Tag Archives: cocoa

A Pretense of Ethics: Slavery in Cocoa and Sugar Production

While slavery has technically been abolished in much of the world since the end of the 19th century, that does not prevent it from still occurring. Specifically, the chocolate and sugar production industries are notorious for slavery and poor labor conditions in the production of their products. Tactics were used by various chocolate and sugar producers to distance themselves from slavery while still supporting the system. The companies and its leadership would appear to be anti-slavery and pro-livable working conditions, however, those same companies used slaves in their production chains or ignored the use of slavery elsewhere. This allowed the companies to continue to use free and cheap labor to increase their profit while maintaining a positive public image.

The major concerns of all companies are profit and public image. Profit keeps the business afloat and successful. Public image ensures that consumers will continue to buy the company’s product, further helping their profit. These aspects take precedence over ethical dilemmas that companies may face even if the leadership of that company might strongly believe in resolving the ethical dilemma. A prime example of this is how the Cadbury company handled allegations that slavery existed in São Tomé and Príncipe, where they purchased over 45% of their cocoa for chocolate production (Satre 18).

The Cadbury family was known not only for being liberal and progressive but also decidedly anti-slavery. George Cadbury, the chairman, was a Quaker with many humanitarian and abolitionist friends, a member of the Anti-Slavery Society and the owner of the Daily News (London), which he used as a platform for the Liberal Party to advance its agenda that included abolition (Satre 16, 21). Cadbury even has a blue plaque publicly displayed in the United Kingdom professing his dedication to philanthropy, suggesting that he had an ethical and moral compass.

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Blue Plaque to George Cadbury in England (Wikipedia Commons)

William Cadbury, another member of the company, when dealing with the issue of slavery in São Tomé and Príncipe constantly expressed interest in stopping it. In June 1902, he wrote, in reference to the Angola slave trade “I am willing to help any organised plan that your Society may suggest for the definite purpose of putting a stop to the slave trade of this district,” (Satre 22) clearly showing his support for ending the slave trade. However, all this talk of support was met with very little action that benefited the enslaved community in São Tomé and Príncipe that produced nearly a majority of the cacao purchased by the Cadbury company. It was not until seven years after Cadbury received the initial reports of slavery that their own commissioned report on the problem was hesitantly released (Satre 32).

The image of morality extended to the company itself. Scholar Charles Dellheim discusses the company culture of Cadbury and throughout the beginning, he attests to the ethical values held by Cadbury. The first things he says about Cadbury is “The Quaker beliefs of the Cadbury family shaped the ethic of the firm” and “The Cadburys practiced benevolence” (Dellheim 14). The fact that he opened with this praise of Cadbury ethics shows that the public image of Cadbury as an ethical company was strong and prominent. And they still had yet to actually stop purchasing cacao from plantations in São Tomé and Príncipe where slavery was present.

This disconnect between their talk and action was largely driven by Cadbury’s desire to increase profits and maintain a positive public image. William Cadbury, who was known to be liberal and anti-slavery, explained that the slavery he faced with his company now appeared different to him. He “admitted that one ‘looks at these matters in a different light when it affects one’s own interests’” (Satre 19) and he displayed this inability to see the issue of slavery as the same because it affected his own interests when he explained that Cadbury “should all like to clear our hands of any responsibility for slave traffic in any form” (qtd in Satre 19). This approach to slavery is very different from what he portrayed before about putting an end to the slave trade. Here, he wants to dissolve any responsibility that he or the company has with the existence of slavery, but it does not necessarily follow that slavery must be abolished for this to happen. In fact, when they eventually boycotted cacao from São Tomé and Príncipe, slavery was not eradicated, instead, they were no longer responsible and another chocolate company took their spot in purchasing cacao from São Tomé and Príncipe.

Despite the Cadbury’s professed commitment to abolition, they still allowed slavery to continue in São Tomé and Príncipe because ending it would “affect [their] own interests,” meaning the profit of their country. It would be costly to try to move production elsewhere and additionally pay more to purchase the new cacao because the laborers would actually be paid wages. Even Cadbury said, as paraphrased by Sir Martin Gosselin, that “this might mean paying a somewhat higher price at first; but they were ready to make this sacrifice, if by so doing they could put a stop to a disguised slave Trade” (Satre 24). Unfortunately, if this were truly the case, Cadbury would have worked to end the slave trade in São Tomé and Príncipe rather than just leave the region, still open to slavery, because they started to get pressure from their consumers.

Through all of this, Cadbury was additionally protecting their public image. While publicly they seemed to be anti-slavery, it is clear that their actions did not reflect that. However, they continued to push the image that they were moral, ethical and fair. Cadbury had several ads claiming that they chocolate was “pure”. Once such ad is shown below. While pure probably literally meant that there were physically no additives that might contaminate the chocolate, the word choice connotes a sort of innocence. Purity is associated with something clean, moral and without scandal.

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Cadbury Advertisement in 1900 (The Advertising Archives)

Even in the report, they had commissioned on the working conditions in São Tomé and Príncipe, they sugar-coated the issue. There was an initial report that was revised to be less offensive to the Portuguese government and Higgs describes the difference in Chocolate Islands saying “The most striking difference between the two reports was the careful language in the 1907 version. As Burtt acknowledged, great care was taken to avoid ‘referring to the serviçaes as slaves or to the serviçal system as slavery, because, approaching the matter as I did with an open mind, I have wished to avoid question-begging epithets”(Higgs 136). Intuitively it would follow that Cadbury would look to end slavery in order to preserve their public image. However, their public image did not depend on whether slavery exists, it depended on whether they were tied to the slavery that exists, or as Cadbury put it, they were responsible for the slavery. Instead of actually working to end slavery, Cadbury looked to distance itself from the slavery that existed in their supply chain. This meant that they moved their production elsewhere, but did not ensure that slavery actually ended. As a result, the slavery continued even after they stopped purchasing from São Tomé and Príncipe.

In the following podcast, the story of William Cooper is explored. William Cooper was similarly anti-slavery and even started his own sugar production company that did not use slave labor. However, he owned slaves himself. Again, there is a contradiction between what is ultimately done versus the principles he held.

Ultimately, the motivations of profit and public image drive companies to do things that may not seem to fit with what they believe ethically. This creates a huge gap in justice and equality in production. It also allows the companies to feign ethics and morality without actually acting in defense of those things.

 

Works Cited

Cadbury. Cadbury magazine advertisement. The Advertising Archives. 1900,

http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/detail/37639/1/Magazine-

Advert/Cadburys/1900s.

Catherine Higgs. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, Colonial Africa. Ohio University Press,

2012, Athens, Ohio. 136.

Charles Dellheim. “The Creation of a Company Culture: Cadburys, 1861-1931.” The

             American Historical Review, vol. 92, no. 1, February 1997, pp. 13-44.

Lowell J. Satre. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business.

University Press, 2005, Athens, Ohio. 16-32.

Oosoom. Blue plaque to George Cadbury at 32 George Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham,

England. Wikimedia Commons. April 7, 2007,

2007, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blue_plaque_George_Cadbury.jpg.

“Sweet Talk: A History of Sugar.” From BackStory, 7 February

2014, http://backstoryradio.org/shows/sweet-talk.

 

 

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

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

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

Chocolate’s “God-Like” Beginnings

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

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Modern Mayan woman demonstrating how her ancestors

would grind cacao (Smithsonian)

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

The Industrial Difference

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

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

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

Van Houten’s cocoa press (World Standards)

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

 

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

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

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

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Fry’s chocolate bar packaging (Foods of England)

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

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

 

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Economic Viability vs. Social Responsibility: A Glimpse into Cadbury’s Early Business Ethics

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Every spring, particularly around Easter, the iconic Cadbury Creme Eggs (pictured above) command significant shelf space in nearly every store. For many decades people around the world have received immense pleasure from cracking the egg’s chocolate shell open to release the gooey and cloyingly sweet yellow and white fondant, which resembles a chicken egg, but tastes drastically different. Before the idea for the traditional Cadbury Creme Egg was hatched, the Cadbury company struggled to sustain its favor with the public. Chocolate adulteration scandals and questionable business ethics created public relations nightmares and could have ruined the chocolate giant. Perhaps you will be surprised (or not) to learn that Cadbury’s idyllic Quaker village in Bournville, England, constructed during a time of chocolate success and expansion, revealed a lifestyle and way of conducting business very contradictory to the laborers who procured the cocoa.[1]

Despite the Quaker values of the Cadbury family, they made some questionable decisions in terms of business ethics. When it came to the adulteration of chocolate, which littered the chocolate industry during the 1800s, and cocoa sourced under slave-like conditions, the Cadbury’s either turned a blind-eye or lacked proper oversight throughout their production chain. In these instances, it appears economic benefits outweighed moral duties.

While other companies were caught adding ground brick to their chocolate confections, Cadbury admitted to adding starch and flour to their products. By the end of the 19th century, the Cadbury chocolate adulteration scandals had been counteracted with advertising campaigns promoting their purity promise: “Absolutely Pure, Therefore Best” (Coe & Coe 2013, 245). This was successful and a period of growth followed. Keeping in line with the company’s Quaker values and its paternalistic interest in its workers, George Cadbury constructed a model village, Bournville, for Cadbury company workers complete with ample housing, recreation facilities, and a school (Satre 2005). The photograph below reveals just a small section of the Bournville Village circa 1903 with its clean, wide streets and large housing units surrounded by well-groomed landscaping. Although the company expected a high level of productivity and reliability from its chocolate factory workers during the 48-hour workweek, Cadbury clearly invested back into the community to create a family-like atmosphere.

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However, this idyllic chocolate community and way of life did not extend down to the cocoa laborers, perhaps because they were indirectly working for Cadbury. During the early 1900s, the Cadbury company relied on the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe for nearly half of its cocoa beans. Lowell Satre (2005, 24), author of Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business, reports that in 1902, Cadbury alone purchased 20% of the cocoa produced on those two islands.

Just one year prior, in 1901, Cadbury became aware of the post-abolition slavery practices on São Tomé and Príncipe after the release of some publications from British investigative journalist, Henry Nevinson (Martin 2017). However appalled George Cadbury may have been by the thought of enslaved workers procuring the cocoa his company processed, his 7-year remiss reaction failed to show any grave concern. Catherine Higgs (2012, 137), author of Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa reveals Cadbury, “rejected the idea of a boycott, since it would rob the chocolate makers of the leverage they enjoyed as major buyers of São Toméan cocoa.” Clearly boycotting slave-produced cocoa purely on moral grounds was not as important as economic clout and would only be used as a last resort tactic unless another economically viable option became available.

Technically, [legally] the cocoa laborers worked under a type of indentured servitude, as serviçaes, and could be repatriated after their contracts ended, though it was inefficaciously enforced. Despite Cadbury’s correspondence with island visitors who reported “good treatment” of workers, the death rate was still astronomical, with the life expectancy of an enslaved cocoa worker on São Tomé and Príncipe to be less than a decade (Higgs 2012 and Martin 2017). Even though cocoa laborers on the islands were not technically Cadbury employees, since the Cadbury company sourced a significant amount of their cocoa beans there, they were part of the demand issue that kept the laborers working more hours than required by their British counterparts. Thus, it begs the question, should Cadbury have been responsible for allowing these conditions to persist or aiding in alleviating them? Not only did the Cadbury company benefit from the cheap commodity produced by slave labor, but the Portuguese government did also. Knowing this, perhaps the British government should have shared in the responsibility as well.

Cadbury’s moral and social responsibility seemed to be reflected more in word than in deed. Although Cadbury investigated the conditions in São Tomé over several years, both in person and through correspondences with adversaries, he did not institute a boycott of slave-grown cocoa for nearly a decade after first learning of the severe conditions. Meanwhile, the company profited. Part of the reason for the delay was the thought that if English chocolate companies did not buy cocoa from São Tomé and Príncipe, “someone else would” (Satre 2005).

Unfortunately, this was true. When the Cadbury company finally ceased purchasing cocoa from the islands, along with a few other English chocolate firms, U.S. based chocolate companies swooped in. Cadbury had not miraculously decided to finally take the high road after eight years though. Two months prior, Cadbury purchased land on the Gold Coast (present day Ghana), with plans to build a factory site (Higgs 2012). While this new cocoa district was not experiencing the slave-like conditions of the islands, it offered a different form of cheap labor, which could be considered questionable labor practices as well.

Thus, this move to the Gold Coast was economically favorable and seemed to pacify public concerns. Inequalities still persisted between the chocolate factory workers in Britain and the cocoa harvesters in Africa. One thing is clear: satisfying commercial interests took priority. The battle between economic viability, moral duty and social responsibility still persists in the chocolate world today.

 

[1] In this post, “cocoa” is synonymous with cacao or cacao beans; the raw product or unprocessed commodity used to make chocolate.

Works Cited

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

Higgs, Catherine. 2012. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press.

Martin, Carla. 2017. “Slavery and Forced Labor in the Atlantic World.” Lecture, Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food from Harvard Extension School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 1.

Satre, Lowell J. 2005. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens:     Ohio University Press.

Cocoa and Chaos in Cote d’Ivoire

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Image 1: A shelter for internally displaced persons during the Ivorian  civil war (Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Introduction

Cocoa has been a major source of wealth as well as one of the major causes of chaos in Africa. The conflict over cocoa resources disrupted the larger political struggle; it created ethnic and socio-economic instability, which became the basis of civil war in countries like Cote d’Ivoire. In 1960, Cote d’Ivoire (or Ivory Coast) won its full independence from France and Félix Houphouët-Boigny became the first president of the independent country. The new Ivorian president welcomed immigrants and made Ivorian land freely available to those who wanted to grow coffee and cocoa. In this decision lies the secret of the economic growth of Cote d’Ivoire and the causes of its downfall.

This essay will argue that literature has tended to focus more on the trade and market issues related to cocoa instead of focusing on dynamics that are largely relevant to the local African context, such as violent political conflicts caused by cocoa farming. Cocoa producing countries in Africa have suffered several outbreaks of conflict, especially in Cote d’Ivoire between 2002 and 2011 which resulted in the death of 3,000 people [1], yet the role played by these countries in the global chocolate industry is little known. Furthermore, numerous organizations have been established to regulate the trade of cocoa and its distribution; yet nothing has been done to resolve or even advocate the political massacre caused by cocoa farming in African countries. This essay will provide a deep investigation into violent political conflict caused by cocoa farming in African countries by looking at the example of Cote d’Ivoire. Historical complexity and the current state of conflict will be examined. Finally, this essay will conclude with recommendations for contemporary cocoa industry and regulatory organizations on how to tackle such conflict. 

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Image 2: Culture du Manioc – Côte d’Ivoire (Public Domain)

History of Cocoa and Chaos in Cote d’Ivoire

It was late 19th century when Africa began producing cocoa on a significant scale. The first recorded large-scale production was in the 1880’s from Portuguese plantations on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe [2]. As noted by the 2004 Anti-Slavery report, these cocoa plantations run by French colonists became infamous for using slaves, despite slavery having been officially abolished in 1875. Between 1888 and 1908, over 67,000 people from the African mainland were shipped to Sao Tome and Principe islands.The low oil and rubber prices in Cote d’Ivoire encouraged people to cultivate cocoa and the proper cultivation began by 1890’s [3].

The history of cocoa and related violence goes back to 1900’s with French authorities “corrupting local chiefs, evicting communities from forests in the south and forcibly displacing tens of thousands of people, mainly from the north and from Burkina Faso to work on the cocoa plantations”[4]as claimed by the Global Witness report. The report also claims that small farmers protested against the higher cocoa prices paid to the French plantation owners. During this period of time, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, a cocoa farmer himself formed an agricultural union called Syndicat Agricole Africain (SAA) in 1944 and was elected as Côte d’Ivoire’s representative to the French parliament. After spending two years in French parliament, Boigny was able to secure a law in 1946 ending forced labor in Cote d’Ivoire . The ban on forced labor happened at the same time as the cocoa prices were high on the world market. This resulted in large portion of population moving to the  forested area of Cote d’Ivoire to cultivate cocoa. Due to his extreme popularity, Boigny was elected as first president of independent Cote d’Ivoire in 1960.

Under the administration of President Boigny, hundreds of thousands of immigrants came in search of land to cultivate cocoa. As Orla Ryan recalls in her book, Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa, some came from Boigny’s own ethnic group, the Baoule. A large portion of farmers came from Northern Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Mali. For years, the indigenous tribe, Bete, welcomed and worked alongside migrants and foreigners from Burkina Faso and Mali to cultivate cocoa. Many Ivorians moved to big cities to be part of the new urban economy. They sell or rented their lands to the foreigners who wanted to farm them and plant cocoa. With thousands of cocoa farmers, Cote d’Ivoire produced some 67 000 tons to 880 000 tons of cocoa from 1960 and 1989, which made it world’s largest producer of cocoa[5]. However, the economic growth of the country was also the beginning of the hostile  relationship between host and migrant populations.

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Map 1: Cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire by Global Witness Report

The country accounted for around 40% of world cocoa production and cocoa became the economic resource of the country, representing on average 35% of the total value of Ivorians exports, worth around $1.4 billion. [6] To make country open to foreigners, President Boigny issues a statement saying, “The land belongs to he who cultivates it”[7]. This led to the ownership of big portion of land by immigrant population. However, the world price of cocoa was falling which created an atmosphere where foreigners were not welcome in Cote d’Ivoire anymore.

Adding to the problem, in 1933, after 33 years in power, President Boigny died and as did his economic policies. A long government policy to welcome foreigners and to give land to those who want to cultivate cocoa was changed when Laurent Gbagbo, from Bete tribe, was elected as the president. Confronted with a crumbling economy, Gbagbo used his presidency to reinvigorate the Ivorian citizenship rights, attempting to build a campaign by arousing Ivorian patriotism and nationalism. The newly elected president declared that the land given to the settlers under President Boigny cannot be claimed by them and should be returned to the native Ivorian owners.

As Mitchell writes in his paper, Rethinking the Migration-Conflict Nexus: Insights from Côte d‟Ivoire and Ghanathis policy of Gbagbo was central to the conflict and was deeply embedded in the rise and fall of the country’s cocoa sector.Much of the cultivated land was allocated to the foreigners at the time, which made it almost impossible for them to leave their crops. These foreigners became the victims for the financial crisis encountered by the native Ivorians and came under extreme pressure to leave the country. In 1990, non- Ivorians lost their right to vote thus deprived of their right to claim any land.

The Chaos

In 1998, law was passed declaring that only people of Ivorians nationality could own rural land. The law posed several problems for the thousands of immigrants who had cultivated and owned the cocoa crops for generations. The land purchased under President Boigny was rather informal which was often affirmed through handshakes or poorly written documents. Now in legal terms, such informal agreements meant nothing. Riots took place between the foreigners and natives in the west of the country, where most of cocoa was cultivated. The operation to seize land from the foreigners was launched, fueling violent tension between the communities. For the next decade, Cote d’Ivoire was split into two parts: the rebels controlled the north, while the government controlled the south. Where once the fight was over gold and diamonds, cocoa became a weapon of war.

According to a report by United Nations Human Rights Watch, between 1,500 and 2,500 Liberians fought for the government of Côte d’Ivoire, while almost 1,000 were thought to have fought among the ranks of Ivorian rebels. [8] Human right abuses were committed by conflict over land ownership. By the end of 1999, about 15,000 Burkinabe and northern Ivorians left the country in a bloody conflict between migrants and native people.

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Image 3: Armed Ivorians next to a French Foreign Legion armored car, 2004 (Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0)

With the new nationalist concept, President Henri Konan Bédié, successor of Boigny, distinguished between “foreigners” and “true Ivorian”. The concept was incorporated into the new electoral code in 1994, which stated that candidates of the Presidency and for Deputy in the National Assembly must be Ivorians by birth, with Ivorian parentage, having neither renounced Ivorian citizenship nor taken the nationality of any other state. [9] This law was seen as a deliberate effort to prevent Bédié’s rival, Alassane Ouattara, from the presidential elections. Ouattara was Muslim and had Burkinabe origins.In excluding Ouattara from presidential elections, the northerners perceived this as a systematic discrimination. As a result of this, nearly two million Burkinabe (most of them cocoa producers) found themselves subjugated.

Economic stagnation caused by the falling prices of cocoa resulted in a coup in 1999 led by General Robert Guei who ousted President Bédié. When the presidential elections took place in 2010, after years of postponement, the country’s second civil war broke out, claiming the lives of more than 3,000 people.

Role of Cocoa

Cocoa accounts for a significant proportion of the Cote d’Ivoire government’s budget as well as the conflict. The Ivorian economy and especially the trade of cocoa lack transparency and accountability and involves significant amount of corruption. An estimated 10% of Ivorian cocoa production is now under the control of the rebels. These rebels charge indirect tax on the cocoa trade. The conflict in Cote d’Ivoire caused a sharp increase in the price of world cocoa. For example, in October 2002, after the coup attempt, the price of cocoa reached its highest level since the 1970’s and 1980’s at $2,367 per ton. [10]

According to a 2007 report by Global Witness and World Bank, some leading national cocoa institutions have contributed to the war by providing the government with “money, vehicle and weapons”[11]. As noted by the report, these contributions were made at the same time as the government forces were conducting worst human rights violations. Furthermore, government and rebel leaders in Cote d’Ivoire siphoned off millions of dollars from the cocoa industry to finance the 2002-03 civil war. According to the report, the Ivoirians government received more than $58 million from institutions and cocoa revenues, while the rebel forces pocketed about $30 million since 2004 in taxes and revenues[12]. The profits generated from the cocoa sector remain potential weapon for the conflict and little has been done to break the link between cocoa institutions and armed groups.

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Image 4: Displaced Ivorians queue for food at a UNHCR distribution site in Liberia (Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0)

Recommendations 

Following are few recommendations for cocoa industry and regulatory organizations such as United Nations:

Companies buying cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire should perform extra considerations on their purchase to demonstrate that they are not providing money that is being used in the war effort, which results in human rights violations. These companies should make their purchase more transparent by publishing the information on how the cocoa was imported from such countries. Especially, if the cocoa was purchased from the areas controlled by government or rebels, how much direct and indirect taxes were paid. These cocoa-buying institutions should also publish information on the locations of their bank accounts (as most of them have off-shore companies) and should publish annual audit reports.

Organizations such as United Nations should be more serious about this conflict. United Nations should apply sanctions on individuals responsible for sending money to promote this conflict. United Nations should hold more Peacekeeping missions in countries such as Cote d’Ivoire . An oversight of the natural resources under United Nations should also be established.

Conclusion

Cote d’Ivoire gained its independence from France in 1960 under the leadership of President Boigny. During his administration, Boigny welcomed immigrants and made Ivoirians land freely available to those who wanted to grow coffee and cocoa. Cote d’Ivoire witnessed a boom in its economy and became world’s largest cocoa producer. The production of cocoa relied on the immigrants who mostly came from Burkina Faso and Mali. To ensure labor rights, President Boigny extended their right to live and gave a decree ensuring ownership of the land they cultivated. As the cocoa prices fell around 1980s, the government replaced taxation with subsidies for the immigrants. The foreigners faced hostility from the natives. Between 2002 and 2011, Cote d’Ivoire suffered several conflicts mostly between the government and the cocoa farmers in the north. This led to the bitterly contested election in 2010, whose outcome led to the Second Ivorian Civil War. Around 3,000 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Numerous organizations have been established to regulate the trade of cocoa and its distribution; yet nothing has been done to resolve or even advocate the political massacre caused by cocoa farming in African countries. For the past decade, both sides in the conflict-government and rebels-have benefitted from significant corruption through cocoa trade. Companies buying cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire and such other countries should ensure that the money from cocoa trade is not fueling the conflict.

Works Cited

Primary Sources: 

Ryan, Orla. Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. London: Zed, 2011. Print.
How Cocoa Fueled the Conflict in Côte D’Ivoire (n.d.): n. pag. Global Witness, June 2007. Web. 11 May 2016. <https://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/cotedivoire.pdf&gt;.
“The Chocolate Industry.” Cocoa And Chocolate, 1765–1914 (n.d.): 65-92.The Cocoa Industry in West Africa. Anti-Slavery International. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://www.antislavery.org/includes/documents/cm_docs/2008/c/cocoa_report_2004.pdf&gt;.

 

Mitchell, Matthew I. Rethinking the Migration-Conflict Nexus: Insights from Côte D‟Ivoire and Ghana (n.d.): n. pag. Department of Political Studies Queen‟s University, 1 June 2010. Web. 11 May 2016. <https://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/papers-2010/Mitchell.pdf&gt;.

Other Sources: 

[1] “World Report 2012: Côte D’Ivoire.” Human Rights Watch. World Report, 22 Jan. 2012. Web. 11 May 2016. <https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2012/country-chapters/cote-divoire&gt;.

[2] Clarence-Smith, W.G. & Ruf, F., “Cocoa pioneer fronts: The historical determinants”, Clarence-Smith, W.G. (ed.), Cocoa Pioneer Fronts Since 1800, the role of smallholders, planters and merchants, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1996

[3] “The Chocolate Industry.” Cocoa And Chocolate, 1765–1914 (n.d.): 65-92.The Cocoa Industry in West Africa. Anti-Slavery International. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://www.antislavery.org/includes/documents/cm_docs/2008/c/cocoa_report_2004.pdf&gt;.

[4] How Cocoa Fuelled the Conflict in Côte D’Ivoire (n.d.): n. pag. Global Witness, June 2007. Web. 11 May 2016. <https://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/cotedivoire.pdf&gt;.
[5] Crook, Richard. 1997. “Winning Coalitions and Ethno-Regional Politics: The Failure of the Opposition in the 1990 and 1995 Elections in Côte d‟Ivoire.” African Affairs, 96, 215-42.
[6] Ibid

[7] Crise Foncière, crise de la ruralité et relations entre autochtones et migrants sahéliens en Côte d’Ivoire forestière, Jean-Pierre Chauveau, May 2003

 

[8]Government-allied Liberians…requested …children for training”, in Trapped between two wars: violence against civilians in western Côte d’Ivoire, Human Rights Watch, August 2003

 

[9] Crook, Richard C. 2001. “Cocoa Booms, the Legalisation of Land Relations and Politics in Côte d‟Ivoire and Ghana: Explaining Farmers Responses.” IDS Bulletin, 32(1), 35-45.

[10] How Cocoa Fuelled the Conflict in Côte D’Ivoire (n.d.): n. pag. Global Witness, June 2007. Web. 11 May 2016. <https://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/cotedivoire.pdf&gt;.

[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid

Lamber, Blake. “Chocolate Now Fuels War in West Africa?” ProQuest. The Christian Science Monitor, 17 July 2007. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/405552634?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo&gt;.
WallisC, William. “CorpWatch : IVORY COAST: Cocoa Exports ‘fund’ Ivory Coast Conflict.” CorpWatch : IVORY COAST: Cocoa Exports ‘fund’ Ivory Coast Conflict. CorpWatch, n.d. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14514&gt;.
Hailey, Paul. “From Côte D’Ivoire to Chocolate Bar – the Difficult Road for Sustainable Cocoa.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 30 Jan. 2014. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/fairtrade-partner-zone/cotedvoire-chocolate-difficult-road-sustainable-cocoa&gt;.

Images:

Image: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_Coast#/media/File:Internally_Displaced_Persons_Duekoue_2011_Cote_dIvoire.jpg

Image 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/socodevi/6837240434

Image 3: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_Coast#/media/File:059_French_Foreign_Legion.JPG

Image 4: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Ivorian_Civil_War#/media/File:Flickr_-_DFID_-_UK_Department_for_International_Development_-_Displaced_Ivorians_queue_for_food_at_a_UNHCR_distribution_site_in_Liberia.jpg

 

Chocolate Edible Bodies

The fetishization of Black people, particularly their skin, in cocoa advertising has been posited to relates to the peculiar historical relationships founded on the commodification of both. [1] According to Silke Hackensech, a German scholar, chocolate is  “a commodity that has historically been produced, in the first stage of the production process, on cocoa farms by enslaved Africans, or people working under conditions akin to slavery.”[2]   Through historical and complex systems of global trade, labour, and production, chocolate and Blackness have been linked together, particularly as it relates to the marketing of and advertisements for chocolate whereas the “usage of the chocolate signifier . . . illustrates how configurations of vision and visuality invest the body with social meaning.”[3] 

In the first four chocolate advertisement provided, the adverts reenact colonial fantasies through its representation of the Black body, particularly the skin, as something produced and to be consumed for a mainstream mass market audiences. These marketing images perpetuate “[W]estern sexist and racist ideologies under a veneer of pleasurable consumption” [4] and symbolically fetishize the Black bodies (as proxy for chocolate) as a consumable commodity.

This is exemplified in Figure 1, 2 and 3, whereas the subjects are disembodied and dominate the adverts with very little reference to the actual product itself. In both of these adverts the subjects are Black but shown only in pieces as if not human and their skin is meant to visually allude to chocolate.

 

dove-chocolate-dove-chocolate-small-500651
Figure 1. Dove Chocolate (2007)
magnum-ice-cream-cracking-small-66364-1
Figure 2. Magnum Chocolate (2012)
sweet-br2_25
Figure 3. An Unknown Brazilian Chocolate Company’s Ad

By visually alluding to these images as chocolate, these ads seem to invite consumers to consume these black bodies. In the essay “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance”, Bell Hooks examines how racial difference is commodified and represented as the “Other” for the figurative consumption of white audiences and further explain that as “cultural, ethnic, and racial differences will be continually commodified and offered up as new dishes to enhance the white palate–that the Others will be eaten, consumed, and forgotten.” [5] In all of the example adverts provided, they demonstrate a dehumanizing effect by showing the photo subjects as dismembered black bodies with eyes that cannot be met by the viewer.

Essentially, these adverts invoke the trope of the eroticized “edible black body” explained as “a devouring cultural connections between black bodies and food objects . . . bring to the forefront the violence and ambivalence of American racial politics in which desire and disgust for black bodies.” [6] Moreover, images like the examples shown visually “produce representations of market, parlor, and kitchen cannibalism”[7] and “at its most extreme . . . the representation of the black body as food itself.”[8] The representation of Black bodies as consumable is troublesome as it harkens back to the tendency for the humanity of Black people to be diminished due to the racial stereotype of them being not quite human.

While the linkages between women, chocolate, and sex are common themes found in cocoa advertising [9], Figure 4. Is racially problematic in a different way found through its use of Blackface minstrelsy.

magnum-chocolate-possession
Figure 4. Magnum Chocolate Ad (2012)

In this instance, the advertisement showcases a model painted brown evoking images of not only being covered in chocolate but Blackface. What is striking is the contrasted poses of the subject  without Blackface and with Blackface. When unpainted, she strikes a  direct pose which is contained and features her thoughtful gaze into the camera. However, once painted, she is posed in a sexualized and oddly disjointed manner that is completely divorced and seemingly oblivious of the camera in what is assumed to be due to her being in some sort of sexual ecstasy.  This advert comes to  represent what scholar Michael Pickering termed commodity racism, which is the selling of not only what is produced but racial stereotypes as well for consumers.[10]

In all of examples of Figures 1-4,  a theme is repeated where the subject is presented as a sexualized objects with that sexuality seemingly imbued in the festishization of Black skin. Moreover, these images engages in the harmful reproduction of the harmful racial stereotypes that Black people are hypersexual and subhuman. [11] This is meaningful to analyze as scholars like Robertson recognize that the “textual analysis of chocolate advertising has, then, been useful in illuminating contemporary understandings of gender, race and the nation.”[12]

After analysing many of the themes I found problematic in several chocolate advert examples, I decided to try my hand at creating an advert that is able to subvert the racially discursive content found above while featuring a Black person enjoying chocolate shown in figure 5.

stock-video-73729883-attractive-african-american-woman-eating-chocolate-bar
Figure 5. My Chocolate Ad

 

For instance, in my reimagined chocolate ad, like all of the others, this ad focuses on the visual. However, unlike the other examples, the subject of my photo is fully-dressed, stands in a non-sexualized pose, and stares straight into the camera, her gaze meeting with her audience easily. This photo exhibits strength, agency, and the subject as an individual  human being that can be related to by  the audience. Most importantly, this ad is clearly showing what is to be consumed as food, chocolate bar, and the subject as the consumer rather than the consumable. 

Footnotes

  1. Hackensesch, S. (2015). ‘To Highlight My Beautiful Chocolate Skin’: On the Cultural Politics of the Racialised Epidermis. In C. Rosenthal & D. Vanderbeke (Eds.), Probing the Skin: Cultural Representations of Our Contact Zone (pp. 73-91). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. (Pg. 88)
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press. (Pg. 10)
  5. Hooks, B. (1992). Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance. In Black Looks: Race and Representation (pp. 21-39). South End Press. (Pg. 39)
  6. Tompkins, K. W. (2007). ” Everything ‘Cept Eat Us”: The Antebellum Black Body Portrayed as Edible Body. Callaloo, 30(1), 201-224. (Pg. 201)
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press. (Pg. 34)
  10. Pickering, M. (2013). Commodity Racism and the Promotion of Blackface Fantasies. Colonial Advertising & Commodity Racism, 4, (Pg. 119)
  11. Yancy, G. (2008). Black bodies, white gazes: The continuing significance of race. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. (Pg, 144)
  12. Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press. (Pg. 20)

Sources

  • Hackensesch, S. (2015). ‘To Highlight My Beautiful Chocolate Skin’: On the Cultural Politics of the Racialised Epidermis. In C. Rosenthal & D. Vanderbeke (Eds.), Probing the Skin: Cultural Representations of Our Contact Zone (pp. 73-91). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. (Pg. 88)
  • Hooks, B. (1992). Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance. In Black Looks: Race and Representation (pp. 21-39). South End Press. (Pg. 39)
  • Pickering, M. (2013). Commodity Racism and the Promotion of Blackface Fantasies. Colonial Advertising & Commodity Racism, 4, (Pg. 119)
  • Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press. (Pg. 10)
  • Tompkins, K. W. (2007). ” Everything ‘Cept Eat Us”: The Antebellum Black Body Portrayed as Edible Body. Callaloo, 30(1), 201-224. (Pg. 201)
  • Yancy, G. (2008). Black bodies, white gazes: The continuing significance of race. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. (Pg, 144)

Images

 

 

 

 

The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate

Mars’ global confectionery sales was a whopping $18.4 billion USD in 2015, according to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), more than doubling Hershey’s sales of the same year.[1] An impressive feat given that Mars is still family owned, the 3rd richest family in America, in fact.[2] To maintain its global dominance, the company heavily invests in advertisement. In the 3 years leading up to 2013, Mars spent an estimated $7.28 billion worldwide, using the familiar trope of linking their products to Hollywood celebrities.[3] For its 2016 Snickers campaign, aired during the 50th edition of the NFL Super Bowl, the company once again featured a host of iconic figures, this time including Willem Dafoe and Marilyn Monroe. See their Snicker ad below:


(Source: YouTube)[4]

This is not, by any means, Mars’ first attempt at associating its products with familiar faces. For its 2013 UK Galaxy campaign, the chocolate giant contracted with the world’s best, AMV BBDO (ad agency) and Framestore (special effects), bringing Audrey Hepburn “back to life” to promote their products in the UK.

(Source: YouTube)[5]

But who are the true faces behind chocolate? Who are the real celebrities responsible for providing the world with one of its most favorite treat? Albeit Mars’ promise of taking “very seriously” the marketing of their brand, “providing you and your family with suitable and transparent information about [their] products,” they have, in my eyes, grossly misrepresented the true heroes behind chocolate.[6] May I present, as an alternative to Mars’, my own original ad below, depicting some of “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate.”


(Source: Prezi.com)[7]

Unlike those chosen by Mars in its Snicker ad, or like those chosen by many of the other chocolate companies for their campaigns, the stars in my counter ad portray a range of contrasting complexions, are not primarily Caucasian, and hail from a vastly different socioeconomic stratum.

How does Mars, in 2016, in good conscience, create a Super Bowl commercial, primarily directed to an American audience, without featuring a single person of color, given that “African-Americans… currently comprise 67.3% of the league’s players,” according to sports and entertainment attorney Jaia Thomas.[8] There is much irony to Mars’ homogeneous selection of ethnicity, especially given that the Global South, who are primarily non-Caucasian, grows 100% of the world’s cacao. People of color were therefore intentionally included in my ad to appropriately and responsibly represent the many hues and races who are at the core of the chocolate supply chain, Mars’ included.

Mars attempts to associate their product with fame, affluence, and eroticism, using the iconic imagery of one of Hollywood’s most memorable senses. Yet it is Willem Dafoe, another iconic celebrity, who is in the famous white dress standing over the subway grate. It’s only after his cranky ranting that he takes a bite of the Snickers bar and once again becomes Marilyn Monroe. It is an obvious tongue-in-cheek attempt by the company to hearken back to the “good ole days.” The quintessential cantankerous, white, male director refers to the only woman on the set as “sweetheart.” Dafoe takes a bite of the bar and is transformed back to the beauty of the “true woman” that Monroe represents: doe-eyed, coquettish, sensuous and vacuous. The ad portrays a woman who is only likable if she eats chocolate, but unsightly and manly when she complains. Mars unfortunately falls into the sexist, racist, and classist trappings of so many other marketing schemes.

My ad was created to hopefully push back on these shortcomings. It was created to heighten public awareness of some of the true faces behind cacao production and its supply chain, depicting the beautiful and vibrant colors of not only the pod themselves, but also the farmers that come from Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. In contrast to the Mars ad, the women in my ad are not monomorphic, they bear a range of shapes and sizes. The women are hardworking, people of the earth, not affected by over-grooming, and are comprised of various ages. My intention was to portray a truer depiction of the women who are intrinsically involved in the world’s chocolate making.

I also wish to illustrate the wealth disparity between cacao growers and Mars. And furthermore, hope to underscore the vast socioeconomic disconnect between these rich chocolate companies and their marketing strategies versus the earnings of cacao growers. In 2014, the chocolate industry grew to a record high of $100 billion, growing by $20 billion in a single year, according to the European Campaign for Fair Chocolate.[9] While cacao growers, on the other hand, earned less than they once did in the 1980s, currently at $1.25/day, a meager six cents on the dollar from the finish product.[10] In other words, these massive chocolate companies, in particular Mars, have profited greatly these past decades, while the earnings of millions of impoverished men, women and children have diminished.

nigeria-cocoawomen-ous_-1220x763
Most cacao growers earn less than $1.25 USD per day. This Nigerian woman, depicted here, is part of Oxfam’s program, “Behind the Brands” campaign in order to support women cocoa farmers in Africa. (Source: Oxfam America)[11]

Addressing such issues as sexism, racism and classism is complex. It calls for a rigorous and courageous examination of the systemic social reproduction of skewed ideals and misrepresentations of others. These issues involve policy changes from all levels of society, including the smallest jurisdiction of cacao shareholders at the local level, all the way up to the national level, and supported by international accords to guide good practices at every stage of the final product, explains chocolate scholar Dr. Carla Martin.[12] And that includes marketing. Mars does not bare the full onus of bringing about that change. We must all play our part, growers, manufacturers, consumers and governments alike. Nonetheless, because of Mars’ global position, the company must bare its share of responsibilities, and must strive to become a proactive player in effecting change. And that can first begin with a rethinking of their marketing campaigns, to communicate a message that is gender empowering, positive and fair, a message to affect both consumers and competitors alike.

Footnotes:
[1] “The Chocolate Industry: Who Are the Main Manufacturers of Chocolate in the World?,” International Cocoa Organization, January 28, 2016, http://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/chocolate-industry.html.

[2] “Mars Family | 2015 America’s Richest Families,” Business News, Forbes, accessed April 8, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/profile/mars-1/.

[3] “Mars Inc.advertising Spending Worldwide from 2011 to 2014,” Statista, 2016, http://www.statista.com/statistics/286558/mars-inc-advertising-spending-worldwide/.

[4] SnickersBrand, SNICKERS® – “Marilyn,” 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhfntLl6xx0.

[5] Audrey Hepburn: Galaxy Chocolate Commercial, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM.

[6] “Snickers®,” Snickers, 2016, https://www.snickers.com/.

[7] Edward Enriquez, “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate,” Prezi, April 7, 2016, https://prezi.com/avzqbzhyhvcw/the-real-celebrities-behind-chocolate/.

[8] Jaia Thomas, “In Black and White: A Racial Breakdown of the NFL,” UPTOWN Magazine, October 1, 2014, http://uptownmagazine.com/2014/10/racial-breakdown-of-the-nfl-report-card/.

[9] “Cocoa Prices and Income of Farmers,” Make Chocolate Fair! European Campaign for Fair Chocolate, accessed April 8, 2016, http://makechocolatefair.org/issues/cocoa-prices-and-income-farmers-0.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Frank Mechielsen, “New Ways to Sweeten the Deal for Women Cocoa Farmers,” Oxfam America | The Politics of Poverty Blog, June 19, 2014, http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2014/06/new-ways-sweeten-deal-women-cocoa-farmers/.

[12] Carla D Martin, “Lecture 6: Slavery Abolition and Forced Labor” (Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, Harvard University, March 9, 2016). See also her blog, Bittersweet Notes, to learn more about chocolate, culture, and the politics of food.

Work Cited

Audrey Hepburn: Galaxy Chocolate Commercial, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM.

“Bittersweet Notes.” Open source research project on chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. Bittersweet Notes | Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, 2016. http://bittersweetnotes.com/.

“Cocoa Prices and Income of Farmers.” Make Chocolate Fair! European Campaign for Fair Chocolate. Accessed April 8, 2016. http://makechocolatefair.org/issues/cocoa-prices-and-income-farmers-0.

Enriquez, Edward. “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate.” Prezi, April 7, 2016. https://prezi.com/avzqbzhyhvcw/the-real-celebrities-behind-chocolate/.

“Mars Family | 2015 America’s Richest Families.” Business News. Forbes. Accessed April 8, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/profile/mars-1/.

“Mars Inc.advertising Spending Worldwide from 2011 to 2014.” Statista, 2016. http://www.statista.com/statistics/286558/mars-inc-advertising-spending-worldwide/.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 6: Slavery Abolition and Forced Labor.” presented at the Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, Harvard University, March 9, 2016.

Mechielsen, Frank. “New Ways to Sweeten the Deal for Women Cocoa Farmers.” Oxfam America | The Politics of Poverty Blog, June 19, 2014. http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2014/06/new-ways-sweeten-deal-women-cocoa-farmers/.

“Snickers®.” Snickers, 2016. https://www.snickers.com/.

SnickersBrand. SNICKERS® – “Marilyn,” 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhfntLl6xx0.

“The Chocolate Industry: Who Are the Main Manufacturers of Chocolate in the World?” International Cocoa Organization, January 28, 2016. http://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/chocolate-industry.html.

Thomas, Jaia. “In Black and White: A Racial Breakdown of the NFL.” UPTOWN Magazine, October 1, 2014. http://uptownmagazine.com/2014/10/racial-breakdown-of-the-nfl-report-card/.

The Popularization of Cacao in Europe… and a Little Thing Called Caffeine

It is no secret that as a species, humans are vulnerable to addiction. Granted, character traits and societal acceptance will exacerbate these compulsions, as it has been proven time and time again throughout the course of history, but there are contributing genetic factors that play a role in substance dependence (though the degree of the genetic influence is highly disputed (United States Congress 40). The combination of both social and at times instinctive pressure during an era of extreme wealth through royalty and structured courts resulted in the slow, yet effective European commercialization of one of our most precious commodities today: chocolate.

Chocolate (or rather, cacao in its base form) originated in the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica. The Olmec, Maya, and Aztec empires all depended on cacao in many aspects of their societal structure.  In Aztec culture, soldiers would consume large amounts of cocoa on their journey to battle for endurance and strength—little did they know these wondrous abilities were due to caffeine surging in their bodies (Coe & Coe 95). However, it was not until cacao was introduced to the Spanish courts that the popularization, consumption, and subsequent mechanization in mass production occurred.

When cacao made the transatlantic journey into Spain, the utilitarian aspect of the substance was lost amongst the opulent, as there was no real necessity for its practical uses. Those who drank this luxury did not spend their days battling opposing foes; rather, the elite relished its exotic properties. Though medicinal uses were explored during the waves of exposure in Europe, most enjoyed chocolate in a recreational setting (Albala). In this new environment, cacao was adapted to a life of leisure and affluence, flavored with sweeteners and spices that were more harmonious to the European palate (Coe & Coe 133).

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This detail of a painted tile from the 18th century depicts a chocolotada (drinking party) in Valencia, Spain. This preparation varied greatly from the manual frothing of chocolate common in Aztec culture; the beginnings of the mechanization of chocolate production began with the methods above.

While there was a large population that consumed cacao, its acceptance across Europe was by no means an overnight success—the foreign qualities of this otherworldly substance incited both advocates and critics alike (Jamieson 272).

“I want to tell you, my dear child, that chocolate is no longer for me what it was, fashion has led me astray, as it always does. Everyone who spoke well of it now tells me bad things about it; it is cursed, and accused of causing one’s ills, it is the source of vapors and palpitations; it flatters you for a while, and then suddenly lights a continuous fever in you that leads to death…In the name of God, don’t keep it up, and don’t think that it is still the fashion of the fashionable. All the great and the less [great] say as much bad about it as they say good things about you…”

—Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné (1926-96)

                                                            (Coe & Coe 155)

As the marquise de Sévigné laments in one of her letters, the effects of caffeine to those unaware and unprepared yielded some unfortunate results; in a very religious Europe, this was considered highly suspect and controversial. Yet not all experiences concluded so unfavorably; for many, the consumption of chocolate elicited positive responses—many hailed it as an aphrodisiac a mood-enhancer (Coe & Coe 160). Ironically, just a few months following her initial rejection of chocolate, the marquise had a change of heart:

“I have reconciled myself to chocolate, I took it the day before yesterday to digest my dinner, to have a good meal, and I took it yesterday to nourish me so that I could fast until evening: it gave me all the effects I wanted. That’s what I like about it: it acts according to my intention.”

 —Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné (1926-96)

                                                            (Coe & Coe 155)

 

Although alcohol was widely popular and its outcomes were well known, caffeine and its effect on the human body were new to Europeans entirely. The jolt of energy, the curb of appetite, and psychological stimulants were but a few of the properties of cacao that piqued the curiosity of the Old World. Caffeinated drinks like chocolate were initially marketed as medicinal beverages to Europeans; however, the drinking of chocolate later became an urbanized ritual rather than a healing staple (Jamieson 279).

One by one, the major forces of Europe adopted the consumption of cacao, until chocolate and caffeine became a cross-continental sensation. This obsession with chocolate migrated from the Spanish Royal Courts to the far reaches of England, prompting the building of establishments like London’s famed Chocolate Houses (Jamieson 272).

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In the Club At White’s Coffee House, 1733. Don’t be fooled by the name of this painting by William Hogarth; White’s is considered London’s oldest and most exclusive gentleman’s club and was formally known as White’s Chocolate House. Read more at the Telegraph.co.uk.

Cacao monopolized the caffeine market for many years in a part of the world to which it was completely geologically foreign (that is, of course, until coffee and tea were introduced). If this strange and alien product somehow did not make it to Spain on that fateful voyage, it is very likely we would not have such easy access to chocolate and it most definitely would not have grown into the mammoth industry it is today.

 

 

Works Cited

Albala, Ken. “The Use and Abuse of Chocolate in 17th Century Medical Theory.” Food

and Foodways 15.1-2 (2007): 53-74. Web.

 

Biological Components of Substance Abuse and Addiction. Washington, DC: U.S.

Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1993. Print.

 

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

& Hudson, 2013. Print.

 

Detail of Painted Tile Panel Depicting a Chocolatada. 18th Cenutry. Valencia, Spain.

 

Green, Matthew. “The Surprising History of London’s Lost Chocolate Houses.”The Telegraph. 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.

 

Hogarth, William. In the Club at White’s Coffee House. 1733. From the Series ‘The

Rake’s Progress.’

 

Jamieson, R. W. “The Essence of Commodification: Caffeine Dependencies in the

Early Modern World.” Journal of Social History 35.2 (2001): 269-94. Web.

The Medicalization of Chocolate

Chocolate has captivated Western audiences since its introduction into the European diet. Early European samplers found that chocolate and cacao had remarkable bodily effects. It lightened moods, revived the faint, and expelled “sorrows” (Graziano 132). Thus, Western culture set out to unlock chocolate’s corporeal, chemical, and psychological effects, using the current cultural medical discourse of the time. But from its earliest days, this food related exploration was couched in pseudoscience and speculation, a practice that continues today.

Chocolate has been medically scrutinized from the moment it entered the European economy and has been unpacked and forced to fit the medical discourse of the time. Upon its entrée into 16th Century, pre-Modern Europe, chocolate was deconstructed and studied to fit into the cultural “humoral system,” the current medical view that built on the Hellenic belief that the body contained four humors—blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile (Coe and Coe 121). Health and well-being were established by maintaining an equilibrium between these humors. Thus, all new food sources entering into Spain from the Americas had to pass “medical tests” to understand “how novelties like tomatoes, chiles, vanilla, squashes and potatoes affected the ‘humors’ of the body” (Presilla 27).

This collection of Pre-Modern cartoons showcases the cultural medical and bodily beliefs associated with the four humors. All four were to be kept in a precise balance, or one would slip into any of the four extreme states—lust, anger, slow response, or depression. Please note that the terms “Mucus” and “Phlegm” were often used interchangeably.
This collection of Pre-Modern cartoons showcases the cultural medical and bodily beliefs associated with the four humors. All four were to be kept in a precise balance, or one would slip into any of the four extreme states—lust, anger, slow response, or depression. Please note that the terms “Mucus” and “Phlegm” were often used interchangeably.

Chocolate was particularly difficult to classify, as it didn’t affect the body in singular or localized ways (Presilla 27). Thus, medical professionals devised complicated and detailed ways to deconstruct the medicinal and health properties of chocolate to fit the medical cultural norms. Dr. Juan de Cardenas proclaimed that cacao in its raw form was damaging, but when toasted or mixed could be medicinal. The fat solids were warm and dry, and the cacao solids were earthy and dangerous. However, one could mix chocolate with other additives like the hoja santa plant or vanilla to “tame the ‘malice’ of cacao” (Presilla 27). Similarly, royal physician Francisco Hernandez believed “the cacao seed is ‘temperate in nature’…but leaning to the ‘cold and humid’; on the whole, it is very nourishing. Because of its ‘cool’ nature, drinks made from it were good in hot weather, and to cure fevers” (Coe and Coe 122). Thus, from its earliest appearance in the Western world, chocolate has been used and studied in attempts to pinpoint the substance’s health risks and benefits, using the medical lens of the time.

Chocolate was melted and molded to fit the medical discourse of 18th-19th Century Europe as well. In an era where medical professionals looked to draughts and poultices as the panaceas to most ailments and diseases, chocolate was branded a health food that could be combined with other substances to better palate and enhance the medical benefits of these additives (Graziano 139).

Ads like these ran regularly in newspapers and other publications of the 1700’s and promoted the message of chocolate as a health food. These widely circulated advertisements widely spread this belief and began the trend for other health and additive infused chocolates.
Ads like these ran regularly in newspapers and other publications of the 1700’s and promoted the message of chocolate as a health food. These widely circulated advertisements widely spread this belief and began the trend for other health and additive infused chocolates.

Sir Hans Sloane developed milk chocolate in 1700’s as a medicine, “primarily to increase the digestibility of the high fat cacao” (Graziano 136). Other chemists began creating “homeopathic chocolates” as well, adding other additives like rice flower, chicory root, albumin, and iron to cure a host of ailments including digestion, menstrual irregularities, and anemia (Graziano 139). During this era, multiple other forms of chocolate hit the shelves including, “amber chocolate, tonic chocolate, binutritibe chocolate of chicken broth, chocolate of pepsonized meat, tar chocolate” (Graziano 139). Thus, like the 16th Century Europeans, 18-19th Century European society adapted chocolate to fit their cultural medical practices as well, melding chocolate with medicinal and dietary supplements.

Today, while chocolate is no longer consumed as medicine or a humor maintaining substance, it has not lost its medicinally captivating qualities. Scientists and medical professionals continue to try and pinpoint the potential health benefits of chocolate, often using what appears to be correlative or circumstantial evidence. Medical News Today suggests that “potential benefits” of eating chocolate include, “lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cognitive decline (Nordqvist). A report in the British Medical Journal concluded, “based on observational evident, levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Further experimental studies are required to confirm a potentially beneficial effect of chocolate consumption” (Nordqvist). And a study at the University of Granada simply concluded that, “teens who eat lots of chocolate tend to be slimmer” (Nordqvist). Once again, these conclusions seem to be couched in highly correlative and speculative logic. However, I posit that this nothing new for Western culture. For centuries, chocolate has captivated the Western audience, and the mystery behind its potential health benefits has baffled generations. And since its introduction into European culture, chocolate has been linked to this pseudoscientific study of health and benefits, a practice that has persisted into the modern day.

Video: Dark Chocolate is Good For You

And so the trend continues of attempting to locate positive health benefits in chocolate. However, this practice often seems tied to speculative logic. Try listening for the “mays” and “could” Dr. Oz uses to “substantiate” his claim that “real chocolate is actually good for you.”

Work Cited

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

Graziano, Martha M. “Food of the Gods as Mortals’ Medicine: The Uses of Chocolate and Cacao Products.” Pharmacy in History 40.4 (1998): 132-46. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

Nordqvist, Joseph. “What Are the Health Benefits of Chocolate?” Medical News Today (2014): n. pag. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed, 2000. Print.

The Rise Of Chocolate Bars Over Drinks

Chocolate bars currently dominate food and drink originating from cacao.  Huge brands such as Hershey’s, Cadbury, Nestle, and others are sold in nearly every gas station, convenience store, pharmacy, and grocery store.  When chocolate is brought up in conversation, a chocolate bar is often the first association made.  While chocolate has been an obsession of people with access to it throughout history, current chocolate bars are a recent phenomenon in the history of chocolate.  The Mesoamerican people who first began eating cacao products primarily drank a mixture of ground cacao and other things.  The complex process of creating the original drink made it difficult to transport, but Europeans were able to spread chocolate by sending across the Atlantic in bricks.  Chocolate drinking was also popular in Europe at the outset, but as popularity and mass production spread the chocolate bar became the biggest chocolate product due to the ease with which it can be consumed and transported.

Sophie and Michael Coe detail the process the Aztecs used to make their chocolate drink pre-European contact in their book, True History of Chocolate.  The Coe’s describe how the Aztecs would grind their cacao, meticulously sift through, and mix with other spices to make a type of gruel drink that would provide a large amount of sustenance.  The following object is a molinillo, used as a stirring tool in this process of creating the chocolate drink.  The tool was adopted by Europeans as they began mixing their own version of chocolate drinks as well.  The meticulous process involved in preparing the chocolate drink and usage of tools in order to make the product made this difficult for people, especially Europeans who didn’t know much about the culture of chocolate, to conveniently indulge in chocolate on their own.

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The process of bringing chocolate from the Americas to Europe fueled the creation of the modern chocolate product.  Rather than shipping the final chocolate drink to Europe, it was easier to send bricks of cocoa and create the drink in Europe.  During the period of time after chocolate was introduced in Europe, it was consumed as a drink in a similar fashion as the Aztecs and Mesoamerican peoples would consume chocolate.  According to Sidney Mintz in Sweetness and Power, chocolate during this time was consumed by the elite Europeans as a drink.  The reason it wasn’t more accessible to other classes of people can be attributed to the difficulty involved in making the drink and the idea that drinking chocolate together was a social activity.

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In the 19th century, the British began to cash in on the increased sugar demand observed by Mintz and began distributing chocolates in solid tablets similar to modern day candy bars.  The natural human tendencies to enjoy chocolate and sugar made the bars very popular and lead to the massive industry growth we see today.  The major change between Mesoamerican inspired chocolate drinks and European candy bars is accessibility.  These bars, like the blocks of cocoa powder pictured above, were easy to transport and mass produce from the supplier side.  From the consumer side these chocolates were much easier to eat.  Buying and eating a chocolate bar is much more convenient and a lot cheaper than going to elite clubs and having someone grind chocolate drink for you.  The rise of chocolate candy bars as the dominate chocolate product is primarily due to the ease with which it can be consumed and distributed as opposed to the more traditional chocolate drink.

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Works Cited

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

2. Mintz, Sidney W., Sweetness and power: the place of sugar in modern history. Viking, 1985. Print.

3. “Molinillo” https://chocolateclass.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/blog-post_1-11.jpg

4. “Cocoa press cake” https://chocolateclass.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/cocoa-cake1.jpg

5. “Chocolate Bars” https://chocolateclass.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/chocolate5.png