Tag Archives: chocolate drink

A Chocolate Renaisscance in Mexico City

Find yourself in Mexico City (CDMX) and you may be overwhelmed with the current culinary scene, namely the exploding revival of one of the country’s oldest exports–cacao. Along the tree-lined streets of the La Condesa neighborhood, next to art deco apartment buildings and vegan cafés, you’ll find yourself among myriad contemporary chocolate shops headed by a new class of Mexican chocolatiers. Head to Mercado Jamaica, one of the city’s oldest traditional public markets, and you may find it hard to resist the allure of seven different types of mole–each made with a distinct combination of cacao and chili. Pop into the city’s recently opened chocolate museum, MUCHO Museo del Chocolate, and sample a mix of traditional chocolate-maiz drinks and triple chocolate tamales. Even a stop into the local Sumesa supermarket yields a unique assortment of both traditional brands like Nestle and Hershey’s and the new artisanal elite. This is where I found myself this week when a last-minute reading period trip to CDMX landed me in one of the hotspots of cacao and chocolate history. Digging deeper into the roots of Mexican chocolate, I visited museums and supermarkets, conducted tastings, and sampled as much as I could get my hands on. In doing so I noted a renaissance of sorts, with the chocolate landscape becoming increasingly dominated by a revival of Mesoamerican techniques and traditions.

An Enduring History

Long before the introduction of foodstuffs like sugar and milk by the Europeans, cacao was an integral element of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultural life. The Olmec civilization of the Mexican Gulf Coast, known for their large head sculptures and use of jade, was originally believed to have been the first one to domesticate cacao–with the Mixe-Zoquean word kakawa coming into use as early as 1000 B.C. It was not until 2006 that Hershey Foods chemist W. Jeffrey Hurst conducted residue analysis on archaeological ceramics and discovered that pre-Olmec villagers of the Chiapas plain in the Soconusco region had actually been some of the first to turn the bean into chocolate nearly 38 centuries ago. As Michael and Sophie Coe point out in their seminal work A True History of Chocolate, the Theobroma cacao tree likely originated in the northwest Amazon basin and was exploited for is sweet pulp before pre-Olmec villagers in Chiapas found a means of turning it into something more reminiscent of modern chocolate.[i] Emerging cultures in other areas of modern-day Mexico grasped on to this new foodstuff, namely the Maya who despite flourishing several centuries after the Olmecs nonetheless employed their tradition of drinking chocolate. Mayan writings the Popol Vuh, as well as the Dresden Codex, include mentions of cacao in creation narratives, and the custom of combining cacao, water, and maize to create a foamy chocolate drink was popular, as was chokola’j–the custom of drinking it with others. The fall of the Maya and the conquest of the southern regions of present-day Mexico by the Aztec Empire between the 12th and 15th centuries brought a new culture in contact with cacao. The Aztecs similarly drank chocolate, as well as utilized it as a form of currency. Sixteenth-century Franciscan missionary Bernardino de Sahagún confirmed these diverse uses, writing at one point about “chocolate kits” given to him by Aztec merchants: “They gave each noble two clay bowls…gave two hundred cacao beans to everyone, as well as one hundred seeds of that plant they call teunacaztli, and a tortoiseshell spoon for mixing the cacao. This was done by all merchants when they came from afar.”[ii] The concept of cacao and its combination with other foodstuffs like vanilla, peppers, and achiote was entirely new to the Spanish when they arrived in the late 15th century, but its flavor quickly became an acquired taste as conquistadors engaged in what Coe and Coe refer to as “crossing the taste barrier.”[iii] Such chocolate scholarship has often credited the Spanish with importing cows and cane sugar, in turn initiating a hybridization of cacao in which both classic tradition and European preference informed its new taste. Marcy Norton rebukes the Coe’s account, however, in “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics,” suggesting that the Spanish internalized Mesoamerican chocolate traditions and instead sought to emulate them on a wider scale in Europe. She writes:

“During the early history of chocolate among Europeans, the transmission of taste did not accord with the top-down structure of society. Instead, it flowed in the opposite direction: from the colonized to the colonizer, from the “barbarian” to the “civilized,” from the degenerate “creole” to the metropolitan Spaniard, from gentry to royalty. The European taste for chocolate emerged as a contingent accident of empire.”[iv]

Across the ocean, the custom of drinking chocolate as a frothy beverage continued, though the Spanish did add their own twist with sweeteners like cane sugar and “New World” spices like cinnamon, anise, and rose in place of spices like chile peppers and achiote.[v] The transformation of chocolate from drink to bar, from small-scale farming to mass production is an important one–but not integral to this story. I plan to focus instead on the centuries-long endurance of these Mesoamerican flavors, namely their contemporary renaissance.

A Visit to El Museo

One of the best places to start is with a visit to MUCHO Museo del Chocolate, in the Juárez neighborhood of CDMX. Finally within a tropical climate, I was able to see a cacao pod in person with the beans, nibs, winnowed shells, and sweet mucilaginous pulp first exploited by pre-Olmec villagers on display.



The museum’s many rooms contained not only the history of chocolate but several art pieces depicting its enduring cultural value. Pictured below is a recreation of the making of a chocolate drink in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, with the woman pouring a large batch of cacao and water into a separate container. She would most likely pour the mixture several times, in order to achieve the frothy consistency so sought after by its drinkers.

IMG_4780In order to mix the cacao with the water, however, the cacao beans would need to be winnowed (or deshelled) and their nibs rolled on a stone ledge called a metate with a rolling-pin-like “stone mano.”[vi] This would create the paste needed to successfully mix the cacao into a beverage. The reconstruction below, though inaccurate to the extent that most Mayan women wore loose fitting tunics rather than going bare-chested, shows the process of grinding the cacao–namely how physically arduous the process was.


The museum’s extensive exhibits and popular chocolate shop show just how important not only chocolate itself but its history has become in shaping cultural ideas of Mexico. Museum founder Ana Rita García Lascurain points out at that its inception in 2012, the museum was aimed at helping people understand, “how Mexico gave chocolate to the world.” Below is a feature conducted by Mexico City’s premier cultural news channel, Canal Once, in which you can take your own tour of the unique facilities.

Tasting #1: Chokola’j

The museum’s downstairs chocolatería was emblematic of the city’s larger Mesoamerican chocolate renaissance. After consulting the shop’s owners, I sampled three of their most popular and traditional offerings–agua con chocolate, chocolate caliente con chile picante (in lieu of their sold-out corn and chocolate drink pozol), and a tamal de chocolate. My travel partner and I then engaged in the Mayan tradition of chokola’j–or “drinking chocolate together.” The most prominent element of the agua con chocolate (“water with chocolate”) was its frothy texture and refreshing effect in the heat of an 80-degree day. As pointed out by scholars Louis E. Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro in field work from the late 1990s in Oaxaca, Mexico, contemporary agua con chocolate recipes almost always employ a molinillo, or “long wooden stick with rings at the bottom that spin when the stick is rolled between the palms.”[vii] The woman preparing our agua con chocolate did the same. My travel partner lauded the drink’s lack of milk, noting that they preferred its light and air taste to heavy contemporary American and European recipes. As Mexican pastry chef José Ramon Castillo points out in his blog post entitled “The ABCs of Mexican Chocolate,” the mixture of cacao with water rather than milk, “makes the sensation of the Mexican cocoa butter palpable on the lips, which doesn’t happen with cacao from other countries.”

IMG_4808The chocolate caliente con chile picante (“hot chocolate with spicy chili”) carried the same light texture in its lack of milk but also had a different mouthfeel due to its hot temperature and inclusion of spice. My first sip of the drink was jarring considering that most of the chili flakes were floating at the top of the mug, as pictured below. The spice dimmed down a bit until the drink’s final sips when the grounds at the bottom became salient once again.


Moving from beverages to food, we sampled the tamale chocolate (“chocolate tamale”), a sponge-cake like combination of the country’s two most traditional exports–corn and chocolate. Due to the shop being sold out of pozol­–the fermented corn and chocolate drink common in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica–I opted for the tamale in the hopes that I could replicate a similar combination.


It was demure in sweetness, as were the two beverages, but lacked the bite of the chocolate caliente con chile picante or the freshness of the agua chocolate. The three products proved nonetheless to be a strong introduction to the use of cacao outside of chocolate bars. Still in pursuit of the latter, however, I hit the streets of CDMX once again to comb through its many supermarkets and artisanal shops.

Tasting #2: Chocolate Bars

Gathering twelve test subjects from the likes of Australia, the United States, Mexico, and Canada, I conducted my second tasting in the courtyard of the Red Tree House–a small bed and breakfast in La Condesa. The six samples were all made in Mexico, and included Hershey’s 60% Dark Chocolate (Sample A), Ricolino Kracao Milk Chocolate with Pineapple (Sample B), MUCHO Museo’s single-origin Maravilla chocolate (C), Turin 33% Milk Chocolate (D), ki’Xocolatl 72% Dark Chocolate with Spices from Chiapas (E), and Nestle Abuelita Chocolate (F). The results were as follows:

IMG_4873 (1)

Hershey’s 60% Dark Chocolate (Sample A)/48.90 MXN, 2.54 USD


This Mexican Hershey’s bar is notable for its high cacao content, as compared to the classic American flavor. The bar nonetheless contains milk, in order to replicate the mouthfeel of a pastry as indicated on the packaging. Participants were keen on this chocolate’s high cacao content, some going as far as to guess 80%, and lauded its “beautiful earthy tones.” Two of the participants preferred this chocolate to more expensive single-origin samples.

Ricolino Kracao Milk Chocolate with Pineapple (Sample B, pictured right)/16 MXN, .83 USD


This chocolate-bordering-candy bar was at the tasting’s lowest price point. Participants noted that it was one of the sweetest samples, with “nutty, creamy, [and] floral” tones. Several guessed that the bar contained rice crispy bits or raisins rather than pineapple.

MUCHO Museo’s single-origin Maravilla chocolate (C)/72 MXN, 3.74 USD


This chocolate is a single-origin criollo variety grown in the birthplace of chocolate as we know it–Chiapas. MUCHO began selling this bar at the museum’s inception in 2012. Most of the participants ranked this chocolate their second choice, raving about its bitter lasting aftertaste and fruity tones.

Turin 33% Milk Chocolate (D)/ 63 MXN, 3.27 USD

IMG_4868 (1)

This milk chocolate was dividing for participants. Some lauded its “caramel, dulce de leche, maple” notes while others decried its taste as “too sweet.”

ki’Xocolatl 72% Dark Chocolate with Spices from Chiapas (E)/99 MXN, 5.14 USD


This 72% dark chocolate, at the highest price point, was the overwhelming favorite among participants. The company was started in 2002 according to their website, with the mission of creating, “Quality products presented with a beautiful and original image that mixes the concept of modernity with the legendary Mayan culture.” Tasting participants were fans of the bar’s “floral” tones and noted flavors of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepper.

Nestle Abuelita Chocolate (F)/20.50 MXN, 1.06 USD


The final sample, Nestle’s Abuelita chocolate, was well received despite being typically dissolved in water or milk for hot chocolate. Originally Mexican-born, Nestle acquired the brand in the 1990s. Participants tasted “cardamom, brown sugar, cinnamon, [and] pepper” and noted its “crystalline, crunchy” texture. When interviewing Mexican participants about the chocolate, they shared that most younger generations blend the chocolate into drink form while older generations prefer it plain. It was clear that Abuelita had clear cultural resonance, with several participants noting that they had grown up on the product.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that Mexico City has undergone a revival of Mesoamerican chocolate techniques and traditions through the establishment of museums, chocoloterías, and artisanal shops. Even supermarkets have featured an emergence of offerings, where brands like ki’Xocolatl sit next to modern household names like Nestle and Hershey’s. The question then becomes how to make Mexican-based brands with higher cacao content and less sugar and milk content more moderately priced. If brands are truly fixed on reviving Mesoamerican traditions, like the conceptualization of chocolate as a health food and medical panacea for example, then their products should be accessible and affordable. A $5 chocolate bar is not, after all, the most economically feasible choice.


[i] Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Thames & Hudson, 2013, 71.

[ii] de Orellana, Margarita, Richard Moszka, Timothy Adès, Valentine Tibère, J. M. Hoppan, Philippe Nondedeo, Nikita Harwich et al. “Chocolate: Cultivation and Culture in pre-Hispanic Mexico.” Artes de México 103 (2011): 75.

[iii] Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Thames & Hudson, 2013, 220.

[iv] Norton, Marcy. “Tasting empire: chocolate and the European internalization of Mesoamerican aesthetics.” The American Historical Review 111, no. 3 (2006): 660-691.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Thames & Hudson, 2013, 128.

[vii] Grivetti, Louis E., and Howard-Yana Shapiro. Chocolate: history, culture, and heritage. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

*Note: Scholarly sources are featured above, while multimedia sources are embedded.


A New Cacao History? A Differing Narrative of Cacao Beverages in Pre-Colombian America

While chocolate for most people in the United States gathers images of candy bars, delicious desserts, or even hot cocoa, many are also aware of the more traditional style of cacao beverage produced traditionally in Mesoamerica. These early chocolate beverages made from the traditional process of fermenting the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, drying these fermented seeds, grinding them, and finally adding water to the ground seeds to form a thick beverage are almost omnipresent in Mesoamerican cultures (McNeil 2009).

Modern equivalent to a traditional cacao beverage, with cacao beans around the mug and a cacao pod in the background.

The earliest discovered vessels containing chemical residue of cacao date back to 600-400 B.C.E. from Belize (Dreiss and Greenhill 2008). Traditionally, academics assumed that Theobroma cacao tree was initially cultivated by humans in order to create the type of beverage described above which involves the lengthy process of fermenting, grinding, and mixing the cacao seeds with water.

cacao tree
Theobroma Cacao with cacao pods

Prominent chocolate scholars Sophie and Michael Coe employ this argument to support the hypothesis that Theobroma cacao was first cultivated in Mesoamerica, rather than South America, as the chocolate beverage described above was highly prominent in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, while in Pre-Columbian South America, this drink was absent (Coe and Coe 1996). However, when examining other traditional Mesoamerican and South American uses of comestibles of the Theobroma Cacao tree, a new theory for the initial cultivation of Theobroma Cacao may emerge (Joyce and Henderson 2006).


(Video demonstration of the cacao grinding process into a modern cacao drink below)

While the traditional processed chocolate drink described above may have been prominent in Mesoamerica, other traditional beverages using products from Theobroma cacao were extremely common across both Mesoamerica and South America as well. Although many different types of foods and beverages were produced, one that may shed light on the origins of the multi-step traditional chocolate beverage creation process and the initial cultivation of Theobroma cacao is an alcoholic beverage derived from the fermentation of the pulp and seeds found inside cacao pods referred to as “chicha” (Joyce and Henderson 2006). While this alcoholic drink is typically associated with pre-Columbian cultures in South America, and the nonalcoholic processed chocolate beverage discussed initially is associated with pre-Columbian cultures in Mesoamerica, there is evidence to suggest that alcoholic drinks made from fermenting the pulp of cacao pods were produced in pre-Columbian Mayan and Aztec Mesoamerica as well (Joyce and Henderson 2006).

(Video demonstrating the cacao pulp fermentation process)

As such, the discovery of the production of chicha may paint a new picture for the initial cultivation of Theobroma cacao. It does not make intuitive sense to reason that Theobroma cacao was initially cultivated to make the non-alcoholic chocolate beverage, as it is complex lengthy multistep process without clear initial benefits. It makes more sense to hypothesize that the traditional ground nonalcoholic beverage may have arisen out of the byproducts of brewing chicha, as chicha is a necessary byproduct of creating the nonalcoholic traditional chocolate beverage (Joyce and Henderson 2006). This narrative points to the initial cultivation of Theobroma cacao in order to make chicha. The benefits of the fermentation of the seeds would have then become discovered as a byproduct of the fermentation process to make chicha. In fact, the fermented cacao seeds may have then been eaten as a source of dietary fat, similar to how palm seeds were eaten in Mesoamerica for their rich fat content (Joyce and Henderson 2006). Additionally, cacao seeds would have been impossible to separate from the pulp prior to fermentation due to the gluey texture of the cacao pulp.

Early Olmec pottery cacao vessels found at San Lorenzo


This new narrative of the non-alcoholic chocolate drink arising out of the chicha fermentation process possesses further implications for the history of cacao in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. There is widespread evidence of the ritualized nature of serving cacao as a means of social performance (Dreiss and Greenhill 2008). The serving of the traditional cacao beverage utilized special serving and preparing vessels across Mesoamerica. Later pottery vessels from the post classic period (1000-1521 C.E.) are designed with a flared neck in order to facilitate frothing when pouring into cups, a necessary step for the traditional cacao drink to suspend the ground seeds in water in order to acquire the correct consistency (Joyce and Henderson 2006). Older pottery vessels tend to have narrow taller necks, which are not as suited to this frothing technique.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 22.42.50
A Mexican woman frothing cacao in the traditional manner by pouring it from a vessel into cups. This is an early colonial drawing. 

The new flared neck bottle form develops around 900-700 B.C.E. In the social ceremonies in which cacao was served, the hosting party would create social debt to honor guests through the serving a feast prepared specifically for the guests (McNeil 2009). However, a fermented drink such as chicha would have already been in production due to the lengthy fermentation process. Fermented drinks would not have been given the same credit as the specifically prepared feasts for ceremonial occasions. Creating a performance out of serving the beverage would then circumvent this issue (Joyce and Henderson 2006).  These types of drink serving performances were commonplace with traditional non-alcoholic cacao beverages in later Mesoamerican society, with the hosting party adding other ingredients such as flowers or ground seeds at the time of serving (Dreiss and Greenhill 2008).  The process of grinding cacao seeds into a fine meal, may have originated as a method to increase the amount of social debt and honor to guests as the ground seeds were added to fermented cacao beverages at the time of serving. As such, these grounds had to be frothed into the drink at the time of serving creating a performance aspect to the drink. Therefore, this necessary performance aspect of the fermented drink may be the origins of the non-alcoholic varieties made from ground seeds and water which became universal across Mesoamerica (Joyce and Henderson 2006).

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 22.43.07
Passing of a vessel containing frothed cacao during a ritual ceremony.

Through examination of the use of fermented cacao beverages, we reanalyzed the narrative of the origin of the cultivation of Theobroma cacao and discovered a potential new and enlightening prelude to the traditional origin story of modern cacao products. Cacao may have been first used in order to create the alcoholic “chicha” beverage which then gave rise to the traditional multistep nonalcoholic cacao beverage as a byproduct of complex serving performances of the alcoholic one during social ceremonies to honor guests.

Works Cited:

Christian, Mark. “A CONCISE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE.” The C-Spot, www.c-spot.com/atlas/historical-timeline/.

Coe, Sophie D and Coe Michael D. The True History of Chocolate. Thames and Hudson, 1996.

Dreiss, Meredith L., and Greenhill, Sharon. Chocolate : Pathway to the Gods. University ofArizona Press, 2008.

George, Andy. “Fermenting & Roasting | How to Make Everything: Chocolate Bar.” YouTube,How to Make Everything, 11 Feb. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUJ0heMcE-g.

Gross, Robin. “How to Make Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Caliente).” The Spruce, 30 Aug. 2017, http://www.thespruce.com/authentic-mexican-hot-chocolate-4148366.

Joyce, Rosemary A, and Henderson, John S. “The Development of Cacao Beverages in Formative Mesoamerica.” Chocolate in Mesoamerica, University Press of Florida, 2006.

McNeil, C. L..Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao. Gainesville: UniversityPress of Florida, 2009. Project MUSE,

Oneil, Megan E. “Chocolate, Food of the Gods, in Maya Art.” Unframed, LACMA, 27 Oct. 2016, unframed.lacma.org/2016/10/27/chocolate-food-gods-maya-art.

wilmo55. “Preparing Drinking Chocolate near Oaxaca, Mexico.” YouTube, YouTube, 25 Apr.2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlAg7zIR57k.

The Enlightenment’s Influence on Chocolate Traditions

In Europe and the America’s during the Enlightenment Period of 1685-1815 chocolate traditions expanded dramatically.  The Enlightenment was a period in time when traditional authority such as the Roman Catholic Church was questioned and scientific process and free thinking were introduced and encouraged.  This shift in attitude and thinking also influenced chocolate traditions in Europe and the Americas.

During the beginning of the Enlightenment period (1685-1730) chocolate was consumed mostly by the elite. The chocolate drink would be prepared in silver chocolatiers complete with  molonillos to create the beloved foam so that a person could consume the beverage upon waking as well as throughout the day for enjoyment and nourishment.(Coe, 222)

Aquatint by Noel Le Mire ( 1724-1830) La Crainte (‘Fear’) The young woman gestures toward a silver chocolatiere, complete with moulinet, (Coe, 222)
The Four Temperments (image , hearthsidehealing.com)


During this period, chocolate was still used for medicinal  purposes as part of the Galenic Theory of Humors. Common medical uses for chocolate were to soothe the stomach or increase a person’s sexual appetite. The tradition of drinking chocolate daily to improve ones health became a casualty of the scientific method  introduced during the Enlightenment. Many scientists disproving the medical benefits of drinking chocolate daily as lauded by the Galenic Humoral theory. (Coe, 203)

chocolate as medicine, image from google images.







As the Enlightenment period progressed so did chocolate traditions.  Once, sipping on a hot chocolate drink was enjoyed only in the comfort of private homes of the elite upper class until public Chocolate and Coffee houses sprang up around London. These houses offered coffee, tea, chocolate and cider drinks to more than the elite upper class. Anyone who could afford the cost of chocolate or other drinks was welcome to drink whilst discussing politics and gossip. (Coe,167)


Chocolate /Coffee Houses were popular gathering spots for elite and upper middle classes.(image from googleimages.com)
The Bedford Coffee House, Covent Garden, in the middle of the eighteenth century
political discussion while drinking chocolate was encouraged during the enlightenment (googleimages.com)



During this period the tradition of drinking chocolate at home or with others in a small group in an intimate setting transformed to enjoying drinking chocolate socially in large groups.




The Enlightenment Era was a time of free thinking and experimentation to create new traditions or improve upon the existing traditions. This included the use of chocolate in food. It was during the Enlightenment Era that chocolate consumption increased and went from being mainly consumed as a drink to being “ eaten in the form of bars, pastilles, as ices, and included in recipes for desserts, main dishes, and even pastas and soups.” (Coe, 203)

ground cacao (stock photo google images)

The  culinary and other  experimentation of chocolate became so  widespread during this period that the Poet Francesco Arisi , an apparent cacao purist , upset at the level of cacao misuse wrote a poem listing his complaints including “ those who put an egg and yolk into it as well as he who “dirties his nose” by taking snuff with it. ” (Coe, 214.)


cacao beans ( stock photo google images)

In the North of Italy the cooks were very adventurous with their use of chocolate in their recipes and included it in their pasta and meat dishes.

Chocolate Cookbook (image from googleimages.com)

One particular recipe for lasagna mentioned in  the 1786 manuscipt frm Macerata includes a “sauce made of almonds, anchovies, walnuts and chocolate.”  ( Coe, 215)  As  a big fan of pasta sauce, lasagna and chocolate,  I must admit the thought of chocolate and anchovies  in the sauce on my lasagna does not appeal to me.  Thankfully, the tradition of using  chocolate in main dishes that include meat and fish did not last. However,  the tradition of chocolate as an ingredient in desserts with flour , sugar, fruits and nuts has continued to be popular in Europe and the Americas.

We can thank the J.S. Fry & Sons for the tradition of eating solid chocolate as bars. It was in 1847 that the Fry firm discovered how to “mix cocoa powder, sugar and melted cocoa butter into a mold to create a solid bar of chocolate. (Coe, 241).  The solid bars  could be manufactured in large quantities and therefore be available to a larger audience of people. Fry , Cadbury, Hersey and Mars took the bar chocolate to the next level by  adding ingredients to the chocolate bars including peanuts, peanut butter,  caramel and cream filling. ( Martin, class lecture, March 9,2016)

A new tradition- candy bars ( image from google images.com)

Many of the chocolate traditions of the Enlightenment era continue today including chocolate confections, baked goods and drinks.
We still enjoy chocolate as a hot drink, although today we drink it from ceramic mugs and do not usually use a molonillo to whip up a froth.

hot chocolate  ( image from google images.com)




silver chocolatier (image from google images.com)




Desserts and chocolate continue to be a perfect combination and includes such delicious treats as chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, chocolate bars , nuts covered in chocolate and chocolate biscuits to name a few.

classic chocolate cake ( photo from cookingnewyorktimes.com)

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. The True History of Chocolate. Third Edition. Thames & Hudson. Print


Mayan Cacao Complexity

All of the chocolate consumed around the world today (excluding that white “chocolate” imposter) is based on the same key ingredient that it was centered on 3800 years ago: the cacao bean (Coe and Coe, 36).  However, as anyone who has tried a raw cacao bean can tell you, this bean is very different from the finished chocolate product that we eat. The fancy names of common chocolate brands and Eurocentric history commonly applied to chocolate consumption, often give the impression that Europe is responsible for transforming the bean from a basic, raw ingredient into a complex, rich food. Nevertheless, chocolate was first created and consumed in Mesoamerica and, as the Maya demonstrate, chocolate had many variations and methods of consumption before the Europeans “discovered” it.

Map of Mesoamerica and the Maya – (FAMSI)

The Maya civilization was at its height during the 3rd through 9th centuries (well before Columbus arrived) and occupied territory in present day southeastern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador (Coe and Coe, 37; see map above). This territory contained pockets of ideal cacao growing conditions in which some of the best-tasting cacao would have been found. The Maya recognized the value of these regions and built an elaborate system relying on intense cultivation and irrigation, as well as sophisticated trading routes (chocolate historical timeline). In fact, the Maya even selected their favorite tasting varieties of cacao to further develop and produce these strains on larger scales (chocolate historical timeline). But the Maya were not just selecting for, and harvesting beans of high quality. They transformed these beans into multiple different variations of chocolate and “brought chocolate making to a high art” (Presilla, 11).

A common, and well-studied method of consuming cacao during the Maya period was as a beverage. Although there is little information regarding the consumption habits of ordinary Mayans, the tombs of elites give us clues as to how the high strata of Mayan society drank chocolate (Coe and Coe, 43). Painted vases in the tombs of elite Mayans have glyphs that indicate that these were vases for drinking cacao (Coe and Coe, 45). There are even variations in the “recipes” for the contents of the vessels; glyphs such as witik and kox possibly refer to chocolate flavorings (Coe and Coe, 46). Certainly, it is important to “warn against the simplistic notion that there was one sole chocolate drink made by the Maya” (Coe and Coe, 48). Some paintings on drinking vessels appear to show achiote-flavored chocolate drinks with vanilla, maguey sap, and honey possibly being added as well (Presilla, 13-14). The translation of these recipes was confirmed by the work of the Hershey laboratory, as many of these vases contained both theobromine and caffeine; in Mesoamerica, these two compounds are found together only in cacao (Coe and Coe, 36,46). Additionally, the Hershey laboratory has found evidence of cacao in other food vessels.

Left: Cylindrical vessel, 6th–9th century | The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 2005 | 2005.435. Right: Vessel with seated lord, 7th–8th century | The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1992 | 1992.4
Maya drinking vessels at the Met Museum of Art

Previously, it was thought that non-drinking vases did not need to be investigated for the presence of cacao. (Presilla, 15). However, the discovery of cacao along with fish and turkey bones indicates that cacao was not only drunk, but was used in cooking sauces for meats and possibly toppings for tamales (Presilla, 14-15). This means that chocolate could have played an even larger culinary role than what was formerly thought. Indeed, the recent detection of capsaicin (a compound found in spicy chiles) in containers also containing cacao and meat bones, suggests a precursor to the chocolate-based dish called “mole” that is eaten in Mexico today (Presilla, 15).

The chocolate that is consumed around the world today has its roots in Mesoamerica. Not just with the Mesoamerican climate, or the Mesoamerican soil, not even just the Mesoamerican cacao plant – but with the Mesoamerican people. A close look at the Maya shows that they selected and manipulated the cacao plant to harvest the best raw beans possible, transformed these beans into drinks, broths, and sauces, and added other ingredients to infuse layers of complexity and richness to the food or beverage. So, even as we bite into our Ghiradellis, Godivas, and Lindts, it is worth remembering and acknowledging that chocolate is not some brilliant invention of Europeans, but a pre-Columbian tradition that has evolved over the centuries.


Works Cited

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

Presilla, Maricel E. The new taste of chocolate: a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Random House Digital, Inc., 2009.

Bean-To-Bar vs. Big Chocolate Companies: The Differences

In today’s chocolate industry, big companies in the United States such as Hershey’s focus on how much money they are able to make off consumers regardless of the consumers hurt or offended in the process compared to small bean to bar chocolate makers around the world that are making an impact in the chocolate industry when it comes to health and advertising.

In history chocolate was made without large machines and extra ingredients holding the bar together. However, various ingredients and forms were introduced which changed chocolate forever. From the time of the Mayans and Aztecs to today’s present day, chocolate’s ingredients and structure has changed. Ingredients such as sugar or peanut butter enhance the flavor for most consumers. However, big companies such as Hershey’s continue to adulterate food products, often adding lead or brick dust despite the introduction to the Adulteration of Foods Act (Coe & Coe, 2013). Big chocolate companies also have cheaper, lower quality chocolate due to their usage of bulk cacao from different cacao farms (Presilla, 2009). Cacao beans which have been overly fermented, over roasted or rotten are known as bulk cacao (Presilla, 2009). Due to the cheap chocolate addiction, the increase of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes grew dramatically over the past thirty years (Albritton, 2013).

Another constant problem in the chocolate industry is the chocolate advertisements that are often offensive and degrade the personalities of women. These advertisements portray beautiful women but they are sexually ecstatic or look seductive when they consume chocolate (Leissle, 2012). There are various posters, commercials, banners and radio advertisements from Godiva, Cadbury, and other big chocolate companies which create advertisements that represent women or black men in an offensive way. Unfortunately, even the present day contains these ads. Bean to bar chocolate makers focus on the quality on their products (using fine cacao and little sugar, retaining the taste of old-fashioned chocolate) and the traditional way of making chocolate (Presilla, 2009). They represent themselves through descriptive videos without exaggerated and offensive stereotypes. A descendant of the Cadbury brothers describes the adulteration of chocolate, Taza chocolate (a small bean to bar chocolate companies in the United States) shares their entire process through tours and on their website, an offensive advertisement from Godiva demonstrates the false representation of women and Beach chocolate’s representative video are perfect examples of the positive impact of bean to bar chocolate makers and the negative impact big chocolate companies make in demonstration and quality.

This passage is from an article called “Chocolate Wars Waged With Kittens and Brick Dust.” It is based on the history of chocolate from the website “thestar.com.” A British historian, Deborah Cadbury, is a descendant of the Cadbury family whose company still runs today but by a different name. She was interviewed on the history of Cadbury and she described the adulteration of chocolate: “In Victorian times, only the wealthy could afford chocolate. It was this drink that got a very mixed reception because lentils and pearl barley tended to be added to mop up the cocoa butter . . . Unscrupulous traders were adding brick dust and animal fat. The Cadburys weren’t doing this. The Cadburys came up with pure cocoa in the late 1860s and business took off with the introduction of the Adulteration of Foods Acts, (which stated all ingredients had to be listed).” It is important to notice that she admits other companies have adulterated chocolate, but it seems that she could be whitewashing the history of the Cadbury company (Coe & Coe, 2013). This is the problem with larger chocolate companies is that once they have made enough money and they have earned their customer’s loyalty, it is unlikely that they would give out any negative or secret information on how they make their chocolate (Albritton, 2013). Although larger companies are hesitant to spread any secrets they have or do factory, it is likely that the Taza Chocolate factory conceals nothing from their consumers.

Taza is a small bean to bar chocolate factory in Somerville, Massachusetts. On Taza Chocolate’s website, they describe the process for making their chocolate. “Our stone ground chocolate making process is inspired by centuries-old Mexican chocolate traditions. We use authentic Oaxacan stone mills called molinos to grind our cacao, with granite millstones hand carved by co-founder Alex. These stones minimally refine the cacao beans, capturing all their vibrant flavors and allowing tiny bits of cacao and organic cane sugar to remain in the finished chocolate. The result: chocolate brimming with bright tastes and bold textures.” It seems that While companies like Hershey’s and Mars are hesitant to give out too much information and white-wash their history and goals, Taza chocolate refrains from hiding anything from consumers and they give out every step of the process that they have and their intentions. If people wish to see their process on how their chocolate is made, tours are held in their main factory in Somerville, Massachusetts. It is as if Taza is very open to the community and they want to introduce a healthier and more traditional chocolate that educates consumers about the history of as well as satisfies their taste buds. In terms of representation, big chocolate companies go for exaggeration stereotypes (Leissle, 2012).

Here is an advertisement which was released in the United States in 2012 by the chocolate company Godiva.

So in this advertisement, there are two women (one disguised as a man). The woman in the red seductive attire (also wearing a seductive smile) hands a heart-shaped box of chocolate to the woman in men’s attire. As soon as the disguised woman takes a bite of the heart-shaped chocolate, she shuts her eyes in ecstasy and reveals herself. The commercial ends with the woman in the red dress tasting the chocolate also and she shuts her eyes excitingly as well. This offensive stereotype in chocolate advertisements is very common. It is as if chocolate is a sex-object that women would prefer over men because it could give them more pleasure. This advertisement gives an offensive and negative implication. Women are animals and they are sexually attracted to a simple yet delicious commodity. It seems that chocolate companies want to represent the seductiveness of chocolate, and it could replace the relationship between a man and a woman. Big chocolate companies continue to represent the relationship between chocolate and women in this way (Leissle, 2012). This makes a negative impact on women, but markets do not care as long as their business consumes a lot of money (Leissle, 2012). Compared to the larger companies, smaller chocolate factories represent themselves differently without creating appalling labels or dramatization.

Here is a video from a vlogger named David Benjamin interviewing Henrik who works at this Costa-Rican bean to bar factory known as Beach Chocolate. Notice how Henrik is holding a cacao pod rather than a box of chocolate hearts. This important because it symbolizes the source of chocolate and source in its natural form for viewers to see.

Compared to most chocolate representations, this is a fantastic way to demonstrate the work that goes into the product rather than sexualizing it. This chocolate factory’s video does not create any wild exaggerations or stereotypes. It takes a viewer to the source of what they are consuming (or should be consuming). There is no seductive encounter with chocolate or with a man and a woman. A simple and calm interview promoting their chocolate factory is what this video’s synopsis holds. It is as if these small chocolate factories are bringing back chocolate’s old-fashioned process and ingredients to what it was in the time of the Mayans and Aztecs. It seems that they are bringing back true chocolate made with fine cacao and very little sugar, that sweet and rich treat which the Europeans discovered through their humble representation and open arms to their communities (Coe & Coe, 2013).

To conclude, small bean to bar chocolate factories make quite an impact. If there should a positive change in the chocolate industry, then consumers should become aware of the healthier chocolate options available to them as well as acknowledging and analyzing offensive advertisements. Consumers can spread the word about offensive and unhealthy chocolate amongst their family members, classmates and in their community. Bean to bar chocolate factories themselves teach us about what a true, sweet and bitter treat chocolate can be and its long history dating back to the day it was a drink rather than the bar we know today.

Works Cited



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HleyMMWke6Y  “Godiva: Valentine” (2012)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXGjBdKHlnA “A Bean To Bar Chocolate Factory Tour Experience In Costa Rica” (2014)

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

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

Albritton, Robert. Between Obesity and Hunger: The Capitalist Food Industry. New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. 2013. Print

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan Cocoa Farmers: Refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements, Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24:2, 121-139

Special thanks to all my peers, the guest lecturers, my teacher and teaching assistant for everything they have shared and taught me!

Gilded In Gold: L.A. Burdick, Class, and the Construction of Luxury

L.A. Burdick constructs a luxurious chocolate eating experience through its store design, choice of ingredients and product titles, and emphasis on packaged gifts. Burdick’s attracts and caters to consumers looking for this high-end experience, while it excludes consumers of lower socioeconomic status and culinary literacy that may feel uncomfortable with the store’s atmosphere and be unable to afford its high price tag. Why certain individuals feel at home in a Burdick’s shop while others would rather not spend time there largely can be explained by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and capital. He argues that cultural preferences stem from one’s habitus, which is formed beginning in early childhood from “class-specific experiences of socialization in family and peer groups” (Swartz, 102), proposing that “class positions are defined by holdings of social and cultural capital as well as economic assets” (Murdock, 64). I will focus on cultural and economic capital and how they relate to Burdick’s consumers. Cultural capital can be defined as “institutionalized, i.e., widely shared, high status cultural signals (attitudes, preferences, formal knowledge, behaviors, goods and credentials) used for social and cultural exclusion” (Lamont and Lareau, 1988) and economic capital refers to how much money one has. Burdick’s targets customers whose habitus reflect high economic and cultural capital, since this kind of early life environment is likely to produce individuals that have the means to purchase expensive chocolate and have an interest in buying products that are high-quality, European in name and style, and ethically sourced.

To better understand how L.A. Burdick markets to consumers and constructs an experience for them, I visited the store at 2 pm on Sunday, April 26, 2015, and made observations as I sipped my dark drinking chocolate for an hour.



Burdick’s (pictured above) is tucked away from the main Harvard Square area, and its subtle brown awning with gold lettering is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This unassuming entrance aligns with the image that Burdick’s tries to project; it exudes class rather than flash and looks like a hidden gem that only people who are in the know are aware of. There is a queue barrier outside, further suggesting to passersby that this shop is potentially exclusive and important enough to draw crowds. These visual cues help to attract Burdick’s target demographic (individuals high in both cultural and economic capital) and to deter others (individuals who don’t have extra money to spend on expensive chocolate and/or have no interest in buying it) before they even enter the shop.

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Once inside (pictured above), the chandeliers emit a subtle, yellowish light that creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. The decor consists largely of red oak wood, and the color scheme is a mix of browns, greens, and golds. This evokes an old world charm and creates seamlessness between the colors of the room and the colors of the treats being consumed. The china used is white, which showcases the colors of their deep, dark chocolate. Overall, Burdick’s aesthetic is strikingly similar to that of a London coffee house (which also served chocolate drinks) circa 1700 (pictured below).

They share the same color scheme of earthy neutrals and heavy use of wood. While Burdick’s opts for tables that accommodate small parties, the coffee house of late 17th century London was a crucial part of political and social life, so large tables that enabled conversation were preferred (Coe and Coe, 166-167). Coffee houses may have been open to all who could afford to drink in England, but in 17th century France, chocolate was only for the aristocracy (Coe and Coe, 166). Burdick’s chandeliers are reminiscent of France’s exclusive mentality. Similar to chocolate, which became available to the masses in the 19th century (Coe and Coe, 232), when chandeliers came into existence in the 14th century, they were so expensive that only the wealthy could afford them; it wasn’t until electricity was commonly used in the 1890s that chandeliers were accessible to more households (Home and Living). While the intentionality behind Burdick’s signals of wealth is uncertain, its European influence is definite. Larry Burdick says that he was inspired to start the company after a visit to a confiserie in Bern, Switzerland in the 1980s, and his wife, Paula, who designed the company’s look, says that she used “details gleaned from her time in Paris” to create “an ambiance of relaxed elegance” (L.A. Burdick). Larry and Paula Burdick – perhaps unaware of the exact elements of history they were referencing – combine the historic public drinking of chocolate in England and its exclusivity in France through the interior design of their shop. This aesthetic creates a space that appeals to high cultural and economic capital consumers, who want to escape to old world Europe for a little and who feel at home surrounded by symbols of opulence.

Burdick’s caters to mature consumers, and during the time I was there, I only saw two children. The treats that Burdick’s sells, which feature European names (e.g. Gugelhupf), liquors (e.g. limoncello, rum, and kirsch), and somewhat divisive flavors and spices (e.g. ginger, anise, and lavender), are meant for an audience that prides itself in enjoying these exotic flavors rather than recoiling at their mention. Food neophobia is defined as a “reluctance to eat and/or avoidance of novel foods” (Pliner and Hobden, 1992). A study of Australian adolescents showed that rural adolescents (classified as low socioeconomic status and exposed to less cultural diversity) reported greater food neophobia than the urban adolescents, who were more willing to try new foods (Flight et al., 2003). Bourdieu would say that food neophobia is a product of one’s habitus; a working class upbringing trains one to be wary of the unfamiliar, while an upper class lifestyle trains one to be accepting of novel experiences. Burdick’s does not make an effort to Americanize its desserts so that it can appeal to the widest possible audience. Instead, it does the opposite, curating a menu full to the brim with foreign items likely to draw in a consumer base with the familial background, education, and financial means necessary to acquire an appreciation for such delicacies.


A case full of desserts with European names

Based on my in-store observation, Burdick’s customers spend the most money when they’re purchasing chocolate gift boxes for other people. These gift boxes are displayed prominently and are adorned with colorful ribbons. They offer consumers an opportunity to share the Burdick’s experience with others, while simultaneously reflecting positively on their own good taste. Sociologist Diane Barthel says that chocolate is “a part of life that is excessive: extra, surplus, having more to do with losing control than with gaining it, with spending rather than saving, with sex rather than salvation” and that chocolate boxes offer “promise of privilege and transcendence above everyday needs and political agendas” (Barthel, 1989). Burdick’s gift boxes exemplify Barthel’s notions of excess and spending. Their “Bee and Caramel Set,” only offered around Mother’s Day, starts at $54.00, and includes Honey-Bee Bonbons, Bee “Hive” Truffles, and eight types of caramels (e.g. mocha and salted cardamom) (L.A. Burdick). Selling bonbons shaped like honeybees is reminiscent of the molding of sugar paste into animals, buildings, and objects in 15th and 16th century England (Mintz, 89). Because such large quantities of expensive ingredients were required, this practice was originally confined to the king and other elites and spread to non-nobility during the 16th century (Mintz, 89-91). The decorative sugar “embodied in display the host’s wealth, power, and status” (Mintz, 90). Burdick’s uses a similar technique today to connote status and good taste with its bee-shaped chocolates, though this is likely unconscious of sculpted sugar’s historical roots. Their gift sets simultaneously make the recipient feel respected and affirm the status of the gift giver. By giving someone a Burdick’s gift set, consumers send the signal that they are high in economic and cultural capital (whether or not that is actually the case). Receiving a Burdick’s gift set may reinforce one’s class status (upper middle/upper class) and align with the habitus, or it may provide an opportunity to escape from one’s habitus and to get a taste of a different class’ lifestyle.

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 Shelves full of exquisitely wrapped chocolate gift boxes

While the focus of my Burdick’s analysis is on class, its relationship with consumers is much more complex. This idea is at the core of intersectionality, which is defined as “the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relations and subject formations” (McCall, 2005). One area where this intersectionality is clear is Burdick’s gifts. I’ve already established their connection to class, but they also have a major gendered component. While the Mother’s Day Bee and Caramel Set is tied with a bright green ribbon and filled with bite-sized chocolates shaped like cute honeybees with almonds for wings, the suggested Father’s Day gift set is a wood box of chocolate cigars (L.A. Burdick). The Mother’s Day assortment is ultra sweet with its combination of caramel and honey, while the Father’s Day cigars are flavored with rum and downplay any element of sweetness. This difference in emphasis on sweetness reinforces the association between women and sugar, which goes back to England circa 1850-1950, when working class women and children ate relatively more sugar than adult men, who were the laborers and therefore ate more protein (Mintz, 144, 148-149). Smoking cigars is a traditionally masculine activity, done in spaces that either excluded women, like social clubs, (Swiencicki, 1998) or where men were in positions of power over women, like strip clubs (Frank, 2003). Women are often referred to as queen bees when they are smart, ambitious (Horn, 5), or willing to “sting” other women if their power is threatened (Mavin, 2008). When women are referred to as worker bees it implies that they “are supposed to labor behind the scenes, underpaid and content to sacrifice for the good of the whole” (Horn, 5). Taken together, Burdick’s sells chocolate gifts to women that connote powerlessness and docility, while it sells gifts to men that connote power over and exclusion of women and members of lower social classes. The continued acceptance of such antiquated gender stereotypes by both sexes is a curious phenomenon. Perhaps we take comfort in reinforcing these gender roles, even when they contribute to the perpetuation of patriarchy, because they are deeply ingrained in our male and female habitus and uphold the roles of the idealized nuclear family structure.


 Single origin bars on display

Burdick’s not only caters to the crowd that enjoys fancy desserts for the flavor or prestige, but it also targets socially conscious consumers with its line of single origin chocolate bars (pictured above). These include bars from Chuao, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Grenada, Madagascar, Venezuela, and Ecuador, and they range in price from $9 to $13 each and in cocoa content from 64% to 75% (L.A. Burdick). While the packaging of each bar does not specify the nature of Burdick’s relationship with the cacao farmers at each of these locations, further investigation of their website makes it clear that Burdick’s has partnered with independent cocoa farmers and built a cocoa processing facility on Grenada Island (L.A. Burdick). No such arrangement exists between Burdick’s and the other seven single origin sites and no additional information is available online about their dealings with these locations. Through the Burdick’s website, consumers can “Buy a Cocoa Tree, Support a Farmer” in Grenada by donating to the Cocoa Farming Future Initiative, which is “a non-profit fund which helps preserve fragile ecosystems through clean, sustainable farming techniques, and to raise the farmer’s income” (Cocoa Farming Future Initiative), or they can contribute by purchasing Grenada chocolate products, since 10% of the price is donated to CFFI automatically (L.A. Burdick). Interestingly, a customer inside a Burdick’s store would have no way of knowing that the Grenada bar was special in this way and would be unable to differentiate it from the other single origin bars by anything other than the flavor hints listed and package coloring.


Clickable ad from Burdick’s website to donate to CFFI

Studies have shown that above average socioeconomic status correlates with high social consciousness, while average and lower socioeconomic status correlates with low social consciousness (Anderson and Cunningham, 1972, Webster, 1975). Therefore, Burdick’s engagement with socially conscious chocolate consumption through its line of single origin bars and cocoa processing facility on Grenada Island aligns with the mentality of its upper middle to upper class target consumer, who has both high economic and cultural capital. Burdick’s provides these individuals with an appealing outlet for their social awareness and economic means that allows them to do more than just purchase chocolate – it allows them to contribute to improving the lives of others.

I scoured 123 Yelp reviews from 2014 and 2015 for the Brattle Street L.A. Burdick in an effort to understand how Burdick’s meets consumers’ expectations and to pinpoint what drives good vs. bad experiences. Out of the 123 reviews, 100 were 4-5 stars and 23 were 3 or fewer stars (Yelp), which speaks to the possibility that people who use Yelp regularly are likely to be part of the consumer audience that Burdick’s targets (educated, enough money to dine out). The bar graphs below display the factors that Yelpers listed for forming their positive or negative impressions.


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Based on these numbers, every single customer who enjoyed their Burdick’s experience commented on how much they liked the flavor and high quality of the chocolate (calling it liquid gold, the best ever, chocolate crack, luxurious, rich, and dreamy), and many of them also felt attracted to the shop because they liked the ambiance (calling it cozy, lovely, fancy, adorable, quaint, and romantic). The 23 reviewers that did not have a good experience seem to have different taste and ambiance preferences and are unwilling to pay Burdick’s high prices for chocolate concoctions that are too “rich,” “heavy,” and “overwhelming” for their tastes. One consumer who rated Burdick’s with only 1 star communicates the deeper issues that may underlie why some consumers love the ambiance and product, while others dislike it:

“There I am; jeans and a hoodie, looking like a hot mess, mixed in with overly dressed middle aged women pushing 2K strollers around.  Eh, I was a bit out of placed… I may visit if I am ever in that area again, I hope not though.  That would involve me getting way too overdressed for 1pm on a Saturday afternoon.”

 -Cristina C.

Class-consciousness is clearly a major factor that contributed to Cristina C.’s negative experience at Burdick’s. While Cristina C. may not have been able to articulate why she felt so out of place beyond the surface reason that she was underdressed, Bourdieu would attribute her discomfort to a disjuncture between her habitus and environment (Reay, 2004). The women that she observed wore clothes and pushed strollers that she recognized as out of her price range, signaling their high economic and cultural capital. This points to class and habitus differences between these women and Cristina C., likely stemming from better educational opportunities and greater exposure to diverse culture by their families. Cristina C. focused her ill feelings toward Burdick’s on the women she saw there, but the atmosphere of the shop, which mimics and invites the women’s combination of status and high culture, also contributes to habitus disjuncture. Cristina C.’s emotional response highlights the mechanism by which Burdick’s constructs its space of luxury; its atmosphere and products align with a specific upper middle class/upper class habitus, cultivating these target clients through feelings of belonging and opportunity for ethical consumption, while they create disjuncture with the working class habitus, eliciting feelings ranging from unease to hostility and alienating these consumers.

Works Cited:

Anderson, Thomas W., Cunningham, William H., 1972. The Socially Conscious Consumer. Journal of Marketing. 36, 23-31.

Barthel, Diane, 1989. Modernism and Marketing: The Chocolate Box Revisited. Theory, Culture & Society. 6, 429-438.

Cocoa Farming Future Initiative. Web. 1 May 2015. http://www.cffigrenada.org/CFFI_donate.html

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

Flight, Ingrid, Leppard, Phillip, Cox, David N., 2003. Food neophobia and associations with cultural diversity and socio-economic status amongst rural and urban Australian adolescents. Appetite. 41(1), 51-59.

Frank, Katherine, 2003. “Just trying to relax”: Masculinity, masculinizing practices, and strip club regulars. The Journal of Sex Research. 40(1), 61-75.

The History Behind the Chandelier – The Story Behind the Sparkle. Home and Living Magazine. Web. 1 May 2015. http://www.hlmagazine.com/hl-online/web-exclusives/the-history-behind-the-chandelier-the-story-behind-the-sparkle/

Horn, Tammy. Beeconomy: What Women and Bees Can Teach Us about Local Trade and the Global Market. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 2012. Print.

L.A. Burdick: Homemade Chocolates. Web. 1 May 2015. http://www.burdickchocolate.com

Lamont, Michele, Lareau, Annette, 1988. Cultural Capital: Allusions, Gaps and Glissandos in Recent Theoretical Developments. Sociological Theory. 6(2), 153-168.

London Coffeehouse circa 1700 image. Web. 1 May 2015. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7389/9456761987_04f79bab9f_o.jpg

Mavin, Sharon, 2008. Queen Bees, Wannabees and Afraid to Bees: No More ‘Best Enemies’ for Women in Management?. British Journal of Management. 19(s1), S75-S84.

McCall, Leslie, 2005. The Complexity of Intersectionality. Signs. 30(3), 1771-1800.

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

Murdock, Graham, 2010. Review Essay, Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: a social critique of the judgement of taste. International Journal of Cultural Policy. 16(1), 63-65.

Pliner, Patricia, Hobden, Karen, 1992. Development of a scale to measure the trait of food neophobia in humans. Appetite. 19, 105-120.

Reay, Diane, 2004. ‘It’s all becoming a habitus’: beyond the habitual use of habitus in educational research. British Journal of Sociology of Education. 25(4), 431-444.

Swartz, David. Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997. Print.

Swiencicki, Mark A., 1998. Consuming Brotherhood: Men’s Culture, Style and Recreation as Consumer Culture, 1880-1930. Journal of Social History. 31(4), 773-808.

Webster, Frederick E. Jr., 1975. Determining the Characteristics of the Socially Conscious Consumer. Journal of Consumer Research. 2(3), 188-196.

Yelp: L.A. Burdick Chocolate. Web. 1 May 2015. http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-burdick-chocolate-cambridge

Photos of L.A. Burdick store taken by the author; graphs generated by the author

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.

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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>.

Rebranding Nesquik to Attract Career-minded Women outside Traditional Stereotypes

Gender and role specific themes have long been used in advertising. Chocolate became available to the working class in the 1800s and from that point on, advertisements told mothers and housewives that cocoa is a healthy, respectable, family product (Robertson 2010:20-21). Advertisements targeting women outside this traditional stereotype developed as women became increasingly liberated from domestic roles. A close reading of a current Nestlé’s ad targeting women in child nurturing roles followed by a close reading of a response ad that disconnects women from traditional stereotypes and rebrands Nesquik as a product enjoyed by college-professional women shows both ads to use advertising techniques effectively and to be part of larger socio-historical trends.

The current Nestlé’s ad shows a woman preparing Nesquik for herself and two children. Shown here:


Visual aspects of this ad place the product front and center with its lid off. A milk carton is next to the product and the woman stirring a glass indicates ease of preparation. The people are dressed in casual, modern-day clothing, the kitchen is clean, and a bowl of fruit and kitchen supplies are neatly organized in the background indicating a caring, hygienic environment.

This well-kept kitchen environment contributes to ethos, logos, and pathos used as advertising techniques. Ethos or moral trustworthiness is used by presenting a mother who cares enough to keep her kitchen clean and who trusts Nesquik enough to give it to her children. Leaving the lid off the container revealing its content also encourages trust. The image indicates that ordinary families with good values use this product. Logos or logic is used by displaying a carton of milk indicating that Nesquik mixed with milk is nutritious. This is in keeping with the trend of advertising cocoa as good for growing children’s bone and muscle (Robertson 2010:21). This type of ad appeals to the stereotype of women as guardians of family health and welfare and targets women who see themselves as buying only safe and healthy products for their children (Robertson 2010:53-54). Pathos or emotion is used to persuade as well. Happiness is felt in the characters’ physical closeness, eagerness, and the little girl’s grin. Overall, the story being told is that morally-responsible, logical mothers buy Nestlé’s Nesquik and share close, happy, and healthy moments with their children.

There is a long history of ads using the nurturing mother narrative, reflecting socio-historical trend. For instance, Rowntree ran ads in the 1930s called the Special Mother Campaign (Robertson 2010:21). Exampled here:


These ads highlighted chocolate as a nutritious food that mothers could feel good about giving to their children and that would supply energy to get work done throughout the day (Robertson 2010:21). The current Nestlé’s Nesquik ad is part of this longstanding socio-historical trend.

My team created a response ad to the current Nestlé’s ad by disconnecting Nesquik from motherhood and rebranding it as a product enjoyed by college-professional women. Shown here:

chocolate advertisement

Gaffney, Leah and Cornelius, Rachael.
Gaffney, Leah and Cornelius, Rachael.

The image is of two modern-day, professionally dressed women seated in an office-study area looking over papers. Visual aspects draw attention to Nesquik by placing it in center field, balancing its level of view with a coffee cup, and offering an inadvertent finger point toward it. The easy carry bottle indicates convenience. One newspaper on the table indicates a college environment and another reminds that women’s roles have changed. The industrial fire alarm indicates an office setting rather than a home.

This professional environment contributes to ethos, logos, and pathos advertising techniques used in this advertisement. The theme of women driven toward professional goals suggests responsibility, ethics, or ethos. Their intellectual focus lends trust that these women have developed a successful work routine that includes Nesquik. Using logos, Nesquik is equated with energy by placing it at an equal visual level with coffee. Consuming energy drinks to help stay alert has long been accepted as safe and logical. Pathos is also used to persuade. The vision of women working together toward a common intellectual goal creates a happy sense of professional sisterhood. Overall, the advertisement tells the story that women’s roles have changed as have the roles of products and that collaborative, intellectual experiences are augmented by drinking energy drinks such as Nesquik.

This ad targets women outside traditional roles as part of a more recent socio-historical trend. For instance, chocolate was advertised in the 1930s as boosting productivity in working roles for women such as typing (Robertson 2010:24). Ads marketing chocolate as an energy source gained momentum in the 1940s when war efforts increased the number of women working outside the home (Robertson 2010:54). Apart from the food-energy theme, the response ad emphasizes intellectual pursuit consistent with the women’s independence trend. Starting in the 1950s, ads reflected women’s social, political, and sexual liberation (Robertson 2010:54). There is an element of professional style, confidence, and intelligence offered by the women in the response ad that is similar in message to that of the new Divine Chocolate ads depicting stylish, intelligent, African female business owners disconnected from stereotyped nurturing roles (Leissle 2002:121). Exampled here:


Although the Divine ad is different from the response ad in some ways, such as culture, setting, and dress, both ads deliver the message that successful career-oriented women enjoy chocolate and both are part of the more recent socio-historical trend of women operating outside traditional stereotypes.

Both the current Nestlé’s ad targeting women in nurturing roles and the response ad targeting women in college-professional roles use persuasive techniques effectively to reach consumers and reflect ongoing trends. Running ads such as these concurrently may strengthen Nesquik’s appeal even more for women who are both mothers and career professionals. For instance, mothers who make Nesquik at home with their children may also be persuaded to take it to work in easy to use containers. Overall, ads such as these that capture the interest of certain groups and reflect socio-historical trends successfully sell chocolate.

References Cited

Divine Chocolate. (2013). Two dimensional image. Impressivemagazinee.com. Web. 5, April 2015. https://www.google.com/search?q=divine+chocolate+with+social+flavour&biw=1288&bih=768&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=BoglVbXpN8X7sAXVooGgDw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAg#imgrc=IexN32w1_W78aM%253A%3B6H4NGaE06p6vzM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimpressivemagazine.com%252Fwp-content%252Fuploads%252F2013%252F07%252Fdivine-ad.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimpressivemagazine.com%252F2013%252F07%252F24%252Fdivine-chocolate-with-social-flavour%252F%3B600%3B775

Gaffney, Leah and Rachael Cornelius. “Chocolate Advertisement.” 2015. JPEG file.

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

Nesquik commercial with Bret Loehr. (2010). Two dimensional image from video. Youtube.com. Web. 5, April 2015. https://www.google.com/search?q=nestle+nesquik+advertisement&biw=1288&bih=768&site=webhp&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=DX4lVcDmBIeXsAXR1oGoBQ&ved=0CCoQsAQ&dpr=1#imgrc=IqVG6Vi0s_COCM%253A%3Bz01l0OoAMr5zIM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi.ytimg.com%252Fvi%252FWEHdT2Ycto0%252Fhqdefault.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.youtube.com%252Fwatch%253Fv%253DWEHdT2Ycto0%3B480%3B360

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

Rowntree’s-Cocoa. (1930s). Two dimensional image. Advertisementsindia.com. Web. 5, April 2015. http://www.advertisementsindia.com/2011/05/rowntrees-cocoa/

The Popularization of Chocolate

Amidst the frenzy of the industrial revolution, liquid chocolate was a dying breed. Its requisite painstaking preparation became increasingly unappetizing to a culture where ease and convenience of food was elevated over all. Thus, as industrial practices allowed chocolate to be cemented into its bar form, its popularity soared, mirroring the popularity of other types of easily prepared, pre-packaged foods. It was the conjunction of this specific demand for convenience foods and chocolate’s timely transformation into a bar that enabled chocolate to ride the train of industrialization to become a popular food for the masses.

The techniques developed for preservation and mass production of food were key players in the popularization of convenience food. Canning, freezing,and simple technological adjustments that allowed mass production, in particular, allowed the shelf lives of certain types of foods to be considerably extended, fundamentally changing the diets of Americans and Europeans and eventually triggering a demand for pre-packaged cuisine in the 19th century (Goody 77). This change was eagerly welcomed by a growing force of industrial laborers that had neither the time nor the energy to toil over their kitchen stoves, nursing elaborate meal preparations for their families. A Campbell’s Soup advertisement perfectly captures this sentiment in the voice of a 20th century housewife—”I have all the handy contrivances that save more than they cost. And we never make our own soup. I use Campbell’s Soups. So do thousands of careful and capable housewives who are abreast of modern ideas” (“15 Hottest Food Trends…”). A Nestle baby food ad from the same era further highlighting this trend—while perhaps, causing our 21st century sensibilities to bristle—emphasizes that the food is “powdered and packaged in an air-tight can” (“Infant Formula”).

Campbell's Soup Advertisement from 1912
Campbell’s Soup Advertisement from 1912
Nestle Food Advertisement from 1915
Nestle Food Advertisement from 1915

Chocolate followed a similar trajectory, hitting a number of key innovations before becoming widely accepted as a staple food of the masses. Van Houten’s defatting and alkalization process made chocolate drinks cheaper, easier, and tastier, prompting their subjection to large-scale manufacture (Coe and Coe 235). Joseph Fry’s invention of the chocolate bar was probably the key development that accelerated chocolate’s preeminence, singlehandedly transforming the nature of the substance so deeply that the resultant confection bore hardly any resemblance to its frothy ancestor (Coe and Coe 241). This finally released chocolate from its impenetrable golden shackles and catapulted it into the grabby hands of the immediacy-seeking industrial masses. Lastly, the organization of a mass, assembly-line operation for chocolate by people such as Milton Hershey in the early 1900s was the final piece of the chocolate popularization equation, elevating chocolate and its few monopolistic makers to omnipresence throughout society (Coe and Coe 252).

As the material substance and the accessibility of chocolate changed, they transformed how chocolate figured into the psyche of the masses. Before, chocolate was a fancy drink for the elite, but upon being converted into a solid, it joined a horde of bars and cans on grocers’ shelves that all signaled immediacy and convenience. Furthermore, it became increasingly important for companies to brand themselves as the popular choice, since they were serving massive numbers of the population (Goody 85). These changes can be seen when comparing chocolate drink ads from before, which highlight the quality of chocolate—”invigorating, stimulating…delicious flavor and aroma” (“The Surprising Manly History…”)—and the solid chocolate ads after the change, which emphasize the brand name and the convenience with which chocolate can be eaten—”no cutting-no shaving- just melt” (Chapman), and “Housekeepers…should make sure that their grocer does not give them any of the imitations now on the market. Look for the Trade Mark on every package” (“History of Chocolate Exhibit…”).

Baker's Advertisement highlighting the quality of the chocolate
Baker’s Advertisement highlighting the quality of the chocolate
Hershey's Advertisement highlighting the easy preparation of the chocolate
Hershey’s Advertisement highlighting the easy preparation of the chocolate
Baker's Chocolate Advertisement with branding
Baker’s Chocolate Advertisement with branding

Chocolate’s ascendancy as a convenient, packaged food paralleled the rise of other pre-packaged foods, all feeding into a culture obsessed with convenience. As the demand for chocolate continuously interacted with the technological developments it underwent, chocolate was transformed from an elusive drink of the rich into a household staple dessert, and now, chocolate is no longer just a snack, but a powerfully uniting force—a symbol of comfort, indulgence, and pleasure that has become so ingrained into our psyche that we cannot imagine life without it.

Works Cited

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

Goody, Jack. Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine. In Counihan, Carole. Food and Culture: A Reader. New York: Routledge, 1997. Print.

Multimedia Sources

“15 Hottest Food Trends Of 1912.” Do It Yourself. 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <http://diybusinessnews.com/15-hottest-food-trends-of-1912/&gt;.

Chapman, Callum. “Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With These Delicious Vintage Advertisements.” Design & Illustration. Tuts, 4 Jan. 2011. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <http://design.tutsplus.com/articles/satisfy-your-sweet-tooth-with-these-delicious-vintage-advertisements–psd-11704&gt;.

“History of Chocolate Exhibit at the North House.” Greenbrier Historical Society North House Museum Archives. 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <http://www.blog.greenbrierhistorical.org/2013/04/history-of-chocolate-exhibit-at-the-north-house/&gt;.

“Infant Formula.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infant_formula&gt;.

“The Surprisingly Manly History of Hot Cocoa.” The Art of Manliness. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/12/17/the-surprisingly-manly-history-of-hot-cocoa/&gt;.

Quest for Sweetness: How Innovations in Chocolate Reflect a Love for Sugar

Although having been consumed as a beverage for many centuries, in the time following chocolate’s introduction to Europe, the collective idea of what chocolate is would change, along with how chocolate is enjoyed and how it tastes. As a beverage,

Although the splendor of drinking chocolate in White’s Chocolate House would appeal to the nobility, it was unreasonable and uncommon for members of the lower house to do so.
Although the splendor of drinking chocolate in White’s Chocolate House would appeal to the nobility, it was unreasonable and uncommon for members of the lower house to do so.

chocolate was almost entirely consumed by the higher classes, until innovations in chocolate production made it available to other classes which culminated in the first chocolate bars being produced. After this breakthrough, many more techniques would be invented such as conching, and filling chocolate, all changing how chocolate tastes, how it is consumed, and also how it is viewed by the public. In the early twentieth century, a result of these techniques is a huge boom in the variety of chocolate confections, with companies such as Cadbury, Hershey’s, and Mars dominating the market by offering many varieties of “chocolate”.  Starting as a froth beverage, chocolate-making techniques developed products which could be geared more towards common people-as eating a chocolate bar requires less effort than the laborious task of making a chocolate drink, which the rich had been employing specialists (such as the Fry family) to do for them. The evolution of chocolate consumption also reflects the growing usage of sugar in European Society, as chocolate was refined and altered to fit this palate, leading to the creation of sweet concoctions such as the Lindt truffle and Milky Way Bar.

As the task of brewing a chocolate drink required expertise, time, and resources, only the elite could afford to regularly enjoy chocolate throughout the eighteenth century (Green 2013). The invention of the Dutch Press in 1828 by the van Houtens helped to close this gap, as lower quality cacao could be improved through this process, and now producing chocolate could be less expensive. The long transition of chocolate from drink to a food may have been expedited by the van Houtens, but the goal of widespread chocolate sales in edible form was realized by J.S. Fry and Sons in 1847, when the British chocolate company was able to produce the first chocolate bar suitable for widespread distribution (Coe&Coe 2013). These innovations mark the point where chocolate does become somewhat cost effective for the average person,

Even in the modern day chocolate is advertised as a meal replacement, however as this video shows, the marketing techniques may have changed: https://youtu.be/pamyPaTK4pw
Even in the modern day chocolate is advertised as a meal replacement, however as this video shows, the marketing techniques may have changed: https://youtu.be/pamyPaTK4pw

and when consuming chocolate becomes far more convenient than in the past as people could now buy chocolate and consume it the very next moment, instead of having to brew and froth a drink. An added bonus to the now solid chocolate is that it can be seen as a meal replacement, and was often advertised as such by companies at the time and even companies in the modern day.

After Fry’s innovation, chocolate would continue to be altered, changed, and significantly improved thanks to the discoveries of early chocolate makers. The products which these men produced also reflect the British trend highlighted by Sidney Mintz in his book Sweetness and Power: the Place of Sugar in Modern History, where sugar started as a luxury but then came to be seen as a necessity even for the lower classes of Britain, and all Europeans craved for their sweet tooth to be appeased (Mintz 1985). As a result of this boom in sugar demand as well as supply, chocolate confections too became sweeter to match this changing palate and desire for sweetness. By using Henri Nestlé’s powdered milk, Daniel Peter was able to mix the first milk chocolate bar, which decreased the bitterness of the chocolate and became a sweeter way to enjoy chocolate, while also using less cocoa. With Rudolphe Lindt’s process of conching allowing chocolate to be smoother, more consistent, more flavorful, and all around more appealing to the consumer, the work of Fry, Nestle and others could now be fine-tuned into gourmet chocolate bars. A final major advancement in chocolate occurred in 1879, when Jean Tobler discovered how to fill a chocolate bar with other candy fillings. This invention continues and indeed personifies the trend of a greater desire for sugar, as now bars were not limited to

This graph shows the modern leaders in chocolate sales, and as the list is topped by companies known for chocolate confections(rather than pure chocolate bars) showing the importance of Tobler’s invention, and the far reaching implications of it. *Numbers marked with an asterisk include net sales of the company, not just of confections.
This graph shows the modern leaders in chocolate sales, and as the list is topped by companies known for chocolate confections(rather than pure chocolate bars) showing the importance of Tobler’s invention, and the far reaching implications of it. *Numbers marked with an asterisk include net sales of the company, not just of confections.

choclate only but could contain any number of sugary treats such as nougat, caramel, Turkish delight, and countless other delicious fillings. Throughout the twentieth century, Tobler’s discovery and the candy that could be produced as a result would come to dominate the market, and in the public mind would partially represent what chocolate is, something with far more put into it than cacao beans.

Evolving drastically from how chocolate was originally enjoyed by Europeans, chocolate making techniques developed throughout the nineteenth century changing chocolate from a drink to a treat that could be enjoyed in solid form, greatly expanding the amount of people that could consume chocolate. This evolution also reflects the growing usage of sugar and how chocolate was refined and altered to fit this palate, leading to an idea of chocolate as being more than cocoa, but also a combination of many other sugary treats. This idea continues into the modern day, where the majority of chocolate is eaten in the form of confections which contain minor amounts of chocolate surrounding other sweets and substances, which reflects the infatuation mankind has developed with sugar, as has the development of chocolate.

Multimedia Sources:

Works Cited:

  • Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.
  • Green, Matthew. “The Surprising History of London’s Lost Chocolate Houses.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
  • Mintz, Sidney Wilfred. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York, N.Y.: Viking, 1985. Print.