN MADAGASCAR.” Specialty Foods, Inc. (n.d.): n. pag. 4 Oct. 2012. Web.

Christenson, Clayton M., Taddy Hall, and Scott Cook. “Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure.” Harvard Business Review Dec. 2005: n. pag. Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 01 Dec. 2005. Web. 11 May 2016.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.

 Evans, Lisa. “How A Chocolate Company In Madagascar Overcame The Odds.” Fast Company. Mansueto Ventures, LLC, 3 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 May 2016.

Ferry, Robert J. The Colonial Elite of Early Caracas: Formation & Crisis, 1567-1767. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. Print.

“Flavors of Cacao – Chocolate Database.” Flavors of Cacao – Chocolate Database. Manhatten Chocolate Society, 5 Dec. 2015. Web. 11 May 2016.

“Luxury Branding Below The Radar.” Harvard Business Review Sept. 2015: 26-27. Https://hbr.org/2015/09/luxury-branding-below-the-radar. Harvard Business Publishing, 9 Sept. 2015. Web.

Henein, Maryam. “The Future of Chocolate: Will It Turn GMO?” Truthout. Truth Out, 26 Mar. 2013. Web.

M. E. Giana, W. B. Russell, and A.J W. Jonathan. “The Rise of Inconspicuous Consumption.” Journal of Marketing Management. 31 (2015): 807-826. Print.

Martín, María Á, Ana B. G. Serrano, Sonia Ramos, María I. Pulido, Laura Bravo, and Luis Goya. “Cocoa Flavonoids Up-Regulate Antioxidant Enzyme Activity Via the Erk1/2 Pathway to Protect against Oxidative Stress-Induced Apoptosis in Hepg2 Cells.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 21.3 (2010): 196-205. Print.

Oracz, J, E Nebesny, and D Zyzelewicz. “Changes in the Flavan-3-Ols, Anthocyanins, and Flavanols Composition of Cocoa Beans of Different Theobroma Cacao L. Groups Affected by Roasting Conditions.” European Food Research and Technology. 241.5 (2015): 663-681. Print.

Philpott, Tom. “Quinoa: Good, Evil, or Just Really Complicated?” Mother Jones. Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress, 25 Jan. 2013. Web. 11 May 2016.

Pigott, Sudi. “The New Chocolate Elite – FT.com.” Financial Times. The Financial Times, 19 Mar. 2009. Web. 11 May 2016.

Ploetz, RC. “Cacao Diseases: Important Threats to Chocolate Production Worldwide.” Phytopathology. 97.12 (2007): 1634-9. Print.

 Ramanujan, Krishna. “Ezra Update: Cornellian Takes Skills to Madagascar’s Chocolate Industry.” Ezra Update: Cornellian Takes Skills to Madagascar’s Chocolate Industry. Cornell University, 2009. Web. 11 May 2016.
Reddy, Mergen. Terblanche, Nic “How Not to Extend Your Luxury Brand.” Harvard Business Review Sept. 2005: n. pag. Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 01 Dec. 2005. Web. 11 May 2016.

 

Schilling, Frederick. “Cacao, Its Diversity and Place in Modern Marketing.” CACAO (n.d.): n. pag. Living Tree Community. Big Tree Farms and Amma Chocolate, 2009. Web.

Vázquez-Ovando, JA, F Molina-Freaner, J Nuñez-Farfán, I Ovando-Medina, and M Salvador-Figueroa. “Genetic Identification of Theobroma Cacao L. Trees with High Criollo Ancestry in Soconusco, Chiapas, Mexico.” Genetics and Molecular Research : Gmr. 13.4 (2014): 10404-14. Print.

W. Pam. “Re-Discovery of Ancient Cocoa in Madagascar Became an Impetus for the HCP |.” Heirloom Cacao Preservation. Hcpcacao.org, 20 Dec. 2015. Web. 11 May 2016.

Wielgoss, A, Y Clough, T Tscharntke, B Fiala, and A Rumede. “A Minor Pest Reduces Yield Losses by a Major Pest: Plant-Mediated Herbivore Interactions in Indonesian Cacao.” Journal of Applied Ecology. 49.2 (2012): 465-473. Print.

Erotic Rebranding

While visiting the grocery store, an image/idea started to poke its way into my consciousness.

Did I really just see a poster advertising XXL condoms in the Freezer section?

So I pushed my buggy of groceries back over to the ice cream section, and there it was.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 10.36.22 AM
A very confusing Magnum Ice Cream Ad

At the time, I had no idea that Magnum is a European luxury brand ice cream bar and with production worldwide, as subsidiaries of Unilever. Possibly being in the target demographic of Unilever, I understand sexual innuendo is gimmick for Magnum ice cream bar marketing from the outset, as this late 1990’s TV ad shows.

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In Multiples of Six. Give In To It.

 

There is no doubt in my mind what Unilever is up to with Magnum’s brand re-launch. Earlier iterations of the Magnum brand of Belgian chocolate ice cream bar in Europe usually featured an attractive actress in the act of placing the ice cream bar into her mouth. They still do this!

Now we are growing accustomed to a brand associating masturbation and chocolate coated ice cream bars? Pretty boring when viewed in that context. Is masturbation sex? Is it a gimmick to sell ice cream-masturbation fantasies to a species wired to reproduce?

The days of selling to narcissistic or crazy women, or the men in the lives of narcissistic crazy women, are long past. They’ve seen stereotyping middle class white women as unreliable citizens (though reliable consumers) or careless housekeepers with a bone to pick with men, and raised it.

The nerve of these marketers, offering a pleasure experience with a sexualized ice cream.

Sex sells. Solo sex sells. Innuendo in multiples of six.

It is annoying.

The video for the India market that follows, is somewhat tame of the entire line of Magnum brand advertisements, at least until the end.

Magnum’s marketing team also produced a gender-nonconforming video ad.

 

Clearly, the implications are interesting, and watching the video while understanding that image will always rule over print, this screen grab of the female silhouette in a high rise (at 43 seconds in) biting into the ice cream bar which is not exactly a g-rated silhouette in relation to the woman. But I ask myself why that particular moment caught my attention.

Just what is this Magnum ice cream branding episode doing to me? Is that their intent, to make us think about sex, and that their ice cream bar is a perfect swap-in for the imperfect love life?

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 11.20.45 AM

The non-conforming do get a bite of the chocolate covered ice cream bar. The cis-gender female are in a submissive role above, and framed with the shag rug – the ad clearly indicates it is not the size that matters for the magnum mini (though size is a good thing as we learned with other size of their ice cream bars). So the mini-lover just ate all six at once, and now chews her thumb: eyes-shut mid-pose in a rug-framed gastronomic chocolate coating induced ecstasy. It seems the Magnum marketing team do have a tendency to place a male dominant-female submissive according to one analysis. Even a small ice cream can dominate an incapacitated (dominated by pleasure) female.

While researching, it became clear that the brand re-launch campaign for Magnum has been worldwide over a few years now. The South Asian launches are relatively tamed, but still have a faintly sexualized framework with a crowd sourced selfie contest: show pleasure while biting on the ice cream bar for a chance to have a selfie with Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 11.14.47 AM

The East Asian campaign roll-outs are clearly over the top with sexual connotations and not just innuendo. The campaign involved bloggers crowd-sourcing for a Magnum contest to win a night in a chocolate scented luxury hotel suite.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 7.59.50 PM.png

One even featured a well-built young man waiting in the bathroom, on their contest post.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 7.59.24 PM

Between the brand’s gold balloons and all that entails, the innuendo ranges from subtle to blatant. This is marketing “pleasure”, some of it shared, but most of all, we consumers become adjusted to the laissez-faire with the images and the innuendo. Not only that, but it changes us.

So instead of going on and on with an anti-structural bother about it, I figured out that one route to hijacking the inevitable sellers channeling of sex, narcissism and anxiety into sales, chocolate might be sold based on intellectual and scholarly knowledge of eros, inviting chocolate lovers to engage with the classics. What could be sexier than the words of the worlds greatest love poet, Sappho of Lesbos ?

By reworking erotic associations for chocolate, and raising the intellectual engagement for buying brains with my images of chocolate, I’d try refraining from appealing to basic instinct (sex) or status hierarchy  (power and standing) and avoid  commoditizing, fetishizing, infantilizing , size-izing, and sexualizing any people groups or outliers based on stereotyped assumptions. I have my own ideas about what constitutes boiling it down to basics while baking in some interesting pursuits towards the meaning of Eros, aka Desire.

γλυκυπικρον

GOLD  EROS  METADATA ATTRIBUTION LICENSE Chocolate02
“SweetBitter”

I chose the above image from a CC 3.0 image in Wikipedia because it is very high quality and represents chocolate both in mid-production and as finished product. Showing the chocolate in late stages of production process will not abstract things, which might happen with pictures of a Cacao pod, or dried cacao seeds or nibs. I also carefully chose the color of the fonts and programmed 3 font colors. This color is called Vegas (RGB 197-179-88) and of all of the possible colors tried, none worked. So I thought about it and brought out the gold font for it.

Glukupikron = Sweetbitter.

I may not have the money for a global marketing blitz, and I can only sell an intellect tinged with the classics.

(Addendum: I bought a 3 pack of White Chocolate Magnum Ice Cream Bars. As I ate the 1st bar, it reminded me of a white chocolate Easter bunny, certainly it was no tastier – but I liked it anyway. I also realized while eating the bars, that there was nothing remotely sexual about it, and that Unilever’s marketing have been trolling consumers with truly sleazy sexual innuendo, and for their U.S. rollout, using the Magnum condom association to drag us over to take a closer look. What could possibly be more jaded?)

Bibliography

Carson, Anne. Eros the Bittersweet: An Essay. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1986. Print.

Cullhed, Anders. Pangs of Love and Longing: Configurations of Desire in Premodern Literature. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Pub, 2013. Print.

DiPardo, Michelle. “Magnum Continues to Push Decadence with New Campaign.” Marketing Magazine Magnum Continues to Push Decadence with New Campaign Comments. Rogers Digital Media, 13 July 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://www.marketingmag.ca/brands/magnum-continues-to-push-decadence-with-new-campaign-151922&gt;.

Nichols, JamesMichael. “Magnum Launches ‘Be True To Your Pleasure’ Campaign Featuring Gender-Nonconforming Individuals.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 May 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/27/magnum-gender-nonconforming_n_7452430.html&gt;.

Pradeep, A K. The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2010. Print.

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

 

 

 

Engineering Sustainable Pleasures: Cacao, Environmentalism, and Toblerone

“[Sustainability:] It’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, it’s the profitable thing to do.”

— L. Hunter Lovins, founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions

The world of cacao production is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of sustainable yet profitable agricultural practices. Known as a particularly finicky species, cultivators of the Theobroma cacao have not only had to get creative in their farming practices in order to produce a sustainable and profitable yield of crops under less-than-ideal growing conditions, but are now feeling the brunt of climate change effects. With the list of ‘double-edged’ compensating agricultural controls (such as plantation-style (or bulk growing) farming, broad-spectrum pesticides, fertilizers, and deforestation techniques) used to equalize the rapidly changing environmental conditions continuing to grow (Martin, 2016), environmental best practices are anything but widespread in cacao producing regions. Recognizing the inseparability of sustainable agricultural and environmental practices and the financial security of cacao farmers, international chocolate companies are beginning to step-up to the social responsibility plate and take action to ensure the long-term success of the cacao supply chain in the global marketplace. Partnering with the Ivorian government’s Conseil du Café Cacao (CCC) and  non-governmental organizations such as CARE International and Cocoa Life in 2013, Mondelēz International, Inc. – home of multi-billion dollar chocolate brands such as Toblerone and Cadbury – launched a virtuous consumership initiative to “help farmers increase sustainable cocoa production and create thriving communities in Côte d’Ivoire” (Mondelēz International, 2013, para. 1).

What’s come to be known as “the world’s most successful triangle” (Meyer, 2015), Jean Tobler’s iconic, pyramid-shaped chocolate bar debuted in 1899, Switzerland, to instant consumer success, and has continued to be on the forefront of cutting-edge product marketing and consumer trends:

Toblerone has always been a unique product in terms of its shape and history. However, you can only be successful in the long term if you nurture brand values…anticipate trends…invest in the brand and understand that sustainability is a part of the brand. We also have to prove this year for year with Toblerone. And in the end this is the basis for our success. (Meyer, 2015, para. 5)

Despite the fact that even today, every single Toblerone bar exported throughout the world is still manufactured from the company’s single chocolate factory in Bern-Brünnen, Switzerland, the company’s virtuous consumership marketing strategy for increased environmental sustainability has had global reach with consumers looking to reduce their ecological footprint. In a 2008 advertisement released by Toblerone, the company’s marketing team rather ingeniously employed the bar’s legendary triangular packaging and similarly unique notched chocolate contents to seamlessly integrate with a classically engineered concrete bike rack.

toblerone_ad5jpg
(Toblerone Bike Rack, 2008)

Stationed in front of a bright green grassy plot outside a somewhat nondescript yet modern building of complementary identity/branding colors, the Toblerone bike rack  visually pops in the advertisement’s foreground, but fits comfortably and warmly within its setting. With its close framing, it’s difficult to get a true sense for the exact geographical location of the scene, but one could surmise it plays to a relatively affluent, modern and present-day, progressive and caucasian audience in Europe or North America, with the very presence of the bike rack playing to a consumer with a social conscience around sustainable transportation. The seamless incorporation of the Toblerone design to horizontally bleed into the bike rack’s actual functional design seems to directly lobby for the consumer to ‘support a company that supports sustainable environmental practices.’ With the bike slots both harnessing the likeness of the chocolate bar itself and bursting out directly from the chocolate packaging, Toblerone appears to be literally grafting its brand values via its branding to the larger conversation around climate change and aligning itself with the growing trend of sustainability (Martin, 2016) in cacao production.

It was with and in the same spirit of Toblerone’s 2008 environmentalist bike rack advertisement that the below chocolate advertisement was created.

SP-Toblerone-Solar-Farm

In looking to harness the same visual, stylistic, and marketing aims of Toblerone’s bike rack advert, the above scene depicts a farm utilizing solar panels, closely integrating and grafting the company’s packaging design into the functional element of the solar panels. Playing again on complementary branding colors of the red barn and lush green grass, the Toblerone tube visually pops in the advertisement’s layout, but fits comfortably and warmly within its setting. Also targeted toward a present-day, progressive audience, this ad sets itself more rurally, directly addressing both a farming/agricultural constituency, as well as the socially conscious consumer aiming to reduce their environmental footprint. Horizontally integrating the design of the product into the design of the solar panel also directly correlates Toblerone brand values via its branding to the larger conversation around climate change; the narrative urging the consumer to directly ‘invest in a company that invests in the planet.’

Never a stranger to thinking and thriving ‘outside the box’ since 1899, Toblerone and its parent company appear to be getting-in on the ground floor of the growing environmental sustainability and virtuous consumership trends in cacao, and their message is not only landing with the consumer, but having a widespread impact on the communities it was intended to aid: Mondelēz International’s February 2016 report on its Cocoa Life sustainability program shows a reach across “six cocoa-growing origins…Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, India and Brazil…[totaling] 76,700 farmers in over 795 communities…[with] farmers’ incomes tripl[ing] since 2009…[and] cocoa yield[s] increased [by] 37 percent” (Mondelēz International, 2016, para. 1-2).

Bibliography:

Martin, C. D. (2016, February). Lecture 4: Sugar and cacao. E-119: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Lecture conducted from Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Meyer, D. (2015, February 26). The world’s most successful triangle. Retrieved from http://www.procarton.com/worlds-successful-triangle/

Mondelēz International. (2013). Mondelēz international launches cocoa life sustainability program in côte d’ivoire [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.mondelezinternational.com/Newsroom/Multimedia-Releases/Mondelez-International-Launches-Cocoa-Life-Sustainability-Program-in-Cote-dIvoire

Mondelēz International. (2016). Mondelēz international reports strong progress in cocoa life sustainability program [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.mynewsdesk.com/dk/mondelez-danmark/pressreleases/mondelez-international-reports-strong-progress-in-cocoa-life-sustainability-program-1324940

Toblerone. (2008). Toblerone Bike Rack [Online image]. Retrieved from http://ffffound.com/image/b74bb4a5230276175e6c54c83e9e0d4c25b9f722

Toblerone [Toblerone]. (2016, February 26). ‘Break the boundaries of your world’ #Allegiant [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Toblerone/status/703157570014294016/photo/1

WestportWiki. (2013). Toblerone bars [Online image]. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Toblerone_Bars.jpg

What Happens when Hipsters Make Chocolate?

In 2010, Mark Grief wrote an article for the New York Times investigating the contemporary hipster[1]. He questioned the rationale behind the lack of self-identifying hipsters, and the origin of the term hipster as an insult. Ultimately, he made two important discoveries. First that the word hipster does not necessarily refer to the “couch-surfing, old-clothes-wearing” youths who appear most authentically hipster. Instead, the term often refers to a collective group of young, trendy, hypercritical people. Second, that hipsters are dependent on their knowledge. According to Grief, “hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility”, implying that outlandish knowledge of a specific craft is one of the hipster’s most valuable tools[2].

So why is this relevant to Chocolate? Well, in the past decade, a few hipsters have entered into the world of chocolate making. However, in two cases, these hipsters are using their knowledge to churn out incredibly defensible small batch bars. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you The Mast Brothers and the Dick and Taylor chocolate companies. Since their conception, both have become incredibly popular as a result of marketing and motive, not necessarily taste. Ultimately, however, the impact of their popularity has been positive. The companies have pioneered and motivated a new subculture within chocolate producers—attracting a new demographic to artisan chocolate makers— as well as continue to promote fair trade practices, localized processing, and ethical labor standards.

Subculture is a complicated topic to define among chocolate makers. It is inextricably linked to style, yet it is more complicated than pure aesthetics. According to Dick Hebdige, subculture is made up of “expressive forms and rituals of subordinate groups”[3]. For the purpose of this piece, subculture is the stylistic expressions and rituals of the chocolate maker. More simply, it is how the chocolate maker processes, markets, and sells their chocolate. In order to evaluate how these two chocolate makers have developed and pioneered a new subculture, it is pertinent to evaluate the chocolate makers themselves.

Mast brothers pictureLet’s first observe the Mast Brothers. The most obvious of the brother’s appearance is their beards. Grouped with the newsboy cap, large eyeglasses, and a brick backdrop in their workshop in Brooklyn—these stylistic choices categorize the Mast Brothers as being part of hipster culture. Pictured right is the second image on Google when you search for “hipster”. See the resemblance?hipsters

Next, we have Adam Dick and Richard Taylor. Similarly to the Mast Brothers, they both have a noticeable amount of facial hair, and big eyeglasses. Adam wears a stocking cap, but instead of a white double-breasted chef jacket or casual button down, they both are wearing plaid flannel shirts. Interestingly, both the Mast Brothers and Dick and Taylor look quite similar in outward appearance. Not to mention they both share a similar interest in chocolate.

dickandtaylor1Chocolate is their craft. However, while outward appearances and interest in the craft of chocolate making do not put their chocolate on par with chocolate makers like Scharffen Berger and Rogue Chocolate, their participation in hipster culture has made them wildly successful within the media. To heavy media users like the population of hipster subculture, social media is a channel in which to promote foods—and in many cases, fair trade, agriculturally sustainable foods. I mentioned earlier that the emergence of hipster artisans is playing a positive role in the chocolate industry. Well, here is where things get interesting.

Cacao beans are a very similar commodity to coffee beans. Both are often grouped with buzzwords like “sourcing”, “fair trade”, and “labor standards” as a result of raised awareness of low agricultural labor standards in West Africa and other high cacao production areas. Increased globalization has disconnected consumers from their food by hiding the process that leads to the final product. Large coffee companies such as Kraft do not source their beans through fair trade purchases[4]. Instead, the largest coffee company in the world continues to exploit farmers and agricultural laborers[5]. However, the hipster culture began to promote the fair-trade label in the early 2000s. Since then, support for fair-trade coffee has increased substantially[6].

The chocolate industry has seen similar results. The small batch companies like Mast Brothers and Dick and Taylor initially appeal to a niche audience, but with growing social media, their impact on fair-trade and labor standards of cacao farmers is substantial. Cacao will soon catch up to coffee with regard to popularity of fair-trade products.

In an article by Cronin, McCarthy, and Collins, they analyze the hipster food-based resistance strategies against large-scale production by companies like Tyson, Kraft, and Hershey’s[7]. Within their research, they note that the two of the most prominent resistance strategies among hipsters is brand awareness and avoidances, as well as the decommodification of mass-produced goods. In other words, they avoid well-known big company brands, and substitute away from products that have been mass-produced and super-processed to “reject corporate-capitalist ‘junk food’”[8]. They look for smaller brand names and marketing that appeals not just to the brand, but to the artisanal qualities of the food product itself[9].

mast brothers chocolateThe Mast Brothers and Dick and Taylor Chocolate are aiding in bringing to chocolate a brand that is not mass-produced. In the United States, there are really only a handful of small-batch producers of chocolate, and these select few often do not market their products to a subculture or demographic that will openly discuss the product’s social and economic significance. As we look at the packaging for the Mast Brothers, it is immediately apparent that their branding isn’t all about the brand itself. The bars are marketed as pieces of art. Each hand wrapped with a different piece of paper. The paper itself, while not apparent though a photo, has the feel of old parchment from before the 20th century. The Dick and Taylor bars, while less flashy, also appear as though they are crafted as a work of art. They boast an old time sketch of a shipyard where a boat is being build. A nod to their past lives as sailboat craftsmen.Dickandtaylor chocolate

When contrasted with a large, mass-produced bar like Hershey’s, it is simple to see the difference in brand management. The localized, bean-to-bar, fair-trade bars of the two hipster companies concentrate much less on the brand, and more on the artisanal qualities of the bar. This is important when you consider the aforementioned qualities that hipsters look for when substituting away from big brands. Furthermore, the Hershey’s bar itself is almost exclusively about the brand. HersheysThe design around the bar has no artful qualities, aside from the brand there is only a dark brown background and a small caption of “milk chocolate”. Cadbury has a similar design on their candy bar. On the bar’s front, a solid color with the mega-brand’s name plastered across it. Again, the concentration is on the brand, not the craft. However, on the Cadbury bar, they print a fair trade label on the front in an attempt to hide any traces of exploitation in the companies past, present, or future. Yet, on cadburythe hipster bars, there is no stamp. The reasoning for this is that the small-batch chocolate makers work so closely with the source of their beans that they don’t need the reaffirmation on the bar itself. Both of the companies directly source their chocolate from small farms. In the case of the Mast Brothers, the two bearded chocolate makers travelled to the Dominican Republic to meet their cacao farming partners, and give them a taste of the final product. The hipster chocolate scene is far from needing a stamp that notifies chocolate enthusiasts about the source of their cacao. It is inherently recognized as a result trust built through thousands of completely hand-crafted chocolate bars.

I had mentioned toward the beginning of this piece that the taste was not the key component of their chocolate. This is for good reason. The chocolate that these hipster companies are producing are not the best in the world. Critics have reviewed the Mast Brothers and deemed their chocolate inconsistent, defective, and just plain bad[10]. Yet, their chocolate is used in restaurants like French Laundry, and other top tier establishments. What is most important with regard to these two trendy companies is their moral and ethical practices. The results may not be of the same consistent quality as Rogue Chocolate, or Amadei in Italy, but what they produce is a result of fair labor practices and a strong knowledge of cacao’s origins. Their gift to the chocolate industry is not only their product, but the messages, the new target demographic, and raised awareness. The Mast Brothers and Dick and Taylor Chocolate act as domestic beacons, hidden in hipster clothing and facial hair that help— if just a little — guide the way to a better chocolate industry.

Works Cited

[1] Greif, Mark. “The Hipster in the Mirror.” New York Times 3 (2010): 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Hebdige, Dick. “Subculture: The meaning of style.” Critical Quarterly 37.2 (1995): 120-124.

[4] Howard, Philip H. “Visualizing Fair Trade Coffee.” Michigan State University. 2011.

[5] Martin, C. 2015. “African and African American Studies 119x: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food”. Emerson Hall, Harvard University. Lecture.

[6] Featherstone, Liza. “In Brooklyn, Hipsters Sip ‘Fair Trade’ Brews.” New York Times. 2007.

[7] Cronin, James M., Mary B. McCarthy, and Alan M. Collins. “Covert distinction: how hipsters practice food-based resistance strategies in the production of identity.” Consumption Markets & Culture 17.1 (2014): 2-28.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Giller, Megan. “Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers: Why do specialty shops refuse to carry one of the best-known craft chocolate brands in the country?” Slate. March 2015.

Figures

Figure 1. http://behindthescenes.nyhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/brothers.jpg

Figure 2. http://thesocietypages.org/feminist/files/2014/07/about3.jpg

Figure 3. https://whatshotinchocolate.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/dickandtaylor1.jpg

Figure 4. http://lovelypackage.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/mast1.jpg

Figure 5. http://www.centralmarket.com/getattachment/74bf0659-bf7d-48fd-83fc-99295fc46002/Dick-Taylor-Takes-Chocolate-Back-to-Its-Roots.aspx

Figure 6. https://www.hersheys.com/images/products/3480/hershey-bars-milk-chocolate_md.png

Figure 7. http://www.homeduuka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/cadbury-dairy-milk-v2-1.jpg