Tag Archives: Children

Hershey in War, from Rations to Friendship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[3] Ibid., 239.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[14] Carruth, 779.

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

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

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

[18] Ibid., 19.

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

[20] Todeschini, 258.

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

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


Works Cited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moms and Chocolate Milk: A Century-Long Storyline

Outside of models seductively pressing squares of milk chocolate to lips with a playful look and women with dark satiny fabrics outlining their curves in the name of chocolate bars, there is another stereotype being framed for women by chocolate company advertisements that is less loud and glamorous than the sexualization in chocolate advertising, but still problematic. For more than a century, and still in the present, chocolate companies have advertised their products to mothers as nutritional food products to feed children. The role of chocolate buying as a part of motherhood has historically been portrayed to consumers through advertising once as a nutritional obligation for mothers who want to nurture their families well, and later on as a way to appease children and husbands and be the best kind of mother. These messages, while less obvious today, can still be picked up on from commercials, especially for chocolate milk, and while some advertising has moved on to include women in roles outside of motherhood, chocolate milk industries still seems to fetishize the housewife role (Martin, Lecture 7, Slide 25).

The identity of women as mothers and housewives in chocolate advertisements became this controversial way after chocolate became less of a luxury and more commonplace through improved packaging, preparing, and distributing (Martin, Lecture 7, Slide 6). Chocolate was no longer for male-dominated chocolate houses, and instead being pushed to consumers as an energy-renewing and restorative snack and household necessity (Martin, Lecture 7, Slide 25). Industrialization of chocolate manufacturing made it more available to families for buying, and it became apparent to chocolate companies that they should advertise to the mothers of children buying food for their young ones. Shortly after, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, teaching women domestic skills became extremely popular, as evidenced by cookbooks by Maria Parloa and Fannie Farmer (Martin, Brownies). As a result, chocolate companies shifted to advertising their products to women, and encouraging them to feed their children and husbands chocolate as a healthful food (Robertson, 20).

Those creating these advertisements saw housewives as their target customers and in their advertising, showed these women as the family members in charge of the domestic jobs of food shopping and feeding children, and this influences the way mothers are portrayed in a hugely domestic role in chocolate milk advertising today. One example is the TruMoo commercial below.

In this advertisement from TruMoo, the woman considering the product is cast in a specific role that is not very different from the target audience of chocolate advertising in the past century.

This shows that even today, mothers are a target audience for many chocolate drink advertisements. These commercials still appeal to the concerned emotions mothers have for the health of their families. Boasting fortifying vitamins and energetic properties, chocolate milk commercials tell moms that they should feed their children chocolate milk if they have their health in mind. In these advertisements, young ones look to moms with wide, approving, grins while swirling Hershey’s and Nesquik. The companies are marketing children’s approval alongside the healthful benefits of the products vitamins and minerals. The role women play in grocery stores, pushing carts, and making important decisions about brands, health, and prices is a historic and sexist storyline women which chocolate companies have chosen to use.  As ultimate grocery decision-maker, women in these commercials do not have jobs or interests or lives outside of the light we see them in, a strict domestic, housewife sort of role. Ultimately, the TruMoo commercial mother listens to “the voice of reason” angelic advice and decides on TruMoo. Her son’s satisfaction suggests to women (and their children) that buying TruMoo makes women nurturing and fun moms.

An alternative I’d like to see? Dads shopping. Moms and dads shopping together. Two moms shopping together. Grandpas and grandmas and uncles and aunts shopping. I’ve included an example of a response to all of the shopping moms are doing in chocolate milk advertisements. In it, parents visit the grocery store together alongside their child, and both have a say in the approval and denial of supermarket products.


Besides the unbridled obsession with mothers that chocolate milk advertisements seem to have, what this response advertisement also addresses is the manipulative way the commercials portray chocolate milk as a wholesome treat for growing kids. Today, advertisements like the TruMoo one included in this post boast vitamins, minerals, and other dietary bonuses. Like Rowntree’s adverts from almost a century ago, TruMoo and other chocolate milk advertisers appeal to moms’ concern for the health and nutrition of her family. It is an effective marketing ploy, but duplicitous, indeed: a glass of chocolate milk can have more sugar than a can of soda (Martin, Lecture 9, Slide 23).

It also is an old technique of chocolate companies. Rowntree cocoa sold itself to mothers as “more bone and muscle-building than ordinary cocoa” (Robertson, 21). The company aimed to sell to mothers in this manipulative way, deciding that women were the “purchasing agent” they had to win over by tapping into their desires to nurture their families and husbands (Robertson, 20). This sounds cringy and sexist, but what TruMoo and other chocolate milk sellers are campaigning with the “health benefits” in their own products, combined with the supermarket-mom scene is not far at all from Rowntree’s manipulative principles. My advertisement counteracts this message by selling the chocolate as a fun and special occasion treat, which is still enjoyable, instead of as a nutritional form of sustenance, which sugary chocolate cannot be when eaten in access.

One way these gendered advertisements are being changed, but not necessarily for the good, is through Hershey’s recent advertisement which includes a father and his daughter enjoying chocolate together. While this advertisement is a shift from chocolate marketing normally aimed toward women and children, and instead toward men (specifically dads!) and their kids, it still does so in a way that shows dad, who is absorbed in Skype conference calls and too busy to leave work to spend time with his eager daugher, as the breadwinner. The man in this commercial never leaves his house to grocery shop for Hershey’s, and instead his daughter purchases chocolate for the two to share. While this advertisement refrains from the traditional chocolate advertisement portrayal of women as the housewives and domestic gurus, its storyline with a father still casts the man as the working parent. He is completely uninvolved in the nutritional and health concerns for his daughter in his role as her parent, like a mother in so many chocolate commercials might.

In an age where the awareness of these advertising messages and the roles in which women are portrayed are scrutinized and considered more than in Rowntree’s advertising days, it is still a shame to think of the sexist ideologies in chocolate commercials like TruMoo’s and Hershey’s. And while the examples of women fetishized in housewife roles and men as breadwinners is less conspicuous, it is absolutely prevalent and problematic.


Works Cited:

Martin, Carla. Lecture 9.

Martin, Carla. Lecture 7.

Martin, Carla. 2016. “Brownies: The History of A Classic American Dessert.” US History Scene. http://ushistoryscene.com/article/brownies/. Accessed 4 April 2016

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

Changing Symbols of Chocolate

Chocolate as a Symbol

Over the years, chocolate has drastically changed, in terms of preparation style, taste, who it is consumed by, etc… Chocolate is no longer seen only as a food of the elite, but the variability of chocolate  has allowed for it to become a ubiquitous and accessible treat to many. The evolution of chocolate has gone through many stages, however, it has always served as a political, social and economic symbol in society . This is evident through the uses of chocolate in the Aztec Empire, the Industrial Revolution and post world war II uses.


Chocolate in the Aztec Empire

Going back to the times of the Aztec Empire we already see politically charged moves motivated by cacao. Focusing on the “Aztec conquest taking place during the reign of Ahuitzotl,” we can see their motives were to economically driven.(coe aspaceout-1.gifnd coe71) This conquest was to obtain the land of “Xoconochoco… already famed for the high production and top quality of its cacao.”(71)  Cacao held great economic power in the Aztec empire which motivated the conquest of land. Already, we can see that the Aztecs revered cacao economically. Cacao also served as political and social symbol for this empire as well. This is evident by those who consumed chocolate or cacao. “The Aztecs considered chocolate a far more desirable beverage, especially or warriors and the nobility.” (78) Drinking chocolate in this time period was  a symbol of nobility, signifying ones wealth and status.


photo courtesy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec_warfare


Chocolate in Europe

With the introduction of chocolate into Europe, again we see chocolate become a symbol of aristocracy. “It had been an elite drink among the copper-skinned, be feathered Mesoamericans, and it stayed that way among the white-skinned, perfumed, bewigged, overdressed royalty and nobility of Europe.” ( coe and coe, 125) As we move into the the Industrial Revolution chocolate comes to take on a different meaning and symbol. The industrial revolution is characterized by improvements in transportation, materials, machinery, etc. For chocolate, industrialization stood as a large social change, allowing chocolate for the masses. With the popularization of chocolate amongst the masses, chocolate served as a symbol of economic efficiency. Moving along in history, the establishment of the companies like Cadbury, Fry’s and Rowntree, “had a social conscience in the midst of all this money making, unlike many Victorian captains of industry.” This had important social implications, as these companies because branded and known for “ factories with adequate housing for their workers, even  a dining room and reading room.” (245) Not only was this effective on a local scale but on a global scale. “The Fry family was deeply distressed by the wretched working conditions, approaching slaver, which then prevailed on the plantations of Portuguese West Africa and they boycotted cacao from those parts until the situation improved.” (245) In these times we can see that chocolate has held a special place in society. It was once for the elite and then it was accessible to everyone. It had been a symbol of wealth and eventually through the social conscientiousness of certain brands became a moral symbol.

This is one of Fry’s chocolate bar covers. The Fry company was known for their quaker and moralistic ways. 

photo courtesy of: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/topcat_angel/2343618575/


Chocolate Post World War II

In 1948-1949, Post World War II diplomatic relations among countries were tarnished. Germany was split up into Eastern and Western zones. The West was divided by France, Britain and the U.S while the East was controlled by the Soviet.  Tensions soon began to grow between the Soviet, it the East, and the Allies, who were in the West. The Soviet formed a blockade allowing no supplies to the west, even thought the roads were blocked, the Allies thought of “supplying the cities with supplies by air.” (The Candy Bomber) Though the soviet was blockading the West, these airlifts helped prove the blockade useless. One of the Airlift pilots, Halvorsen,  wanted to do more, as he saw children on the East, excited by the idea of candy. Though these relations between the East and West were rocky, one pilot wanted to do more, to make a diplomatic gesture. In the case of Operation Little Viddles, chocolate and candy was the mending power that brought these zones to better terms. “Nearly overnight, Halvorsen became the face of the Berlin Airlift and a symbol of American goodwill.” (Volk). In this instance, it is clear that the gesture of providing these kids with chocolate was a political and diplomatic move, trying to better the relationships between the East and West of Germany, while also easing the relationship with Germany and the U.S.

This photo shows the excitement children had over candy and chocolate. For them to receive candy from the Operation Little Viddle was a huge deal for them. 

photo courtesy: http://jackiewhiting.net/AP/ColdWar/BerAirlift.htm

Chocolate over the years has gone through many alterations.  In different cultures, chocolate has served as different types of political, economic and social symbols. In the Aztec empire chocolate was used to signify wealth and nobility. This symbol stayed the same as chocolate traveled to Europe. Through the industrial revolution and the Victorian age, chocolate and certain brands came to symbolize morality. In post War War II chocolate and candy were important for symbolizing a diplomatic gesture. Chocolate is always changing and varying, however, it always finds its place in society


Works Cited

Coe, Sophie Dobzhansky, and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Vol. 29. London: Thames and Hudson, 2007.

Volk, Greg. “How One Pilot’s Sweet Tooth Helped Defeat Communism.” Mental Floss. N.p., 13 June 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2016

“The Berlin Candy Bomber.” The Berlin Candy Bomber. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.


Facilitating Change: Promoting Social Justice through Consumer Initiative in the Chocolate Industry

Chocolate has been revered in America and all over the world for centuries. From the presumed invention by the ancient Olmec civilization (Coe 35) to the present-day global market, the demand for chocolate is ever-increasing. Despite the almost universal love for this sweet treat, made from the beans of the cacao tree, most people remain unaware of the complex issues that exist throughout the industry. The cacao tree is notoriously difficult to grow, “refusing to bear fruit outside a band of 20 degrees north and 20 degrees south of the Equator” and demanding very specific growing conditions (Coe 19). But putting aside the many logistical and environmental issues faced by cacao farmers, whose livelihood depends upon the successful cultivation of cacao, there are also more sinister issues that affect farmers, and in turn, threaten the availability and quality of chocolate as we know it. Corruption throughout the supply chain and by the governments of the countries that grow cacao has led to the extreme poverty of many cacao farmers, despite initiatives seemingly introduced to combat these problems, and has resulted in the trafficking of and dependence upon child labor, gender inequality, the interference of expensive cooperatives that often take profits from the farmers while making it harder for them to compete in the marketplace, and ultimately, lower quality beans being produced. Though there is no easy fix for the social injustice and numerous ethical problems, we as consumers can help facilitate industry change by spreading knowledge about these atrocities and making educated purchasing decisions, in addition to committing to become more mindful of the origins of our food.

Children working with cacao. Attribution: Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Children harvesting cacao. Attribution: Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons
Evidence of child trafficking and slavery in the cacao industry began to emerge in the 1990s, and by the 2000s it was beginning to get noticed by the public. “Traffickers preyed on children at bus stops in Mali, promising riches on cocoa farms in Cote d’Ivoire. Once children got to the farm, they survived on little food, little or no pay and endured regular beatings. There were no chains and no irons, but, unable to leave their place of work, they were effectively slaves, harvesting the beans that were the key ingredient for chocolate” (Ryan, 44). Children were found to be doing dangerous tasks, using harmful chemicals and machetes without being afforded any training or protection, often resulting in, “injury and sickness, musculoskeletal disorders, sprains, lacerations, fractures, eye injuries, rashes, and respiratory irritation” (Martin). In 2009, a study conducted by Tulane University found that, “more than 800,000 children in Ghana had worked on cocoa-related activities in the previous twelve months,” (Ryan, 49). However, an important distinction to note is that many of the children were found not to be trafficked slaves but children working on family farms and plantations, contributing to the livelihood and economic success of their families and communities. This is often a cultural norm for many underdeveloped regions where poverty is a reality, and where there is no extra money to hire laborers to do the work. In addition to child labor, there is the issue of gender discrimination. Women in Ghana, “receive lower incomes than men, with many below the local poverty line or minimum wage” (Barrientos), despite the fact that women were found to be critical in caring for the early crops, and in the processes of fermenting and drying the cacao beans. “Within the chocolate industry these activities [performed by women] are seen as critical for ensuring productivity and quality” of the cacao (Barrientos). In an attempt to find a solution to some of these problems that result in injustice on the farming end of the supply chain, Gwendolyn Mikell theorizes that policies are needed, “that explicitly recognize that rural vibrancy contributes to national stability” by working to lessen the gap between the rural and the urban, “allowing local agricultural organizations to address local socio-economic needs as well as facilitate national economic linkages”, encouraging a gender-balanced labor force through policy, and depending more heavily on domestic instead of imported food (253). This proposed solution, though admirable, still begs the question, how do we encourage these policies that connect the different segments of the chocolate production industry in a way that does not exploit anyone, and provides economic opportunity for all? Do we, as consumers, even have any power to encourage such policy implementations, so far removed from the beginning of the process? Isn’t it those in power who must ultimately choose to make these changes, at their own economic expense, for the sake of humanity?

The Fair Trade credential was offered as a solution to help farmers receive fair prices, but instead has appeared to often contribute to the problem, creating another layer of middlemen in the form of cooperatives that take profits from farmers via large membership fees, and make it even more difficult for small farms who cannot afford membership to compete. The nonprofit organization’s website claims that, “Fair Trade goods are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated”, and purchasing fair trade products has become a popular way for customers to feel good, believing they are helping to deliver a solution to rural poverty through their purchasing decisions. The reality, however, is much different. “Countries ranked by the World Bank as upper middle-income account for 54% of producer organisations having received Fair Trade certification against 21% in the case of low-income countries. As for least developed countries, they only account for 13.5% of effective certification demand. Whatever definition of poverty and economic vulnerability is used, the conclusion is the same: Fair Trade tends to exclude the poorest countries” (Samba Sylla). Finally, most consumers assume that Fair Trade beans are of a higher quality, when the reality is that the best beans fetch the highest prices as specialty beans, and therefore it is the lesser quality beans that end up certified as Fair Trade (Nolan, Sekulovic, Rao).

Click here to watch the Fair Trade Shell Game.

Though many of these issues have gained some backseat media attention for decades, they are still not widely known to the majority of American consumers. As we have shifted from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, many people are simply overloaded with too much information. “According to a 2011 study, on a typical day, we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information, five times as much as we did in 1986”, despite the fact that, “the processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited” (Levitin). It is therefore reasonable to assume that things that are farthest removed from us personally will garner the least amount of our attention. Many Americans do not even know how chocolate is made, let alone are familiar thumbSurveywith industry issues, and have become complacent about the origins of our food. In an attempt to gather some basic information about how much my contemporaries know about the chocolate industry, I created and posted a Chocolate Survey on social media, inviting my chocolate-loving friends to participate. Of the 24 respondents, 50% claimed to know how chocolate was made, while only 37.5% were aware of any production problems or ethical dilemmas within the chocolate industry. It is also worth noting that 75% of respondents would willingly pay more for chocolate if they had knowledge that farmers were not being fairly compensated and that higher prices were a solution to this issue. Most people, at the core, want to do the right thing.

Another barrier to becoming an informed consumer is the difficulty of extracting information about our food. Even consumers who are aware of the problems that exist in the food supply chain will have an incredibly difficult, and often unsuccessful, time finding out where their food comes from, even if they make the attempt. I reached out to a popular Connecticut chocolate company that was a staple in my childhood, to inquire as to how much they knew about the production and origin of their beans. Though the company representative was polite and forthcoming with a response, it was vague and indicated that while most of their beans came from West Africa and Indonesia, the specifics depended on “type” and constituted proprietary information, though I was assured that their farms did not accept beans derived under abusive or illegal conditions. I was also sent a link to a video about how chocolate is made, but it was a generic video that did not provide information about the beans their company purchases. When a company claims the origin of their product is “proprietary”, it creates another unfortunate roadblock for consumers who are interested in and actively attempting to make informed purchasing decisions.

It can be frustrating for the enlightened consumer to determine how to best avoid contributing to these complex problems in our food supply chain, but there are productive steps in the right direction that may be taken. According to journalist Orla Ryan, “consumers increasingly want to know where their products come from and understandably don’t want to buy goods made by children. But, this problem is too complex to solve with a simple consumer initiative… child labour is an economic problem. Solve the poverty and you solve the child labour problem” (54). However, it is not necessarily true that consumer initiatives cannot solve complex problems in big industries; McDonald’s discontinuation of of the use of ammonium hydroxide in its hamburgers, in response to the “pink slime” uproar by consumers, is one example (Johnson). In both cases, and in most cases, economics and greed are at the root of these issues. Though there is obvious risk in boycotting product from nations where underpaid farmers rely on what little wages they receive in order to survive, putting consumer pressure on some of the big companies may be necessary to induce the change that will eventually better serve all cacao farmers in the future. Though the Harkin-Engel Protocol, “an international agreement aimed at ending the worst forms of child labor” (Martin), was signed in 2001, fifteen years later it is unclear if it has resulted in any change at all. It is unlikely that Big Industry will make any changes resulting in less profit for them unless they are left without a choice, which can only come about with pressure from consumers. Supporting organizations who have taken on this challenge is one thing that can be done. Concerned consumers should consider joining the campaigns of organizations such as Anti-Slavery International, who are fighting for the end of child labor use in the cacao industry. Gathering friends and peers together and hosting a screening of “The Dark Side of Chocolate” is one way to make these issues known to others, as suggested by the International Labor Rights Forum. Social media is also a very effective method for promulgating information. Sharing articles and data about the issues facing the chocolate industry on Facebook, Twitter, and other networking sites is a good way to ensure awareness of these critically important matters.

An example of a tool designed for circulation on popular social media sites, in an attempt to bring attention to the issues facing Chocolate
An example of a tool designed for circulation on popular social media sites, in an attempt to bring attention to the issues facing Chocolate

Though not always effective, consumer boycotts can also be successful if executed strategically by people committed to following through. Harvard Business Review describes the strategies undertaken by successful boycotters who have created industry change through their initiatives. Consumer passion is the first necessary ingredient, “the main driver being moral outrage” (Diermeier). “The cost of participation must be low” (Diermeier), which is why successful activists will often choose one particular offending company to boycott, enabling the public to easily participate. The issues should also be easy for the general public to understand and follow, and the successful involvement of the media is the final critical ingredient in a successful boycott (Diermeier).

Another thing the concerned consumer can do is strive to seek out small, ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate companies that have a direct connection to the farmers who grow their beans, keeping in mind that there will likely be a higher cost associated with doing business with a small company trying to compete with the large industry players. In a Q & A session with the founders of Rogue Chocolatier, Colin Gasko explained that he can’t ever know for certain when his next batch of beans will arrive due to the market competition; that even if he has a relationship with a particular farmer, he could never ask that farmer to do business with him if it would be in the best interest of the farmer to do business with a company offering a higher wage that can better support the farmer and his family. Informed and concerned consumers should be willing to pay a high price to reward small companies for doing what they can to combat these numerous issues in the chocolate industry. Additionally, artisan chocolate companies are striving to bring back the nuances and deep flavors of the beans that have been lost due to industrialization. Large industrialized companies are more concerned about consistency than quality, as they are selling a brand and want their product to always taste the same, even if it’s always sub par. “The artisans do something very different. The artisans are much more attune to the flavor profile of each individual batch of beans. So they’re working on a small scale because they’re working with batches from one farm, one plantation, or a cooperative, fine-tuning the chocolate to bring out the best flavor of that bean” (Leissle).

Click here to get a glimpse of the Rogue Chocolatier operations when they were starting out in Minneapolis, courtesy of Martha Stewart

There is no simple answer that will address and correct the many complex social justice and ethical issues that affect the chocolate industry. Poverty-stricken farmers deserve to earn not only a liveable wage but a profit, selling the cacao beans that fetch billions of dollars in revenue each year for those further up the supply chain. It is only by becoming and staying informed of these issues, spreading knowledge to others, participating in strategically executed boycotts, and making deliberate purchasing decisions that we can hope to make a change for the better and work toward creating a system that is fair for everyone, and one that preserves the nuances and quality of chocolate-making that has been threatened so many times by chocolate-making on an industrial scale. It is the decision of every consumer to become part of the problem or part of the solution. I choose the latter, and hope that one day companies will have no choice but to enact real changes that lead to not only to a healthier, higher quality product, but to economic freedom for all segments of this billion dollar industry.

Footnote for Maggie: Regarding the chocolate meme as a social networking tool: it is cited below as per the wikimedia image guidelines, which indicate they hold true whether or not I alter the image (which I did, with the text overlay). Also, I’m still not able to add any new tags, so I cannot add the most appropriate tags to this post.

Works Cited:

aaas119e43. Private Correspondence with chocolate company, “Inquiry and response regarding origin of company’s beans”. Email. 17 Apr. 2015.

aaas119e43. Chocolate Survey. Survey Monkey. 7 May 2015. Web.

Anti-Slavery International. Website. 11 May 2015. http://www.antislavery.org/

Barrientos, Stephanie. “Women in cocoa production: where is the gender equity?” The Guardian. 8 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 May 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/women-cocoa-production-gender-equity

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

Diermeier, Daniel. “When Do Company Boycotts Work?” Harvard Business Review. 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 May 2015. https://hbr.org/2012/08/when-do-company-boycotts-work

Fair Trade USA. Website. 11 May 2015. http://fairtradeusa.org/

Gasko, Colin. Q&A, Rogue Chocolatier. Harvard Extension School. Cambridge, MA. 6 May 2015. Classroom interview.

International Labor Rights Forum. Website. 11 May 2015. http://www.laborrights.org/

Johnson, M. Alex. “McDonald’s drops use of gooey ammonia-based ‘pink slime’ in hamburger meat.” NBC News. 31 Jan. 2012. Web. 13 May 2015. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/01/31/10282876-mcdonalds-drops-use-of-gooey-ammonia-based-pink-slime-in-hamburger-meat

Kurkdjian, O. & Co. NV (Fotostudio), photographer unknown. “Harvesting Cacao,” 1890-1917. Tropenmuseum. Wikimedia.org. Web. 12 May 2015. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACOLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Het_oogsten_van_cacao_TMnr_60022625.jpg

Leissle, Kristy, Lauren and Bob Ridgely. “Bean to Bar, a film about Artisan Chocolate.” Online Video. 2013. Indieflix.com. 10 May 2015. https://indieflix.com/indie-films/bean-to-bar-a-film-about-artisan-chocolate-36641/

Levitin, Daniel J. “Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain.” The New York Times. 9 Aug. 2014. 12 May 2015. Web. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/opinion/sunday/hit-the-reset-button-in-your-brain.html

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. “Rogue Chocolatier.” Online Video. 7 May 2015. http://www.marthastewart.com/250124/martha-tours-rogue-chocolatier-minneapolis#250124

Martin, Carla. “AAAS E-119 Lecture 8: Modern Day Slavery.” Google Slides, iSite, Slide 17. 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 11 May 2015.

Mikell, Gwendolyn. Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana. New York: Paragon House, 1989. Print.

Nolan, Markham, Dusan Sekulovic, and Sara Rao. “The Fair Trade Shell Game.” Vocativ. 20 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 May 2015. http://www.vocativ.com/video/money/business/fair-trade-shell-game/

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

Samba Sylla, Ndongo. “Fairtrade is an unjust movement that serves the rich.” The Guardian. 4 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 May 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/sep/05/fairtrade-unjust-movement-serves-rich

Unknown Photographer. Chocolate. Wikimedia. 5 May 2015. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chocolate02.jpg#file

Could South America Provide Competition to Disincentive African Child Labor?

The above video depicts what has come to be a normal occurrence in the modern day cocoa trade.  Nestlé’s Kit-Kat bars, which the creator of the video claims is one the products these African children’s harvest will contribute towards, sells in stores with a fair trade logo on the wrapper.  This wrapper, depicted below, signifies that Nestle refuses to purchase cocoa made with child labor.  While Nestle, other large manufacturers of chocolate, and the ILO claim dedication to ending and preventing the worst forms of child labor, countless cases of this labor’s involvement in the chocolate industry continue to be brought to light.  With little economic or political incentive for the local governments of the Ivory Coast and Ghana to be tough on child labor, these practices stand to be the status quo in Africa for the foreseeable future unless action is taken.

One key economic incentive could stem come from the birthplace of chocolate, South America.  Once home of the largest cacao farming operations in the world, South America is now mostly known for single-sourced artisan chocolates with Africa exporting the most bulk cacao.  However, a few large South American chocolate manufacturers have had success producing foods closely resembling those of the big five chocolate makers with locally grown cocoa.  South America is still developing as a whole, but generally tends to be better off then Africa and is much less likely to participate in child labor practices.  If companies such as Nestle, Hershey’s, and Cadbury chose to start utilizing South American farms on the basis of African child labor, a significant economic incentive could finally arise to motivate the governments of the Ivory Coast and Ghana to end child labor in the cacao farming industry.

Before searching for drastic alternatives, it is necessary to examine how bad the existing problem in Africa really is.  Documentaries such as the one shown above can often have particular agendas and rely on anecdotal evidence of the specific farms that they visited.  Carol Off gives a more thorough look into child labor practices in the African cocoa industry through her book Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side Of The World’s Most Seductive Sweet.  One of the worst forms of child labor according to the ILO is labor that prevents children from going to school.  During Off’s travels to cacao farming villages in the Ivory Coast, she found that none of the children there attended school (Off 6).  Off even discovered evidence that child slaves were being smuggled onto farms in the Ivory Coast and worked to near death (Off 121).  When large corporations such as Hershey’s and Mars caught word of the reports, they admitted that the majority of their cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast, but claimed that it was impossible for them to monitor the proceedings at all of the small farms (Off 140).  The child labor problem is truly a systemic issue throughout the largest producers of African cocoa.

Despite these findings, no good alternatives or preventative measures have been proposed.  According to Orla Ryan in her book, Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa, United States Senator Tom Harkin was inspired to create such a change after witnessing the dire state of cacao farms in the Ivory Coast (Ryan 43).  This visit sparked the Harkin-Engel protocol, an international effort to end the worst forms of child labor on these African farms.  Unfortunately, this protocol serves more as a method to raise awareness of the issue rather than providing a means to ending these practices.  The protocol included a statement that further action is needed and formed a group that would research and advise on potential ways to improve the situation.  Years after the protocol was established, the situation is not much different in Africa.

Local power in Ghana and the Ivory Coast has made it difficult for national governments to fully help out with the protocol.  The social situation in the countries has created a dynamic that allows child labor to continue its existence.  In Ghana, cocoa farming is controlled by the Asante.  The Asante are an elite group whose chiefs are very powerful at the local level.  These powerful few dominate the cocoa industry in Ghana and accumulate most of the wealth from the trade.  According to Gwendolyn Mikell in her book, Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana, these large and powerful groups would often use the weaker in society as pieces to further their influence in the state (Mikell xiii).  This leads to a fair deal of oppression on the hands of the elite in this group as they vie for power with the Ghanaian national government.

The Ivory Coast exhibits the opposite problem.  Rather than large farms being controlled by a few members of society, the Ivory Coast relies on many smaller unconnected farms to contribute to the nation’s harvest.  Unlike the Asante in Ghana, these farmers do not pose much of a threat to the national government.  In turn, the Ivory Coast does not have a strong infrastructure of oversight of the nation’s various cacao farms.  It is extremely easy for these small farmers to operate counter to the Harkin-Engel Protocol without being monitored by any regulatory agencies.  These issues in Ghana and the Ivory Coast make it extremely difficult for local politicians to cooperate with the protocol and crack down on the worst forms of child labor on their farms.

South American nations have a very different social structure than the African cacao powerhouses.  According to Mikell, Latin American development has been carefully monitored and is not as chaotic as economic progress in Africa has been (Mikell xvi).  This social structure is conducive to a society that can thrive without relying on the worst forms of child labor on their farms.  Home to the world’s largest cacao plantations before Europeans began mass producing chocolate and buying from primarily African farms, South American cacao has recently started to make a comeback, most specifically in the single origin chocolate industry.  Kristy Leissle explains this rise in her article, “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate.”  In the article, Leissle highlights artisan chocolate makers role in giving South American farmers business with their single source chocolates.  Africa tends to be associated with many negative connotations with slavery and violence at the forefront (Leissle 26).  On the other hand, countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador convey exotic messages and are more appealing to artisan chocolate consumers.   It is not surprising to learn that Ecuador and Venezuela produce over twenty percent of single origin cocoa (Leissle 23).  Political solutions to child labor in Africa have so far failed.  The problem certainly seems difficult to solve from a political standpoint.  Economically, Africa has few competitors in the cacao farming industry.  Perhaps the rise of single source cacao farming in South America could lead to competition that incentivizes the end of African child labor.

While companies as large as Hershey’s, Nestle, Cadbury, or Mars have yet to purchase significant amounts of cocoa from outside of Africa, some large South American chocolate companies have seen a fair amount of success making similar products from Latin cacao.  The above picture depicts a Jet chocolate bar produced by Grupo Nutresa, a food company headquartered in Colombia.  Jet is not an artisan chocolate bar and resembles a bar that could be made by any of the four previously listed large companies. According to Bloomberg Business, Jet is one of the bestselling chocolate bars in the world with forty seven million dollars in annual sales.  Unlike other top selling chocolate bars, none of the cocoa in this bar comes from Africa.  The map below is an excerpt from Grupo Nutresa’s sustainability report highlighting the origins of its raw materials.  The entirety of Grupo Nutresa’s cacao originates from the South American countries of Colombia and Ecuador.


Grupo Nutresa and Jet are not alone in South American only production.  Grupo Arcor is a large South American food company, best known for its brands of chocolate and other candies.  The website candy industry ranks Grupo Arcor as one of the top candy manufacturers in the world.  Again, this high performing candy manufacturer goes against the grain and imports no cacao from Africa.  In Grupo Arcor’s supplier report, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile are listed as the three countries that supply the company with its raw farm materials.  These large chocolate manufacturers succeeding with South American cacao alone could pave the way for a viable economic disincentive of the worst forms of child labor in Africa.


If global chocolate manufacturers refused to purchase cocoa from Ghana and the Ivory Coast as long as illegal child labor remains, opting instead to buy South American cocoa, a significant incentive against child labor would finally be in place.  An economic incentive seems necessary.  Previous political actions, such as the Harkin-Engel protocol, have failed to cause meaningful change, and the social environments present in both Ghana and the Ivory Coast make it unlikely for local governments to be able to wholeheartedly cooperate with efforts.  South America, as one of the largest cacao producers outside of Africa could provide enough competition to drive meaningful change.  The continent has already exhibited success outside of the single-origin space that it is most known for.  This plan may be slow moving and require some encouragement from global powers due to the shear amount of cacao production South America would have to take on in order to gain a significant number of clients, and more research into how much production the region could realistically handle must be taken on.  With Africa maintaining such a large share of the global cacao market, South America appears to be the only place remotely capable of putting enough market pressure on the African nations to curtail upon the worst forms of child labor in order to keep their farms functioning.

Works Cited

Kit Kat: Give the Child Slaves a Break. Ken Symes. Youtube, 2011.

Wolfenden, Paul. Kit Kat Now Carries the Fairtrade Foundation MarkThefairtradestore.co.uk. 9 Dec. 2009. Web.

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

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

Mikell, Gwendolyn. Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana. New York: Paragon House, 1989.

Leissle, Kristy. “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate.”Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture (2013): Web.

Jet MilkCompania Nacional De Chocolates. Web.

“The World’s Best-Selling Candies: Colombia.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg

Grupo Nutresa. Informe Anual Y De Sostenibilidad 2013.

“Top 100 Candy Companies.” Candy Industry.

Grupo Arcor. Suppliers, Customers, and Consumers.

European vs. American Tastes and Trends: Comparing Cardullo’s and CVS’s Chocolate

Chocolate is a delicious commodity enjoyed throughout the world.  However, chocolate tastes and consumption patterns vary from region to region.  For example, chocolate produced for Americans is often made very sweet, contains less cacao and cocoa butter, and many times becomes an impulse buy or guilty pleasure.  Chocolate is also heavily marketed towards children in the United States, and most of the chocolate consumed by Americans is from Big Chocolate companies such as Hershey.  However, in many European countries, chocolate is often more luxurious and rich, is complemented with a variety of fruity and spicy flavors, and is marketed more towards the adult population.  In addition, European chocolate is often more expensive given its target audience and higher cacao content.  It is important to note that each country within Europe makes chocolate slightly different and has its own unique consumption trends, but in general, most European chocolate is made with more sophistication and higher quality ingredients when compared to American chocolate which is often heavily corporatized and mass-produced.  The differences between American and European chocolate are so stark that we can even witness them when comparing the chocolate found in international stores in the United States to the chocolate sold in American grocery stores.  For the purposes of this paper, the chocolate sold in Cardullo’s and CVS will be compared and contrasted in order to demonstrate the differences between European and American chocolate.  It will be argued that variations in ingredients, target audiences, and packaging are what influence and distinguish European and American chocolate tastes, advertising, and consumption trends.

Cardullo’s is a gourmet shop in Harvard Square that sells food ranging from fresh deli meats to jams to dried pasta.  Many people, including myself, believe that the store is meant to be reflective of a European shop or cafe because the store sells mainly imported brands and gives off an international vibe with its rustic and crowded interior.  What is interesting is that the only thing I have ever purchased from Cardullo’s has been chocolate, and when I revisited the store this past week I realized why: their chocolate selection is outstanding!  Moreover, four out of the five times I bought chocolate from Cardullo’s, the chocolate wasn’t even for me, it was meant to be a gift for someone else.

When I think about why I chose Cardullo’s for the chocolate gifts, it was because I wanted my present to feel unique, luxurious, and thoughtful.  I was not about to buy someone special a plain Hershey’s bar or a bag of Reese’s.  I knew that Cardullo’s sold European chocolate brands and felt that European chocolate was high quality.  I feel that this is a common perception, that European chocolate is more luxurious and better than American chocolate.  This bias may be based on the idea that European chocolate often contains more cacao and cocoa butter than American chocolate, which is considered a sign of quality.  This is because the United States only requires its chocolate to contain 10% cacao, while in Europe to be considered “chocolate”, a bar must be at least 20% cacao (Gourmet Boutique).  Many argue that American chocolate producers care more about cost than quality when it comes to their chocolate which is why they use lower quality ingredients and mass-produce their chocolate unlike many European companies (Alberts and Cidell, 224).  American chocolate companies using less cacao in their bars dates back to the beginnings of the Mars Company.  Frank Mars tried several times to create a popular chocolate bar and eventually ran himself into debt (Brenner, 53).  However, once he and his son invented the Milky Way in 1923 (which is chocolate nugget covered in a thin layer of chocolate) the company’s costs of production fell drastically because the bars contained less cacao (Brenner, 54-55).  The bars immediately became popular because they were larger and cheaper than the other current chocolate bar at the time, Hershey’s (Brenner, 55).  It was partially Mar’s usage of a cheaply made filled bar that led other American chocolate producers to try to use less cacao in their bars.  The fact that the Hershey company mass-manufactured and got people habituated to milk chocolate with less cacao may be another reason why Americans accept chocolate with a lower cacao content today.

Getting back to the matter at hand, the imported chocolate at Cardullo’s did contain a significant amount of cacao, the lowest cacao content I saw being 23% in a standard chocolate bar.  Most of the imported European chocolate also highlighted the cacao percentage on the front of their packaging, which is something I do not recall being included on most American-produced chocolate wrappers (see Figure 1 below).  This marketing tactic enables European chocolate producers to tout the high levels of cacao they are using (Wolke).

Figure 2: Cardullo’s chocolate selection (left) vs. CVS’s selection (right)
Figure 1: European Chocolate Wrappers with Cacao Content on the Front vs. An American Hershey Bar

I remember that selecting the chocolate gifts at Cardullo’s was extremely difficult because of the wide variety of chocolate brands and flavors they sold.  On one occasion, I had trouble deciding and ended up buying five bars each with a different flavor: chili with cherry, dark milk, 88% dark, orange, and sea salt caramel.  Upon revisiting the shop, I re-discovered some of these specific chocolate bars whose brands were Chocolat Bonnat (France), Valrhona (France), and Dolfin (Belgium).  What enticed me about these particular bars were their intriguing flavors, some of which I had never seen before.  Most of the flavors in Cardullo’s chocolate include nuts, spices, or fruits, which is actually common for European chocolate and contrasts with American chocolate which is usually complemented with caramel, nugget, and other sugary fillings.  These more savory flavors used in European chocolate tie back to the Mesoamerican origins of chocolate.  In fact, several scholars believe that “Europeans developed a taste for Indian chocolate, and they sought to recreate the indigenous chocolate experience” (Norton).  These scholars also claim that this “cross-culturalization of taste” led Europeans to develop an appetite for spices and vanilla (Norton).

I also chose the bars because they had intricate and fancy wrappers that made the chocolate look expensive.  These fancy wrappers are probably a marketing ploy, again to promote the perception that European chocolate is higher in quality and more glamorous.  This perceived quality is also probably factored into the price of the chocolate because the chocolate bars were not the cheapest.  The price of chocolate sold at Cardullo’s ranges from $5-$65 with the pricier chocolate items being gift baskets and large boxes of chocolates.  To me, the prices are justified by the fact that the chocolate is imported and because of the customer base of the shop.  Whether Cardullo’s intends to attract older people or not, their clientele is mainly working men and women and arguably international students.  It is understandable that middle aged and older people visit this store: they can afford the food and have more singular tastes.  It is also interesting to note that chocolate is mainly marketed towards adults in Europe which may be why it is more expensive and takes on a more sophisticated look (Graham).

European chocolate has not always been luxurious or marketed in this way, especially in France.  Today, France creates some of the most artistic, romanticized, and well-known chocolate in the world, but this was not always the case (Terrio, 10).  Until the 1970s, French confections were very traditional and quite plain.  But towards the 1980s, French chocolatiers wanted to re-brand their chocolate and make it more of a specialty item.  In order to do this, they began distinguishing themselves from pastry makers and confectioners, created a new taste standard for bitter dark chocolate, worked with the government and local authorities to establish themselves, and looked to the past to make sure their chocolate had cultural authenticity and didn’t appear mass-produced (Terrio, 12-15).  Finally by 1990, French chocolatiers were being recognized as craftsmen and artisans for their authentic and creative work.  The French chocolatiers were ultimately able to establish themselves because they placed a tremendous amount of time and effort into making small-batch chocolate which contrasted the mass-production and lower quality work conducted at larger chocolate factories and companies at the time (Terrio, 30-35).  Nowadays, there are several fine French chocolate makers such as Valrhona and Bonnat.

Some of my concluding observations about Cardullo’s were that the store mainly sells its chocolates in single bar form as compared to in bulk, but also sells several chocolate confections such as bonbons and truffles.  During my revisit, I also made sure to check the sugar content, fat content, and cacao content of many of the bars in the shop in order to compare them to the chocolate bars in CVS.  Finally, on my way out, I asked an employee what chocolate he preferred, European or American.  He quickly replied, “European of course!  It is much more creamy and rich, and I am pretty sure it doesn’t contain weird ingredients like those used in Hershey’s”.  Another employee chimed in saying, “It is definitely the smoothness that distinguishes the two”.  This smoothness probably derives from the European’s use of extra cocoa butter, or can be attributed to the fact that Europeans (especially the Swiss) prefer smoother chocolate so they conche their chocolate for longer (Presilla, 126).  Studies have found that American chocolate companies typically conche their chocolate for 18-20 hours, whereas Western European chocolate companies conche for 72 hours (Alberts and Cidell, 222).

Now onto CVS.  CVS is a large drug store chain that offers everyday use items from beauty supplies to medications to snacks.  When it comes to chocolate, American CVSs have a surprisingly decent selection.  However, most of the chocolate sold is from Big Chocolate brands such as Mars, Nestle, and Hershey, which can be found in most convenience stores.  CVS also carries some semi-luxurious brands such as Lindt and Godiva (both European brands), but on a small scale.  Walking down the candy aisle at CVS was a much different experience than at Cardullo’s.  For one, I actually felt quite overwhelmed by the bright packaging of the chocolate (a common color theme was using yellow or red).  I also noticed that most of the chocolate brands used animated lettering on their wrappers.  This eye-catching color scheme and lettering clearly contrasted Cardullo’s calm and intricate chocolate packaging and is most likely to attract children (see Figure 2 below).  To reiterate, in the United States, chocolate companies often target children in their advertisements.  As a side note, chocolate marketing towards children is actually a highly controversial topic, as it takes advantage of children’s developmental vulnerabilities and may be contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic (Martin).

cardullos vs cvs
Figure 2: Cardullo’s chocolate selection (left) vs. CVS’s selection (right)

Moreover, just like at Cardullo’s, the price of the chocolate at CVS is probably influenced by its targeted population and the type of people who visit the store.  Since American chocolate is mainly marketed to children in the US, and CVS seems to be a weekly stop for the average person, it makes sense that their chocolate prices are extremely reasonable, ranging from $1-$15.  This affordability allows the chocolate to be an impulse or everyday purchase.  Another thing that somewhat differed between Cardullo’s and CVS chocolate was its placement in the store.  The Cardullo’s chocolate was on the wall sort of close to the register as was the CVS chocolate, but CVS also had a row of chocolate bars right under the register to entice impulse buyers.  Chocolate is considered to be more of a guilty pleasure or impulse purchase in America versus in Europe where people eat chocolate more regularly.  This is because in Europe chocolate is viewed as a food rather than an indulgence (Alberts and Cidell, 224).  This is also revealed in reports showing that Europeans consume about half of the world’s chocolate whereas the United States only consumes about 20% (CNN’s “Who consumes the most chocolate?”).  This trend is possible because many European countries consume more chocolate per capita than the US (see Figure 3 below).  Furthermore, in CVS the chocolate treats were mainly in bar form, were often sold in bulk, and did not come in luxury forms such as bonbons or truffles, again speaking to the target audience’s tastes and trends.  This yet again reveals that American chocolate producers value cost over quality.

Figure 3: Top 20 Chocolate Consuming Nations (2012)

Finally, when examining the nutrition labels, it was evident that the chocolate in CVS contained more sugar, less fat from cocoa butter, and less cacao altogether.  For example, a Cadbury Milk Bar from Cardullo’s contained 23% cacao, while a Hershey’s Bar from CVS only contained 11%.  What was even more striking was when comparing the same Cadbury Milk Bars, an imported one from Cardullo’s and one from CVS, the nutrition facts and packaging were not equal (see Figure 4 below for a video of a family comparing the British Cadbury bar to the American one).  It is also interesting to point out that the chocolate sold at Cardullo’s was mainly dark chocolate while CVS was capitalized by milk chocolate.  This may be because children prefer sweeter milk chocolate to bitter dark chocolate which is a more acquired taste, or that dark chocolate is truer to the origin of chocolate which is why it is produced more often for European audiences.  Regardless, this finding is not a coincidence in that Americans prefer lighter milk chocolate and Europeans prefer darker chocolate (Presilla, 119).

Figure 4: Video of a Family Trying a Cadbury Milk Bar from the UK vs. the US

In summary, I found Cardullo’s European chocolate and CVS’s American-produced chocolate to be radically different.  What I discovered was that European chocolate contains more cacao, is occasionally complemented with unique spices and flavors, has more sophisticated packaging, and targets a more mature population.  Moreover Europeans tend to prefer dark chocolate and consume chocolate more regularly than Americans.  On the other hand, American-produced chocolate is sweeter with less cacao and more sugary fillings, utilizes bright and animated wrappers, is often mass-produced, and is marketed more towards children.  With these differences in ingredients, packaging, and target audience, it is no wonder that European and American chocolate tastes, consumption trends, and advertising differ.

For added entertainment, click on this link to see a video of two British boys comparing American and British chocolate bars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyD74bJJOTk

Works Cited:

Alberts, Heike C., and Julie L. Cidell. “Chocolate Consumption Manufacturing and Quality in Western Europe the United States.” Geography (2006): 218-226.

Brenner, Joel Glenn. The emperors of chocolate: Inside the secret world of Hershey and Mars. Broadway, 2000. 48-55.

Graham, Caroline. “Too Sweet, Too Cheap and Full of Ghastly Chemicals – Why Even Americans Can’t Stand American Chocolate.” Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd., 21 Nov. 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2015. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1229924/Too-sweet-cheap-ghastly-chemicals–Americans-stand-American-chocolate.html.

Martin, Carla. “Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” Class. Harvard University, Cambridge. 1 Apr. 2015. Lecture.

Norton, Marcy. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and The European Internalization Of Mesoamerican Aesthetics.” The American Historical Review 111.3 (2006): 660-91. Web. 29 Apr. 2015. http://ahr.oxfordjournals.org/content/111/3/660.full.pdf html.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 2001. 119, 126.

Terrio, Susan Jane. Crafting the culture and history of French chocolate. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 1-40.

“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” CNN. 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 2 May 2015. http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate/

Wolke, Robert. “Chocolate by the Numbers.” The Washington Post. 9 June 2004. Web. 2 May 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24276-2004Jun8.html

Images Cited:

Figure 1: My personal IPhone at Cardullo’s and CVS

Figure 2: My personal IPhone at Cardullo’s and CVS

Figure 3: http://www.confectionerynews.com/Markets/Interactive-Map-Top-20-chocolate-consuming-nations-of-2012 (Accessed May 1, 2015)

Figure 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cgDAQXZ-LA (Accessed April 29, 2015)

“Not in Harry’s Name”: The Harry Potter Alliance And Its Push for Ethically Sourced Chocolate

Beyond its incredible presence in the real world, chocolate is intimately tied into our imaginations of many fictional worlds as well, especially those aimed at children. From Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Patrick Skene Catling’s The Chocolate Touch, the link between chocolate and fantasy has been made clear. And even in fantasy worlds in which chocolate does not necessarily play a central role, it can still have great significance. In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, for example, chocolate is seen as a cure to the depressed state associated with the happiness-sucking dementors, creatures that guard the wizards’ prison. It brings back feelings of warmth and happiness, and as pointed out by David Colbert in his book The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, “doctors say [chocolate] can make depressed people feel better…[and]…has some of the same effects as the medicine that doctors prescribe” (Colbert 66). We see then that though chocolate is not necessarily a key or central part of the world, it nevertheless has important value beyond just being a food commodity.

This clip from the third Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, shows the harmful effects of the dementors – meant to represent depression – and the value of chocolate, which is portrayed as an effective cure. (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2/5) Movie CLIP – Dementor on the Train (2004) HD.”)

However, in the real world chocolate has also been linked – historically and in the modern day – to forced labor and slavery, including that of children (“Chocolate’s Child Slaves”; Martin Lecture 15; Lockwood Lecture 14). Especially in recent years, there have been movements to promote ethically sourced chocolate in an effort to reduce and eventually eliminate this slavery (“International Cocoa Initiative”; Martin Lecture 18). Outside of just citing the evils of slavery, the fact that chocolate is in our minds tied to something so fundamentally good and uplifting and that brings the consumer so much joy and pleasure has been part of the push to end the use of slavery in the chocolate supply chain. Because chocolate is viewed in this way, it can be “tarnished” and “polluted” by slavery in a way that we don’t see included in the rhetoric against use of forced labor to make iPhones, for example (Gibson). To focus on one specific group, the Harry Potter Alliance’s Not In Harry’s Name campaign has linked not just the idea of the purity of chocolate but also the idea of the goodness and inspiration of the novels to help motivate their fight against slavery in order to draw people in and get thousands of fans involved. They succeeded in getting Warner Brothers to declare that all Harry Potter chocolate products would be Utz or Fair Trade certified by the end of 2015, which has been lauded as a great success by the consumers and fans. However, this should not turn to complacency, as there are still problems with Fair Trade certification and therefore the so-called “victory” may not be as thorough as hoped, and furthermore working to eliminate unethically sourced chocolate in Harry’s name alone does not account for the vast amount of chocolate produced via forced/child labor that still circulates in the rest of the industry. Moving forward, then, these are some critiques of the movement that should be tackled in order to truly push against modern slavery and for better working conditions across the board.

To go back to the connection between Harry Potter and chocolate, outside of the novels this link can be found in the products made and sold under the Harry Potter brand – specifically confections like the chocolate frogs mentioned in the books. Though there are numerous recipes for makings one’s own chocolate frogs (“Honeydukes’ Chocolate Frogs”) and though there are a few different companies that make them (“Harry Potter Chocolate Frog – 0.55 oz”), the most official version is that created by Warner Brothers, the studio that created the Harry Potter films.

Chocolate Frog

The 150 g solid milk chocolate frogs that form the bulk of the Harry Potter chocolate products, over which the “Not In Harry’s Name” was run to push Warner Brothers to use ethically sourced cocoa for these frogs (“Chocolate Frog – with Authentic Film Packaging.”)

These WB chocolate frogs are available at locations such as the  Harry Potter Theme Park at Universal Studios and the Studio Tour in London, as well as online (“Chocolate Frog – with Authentic Film Packaging.”). These frogs are one of the main food products under the Harry Potter brand, and as such are very popular. However, in 2008 concerns were raised regarding whether the 30.9% cocoa solids content of the frogs was ethically sourced (“Not in Harry’s Name”).. The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), a group that “turns fans into heroes…by making activism accessible through the power of story [to work for] equality, human rights, and literacy” (“The Harry Potter Alliance: What We Do”) created the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign to pressure Warner Brothers to investigate their sources and ensure that their Harry Potter chocolate products were Fair Trade certified.

The rhetoric surrounding this campaign focused primarily on the role that chocolate has in the Harry Potter novels and in relation to fantasy and childhood in general, the values that the novels espouse in relation to equality and justice, and the idea that child labor and unethically sourced chocolate are in fundamental contrast to these roles and values, and could in fact ruin the purity of chocolate. Through a close reading of the novels, including the points regarding the effects of chocolate against dementors, we can see an association between chocolate, purity, innocence, and happiness. The Washington Post’s article on the “Not in Harry’s Name” movement phrases it as such:

“Chocolate and candy play an important role in the Harry Potter books. After he leaves his abusive aunt and uncle to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry is boggled by the abundance of sweets his peers have access to; chocolate is a symbol of how Hogwarts will be the first place that really nourishes Harry’s body and his mind. And chocolate is big real-world business in the Harry Potter empire: You can buy Chocolate Frogs, one of the series’ signature sweets.” (Rosenberg).

Citing one of the novels mentioned earlier, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Hamida Bosmajian in 1985 similarly discussed the “pleasing associations of chocolate, whose high concentration of energy-producing compounds combined with caffeine and theobromine makes it truly a food for the gods as well as for those who, like Charlie, are empty buckets of deprivation” (Bosmajian) – as is Harry, too, prior to attending Hogwarts.

Based on these associations, statements such as those seen in this video sought to galvanize Harry Potter fans to sign a petition and protest Warner Brothers’ use of chocolate that had not been certified as ethically sourced.

This video shows a montage of clips that serve to summarize the progression of the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign and to celebrate the letter the Harry Potter Alliance received from Warner Brothers in December 2014 pledging to make Harry Potter chocolate products UTZ or Fair Trade certified. From this video, we can identify a number of comments and remarks that showcase the types of rhetoric as mentioned above. (“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”).

This video showcasing the movement included quotes such as this one from a speech at the Yule Ball in Cambridge, MA in December 2010:

Speaker: “When you are facing a dementor after a dementor attacked you what is the best thing you should eat?”

Crowd: “Chocolate”

Speaker: “But what if that chocolate was made by a child who was kidnapped from their family and forced into slavery on the Ivory Coast”


Speaker: “The chocolate would not work.”

(“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”)

The HPA Facebook page similarly made a post urging supporters to  “protect your friends and loved ones from using faulty chocolate against Dementor attacks” (“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page” 2013).

This idea that the unethical production of chocolate would sully it enough so that its beneficial effects would be lost speaks to the value that we associate with chocolate, especially so for Harry Potter fans. Another quote from the video states “It doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that something that is for children, essentially, Harry Potter chocolate, should not be sourced by children” (“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”). HPA founder Andrew Slack pushes this point by asking readers to

“Picture a 9 year old enjoying a Chocolate Frog at the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando. She is happy to be a part of JK’s Rowling’s magical world — a world that inspired in this young girl a love for reading and a commitment to human rights. Now imagine a 9 year old boy in West Africa, kidnapped and enslaved… all so that he can harvest the cocoa use to make that very chocolate frog” (Slack).

As we see from these quotes and from the books mentioned at the beginning of this post, chocolate is associated with children and children’s fantasy, and here the interesting contrast is posed between those children who have the chance to enjoy a childhood of this fantasy and consumer products associated with them, and those children who are forced to labor in order to produce the raw materials for these products.

Scholar and University of Southern California professor Henry Jenkins additionally points out that:

“The effort defines HPA members as fans of the franchise and as consumers likely to buy affiliated products, but also mobilizes content-world expertise to challenge studio decisions:

[6.5] When Hermione Granger discovers that the food at Hogwarts, chocolate included, is being made by house elves—essentially unpaid, indentured servants—she immediately starts a campaign to replace exploitation with fairness…In Harry Potter’s world, chocolate holds a unique place: it is a Muggle item with magical properties. Chocolate is featured prominently throughout the books as a powerful remedy for the chilling effects produced by contact with dementors, which are foul creatures that drain peace, hope and happiness from the world around them…It is doubtful that chocolate produced using questionable labor practices would have such positive effect, both in Harry’s world and ours. (Harry Potter Alliance 2010b)

[6.6] Rather than seeing the licensed candies as mere commodities, the HPA evaluates them according to their meaningfulness in the content world and then links their “magical” powers to the ethics of how they are produced and sold: “As consumers of Harry Potter products, we are interested in supporting and purchasing products that are true to the spirit of the Harry Potter franchise.” Throughout its campaign, the HPA holds open the prospect of a meaningful collaboration with corporate interests, but it also pledges to use boycotts and buycotts against the studio and its subcontractors.” (Jenkins)”

Ultimately, through what Andrew Slack calls “cultural acupuncture” – the “practice of mapping the fictional content world onto real-world concerns [to help] empower young people to become civically engaged and politically active” (Jenkins) – the HPA got 400,000 signatures, the support of J.K. Rowling, and finally in December 2014 a letter from Warner Brothers stating that by the end of the following year, all of their Harry Potter chocolate products would be “100 percent Utz or Fair Trade certified” (“Not in Harry’s Name: A History”).

Daily Prophet

Projecting the real-life success of the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign onto the fictional The Daily Prophet newspaper from the Harry Potter series, this image showcases the sentiments felt by members and supporters of the HPA following the letter from Warner Brothers.


The letter from Warner Brothers to Andrew Slack reveals the plan to make all their Harry Potter chocolate products Utz or Fair Trade certified by the end of 2015 – the victory that the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign had hoped for.

However, while this was lauded as a victory for the HPA, there remain issues both with the outcome and with the way the campaign was framed. The HPA blog showcases Fair Trade as a sort of panacea for ethical issues associated with chocolate and for the struggles endured by cocoa farmers, stating that Fair Trade International “[ensures] that their products are produced by people making a living wage, and are not being produced with harmful or inhumane practices such as the use of child labor” (O’Brien) and provides “fair exchanges with farmers and artisans” alike [to make] certain that there is enough money to issue better working conditions, health-care, [and] education for the children of the workers” (Simeti). However, as we learned in class Fair Trade is still quite problematic. For one, though in theory Fair Trade should eliminate child labor, because it “does not ensure a direct relationship between producers and buyers” and lacks thorough quality control there have been cases where child labor is still used on Fair Trade-certified cooperatives but has gone unnoticed (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”). Therefore, the chocolate in chocolate frogs being Fair Trade certified is not guaranteed to solve the specific problems that the HPA seems to think it will. And beyond this, in reality Fair Trade puts a “significant burden for new producers and manufacturers [who have to pay to be certified], and drains money from the sourcing relationship” (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”), making it difficult for small farmers especially. Therefore, while getting Warner Brothers to use Fair Trade certified cocoa is certainly a step in the right direction towards the goal of chocolate being ethically sourced, there is still work to be done – and the fact that the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign is portrayed as a huge success, and has been covered by many prominent media outlets, can be misleading and affect how the general public sees Fair Trade. Ultimately, a push towards Direct Trade – the sourcing model used by Taza Chocolate, which cuts out the middlemen and provides more benefits to farmers and producers – would be even more desirable (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”).

Furthermore, while the use of Harry Potter and all the emotions and values associated with it to galvanize such a huge movement of people in favor of ethically sourced chocolate was immensely creative and has had results, this should not limit the scope of the push against forced and child labor. The statements “We wanted to make sure that child slavery would no longer be carried out in Harry’s name,” “Maybe we can’t end child slavery altogether, but we can at least get Harry’s name out of it,” and “Not in Harry’s name and not in ours either” (“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page” 2015; “Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”) were helpful in promoting the movement, but problematic in that they focus too much on the consumer and the value of Harry Potter rather than condemning child slavery in general – though of course I do not think that is the message the campaign intended to send with this. Focusing on Harry Potter was simply a way of rallying this online community to fix specific problems one step at a time, but moving forward this approach needs to be broadened to protest all unethically sourced chocolate, not just those products which happen to be associated with a beloved fantasy world and the ideas of purity and childhood.

Luckily, it seems both issues mentioned here are being addressed: Walk Free, the anti-modern slavery movement that partnered with HPA in its campaign, is “designing and propagating a new certification for slavery-free supply chains” and Slack “hopes to use Warner Bros.’ decision to pressure other chocolate chains, such as Hershey and Nestle, and mobilize fans of other franchises” (Rosenberg). As Slack said,

“If ‘Harry Potter’ [as a franchise] were to be in alignment with the values of Harry Potter [himself], it could be a real symbolic and coherent victory… [Harry Potter] represents righteousness, nobility, love, so much beauty and a place of safety that people go to, and moral authority. If the ‘Harry Potter’ brand were to move something like fair trade, it would be making a statement that not only is the ‘Harry Potter’ brand a cut above the rest but that [other franchises] have to catch up to it.”

Jenkins, too, sees potential here beyond just this one campaign, identifying that HPA is “developing messaging tools that can be adapted to any number of causes, rather than identifying campaigns and then developing strategies for them” and suggesting that “‘In some ways, the flexibility of what the Harry Potter Alliance is doing is very useful…It can form new kinds of alliances, it can again evolve over time as the cultural references change’” (Ibid.). And in the broader scheme of things, “the cocoa campaign proves that the impact of Rowling’s novels isn’t limited to the pleasure it gives readers, or to a win in a single campaign for more ethical chocolate” (Ibid.).

Overall, we see a very interesting situation play out here where consumers have really taken control and, through their personal associations with the Harry Potter series, its values, and the role of chocolate in it, have fought back against unethical labor conditions. This is truly a fan-based internet movement, and can be seen as proof that online mobilizing really can have real-life effects. While the HPA was successful in getting Warner Brothers to make their chocolate products Fair Trade certified, however, we see that there are still problems with this “victory” – and moving forward, we certainly hope to see a push for more direct, regulated supply chains that truly do benefit the producers and others who historically have gotten the short end of the stick. And while “Not in Harry’s Name” has been a great movement in terms of bolstering people to care about these issues, we should turn to protesting unethical chocolate simply because it is unethical.

Works Cited

Bosmajian, Hamida. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other excremental visions.” The Lion and the Unicorn 9 (1985): 36-49. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/lion_and_the_unicorn/summary/v009/9.bosmajian.html>.

“Chocolate Frog – with Authentic Film Packaging.” Warner Bros Studio Tour London. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Web. <http://shop.wbstudiotour.co.uk/product-categories/sweets/info/chocolate-frog-with-authentic-film-packaging/1236542.html>.

“Chocolate’s Child Slaves.” The CNN Freedom Project Ending ModernDay Slavery. Cable News Network. Web. <http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/category/chocolates-child-slaves/>.

Colbert, David. The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts. Wrightsville Beach, NC: Lumina, 2001.

Gibson, Carl. “How the IPhone Helps Perpetuate Modern-Day Slavery.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 11 Sept. 2014. Web. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-gibson/how-the-iphone_b_5800262.html>.

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2/5) Movie CLIP – Dementor on the Train (2004) HD.” YouTube. 26 May 2011. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKhEFVAoScI&feature=youtu.be>.

“Harry Potter Chocolate Frog – 0.55 Oz.” Jelly Belly Candy Company. Web. <http://www.jellybelly.com/harry-potter-chocolate-frog-0-55-oz/p/96267>.

“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery.” YouTube, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OT7MiwuN3I>.

“Honeydukes’ Chocolate Frogs.” Instructables.com. Web. <http://www.instructables.com/id/Honeydukes-Chocolate-Frogs/>.

“International Cocoa Initiative.” International Cocoa Initiative Foundation. Web. <http://www.cocoainitiative.org/en/>.

Jenkins, Henry. “”Cultural acupuncture”: Fan activism and the Harry Potter Alliance.” Transformative Works and Cultures 10 (2011). Web. <http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/305/259>.

Lockwood, Sarah. AAAS 119x Lecture 14: Exploiters or Exploited? Cocoa Production in West Africa. 23 Mar. 2015.

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 15: Modern day slavery. 25 Mar. 2015.

Martin, Carla. AAAS 119x Lecture 18: Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/Globalization. 6 Apr. 2015.

“Not In Harry’s Name.” YouTube, 29 Jan. 2012. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFNkz-EUDVI>.

“Not in Harry’s Name: A History.” The Harry Potter Alliance. Storify, Jan. 2015. Web. <https://storify.com/TheHPAlliance/nihn-a-history>.

O’Brien, Kara. “Organic versus Fair Trade.” The Harry Potter Alliance. 31 May 2011. Web. <http://thehpalliance.org/2011/05/organic-verses-fair-trade/>.

Rosenberg, Alyssa. “How ‘Harry Potter’ Fans Won a Four-year Fight against Child Slavery.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 13 Jan. 2015. Web. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2015/01/13/how-harry-potter-fans-won-a-four-year-fight-against-child-slavery/>.

Simeti, Angelia. “How Fair Trade Chocolate Can Help.” The Harry Potter Alliance. 10 May 2011. Web. <http://thehpalliance.org/2011/05/how-fair-trade-chocolate-can-help/>.

Slack, Andrew. “Accio Sunlight!” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Jan. 2013. Web. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-slack/accio-sunlight_b_2507908.html>.

“The Harry Potter Alliance: What We Do.” The Harry Potter Alliance, 2014. Web. <http://thehpalliance.org/what-we-do/>.

“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page.” Facebook. 13 Jan. 2015. Web. <https://www.facebook.com/thehpalliance/photos/pb.334095623110.-2207520000.1421867500./10152674801703111/?type=3&theater>.

“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page.” Facebook. 24 Mar. 2013. Web. <https://www.facebook.com/thehpalliance/posts/127367674115877>.

“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?.” TAZA Chocolate. Web. <http://www.tazachocolate.com/About/direct_trade_vs_fair_trade>.

Effects of Nationality on Chocolate Preferences

I once found a 12-pack of Kit Kats in the Amsterdam airport on my layover home from Uganda. I was ecstatic. My idea of “normal” chocolate bars were not available in the places I stayed in Uganda, and why would I buy just one when I could buy this pack of twelve duty-free. I’ll never forget my extreme disappointment when I broke into the first one after the plane had taken off. They tasted awful! Somehow they were too creamy or milky: just plain bad. The crunch was there, but the chocolate was off. I understood chocolate varied by country, but I thought something as normal as a Kit Kat would be the same everywhere. I was severely mistaken. This was my first experience with chocolate differences internationally, and it was eye opening.

This experience exemplifies that the chocolate market has catered to the differences in preferences across countries. How did these preferences come to be? Are European people biologically predisposed to prefer chocolate with more milk than Americans? Probably not. The differences in taste most likely originated from each country’s unique history of chocolate consumption.

With the rise of global consumerism, today you can find Snickers in Germany, Cadbury Dairy Milk in America, and Milo (an Australian chocolate drink) in Canada. Through a series of interviews with various people of different nationalities, I have determined that despite this global market, one’s nationality and country of upbringing definitely affect one’s chocolate preferences. Children’s chocolate preferences across the world are in flux, influenced by advertisements, their family’s preferences, and the preferences of their peers. Likewise, once children become adults, their chocolate preferences are mostly established. All of the factors that influence children vary by country, and continue to lend diversity and complexity to the chocolate market.

The widespread chocolate market began with companies like Cadbury, Nestle, Lindt, and Hershey, as they innovated with chocolate to make it scalable for the masses. Cadbury started in the United Kingdom and had the privilege to be the royal chocolate suppliers for Queen Victoria (Coe, Ch 8). It is no wonder that Cadbury is still so popular among the British. Likewise, Nestle in Switzerland discovered how to make powdered milk, which was able to capitalize on the large Swiss dairy industry (Coe, Ch 8). Today, Swiss chocolate is known for being milkier (Alberts). Hershey, founded in America, wanted to make chocolate affordable for everyone, so focused on cutting costs by lowering the amount of cocoa and increasing the amount of sugar, which was cheaper (Coe Ch 8, “European”). Thus, Americans have grown up with sweeter chocolate that uses less cocoa, whereas Europeans pride themselves on the high cocoa content and smoother chocolate (made by increasing the fat content) (“European”). The Spanish, on the other hand, generally prefer stronger, more bitter chocolate; it is closer to what the original chocolate brought from the New World would have tasted like (Alberts). As certain companies gained traction at the start of the big chocolate expansion, their localized environment developed preferences for their type of chocolate (Alberts). These preferences developed and refined over time, combining with advertising and other factors to create national preferences that still exist today.

The different chocolate markets and general preferences affect children as they are growing up in these countries. Advertisements are a critical source of influence. Numerous studies show the susceptibility of children to advertisements, especially those targeted specifically at kids (Gunter 52). In fact, children are so likely to be influenced by advertisements that strict regulations have been put in place to limit the extent to which children as mislead by advertisements’ exaggerations (Gunter 132).

Because advertisements are directly targeted at children and children have been proven to be extremely susceptible to the influence of advertisements, chocolate advertisements play a large role in children’s chocolate preferences. Of the interviewees who watched television when they were younger, all of them remember at least one chocolate advertisement that stuck with them to this day. An interview with a college student who grew up in Newcastle, England, particularly remembered the Cadbury and Cadbury Dairy Milk advertisements (Nick). If the Cadbury advertisements are as ridiculous as they are today, it is easy to understand why. The following is a Cadbury advertisement from 2009. The advertisement shows no relevance to their actual chocolate product, but will gain the attention of kids nonetheless, insinuating that the joy and fun observed in these videos will be theirs if they eat Cadbury too.

Similarly, an Australian grad student remembers the ads for Milo chocolate energy drinks.

“It’s a chocolaty ‘energy’ drink, but it’s ridiculously delicious and also comes in chocolate bars. Kids grow up on it.” (Timnah).

Notably, only the British interviewees talked about Cadbury advertisements, whereas American interviewees talked about Snickers, Hershey, and other chocolates more popular in America. As someone who grew up in Minnesota, I had never heard of Milo until the Australian interviewee told me of its importance to Australian children. A child’s nationality definitely affects the advertisements they see and are influenced by. These advertisements vary by country, aligning with the companies that are the most popular and have the most market share. Consequently, children develop preferences for the chocolate that is already prevalent in their country.

Children are also influenced by their parent’s chocolate preferences. When children live in a different country from the one their parents grew up in, they still develop preferences for the chocolate of the parents’ nationality. One generation ago, chocolate was more of a localized good. According to an interviewee from Canada with Dutch parents, when her parents were younger, a vast majority of their chocolate consumption was Dutch chocolate (Jessica). Thus, the older generations developed even more specific chocolate preferences than children today. These parents keep certain kinds of chocolate in the house, prefer to buy those kinds at the store, and use chocolate for occasions as they were raised to do in their childhood country. Consequently, children in these families also develop these taste preferences and practices. For example, the same interviewee with Dutch parents prefers Dutch chocolate to American and Canadian chocolate. It is familiar to her because of her upbringing and it reminds her of home. She also talked about the practice of giving chocolate letters on Christmas, and spoke fondly of the chocolate practices surrounding Sinterklass, a Dutch holiday celebrated in the beginning of December. This holiday has special types of chocolate that children receive for putting out hay and carrots for the Dutch “Santa’s” animals (Jessica). Her love for Dutch chocolate practices and preferences were influenced by her families tastes and customs.

However, children are also influenced by their peers and new locations. Children often receive chocolate at school, whether its for Valentine’s Day in America, Halloween in Australia, or other local customs and practices. Children also find chocolate at friend’s birthday parties or other occasions with their peers. These experiences allow children to develop tastes for local chocolate even if their family has different chocolate preferences. The Canadian girl with Dutch parents admitted that she loved Dutch chocolate, but that she became used to Reece’s, Snickers, and other common North American chocolates. Now in college, she finds it hard to buy Dutch chocolate, as it is not commonly sold in stores like CVS. In order to get her chocolate fix, she is just fine with American brands like Hershey and Mars. (Jessica) Another girl who moved to New Jersey from Namibia at the age of five expressed similar experiences. She definitely grew to like American chocolate, and attributes it to the chocolate she had at school and with friends. “Hershey’s is definitely my favorite,” she claimed  (Mimi) It’s hard to get any more American than that. Thus, children develop tastes similar to their friends, due to shared experiences and perhaps even peer pressure to conform.

Unlike children, adults are less likely to switch their chocolate preferences when moving to a new country. This is likely because their preferences were formed and cemented while they were children, from a combination of advertising, familial, and peer influences. An interviewee from Australia illustrated this phenomenon.

“I hate American chocolate, it’s gross! I definitely still prefer Australian chocolate. And I guarantee you that if you ask any other Australian, they will say the same thing. We crave Australian chocolate, probably more than Americans crave American chocolate when they are abroad. Its part of our culture.” (Timnah)

Likewise, the British interviewees who only moved to America to attend college showed express disgust for American chocolate.

“I definitely prefer Cadbury, plain old Cadbury Dairy Milk is the best. American chocolate is disgusting, I don’t know how you live with it.” (Nick)

In summary, national chocolate preferences developed because of a combination of factors, including that chocolate was originally a local good, which led to availability and market power of certain brands. These national taste trends were cemented, especially for the older generations. With the increase in global consumer products, most large brand name chocolate has become available all over the world. Nonetheless, children develop preferences based on their nationality. Within their countries, they are influenced by advertisements, their family’s preferences, and their peers’ tastes. If their family moves locations, they may develop dual preferences associated with both nationalities. However, this preference development stage has an age limit: most people who move to a different country after childhood maintain the chocolate preferences they formed as children based on their nationality. Nationality has an indelible impact on chocolate preferences. Differences like these contribute to the complex and diverse picture of chocolate preferences around the world.

Works Cited

Alberts, Heike, and Julie Cidell. Chocolate Consumption, Manufacturing and Quality in Western (n.d.): 218-26. University of Washington, 2006. Web. 5 May 2015.

Cadbury Eyebrows Advertisement. Web. Accessed May 5 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVblWq3tDwY&gt;

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

Chocolate Letter Image. Web. Accessed May 5 2015. <https://tippinthescales.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/chocolate_letter01.jpg >

“European vs. American Chocolate: What’s the Difference?” Gourmet Boutique Tasting Room. N.p., 03 July 2013. Web. 05 May 2015.

Gunter, Barrie, Caroline Oates, and Mark Blades. Advertising to Children on TV: Content, Impact, and Regulation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2005. Print.

Milo Advertisement. Web. Accessed May 5 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EOAOhMAZLY&gt;

Tim Tam Image. Web. Accessed May 5 2015. <https://gracedavis.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/tumblr_licri1kglw1qbwpuuo1_500.jpg&gt;

Chocolate Milk: Good or Bad?

Chocolate milk has been a staple in controversial drinks throughout the years. The question of whether chocolate milk is actually good for us has been brought up time and time again. The answer? Well, while there is much more research to be done, the current research shows that chocolate milk is not as bad for you as it can be made out to be. In fact, it can sometimes be the right choice for everyone alike. The current promotion of chocolate milk aims to target athletes and parents buying for their children, as can be seen on websites such as http://gotchocolatemilk.com and http://www.trumoo.com respectively. Chocolate milk is promoted as the perfect recovery drink for athletes, and is promoted as a nutritious drink choice to parents. Despite its rather negative perceptions at times and barring any dietary restrictions, chocolate milk, for the right reasons and in the right serving size, is not really bad for anyone.

It is no surprise that chocolate milk has been a long-standing topic of controversy when it comes to the topic of children’s health. Chocolate milk is in fact regular white milk with a decent amount of sugar and some fat added for flavor. TruMoo, a popular brand of chocolate milk in New England and owned by Garelick Farms, tries very hard on their website to break away from any negative connotations that could come along with their product. They try to reinsure parents that TruMoo is in fact a nutritious choice for their children, containing essential nutrients like potassium, calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin D, and helping to build stronger bodies while not being over sugary or containing any high fructose corn syrup. While regular milk is most definitely the better thing to drink, it is often hard to get kids to drink white milk and the chocolate flavoring is needed to ensure that they are getting the everyday nutrients that they need. The evidence readily provided in a range of studies backs up their claims. The USDA supports the claim on the TruMoo website that milk is full of necessary nutrients. They have a similar comparison for all of the nutrients found in one glass of milk with a picture that can be found in a hand out for parents on the importance of flavored milk.

Picture 1

This graphic compares the nutrients in milk, or chocolate milk, to other foods that are considered very healthy. (Why Flavored Milk Is Important for Student Nutrition, 2011 The argument that they are trying to get across is not only that milk is nutritious, but also that milk can be a healthy choice for some nutrients that kids might not otherwise get. While those other healthy foods most likely have more nutrients than what is mentioned that are important to get, they are not commonly known for being the most appealing to a child’s sight, taste, or smell. TruMoo also claims that they really don’t have that much sugar in comparison to other drinks, and that the sugar that comes with chocolate milk is on 3% of the added sugar in a typical children’s diet. First off, TruMoo states that they do not use any high fructose corn syrup, which is a type of added sugar that has been negatively viewed in recent years. They also claim to be the lesser of the sugar in different versions of chocolate milk.

Picture 2

While these numbers might seem a little high at first sight, just keep in mind that the natural sugar lactose accounts for around 12g of that, and a can of soda has around 33g of all added sugar. Even with what seems like a high amount of sugar, the claim is made that chocolate milk only makes up about 3% of added sugar in a child’s diet. This is supported by the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHNES), which are used to create the government recommended food pyramid.

Picture 3

The chart created based on the results gathered about the sources of added sugar in diets of children showed that 4.3% of added sugars were due to chocolate milk and about 36.8%. Also included in the 2007-2010 surveys were the results about the added sugar in diets of adults. Those results concluded that chocolate milk contributed to 0.6% of added sugars, which was even too small of a number to show up on the charts. This suggests that not only does chocolate milk play a pretty insignificant role in added sugar diets, but also that there are other places for added sugar to be a concern and to be cut down on. On both charts, soft drinks, fruit juices, and sweet bakery products made up over half of the chart, which were not accounting for the natural sugars already in the foods or drinks. (NHNES, 2007-2010)

TruMoo has also made commercials to promote their chocolate milk. One of their recent commercials entitled “Movie Night”, promotes chocolate milk as a nutritious family option despite being chocolate.

This commercial highlights one of the main issues of chocolate throughout its most recent history. Chocolate has been viewed as unhealthy for a while due to its ingredients. Chocolate combines two of the three ingredients that are considered to be bad. Sugar and fat have long been under scrutiny for the dangers of obesity and diabetes that they are linked to. A graph from Mother Jones compares the added sugar increase to the increase in diabetes and obesity. In 1980, the average person in the United States consumed 120 lbs. of sugar, while 2.5% of Americans had diabetes, 5.5% of children were obese, and 15% of adults were obese. In 2010, the average American consumed 132 lbs. of sugar, while 6.8% of Americans had diabetes, 16.9% of children were obese, and 35.7% of adults were obese. (Lecture, April 13, 2015) The sugar companies have long been fighting these results and taking every measure possible to keep numbers like those from reaching the public. For example, Food Politics, by Marion Nestle, states that in 2003 the World Health Organization published a report that recommended the intake of free or added sugars to 10% or less of the daily calorie intake. While it really wasn’t that different to the USDA’s Pyramid of foods that recommended 7-13% of calories, many sugar industry groups strongly objected and pressured their senators into lobbying for cut funding to the organization. Their tactics worked because the 2004 Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity, and Health failed to mention any of the background or report on the 10% recommendation (Lecture, April 13, 2015). Similarly to sugar, fat has also received much attention due to high rates, actually the number one reason, of death in the United States due to heart disease. In 1977, a new dietary guideline suggested against the consumption of saturated fats. Because of the new alternative, Trans-fat emerged to take the place of saturated fats. Eventually in the 2000s, Trans-fat has since been characterized as actually being worse than saturated fat. The major difference between these two “bad” foods is that there is not an industry for producing fat like there is for added sugar, so the push back to these studies and discoveries about fat has not been as present and the information has been much more likely to reach the public eye. (Lecture, April 13, 2015)

Got Chocolate Milk? aims to promote chocolate milk as the ideal recovery drink for athletes. Got Chocolate Milk? is a partner of Got Milk?, and a registered trademark of the California Milk Processor Board. The Got Milk? campaign was started in 1993 to encourage milk as a daily necessity in a balanced diet. It has since featured countless superstars and athletes alike to advertise in schools, on the radio, and on TV. Got Chocolate Milk? was created to promote the flavored version of milk. Got Chocolate Milk? has shifted away from the popular promotion to parents as a healthy alternative to ensure that essential nutrients found in milk are still making their way into diets. The campaign focuses on promoting chocolate milk to athletes as the best aid to recovery. The website, http://gotchocolatemilk.com, makes the claims that chocolate milk has all the necessary nutrients in the right ratios to optimize recovery and performance. They supply evidence from the science and enlist superstar athletes such as NBA star Kevin Love, NFL star Hines Ward, and US Olympic superstar Apolo Ohno to promote the high achievements with the help of chocolate milk.

In the commercial, Ohno plays at an athletes mindset by using the words from a parent, the inspiration and motivation for many athletes, to push on through a tough workout with and chocolate milk to help build things that don’t just come naturally, like the power to keep pushing. The end slogan of, “Nutrients to refuel, protein to rebuild, backed by science” is something that they strive to prove in the research that is presented online. The Karp et al., 2006 study, “Chocolate Milk as a Post-Exercise Recovery Aid” reassures the information of Got Chocolate Milk? with the science that endurance exercise decreases muscle glycogen that is stored in skeletal muscles. The resynthesis of the glycogen between training sessions is also maximized if carbohydrates are ingested within 30 minutes to an hour after exercise. Protein also helps to rebuild these muscles by speeding along the process when in conjunction with carbohydrates. The study goes on the explain that the study of Ivy et al., 2003 found that the consumption of a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is optimal to the recovery process. Chocolate milk has that ratio. (Karp et al., 2006) The 2013 study of Watson et al. supports the ideas of chocolate milk as a sufficient recovery aid in the chapter, Cocoa for Recovery. They conclude that because muscle glycogen is the main fuel during intense exercise, replenishing that glycogen is essential to post exercise recovery. Low-fat chocolate milk is an effective and lower-cost recovery aid, with an optimal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. Chocolate milk is composed of cocoa plus monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and disaccharides (lactose), while most commercially available recovery beverages consist of monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin). Low- fat chocolate milk has the 4-to-1 carbohydrate: protein ratio many commercial recovery beverages try to attain. In comparison to many carbohydrate-electrolyte beverages, chocolate milk packs substantially more carbohydrates per 240 mL. It also provides fluids and sodium, which needs to be replaced due to sweat loss during a workout. Chocolate milk is also high in calcium necessary for building and maintaining strong bones and a major constituent involved in muscular contraction. (Watson et al., 2013)

These studies support the information that Got Chocolate Milk? uses to appeal to athletes. Most every college sports program in the United States has chocolate milk readily available to their athletes. Universities alike preach the significance of recovery through chocolate milk and supply their athletes with an abundance of it for post workout, practice and competition consumption, while other universities go above and beyond to explore the benefits of chocolate milk. At Cornell, an Ivy League school well known for its agricultural program as well, the athletics program, while having chocolate milk straight from its own dairy plant, is continuing to work in close partnership with the dairy program to work on optimizing the chocolate milk that their athletes were drinking even more. With the goal of finding the perfect balance of ingredients such a sugar and fat to complement each athlete’s digestive system under the NCAA specification of supplement products, Big Red Refuel has been in the works and is close to its release. To emphasize its importance, Cornell’s coordinator of sports nutrition, Clint Wattenberg, is quoted in the New York Times article saying, “The insight and awareness around recovery and nutrition has adapted and really become part of the training plan.” “Fueling recovery is as important as the work you put in. This is part of our tool kit we can use to optimize our performance.” (Berkman, NYT, 2015)

While most of this information and these studies come from very reliable sources, it is important to also look at who is funding all of this research. For example, the Got Milk? and Got Chocolate Milk? campaigns are registered trademarks of the California Milk Processors Board. Also, the USDA flyer that promotes flavored milk is funded by Got Milk? and MilkPEP (Milk Processors Education Program), and the information about the NHNES was put out by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. This means that while the information could be 100% true, there is a question of whether or not any information that shines a negative light on milk or chocolate milk would ever be available to the public because their sales and profit are at stake if there were evidence against it. While I 100% believe that professional and Olympic athletes used chocolate milk for recovery, they are also being paid to represent chocolate milk and make commercials that make it seem that they owe it all to chocolate milk. This is all just something to keep in mind when looking at websites and information supporting certain claims. Who is paying for it could always have more of an impact on the information being released than you would think.

That being said, chocolate milk has still proven to be a beneficial drink. While regular milk is the much smarter choice, when it is not a preferred taste, chocolate milk is the easiest way to ensure that essential nutrients that are needed daily are making into a persons diet. From children all the way to grandparents and beyond, chocolate milk is a safe alternative and has been proven to be an insignificant amount of added sugars in anyone’s diet when consumed in the right portions. The added sugar scares of obesity and diseases has much more to do with soft drinks, sugary foods, and candies that are being consumed at high amounts than it does with the added sugar to flavor something that is otherwise very beneficial to your body. Chocolate milk has also proven to be the best and most reliable recovery drink for athletes. It naturally has the ideal carbohydrate to protein ratio and is trusted by athletes of all levels to ensure that their muscles are ready to go. There can always be more studies and research done. Most of the studies call for more investigation into the kind of chocolate that is being put into the milk and also find out more about the effects of the fats as well. And just like at Cornell, there can always be improvements made to the formulas, and techniques used. Chocolate milk is serving its purpose to the best of its ability, and while there is always room for improvement, I would not hesitate to recommend it as a healthy substitution to regular milk for more flavor or the best recovery drink currently available to athletes.


“Apolo Ohno BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK.” YouTube. 5 Aug. 2014. Web. 5 May 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfhF1DBqHKw&gt;.

Berkman, Seth. “Cornell’s Chocolate Milk Fills Refueling Gap.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Apr. 2015. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/sports/cornells-chocolate-milk-fills-refueling-gap.html?_r=0&gt;.”Home.” Got Chocolate Milk. California Milk Processors Board. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://gotchocolatemilk.com&gt;.

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://www.usdairy.com/~/media/usd/public/nhanes 20072010 sources of added sugar.pptx>.

Karp JR, Johnston JD, Tecklenburg S, Mickleborough TD, Fly AD, Stager JM. Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2006;16:78-91. Web. 4 May 2015.

Martin, Carla. “Health, Nutrition, and the Politics of Food.” Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. 13 Apr. 2015. Lecture.

Pritchett, Kelly and Bishop, Phillip A. “Cocoa for Recovery”. R.R. Watson et al., (eds.), Chocolate in Health and Nutrition, Nutrition aand Health 7, DOI 10.1007/978-1-61779-803-0_33

TruMoo. TruMoo Milk. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://www.trumoo.com&gt;.

“TV Commercial – TruMoo Chocolate Flavor – Family Movie Night – A Truly Good Thing.” YouTube. TruMoo Milk, 9 Jan. 2015. Web. 4 May 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYnLm1Iot7s&gt;.

“Why Flavored Milk Is Important for Student Nutrition.” America’s Milk Processors. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/education_materials/flavored_milk/Why Flavored Milk is Important for Student Nutrition.pdf>.

“Advertisers are selling us something else besides consumer goods: they are selling us ourselves”

The evolution of chocolate production changed the way in which chocolate was available and advertised to the public. Historically, chocolate was known as a luxury item, only available to the elite, the rich, or those with connections to the trade. In the late 19th century, chocolate shifted from being provided in liquid form to a solid candy. As competition between chocolate confectioners increased, their outreach to attract customers shifted as well. The earliest known chocolate promotions were posters, sometimes detailed illustrations that took advantage of new advancements in lithography, graphic arts, and commercial advertising (Grivetti, p. 193).

chocolat ideal hot-chocolate

Members of the chocolate history group at the University of California, Davis spent two years searching and finding over 500 chocolate advertisements from 11 countries, during this period. In their synopses of the advertisements, similar themes repeat throughout:

  • Incorporation of children – especially young girls and infants (of both genders) – holding chocolate bars, playing games with chocolate, being mischievous
  • Most adults within the advertisements were women, either a mother or caretaker.
  • The mother-child relationship was highlighted: the mother was giving or receiving chocolate from a child, or having a ‘moment’ (drinking hot chocolate together) with their child
  • Most adults (primarily women) were portrayed as being from a higher socio-economic class
  • The health, energy, joyful benefits of consuming chocolate
  • Incorporating a sense of nationalism or romanticism in chocolate – people were portrayed in their traditional dress or courtship scenes included chocolate (Grivetti, pp. 193-198)

200 years later and the messaging in chocolate advertising is still the same. Again, as the narrative of chocolate – its history – has evolved, so have the connotations around its production, promotion, and purchase. Ellen Moore states it succinctly:

“The examination of chocolate companies’ advertisements allows a glimpse into how different identities – including gender, ethnic, and national – can be constructed through a consumption of chocolate. The stereotypes presented for the consumer through advertisements serve to reinforce cultural notions of ethnically homogenous British and U.S. national identity [while also concealing] the realities of chocolate production in Africa and Central America. The consumption of chocolate is thus almost exclusively associated with whiteness, while production is largely associated with exotic “Others”’ (Rubin, p. 67).

The advertisement below was created for the 2012 Super Bowl. It takes a unique perspective on the ‘other’ as it involves an interaction between people of white/European descent and an anthropomorphic entity – a piece of candy that has been given human characteristics. The traditional, stereotypical tropes around femininity and chocolate, as well as the racial disparity, are all more subtly apparent:

Ms. Brown, is the M&M ‘spokescandy’ highlighted under the tagline “not your average chocolate”.  This was her introduction. Until 2012, the only ‘female spokescandy’ was Miss Green, whose persona is vastly different. Miss Green is characterized as sensual and seductive, from her movements, to her voice, to the promotions in which she is seen. In contrast, Ms. Brown, titled the “Chief Chocolate Officer”, is portrayed as intelligent, well-spoken, and successful. Her appearance differs as well. Ms. Brown wears glasses and comfortable, what would be referred to in the business world as ‘no-nonsense’ heels. Her voice and persona seem to command respect.  The conversation she is having with her girlfriends at the party, before being interrupted, references a meeting with a head of State.

Ms. Brown, M&M Miss Green M&M

However, this promotion still slips into the stereotypical trends prevalent in chocolate advertising and societal gender dysfunctions. Before she is interrupted, the story that Ms. Brown is sharing highlights gender stereotypes around women’s place in business. Ms. Brown is heard saying “Mr. Prime Minister (PM), I’m flattered that you love chocolate, but I’m here strictly in a professional manner.” This infers that the PM was not focused on their business meeting but in making (sexual) advances to Ms. Brown; possibly because she is female or because – as we see a moment later from men at the party – he also assumed that she was ‘naked’.  This is similar to the harassment that women regularly receive in the workplace; further there is an allusion to the sexualization of an anthropomorphic being.

The interruption also implies the childishness of these men. They are snickering because of Ms. Browns supposed nudity. It is an oblique reference to the ‘sinful’ pleasure associated with chocolate, a fascination with the exotic, and the associations of sex already incorporated into chocolate mythology (Robertson, p. 68). However, in a crisp, condescending tone she acknowledges their assumption and corrects them. Then Red, a male M&M arrives, sees Ms. Brown, and removes his ‘clothing’. The ad ends with the song “Sexy and I Know It” playing, Red dancing, and Ms. Brown disgustedly looking on. Though the song is Red’s anthem and he too plays into the immature male persona; the advert and the chocolate promoted, is still a gendered product. While Ms. Brown is portrayed as a ‘modern, business woman’ this, and most advertisements, clearly imply the subjectivity of a female consumer. Women have been recognized as the gate-keepers of chocolate – the primary purchaser for themselves and their families, as well as the primary consumer (Cooper, 2004) so the advertising must strongly appeal to women. It is interesting that in this advert, that role has been fulfilled wholesale – our ‘woman’ is more than a purchaser or consumer, she is chocolate. Ms. Brown has become the ultimate ideal.

Further, this advert alludes to Moore’s earlier presumption that the primary identity of the chocolate consumer is white. Ms. Brown’s friends are white; in the background of the club, all of the attendees are white. Ms. Brown and Red are the only ‘beings of color’ at the event. This is a clear ethnic distinction and it can be assumed that this active construction of an ethnically homogenous chocolate consumer, is partially based within the history of chocolate and its early consumption by rich, white Europeans. Finally, in their appearance, from the figure flattering clothing to their jewelry, it can be assumed that their (her, her girlfriends and background people) socioeconomic background could be higher than middle class. The background music and ‘party atmosphere’ are more upscale and relaxed than the strobe lights and pounding music of a night club.

Sidney Mintz shares that “food choices and eating habits reveal distinctions of age, sex, status, culture, and even occupation” (Mintz, p. 3). These distinctions can be uniquely noted in this advertisement. They can also be turned on their head, as shown below:

This ‘twist’ on the M&M advertisement still acknowledges the atmosphere of friends getting together, but the norms have changed. The immaturity is missing; they are all of an age, enjoying their time together – eating, talking, possibly listening to a story. The friends are all mixed (gender and ethnicity) groups of (what could be) varying socioeconomic backgrounds. The new tagline ‘how do you eat your M&Ms?’ replaces ‘not your average chocolate’ to highlight the communal experience of enjoying M&Ms, instead of focusing on an anthropomorphic piece of candy with feminine characteristics that is possibly nude and unexpectedly intelligent.

The focus is more gender neutral, as no one member of a photo can be immediately sexualized and previous stereotypes of class, race, and national identity within an audience have been set aside. Finally, the song emphasizes the idea of “being friends” and not being “sexy and knowing it”.


Cooper, Glenda. Women and Chocolate: Simply Made for Each Other. New York Times. 13 March 2004. Web. 09 April 2015. < http://www.cacao-chocolate.com/choclove/women.html >

Grivetti, Louise E. and Shapiro, Howard-Yana. Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage. Hoboken. 2009. Print.

History timeline. Mars Company Website. History. N.D. Web. 10 April 2015. < http://www.mars.com/global/about-mars/history.aspx >

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

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women, and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester University Press. 2010. Print.

Rubin, Lawrence C. Food for Thought: Essays on Eating and Culture. McFarland and Company Publishers. 2008. Print.

Multimedia resources:  

BestCodTrolls. M&Ms Super Bowl Commercial 2012 – I’m Sexy and I Know It. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 05 February 2012. Web. 8 April 2015. < https://youtu.be/Pc7BnT5X1tw >

Character photos. Ms. Brown and Miss Green. M&M. N.D. Web. 10 April 2015. < http://www.mms.com/#character >

Mucha, Alphonse. Chocolat Ideal, 1897. Web. 10 April 2015. < http://www.artnet.com/artists/alphonse-mucha/chocolat-ideal-a-fDVy2jZnfv6prLHLQxw8jg2 >

Nyree1luv. Friends: A Chocolate Production. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 10 April 2015. Web. 10 April 2015. < https://youtu.be/voUcekR2kfA >

Vintage 19th century French poster. Chocolat Delespaul-havez. N.D. Web. 10 April 2015 < http://www.museumoutlets.com/vintage-french-posters/chocolat-delespaul-havez-vintage-french-advertising-poster >