Tag Archives: hershey’s

Chocolate’s Impact on Society and our History

Chocolate is truly a gift from the Gods. It’s rich succulent flavor melts on your tongue and forces you to take another bite. The moment it was discovered it has been cherished by all who have consumed it. Therefore, it seemed only fitting to ask someone who hadn’t learned about cacao and find out what role chocolate has played in their life.

 

People have been consumed with chocolate for centuries and it has become part of many people’s daily lives. I asked a friend of mine of what chocolate has signified and played in her life, she claimed; “It makes me happy and feel better. I have a major sweet tooth but it’s something I crave everyday, I may even be addicted.” In today’s world, chocolate is available to everyone. It’s also in a variety of different things like protein bars or shakes and desserts. It’s so prevalent that most don’t even know where it originated or how it’s even grown which is something everyone should consider learning about. Chocolate is classificationtree.jpggrown on a cacao tree also known as Theobroma cacao. It’s a fastidious plant that can only grow in warm climates no more than twenty degrees north or south of the equator; such as South America and Africa. It prefers to grow under a canopy of other trees with the air still easily breezing threw. Cacao trees are cauliflory meaning that the flower or fruit grows from the main stem or trunk therefore, the cacao pod grows directly on the trunk not from its branches. The trunk of the tree is so fragile that it cannot be damaged when the pod is being removed or it will not be able to grow a pod there again. Midges are tiny flies that help flower the tree, which only happens twice a year, and creates the pods (The True History of Chocolate by Sophie and Michael D. Coe). Once a pod is cut down from the tree it then undergoes a variety of processes. The first is usually fermentation where the little beans are set out to dry in either trays or banana leaves, cleaned, then stored. They then are roasted to kill off any bacteria or contaminants. Finally, they are winnowed where the shell is separated from the bean removing any last remaining germs. At this point you would be left with a raw cacao nib that would be very bitter with a dirt texture if you attempted to taste it. However, the next step would be to process that cacao nib into the chocolate we’ve grown to love. As anyone can see, chocolate isn’t simply plucked off a plant and melted into chocolate, it takes many different and precise processes to get the taste just right.

 

Chocolate has a competitive side. Originally, Hershey’s was in its very own ball park creating the Hershey Chocolate bar and Kiss and being one of the first to market to the general public. Other individuals saw this opportunity and began creating their own companies such as Henri Nestle with cocoa powder, Mars and the Snicker bar. Again, I asked my friend what her favorite chocolate was, she explained; “Cadbury and Lindor Lindt chocolate are very refined. Cadbury has a unique taste that’s different from other brands with a much thicker candy coating compared to M&M’s. Lindt truffles are fancy with a remarkable soft, melted inside that is so satisfying.” So what makes all of these brands so unique to allow people to have such a preference? Of course every person has specific taste buds and anyone can argue that it’s all personal opinion but there are specific reasons as to why different brands taste differently. Milton Hershey founded his company in 1903, he had a vision to not only create chocolate but to make a better working environment that provided education and extra-curricular activities. His idea to create assembly-line-chocolate.jpgsuch a wonderful working environment was inspired by Cadbury who was the first to create a town dedicated to creating a utopian work space, known as Bournville. Hershey’s goal was to find a way to make milk chocolate with actual liquid milk. This proved difficult because others had been attempting to make it with powdered milk but it wasn’t sweet and liquid milk was spoiling too quickly. Eventually, he succeeded by creating a different process during pasteurization that heats the milk to 282 degrees Fahrenheit, also known as Ultra High Temperature milk, instead of the typical 161 degrees Fahrenheit. From there they store the milk in specially packaged bottles that allows it to last until after its been used in the chocolate and the package is opened (Hershey’s Shelf Stable Milk). Cadbury is very precise when creating their traditional taste. Through may years of practice they’ve perfected their milk and chocolate ratio so that when sugar is absorbed in the condensed milk, then added into the cocoa mass, it creates a chocolate liquid with the most authentic Cadbury palate. They use fresh milk instead of powdered milk mixed with why powder that many other European chocolate companies use. (Cadbury.co.au). Both Hershey’s and Cadbury take the utmost care in their chocolate and value fresh, liquid milk in their products. However, both taste very differently from one another because of slight differences in their manufacturing, traditions, and chocolate-to-milk ratios.

 

Another possible question people may have is when did chocolate become so popular? For as long as most of our ancestors can remember its been available for generations, possibly centuries. This is true because chocolate has been apart of civilizations like the Olmec, Mayan, and Aztecs dating back to 1000 BCE. It was discovered through hieroglyphics that a word kakawa was prevalent and participated in traditional and ceremonial events. All of these cultures believed cacao trees to be sacred, possibly the First Tree, and linked to royal blood lines. It wasn’t until the age of exploration that cacao beans made its first appearance in Europe. Christopher Columbus, in the 16th century, was one of the first to have traded with these fine beans on his fourth voyage when encountering a Mayan trading canoe however, he only knecacao_beans_unshelled_pic1.1462517052.jpgw that they were considered valuable but hadn’t known why. (Sophie and Michael D. Coe). Slowly, they became more prevalent as more explorers were trading them and soon they discovered the sweet, wonderful flavor they possess. Since it was so rare it was only available to Kings and Queens. Eventually nobles and the elite were consuming chocolate and many even created separate kitchens within their homes for the creation of chocolate. Within this time period chocolate was only every consumed as a liquid, it wasn’t until 1847 that the first chocolate bar was created by Joseph Fry that was meant for consumption. Again, my friend had no knowledge of when chocolate was brought to Europe but she did know that the first consumers were the wealthy because of its delectable qualities. Europe during the the medieval years had a very strict class system that consisted of the wealthy versus the poor. It wasn’t until the rise of the middle class, in the 19th century, that chocolate became available to the general public. Cadbury was created in this time, developing its chocolate and advertising it to the masses. From there the rest is history, chocolate has flourished unlike any other food item becoming one of the most consumed sweets with hundreds of billions of dollars spent on chocolate a year. I guess you could thank Columbus for introducing us to what we love.

 

As many people say, “you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy chocolate”. Has anyone ever realized what they’re buying into completely? Unfortunately, as happy as chocolate makes us it has also been linked with many social concerns such as child labor and slavery. These topics are not publicized as they should be and are quickly swept under the rug or forgotten about. I asked my friend if she had known much about the social concerns and if they would hinder her consumption of chocolate. She stressed that she knew it had been associated with slavery in the past and that if she knew what companies were possibly still using this she would refrain from buying their products. Slavery has long been associated with with chocolate. This is in part because it originally was for the wealthy who had slaves and believed in lavish lifestyles which slavery slowly came to symbolize. These people were then dehumanized and treated as property to justify their lack of respect for their lives. in the 16th to 20th centuries slavery was very popular especially because the triangular trade emerged that brought many people from Africa, against their will, to the America’s and Europe. This was because sugar, cotton, tobacco, and other commodity crops started to become very popular. They were grown on large plantations that required massive amounts of labor. Of course plantation owners didn’t want to spend actual money on salaries for these hard working men so instead treated them like index.jpganimals.Sadly, they were overworked, had contracted diseases due to their travel and introduction to foreign lands, and were living under harsh conditions and heat that once arriving to the fields they only lived for another 7 to 8 years. Luckily, by the late 18th century those enslaved in Haiti had a revolution that proved successful. It got the attention of Napoleon, who was the leader of France at the time, and allowed them to declare independence and close the slave trade in 1807. (Sweetness and Power by Sidney W. Mintz). Slowly, many other people began to realize their own power and more revolutions came. Child labor has been another social concern with chocolate. As we know, chocolate is grown in many African and South American countries. Often times these are third would countries where poverty is very high. In order to help support their families, children have begun to work on sugar farms or harvesting chocolate. These jobs are very labor intensive and unfit for a child. Yet, some companies have allowed this so that they could pay them less and over work them (foodispower.org). Although it has been brought up in recent years by the media it hasn’t been closely monitored as it should be. Learning where our food comes from and it’s history is important because it teaches us more about our own world. Everything on this earth comes from somewhere and we should take the time occassionaly to find out where that is and what makes it so great. I encourage everyone to find some of their favorite foods and educate themselves on the primary reasons that make it so great. Who would have known that chocolate has been at the threshold of much of our history throughout the world.

 

Works Cited

     “Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.” Child Labor and Slavery. Food Empowerment Project, n.d. Web. 12 May 2016.

       Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.
     “Hershey’s Shelf Stable Milk Products.” Hershey’s Shelf Stable Milk Products. Hershey’s, n.d. Web. 12 May 2016.
   “Making Chocolate.” Cadbury Australia. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2016.
     Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1985. Print.
Received verbal consent from friend to quote her from our interview.

 

An Experiment to Test Chocolate Preference

To test chocolate preferences, I conducted an experiment on my friends by having them taste a wide variety of chocolates. They didn’t know that they were part of an experiment. They were only told that I was holding a chocolate tasting as part of a course I was taking and I wanted them to rank their preference of each of 7 chocolates, or cacao nibs, from 1 to 7 (1 being the best). Three of my friends were not raised in America which provided some interesting information on the differences in chocolate preference between Americans and people from other parts of the world. Through my experiment I discovered how texture, Fair Trade or organic labels, gourmet or artisan labels, and the distinct taste of Hershey’s chocolate affected preferences.

In an attempt to set up a controlled experience with as little changing variables as possible, I decided to make all the samples I gave my friends look exactly the same. I melted down the 6 types of chocolate bars I bought and molded them using the brown mold pictured below. I did not want my friend’s preferences to be affected by product names or the shape/appearance of the chocolate.

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I presented the chocolates in the same way to everyone, as pictured below. The only noticeable difference between the chocolates was that the chocolate on the left side of the plate was obviously milk chocolate. I kept my samples in plastic bags with the original packaging, as seen in the picture, to ensure that I did not mix up the samples that now looked exactly the same. My friends did not see me set up the plates so they had no way of knowing if I was telling the truth about the chocolates they were eating during the tasting.

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I randomly assigned my 8 friends to two separate groups, Group A and Group B. Sometimes I switched two chocolates on the tasting plate for a particular group. This meant that as I was leading the tasting, I was telling one group that they were eating one type of chocolate when they were really eating another. I did this so I could see if what I said to them about the chocolates had any affect on how much they liked them. I gave each friend a tasting form and a tastes “cheat sheet,” pictured below.

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My cheat sheet was inspired by chocolate tastings done in class and Stuckey’s explanation of the five tastes: “… the only five tastes we Homo sapiens can detect using our tongue alone [are] sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and umami… These tongue sensations are known as the five Basic Tastes” (5). I gave my friends minimal information about the chocolate on the tasting sheets. I left a spot for them to rank the chocolates and another spot for them to write their general thoughts on the chocolate’s taste. As I led the tasting, I explained what any possibly unfamiliar words meant, like Fair Trade, organic, non-GMO, single origin, gourmet. Per recommendations from class, I had my friends taste things in order of highest cacao content to lowest. I decided to include cacao nibs in my tasting as an interesting difference from all the chocolate. I figured that most of my friends had never had cacao nibs so I was eager to see their reactions. The Cacao nibs are pictured below.

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From my friends’ reactions during the debriefing at the end of the experiment, they had no idea that I had lied about which chocolates I gave them. This leads me to believe that my data should be significant. Before I present my data, I will discuss each of the chocolates I used in my tasting, excluding the cacao nibs which I have already mentioned. I used two 80% chocolates which I switched for the groups. One of the chocolates was Taza’s 80% cacao and the other was Equal Exchange’s single origin chocolate from Panama with 80% cacao. The second line on my chocolate tasting sheet describes Equal Exchange’s chocolate while the third line describes Taza’s. I did not switch the fourth chocolate on my tasting sheet for the groups. This chocolate was Equal Exchange’s single origin chocolate from Peru with 71% cacao. Next I had Valrhona’s gourmet, single origin chocolate from Madagascar with 64% cacao (line 5) and Hershey’s dark chocolate (line 6). From my research, Hershey’s dark chocolate has approximately the same cacao percentage as the Valrhona chocolate I chose. Lastly, I gave the groups different milk chocolates with approximately the same percentage cacao. One group received Hershey’s milk chocolate while the other received a milk chocolate meant for chocolate fountains (pictured in the first image). Below are the rankings that my friends gave to each of these chocolates.

Cacao nibs: [2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 7]

Taza: [1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7]

Equal Exchange 80%: [1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 6]

Equal Exchange 71%: [2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4]

Hershey’s Dark: [1, 1, 1, 1, 3, 5, 5, 6]

Valrhona: [1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 5, 6]

Hershey’s milk: [6, 6, 6, 7]

Milk fountain chocolate: [2, 4, 5, 7]

From my data, the fair trade, organic and single origin labels did not seem to have any significant impact on chocolate preference. There were varying preferences for the four chocolates that had these labels (Taza, Equal Exchange, and Valrhona). This is interesting given what I read about “Perceptions of the Fairtrade label”:  “thanks in part to the numerous sensitisation campaigns, the Fairtrade label has become increasingly well known. Likewise, the purchase of FT products continues to grow at enviable rates… 50 per cent of people are familiar with the Fairtrade label. Beyond this, various opinion polls also showed that consumers are increasingly aware of the potential consequences of their consumption rates” (Sylla, “The marketing success of FT: some figures). Sylla suggests that increased education about Fair Trade has caused an “enviable” increase in the sale of fair trade products. One can deduce that an increased sale means an increased preference. The ranging ratings of my friends for Fair Trade chocolates (Equal Exchange and Taza), suggest that there is not really a correlation between a chocolate having a Fair Trade label and a higher preference for that chocolate.

Another interesting result in my data was the general feelings about Taza chocolate. Taza chocolate is different from most chocolate because it is stone ground, with the end result of a higher particle size in the chocolate. Part of the reason that chocolate became more popular was the introduction of machines that could grind chocolate into smaller particles, which might explain why my friends did not generally like it. Only 2 of my 8 friends liked Taza, while 4 out of my 8 friends liked it the least of all the samples (including the cacao nibs). There was actually more general dislike for Taza chocolate than the “bitter” cacao nibs. 7 out of my 8 friends described it as “grainy,” “gritty,” or “powdery.” In my mind, these are not positive adjectives for chocolate. I believe it is safe to say that people tend not to like higher particle size chocolates.

One fascinating result from my experiment was the reactions to Hershey’s chocolate. D’Antonia describes how Hershey’s chocolate differs from other chocolates and played a large role in shaping the chocolate preferences of Americans: “Hershey’s milk chocolate… carries a single, faintly sour note. This slight difference is caused by the fermentation of milk fat, an unexpected side effect… Anyone who knew Swiss milk chocolate… may have found Hershey’s candy unpleasant… Hershey’s milk chocolate… would also come to define the taste of chocolate for Americans” (108). The most striking result from my experiment was that 4 out of the 5 Americans chose Hershey’s dark chocolate as their favorite chocolate from the samples. This makes sense given what D’Antonio says, but it is particularly interesting given that milk is an ingredient in Hershey’s dark chocolate, unlike the other dark chocolate samples I tested. The non-Americans gave Hershey’s dark a lower rating (3, 5, and 5).

I included one expensive, gourmet chocolate in my tasting to see if there would be a general preference towards the chocolate. Williams and Beer explain that many consumers cannot recognize the improvements with gourmet or artisan chocolate, asking the question: “So, can consumers learn to slow down, taste, explore, and value the costly complexity of fine flavor?” (146). From my experiment, the answer to this question appears to be no. The very varied rankings of the gourmet chocolate indicate that my friends did not have any particular preference toward it.

Through my experiment I discovered that Americans and non-Americans definitely have different preferences for chocolate. Americans tend to prefer Hershey’s chocolate over other chocolates. Labels like Fair Trade and organic do not seem to have a significant impact on preferences but this might be due to lack of education. The particle size of chocolate also appears to play a big role in preference. Lastly, it is safe to say that people have not yet learned to appreciate the taste of more expensive artisan and gourmet chocolates.

 

Sources:

D’Antonio, Michael D. 2006. Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams. pp. 106-126.

Stuckey, Barb. 2012. Taste: What You’re Missing. pp. 1-30, 132-156.

Sylla, Ndongo. 2014. The Fair Trade Scandal.

Williams, Pam and Jim Beer. 2012. Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate. pp. 141-209.

 

Multimedia sources:

All images were taken by me.

Female Objectification in Modern Chocolate Advertising

Sex sells – it’s an idea entrenched in today’s marketing schemes, with companies adding sexual images and double entendres into advertisements for completely unrelated

sex-sell-one
This Arby’s ad, run in 2009, shows just one example of the kinds of sexual objectification and innuendos employed by today’s marketing industry

products. Examples include this Arby’s poster, wherein the hamburger buns are clearly meant to represent barely-covered breasts and the tagline – “We’re about to reveal something you’ll really drool over” – stands as a blatant innuendo. There has been some pushback against this concept: this Forbes article highlights some of the controversies, especially over the extreme sexualization and objectification of women, surrounding this trend in areas like the fast food industry. Modern chocolate advertising, however, has received comparatively less attention, despite such themes being just as, if not more, pervasive. Ads are filled with images of pleasure, sensuality, and indulgence, essentially conflating chocolate with sex. The protagonists of such advertisements, including the one for Hershey’s Bliss Chocolate included below, are usually women, and these actresses and models are the ones to convey the physical gratification derived from chocolate. This heightened focus on the female body can play a dangerous role in shaping women’s self-image; a push back against the theme might thus take women out of the picture entirely and focus instead on the chocolate itself.

This Hershey’s ad, with its upbeat music and fully clothed women, seems like a relatively standard, unremarkable promotion – and that is why it’s a perfect demonstration of the deeply entrenched themes in chocolate marketing. One would see this commercial on TV and probably not spare it a second thought, and yet it hints at the sexism present in most chocolate advertising. All three models clearly enjoy the chocolate, and while their expressions of physical pleasure are not as exaggerated as in this ad for Cadbury’s Flake, where the water overflowing from the tub symbolizes erotic release:

the general idea is the same. The first woman, as shown in the screen cap (below left), closes her eyes in pleasure, savoring the bite of “creamy milk” chocolate. The second actress (below right) is more overt; her eyes are open, challenging and seductive, as she faces the camera and deliberately brings the chocolate to her lips. Both models have their lips parted to show a definite, sensual flash of teeth. The message is clear, even if the signs are subtle: chocolate induces pleasurable feelings, often comparable to sex, in these women, and can thus be expected to do the same for other consumers.

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Screen caps taken from the Hershey’s ad

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The Hershey’s ad also underlines how chocolate marketing is primarily directed at women. It shows three different actresses, with a fourth performing a voice-over, but no actors, implying that women, the intended consumers, have a special relationship with chocolate.   Indeed, the trend of targeting women in chocolate advertising has its roots in history. Females have long been thought of as having a greater predilection for sugar than males; P. Morton Shand, writing of the origins of afternoon tea in Britain, called the tea “an excuse for the indulgence of a woman’s naturally sweet tooth” (Mintz 142). Chocolate is sweetened with sugar, making it an attractive treat, but it allegedly also has a special ability to invoke female obsession. As Emma Robertson articulates, “Chocolate has supposedly addictive properties which women are unable to resist” (Robertson 35). These “addictive properties” make it a constant temptation, one that women are expected to resist in order to keep to modern beauty standards. Giving in is thus seen as an indulgence, a “pleasurable surrender,” and chocolate ads play on this idea of guilty pleasure (Robertson 35). The Hershey’s commercial is no different: “Incredible indulgence,” it

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.08.22 PMpromises, while the third model flashes a small smile at the camera (shown right). Her expression has a hint of surprise and playful guilt, as if she’s been caught doing something she shouldn’t. As Robertson notes, this idea of temptation and indulgence eventually comes back to sex: “Chocolate,” she writes, “offers a safe…and natural release of implicitly sexualized desires” (Robertson 35). Release of desires, yes, but as the Cadbury’s Flake ad, and the Hershey’s ad to a lesser extent, show, the implicit has become explicit in today’s marketing.

Modern chocolate ads seem to be selling sensuality as much as chocolate. They often feature close-ups of women with eyes closed and lips parted, as if experiencing a physical revelation. This focus on specific, erotically charged body parts is a form of objectification, and can in turn have detrimental effects on female self-image. The Counseling Psychologist article “Sexual Objectification of Women” notes that the practice “equates a woman’s worth with her body’s appearance and sexual functions” (Szymanski). It places the highest importance on looks rather than personality or mental health, and can thus be harmful to young women especially. To combat this trend, then, an ad might take the focus off the body, female or otherwise, entirely. This proposed ad, shown left, pushes

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A less controversial proposed ad, drawn by the author, to replace the original Hershey’s Bliss commercial. The blue squares stand for wrapped milk chocolate, the pink for dark.

back against the idea of chocolate as an individual, privately erotic experience for women. It forgoes any gendered component by not showing a person, instead placing all attention on the wrapped pieces of chocolate (represented by the blue and pink squares). It keeps the name Hershey’s Bliss, but by removing any references to sex or indulgence, the bliss no longer has a connection to erotic pleasure. Also, by the wording “Share a moment,” eating chocolate becomes a communal activity. The focus is less on individual enjoyment and more on the joy of sharing what one likes with someone else. Where the original ad only appears innocent, subtly reinforcing pervasive themes of objectification and sexual pleasure, the proposed ad avoids the trend altogether. Rather than a replacement for sex, chocolate is allowed to be an enjoyable treat.

 

Sources:

Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1986. Print.

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

Szymanski, D. M., L. B. Moffitt, and E. R. Carr. “Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research 1 7.” The Counseling Psychologist 39.1 (2010): 6-38. Web.

Multimedia Sources:

Arby’s Ad: “Does Sex Sell in Online Marketing?” SEO Training SW. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <http://www.seotrainingsw.com/2013/07/sex-in-online-marketing/&gt;.

Cadbury Ad: Cadbury’s. “Cadbury’s Flake 1991 Commercial, Featuring Rachel Brown.” YouTube. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMwMKJhaf7A&gt;

Forbes Article: Dan, Avi. “Will This Powerful Video Stop Sexist Ads That Objectify Women?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/avidan/2016/01/27/will-this-powerful-video-stop-sexist-ads-that-objectify-women/#34788f779a51&gt;.

Hershey’s Bliss Ad: Hershey’s. “One Square Inch Hershey’s Bliss Chocolate TV Commercial.” Youtube. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__0VqVKQ5m8&gt;

 

 

Taking Advantage of the European Narrative

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Image 1: A depiction of Columbus landing in the “New World”

Branding, perhaps, is the most critical part of advertising and is the crutch to every corporation’s success. It’s everything. Branding determines which consumers you reach out to, what image you want your product to have, and what you want your consumers to remember about your product. Furthermore, branding as a whole, whether good or bad, plays a large part in your consumer base (how many customers you have), your company’s identity (how iconic you are/become), and your profits. The leading players in the world of chocolate, Hershey’s, Cadbury, Nestle, Mars, and Ferrero Rocher are no strangers to this (Martin). Each have carefully calculated, analyzed, and determined what branding their chocolate will take, with not a single detail going to waste. And what they do does matter, considering Hershey, Mars, and Nestle make up 99.4% of the world’s snack sized chocolate market (Martin). After asking fellow classmates about chocolate and cacao I found out an astonishing fact: while all students acknowledged to some extent the role South America has to play in cacao and chocolate history, very few students acknowledged the role Africa has in chocolate production, and every student gave credit to either the United States or a European nation for having the best chocolate.

Why would such a phenomenon occur, especially when most of the largest players dominating the market have their cacao come from African nations like Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, and Nigeria? The secret behind this lies in the branding. Upon examining chocolate bars, one finds that the location of the beans is rarely advertised. Instead, what dominates the bars appearance is the company’s name and logo. In addition, when taking a closer look at chocolate history Africa as a whole has largely been left out of the common and general narrative. From this, it can be deduced that the world’s largest chocolate makers take advantage of the dominant and nearly exclusive European narrative of chocolate to place consumer focus and loyalty on their own individual corporations rather than the origin of the cacao beans used to make their chocolate, in order to ensure better success, recognition, and protection.

(Data table generated from survey responses of seven subjects)

Data for AFAM

Interested in what general knowledge my classmates had, I interviewed a handful of students in my year, asking general questions such as “Which nations do you associate chocolate with?” and “Where is the most cacao grown?” The main distinction I made in my questions was for simplicity in which chocolate referred to the finished, packaged product and cacao referred to the cacao beans of the tree. Although their overall chocolate knowledge was not extensive or accurate, one trend in particular caught my mind. My classmates consistently associated the “best chocolate” with European nations, cacao and its history with Latin America, and largely left out Africa out of the picture. What was even more interesting was that my classmates identified the nations that had the best chocolate mainly through their own taste—general opinion having minimal influence—citing their favorite brands such as Cadbury, Nestle, Hershey, etc. as the reason for their answer. The results of this survey perplexed me. If my classmates were more associated with and cognizant of larger chocolate brands whose main source of cacao is bulk cacao grown in West Africa, why did they leave West Africa out of the narrative?

One of the answers lies in the general narrative of chocolate. Unfortunately, more often then not, the European narrative of chocolate is the dominant narrative. Few people have been able to experience the voices of Mesoamerica, specifically of those of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. Among scholars is the false running idea that the Spaniards found chocolate’s taste so appalling and unappetizing they attempted to fix the bad flavor through means of sweetening with spices like vanilla and sweeteners like sugar (Norton, 660). However, this idea is problematic as it portrays the image of sophisticated Spaniards coming down from Europe and taking chocolate, originally a simple, distasteful food of the locals, and making it “better,” more edible, and delicious. This feeds into the superiority complex of Europe in which everything it comes to touch or own is automatically better and greater than the prior product of the natives. Norton sets to correct this idea, stating, “The Spanish did not alter chocolate to fit the predilections of their palate. Instead, Europeans unwittingly developed a state for Indian chocolate, and they sought to re-create the indigenous chocolate experience in America and in Europe…[leading] to a cross-cultural transmission of taste” (660). Norton argues that colonialism and the transfer of food is not one sided, nor is it “something done to someone else”; instead he argues that it is an exchange with the “struggles and endeavors in the periphery change[ing] the society and culture, as well as the economy, of the metrople” (661). So while it should be seen as Mesoamerica playing a huge role in both cacao and chocolate, it is currently seen as Mesoamerica harvesting cacao (the most basic task) and Europe controlling manufacturing and processing the chocolate—the part where chocolate becomes “good”. Because of the prevailing European narrative that saturates the history of chocolate and seeks to promote Europe’s sophistication, power, and superiority, Mesoamerica’s equal role in developing and making chocolate, not just cacao, has been left out.

The same argument can be extended to explain why my classmates did not include African nations in the chocolate narrative. Africa, as a result of the large European narrative, has been left out of the history and story regarding cacao, its cultivation, and its process to becoming the chocolate we know today, even more so than Meso and Latin America due to the emergence of racism and prejudice against Africa, Africans, African Americans, and Blacks to justify slavery and discrimination. As Eric Williams said “slavery was not born of racism; racism was the consequence of slavery” (7). Although the indigenous people of Mesoamerica did originally serve as the first slave labor, due to “their inefficiency and weakness,” deaths from disease, and limited numbers (Williams, 9), African slaves were chosen over them and the poor, white colonists of the region, to become the labor of choice—not because of their skin color but “because [they] were the cheapest and the best,” with “superior endurance, docility, and labor capacity” (Williams, 20). Racial differences observed through “hair, color, and dentifrice and “subhuman characteristics” (Williams, 20) “made it easier to justify and rationalize Negro slavery, to enact the mechanical obedience of a plough-ox or a cart-horse, to demand resignation and that complete moral and intellectual subjugation which alone make slave labor possible” (Williams, 19). Slavery is much easier to condone and perpetuate when viewing the enslaved as immoral, dark, evil, brutish, animal-like, and overall less human, “warranting” degradation, destruction of human rights and liberties, paternalistic oversight/control, and cruel, life-long servitude. Through this racial justification of slavery was the African narrative intentionally left out. The lack of an African narrative plays perfectly into the hands of the large chocolate corporations of the twentieth and twenty first century who Leissle notes “were more interested in selling the flavors of particular candy bars than bean lineage.” This effectively cuts off the link between the cacao growers in Ghana, Cameroon, and Cote D’Ivoire and the consumer, as “most wrappers give no indication that, with a few exceptions, the cocoa in those candies came from West Africa” (Leissle, 22). By making Africa “largely invisible” in regard to chocolate production (Leissle) and separating consumer from bean origin, large chocolate corporations can turn consumer attention to their own specific brands and flavors, which can be easily seen on their bars as most of the space and writing goes to describing and promoting those items, with the company name always being the largest font (observe image 4).

Bottle of Wine
Image 2: A bottle of wine

Bill Nesto further explores this occurrence through a direct comparison in the preservation of terroir between the chocolate industry and wine industry. Terroir, according to Nesto, “is the web that connects and unifies raw materials, their growing conditions, production process, and the moment of product appreciation” (131). The terroir regarding chocolate is severely broken and in many cases nonexistent. The consumer knows very little about the source of the raw materials and/or the conditions in which they are grown. And even when they possess knowledge of both they cannot connect the two as the concepts have become distinct and dissociated. The only thing a chocolate consumer of Hershey’s or Cadbury has to hold on to is the name Hershey or Cadbury, not the bean origin, harvest, or processing. Thus the consumer’s terroir and chocolate experience is dominated by company name. Nesto also makes this observation noting “the key circumstance that obstructs the expression of terroir in chocolate is the distance, both real and conceptual, between the farmer growing cacao and the factory that transforms the cacao into chocolate” (132). This is so vastly different from wine where the vineyards are very close to the wineries and the labeling is much more “accurate and advanced” (Nesto, 134). In fact, one could argue that people know and crave wine more by the vineyard and the harvesting process rather than the producer, as the producer is defined by their vineyard and harvesting process. For example, the bottle of wine located above explicitly tells us not just the winery, but also the vineyard (Firepeak) the grapes were grown on and the region the wine is from (Edna Valley). If the consumer so desires, they could explore more wines that come from that vineyard or from that region to further develop their wine terroir and palate. Unlike wine makers, Mars isn’t defined by its cacao plantations or chocolate making process; it is defined by its name .

The current and only bridge between the consumer and cacao beans lies in single source origin bars. Single source origin bars are “chocolate made with beans from a single country, region, or plantation” with the cacao producing distinct, unexpected, and irregular flavors (Leissle, 23). The producers of said bars are also very specific about the process the beans go through and need to know every step of production and processing in order to ensure the product’s quality, authenticity, and taste. All this is revealed in packaging. For example, image 3 shown below displays a variety of Tejas single source chocolate bars from various regions and the percent of the chocolate that comes from there. The company made sure to write fire roasted and stone ground so that the consumer has some knowledge of the process the beans went through, and carefully constructed an image to further connect the consumer to the beans as if taking the consumer on an “exotic” trip to the home of the beans for an enjoyable getaway from everyday life. Much different when compared to the very brand name focused packaging of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars that don’t advertise cacao content, origin, or geographic location (see image 4).

sample single origin chocolate
Image 3: Sample single source origin chocolate
hershey
Image 4: Hershey’s milk chocolate bar

As good at it sounds even single source chocolate shows similar discrimination towards African cacao like the top five chocolate companies do. The evidence lies in the numbers; there is a huge disparity in the amount of single source bars from West Africa vs. those from South America and other regions of the world. Only 3.8% of single source bars contain cacao exclusively from West Africa (according to Mark Christian’s chocolate database—the largest one in the world). An official reviewer of Britain’s seventypercent.com demonstrates the continued prejudice and racial views against Africa by commenting on one of the few 100% Ghanian cacao bars, stating that the Torres bar has an “ominously dark color, though indicative of its Ghanian origins, evokes an unexplainable fear that these nearly black colors usually do” (Leissle, 27). The “unexplainable fear” reflects the internalized fear and aversion to anything resembling Africa and Black people as it’s dangerous, sinful, and uncontrollable—at least according to society’s false narrative of Black people.

Review of Jacques Torress Haven Bar-Ghana Origins

Similarly, top chocolate companies avoid advertising West African cacao due to the negative stereotypes surrounding the region. They don’t want to be associated with the stereotypes of Africa such as “poverty, conflict, human rights violations, HIV/AIDS, debt, lack of urban development and oil (Leissle, 26).” They also don’t want to be associated with the problems and discrepancies regarding worker’s rights, child labor, and working conditions of the 1990s and the 2000s (Martin). Because of the lack of general knowledge regarding the top brands cacao beans used to make their chocolate, the companies can better avoid consumer anger and boycotting of their products since they won’t/can’t connect the working conditions of their farmers to their products. As a result of Africa’s invisible narrative in cacao production and the lack of connection between consumer and farmer, the large chocolate companies of today can avoid labor/processing accountability and giving recognition to West African cacao, holding all the benefits and rewards for themselves.

With chocolate’s diminished terroir, a lack of an African narrative, and almost no connection between the beans of origin and consumer, the world’s largest chocolate corporations can easily brand their bars with complete focus and emphasis on their company rather than the beans or process. Thus their consumers build their loyalty not on cacao bean taste, strand, or origin but on company name and logo. For if consumers knew where the cacao originated, they would no longer be as loyal and focused on say Mars or Cadbury, but much more focused on bean strand and location, seeking out a variety of chocolatiers who source cacao from those locations, decreasing large corporations strength, power, monetary success, and fame. Subject seven nearly had it right when they said, “African cacao isn’t marketed as well (not as widely publicized necessarily) and people don’t know it as well as South America” in regard to what they think of African vs. South American cacao. It’s not that the cacao isn’t marketed well; it’s simply not marketed at all—a huge shame considering it makes up most of the world’s chocolate market.

Works Cited

Leissle, Kristy. “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 13.3 (2013): 22-31. University of California Press. Web. 6 May 2015.

Martin, Carla . “The rise of big chocolate and race for the global market.” Emerson Hall 210, Cambridge . 9 Mar. 2015. Lecture.

Martin, Carla . “Modern Day Slavery.” Emerson Hall 210, Cambridge . 25 Mar. 2015. Lecture.

Nesto, Bill. “Discovering Terroir in the World of Chocolate.” Gastronomica 10.1 (2010): 131-35. University of California Press. Web. 6 May 2015.

Norton, Marcy. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate And The European Internalization Of Mesoamerican Aesthetics.” The American Historical Review 111.4 (2006): 660-91. Oxford Journals. Web. 6 May 2015.

Street, Styles. Bottle of Wine. Digital image. http://www.stylesstreetchildcare.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Bottle-of-wine.jpg. 11 Oct. 2013. Web.

Tejas Chocolate. Tejas Chocolate. Digital image. Http://tejaschocolate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/BarsBanner-2464×1404.jpg. 1 June 2011. Web.

The Hershey Company. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar. Digital image. http://www.hersheys.com/pure-products/details.aspx?id=3480. Web.

Walbert, David. Columbus Taking Possession. Digital image. http://www.learnnc.org/lp/media/uploads/2007/08/columbus_taking_possession.jpg. 1 Aug. 2007. Web.

Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. U of North Carolina, 1994. Print.

Can a Hershey’s Bar be “Simply” Chocolate?

Image 1: A Bag of Cheetos Highlighting the Preference for Non-Processed Foods

As seen in Image 1, buzzwords such as “natural”, “preservative free”, “homemade” are often used in advertisements when referring to food goods. There is a growing preference in today’s society for foods that are produced the “natural way, without preservatives or industrialized processing (Murdoch and Miele 2002). But simultaneously, people seem more and more distant from the actual processes their food undergoes during production. An example of this phenomenon is the contemporary understanding of chocolate in our culture: although people prefer “wholesome” ingredients, many consider a chocolate bar to be a single ingredient in itself or a basic unit of food. In contrast, other similarly produced goods—like a finished apple pie or a can of fruit—are viewed as comprising of many parts and steps.

In order to better understand contemporary understandings about food production, I interviewed eight of my classmates about their experiences with chocolate, specifically trying to uncover their conceptualizations of a Hershey’s chocolate bar. It is worth noting that my small-n sample of eight friends is not stratified nor representative of any larger body of people. However, the sample itself—eight college students from middle class backgrounds—can offer insight into the way that such a demographic might conceptualize chocolate and trade. These conversations revealed to me a focus on processed or non-organic products, but a lack of awareness regarding the actual processes of production and social and economic consequences of international companies like Hershey’s.

The Global Production of Hershey’s Chocolate: The Process and its Consequences

While my friends—specifically those who have not taken this class—may be unaware of the process that goes into the production of a single bar of chocolate, it is nonetheless extensive. The transformation from “bean to a Hershey’s bar” spans multiple continents, starting in the cacao plantations of West Africa, where 68.1% of the world’s cacao beans are grown (Lecture 15). Seen in Image 2, the cacao beans  are removed from their pods, fermented, dried, and roasted so that just cacao nibs remain.

Image 2: Dried cacao beans displayed in their pod husks

These nibs are then shipped to Hershey’s manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Mexico where they are ground down into cacao liquor and pressed to create cocoa powder (Hersheys.com). This powder is then combined with a variety of different ingredients like cacao butter, powdered milk, and flavors to create the enormous selection of candy bars that Hershey produces.

The process of Hershey’s production also includes communities around the globe, influencing local social and economic forces. On the one hand, industrialization and globalization can generally be considered a good thing. The largest positive impact globalization of the food industry had was the reduction of starvation across the globe through the larger supply of food, which directly lowered the prices (Regmi et al.). When the processes of preservation, mechanization, retailing, and global transportation were newly discovered, the total volume of available food increased enormously (Lecture 12). Today, industrialized production of ingredients—like Hershey’s chocolate—allow for foods to travel far past their previously restrictive borders.

But there is also a darker side to the changes in the food production industry. As Lauden describes, the changes in production have led to the availability of “fresh” foods, but also a cultural tendency to overlook the processes that led to the creation of each component of the ultimate outcome (Lauden). The same concept applies to the production of Hershey’s chocolate: while many might think of chocolate as an ingredient or a “staple” food, the realities of its production include the myriad ingredients and steps listed above.

Though the consumer may think of a Hershey’s chocolate bar as a component of a recipe or a basic Halloween candy, each step in the process of its production involves individual people and their communities. Hershey’s has been under fire for its use of illegal child labor and was even the focus of a national campaign against child labor named Raise the Bar (Bloxham). Furthermore, Hershey’s and other multinational food conglomerates have been criticized for their transnational investment in poor countries. These corporations are able to fix prices below the countries’ equilibrium level and push out local corporations and therefore harm foreign economic development (Wimberley).

Surpassing typical evaluative processes, the Hershey’s brand has become so ubiquitously associated with chocolate that a change in recipe that drastically altered the final product didn’t stop consumers from defining the bar as “chocolate.” In 2007, The Chocolate Manufacturers Association, which Hershey’s is a member of, began lobbying the U.S. Food and Drug administration to allow the substitution of real chocolate ingredients like cocoa butter and sugar for “safe and suitable vegetable fats and oils” (including partially hydrogenated vegetable oils”(Bragg). Though this legislation did not pass, Hershey’s still takes many shortcuts today. The Mr. Goodbar, one of Hershey’s products made with vegetable fat substitutes , is labeled as “made with chocolate” in order to bypass the F.D.A. regulation.

Image 3: Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar displaying “Made with Chocolate”

But how does a typical consumer think about Hershey’s chocolate? Does the consumer consider the process of production when they think about which bar of chocolate to buy? Or even how they define chocolate itself?

What is Hershey’s Chocolate?: Analysis of Interview Results

Note: See Appendix for Interview Questions

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the students I interviewed seemed unaware of the process of production that goes into a Hershey’s chocolate bar. But they also did not know the basics of chocolate as a produced good. Said one student: “I don’t know what is in a bar of chocolate. The same thing that’s in chocolate? Like, chocolate?” Here we can see the blurred line between a “bar of chocolate” and its ingredients, as the two separate concepts seem merged into one idea of “chocolate.” A different student avoided listing what chocolate is made out of, and instead focused on what chocolate means to them. “I’m not really sure what chocolate is to me,” they said. “I guess it’s like, a cake or frosting or something. Or I guess it’s something you buy for Christmas or Valentine’s Day.” Like the previous quote, this excerpt reveals the student’s conception of chocolate as a facet of a greater experience, like an ingredient in baking or an aspect of a tradition. Instead of thinking about each step that goes into making chocolate, the student imagines chocolate to be a finished product, ready to be used for further production.

When differentiating Hershey’s chocolate from chocolate more generally, students most focused on the brand and its cultural significance. When asked what Hershey’s chocolate means to them, one student said: “Hershey’s is, like, the all-American chocolate bar. It’s the most simple chocolate I can think of.” This quote shows the connection of chocolate to its greater social meaning, in this case as a facet of what it means to be an “American” given the significance of Hershey’s in American culture. The individual’s description of the chocolate bar as the “most simple” of its kind might even strike a student in our class as humorous, given that Hershey’s contains the smallest actual amount of chocolate out of any major brand. Similarly, another student seemed convinced by more by Hershey’s branding than its actual use of chocolate in production. Hinting at the lack of actual chocolate in the bar, the student said: “Hershey’s doesn’t even taste that good. It just gives me that feeling that eating chocolate gives me so I keep on eating it when it’s around.” This quote further suggests that Hershey’s has developed a brand name that labels its “chocolate” to be a finished product in and of itself.

When specifically asked about the ingredients in a Hershey’s chocolate bar, students had more varied answers. Many seemed aware that the chocolate bar is not entirely “wholesome” or “natural,” but few could explain why. Linking it to the broader movement towards “natural” and “local” foods, one student said: “[Hershey’s is made of] chocolate and milk fat and probably something poisonous to me that we won’t realize is carcinogenic for like a million years. Although maybe I just am thinking that because Hershey’s is a giant corporation.” Although this student could not think of specifics, they realized that there were different products that ultimately go into the production of a Hershey’s bar. Their use of buzzwords like “corporation” and “carcinogenic” may illuminate a negative perspective of processed foods that is seen in the media.

The same student reported buying Hershey’s within the past week, and at a frequency of approximately once a month. Though this discrepancy between purchasing behavior and sustainable thinking might seem surprising to some, a survey by Vermeir and Verbeke on such a behavioral gap found that many young people exhibit little intention to buy sustainable goods if an alternative is perceived as much more widely attainable (Vermeir and Verbeke 2006). I believe that it is likely that Hershey’s universal availability and the lack of attention paid to chocolate and consumer responsibility allows people to continue to buy the chocolate with relatively little consumer guilt.

Another student mentioned a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania during which they visited the company’s “Chocolate Lab” and watched “chocolate being made.” Further conversation revealed to me that the Hershey’s factory walks its visitors through the a much-briefer process of chocolate production—starting with examples of cacao pods and progressing straight to vats of swirling melted chocolate and Hershey’s kisses and bars prior to packaging.

Image 4: “ Liquid chocolate in a vat at the Hershey’s Factory”
Image 5: Hershey’s Kisses coming out as finished products

Rather than discuss the process of production, Hershey suggests to its visitors that cacao pods are somehow transformed into bars of chocolate. This student reported feeling “connected” to the end product as a result of their visit, and feeling as though the chocolate bar was simply made of “chocolate.”

In conclusion, modern understandings of a Hershey’s chocolate bar suggest that there is still a large gap between the starting blocks of a processed food, the supply chain, and the finished product. People today may be starting to realize this and thus have created movements such as Fair Trade USA and Direct Trade, but many more consumers continue to overlook basic processes of production. The branding of Hershey’s—from its logo to its factory tour—works to continue the image of a chocolate bar as fundamentally “chocolate,” preventing its customers from questioning its production practices. As one student said: “Hershey’s reminds me of Coke. It’s not the best chocolate I could buy, but it’s the easiest one to think of when I imagine chocolate.”

Work’s Cited

Bloxham, Eleanor. “Chocolate and child labor a hurdle for Hershey”. Fortune Magazine, November 2012. http://fortune.com/2012/11/16/chocolate-and-child-labor-a-hurdle-for-hershey/

Bragg, Lynn M. “Chocolate Manufacturers Association Stakeholder Letter”. Chocolate dasManufacturers Association, April 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071202030257/http://www.chocolateusa.org/pdfs/CMA-stakeholder.pdf

Lauden, Rachel. “A Plea for Culinary Modernism: Why We Should Love New, Fast, Processed Food”. Gastronomica. Winter 2001. http://www.jstor.org.ezp-   prod1.hul.harvard.edu/stable/pdf/10.1525/gfc.2001.1.1.36.pdf?acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true

Levenstein, Harvey. “Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet” Oxford University Press, 1988. Pg 31-32

Murdoch, J. & Miele, M “‘Back to Nature’: Changing ‘Worlds of Production’”. Sociologia. Ruralis. December 2002. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9523.00119/abstract

Regmi, A. & Gehlhar, G. “Processed Food Trade Pressured by Evolving Global Supply Chains”. USDA Economic Research Service. . http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/r/2/r2w/AGBM420/Readings/W10-12%20Vertical%20price%20variation/ImperativesForSCManInProcessedFoodFeb05.pdf

Vermeir, I & Verbeke, W. “Sustainable Food Consumption: Exploring the Consumer ‘Attitude –                                                                       Behavioral Intention’ Gap”. Journal of Agricuultural and Environmental Ethics. April                                                                                 2006 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10806-005-5485-3

Wimberley, Dale W. “Effects of Foreign Investment, Exports, and Economic Growth on Third World Food Consumption”. Oxford Journals, 1992 – http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/70/4/895.short

Multimedia Sources Cited

Image 1: “A Bag of Cheetos Highlighting the Preference for Non-Processed Foods”             http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61NzIC4cXsL._SL1000_.jpg

Image 2: “Dried cacao beans displayed in their pod husks”            http://howardcocoacompany.yolasite.com/resources/image.jpeg

Image 3: “ Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar displaying “Made with Chocolate”                http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/81bOiZjzD3L._SL1500_.jpg

Image 4: “ Liquid chocolate at the Hershey’s Factory”            https://darkcargo.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/p1000029.jpg

Image 5: “Hershey’s Kisses coming out as finished products”            http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/GMA/ht_kiss_0057_090213_ssh.jpg

Appendix: Interview Questions

  1.       When you think about chocolate, what first comes to mind?
  2.       What are three ways that you might experience chocolate in everyday life?
  3.       Do people around you ever talk about chocolate? What do they say?
  4.       How often do you eat chocolate?
  5.       More specifically, how often do you eat Hershey’s chocolate?
  6.       What do you think of when you think about a Hershey’s chocolate bar?
  7.       Do you prefer chocolate on its own, or as a flavor or ingredient?

Advertising, Psychology, and Fair Trade

It is interesting, and often undervalued, what factors go into the decision-making process when consumers buy chocolate. Although it is often a subconscious process, a typical chocolate consumer unknowingly takes many elements into account before purchasing a chocolate bar. Undoubtedly, factors such as price comparisons, taste and ingredients, consumer preferences, and reputation of chocolate companies play a dominant role in these decisions. This partially explains how companies like the Big 5 have been so successful in integrating their products into many populations. These companies pride themselves in creating brand loyalty, or a “cradle to grave” attitude among consumers (Martin, Lecture 12). This was evident in Hershey’s attempt to become the iconic American chocolate by aligning their advertisements with American values (Martin, Lecture 12). Furthermore, they have been able to maximize profits by diminishing production costs, allowing them to sell their products at a lower price. As a result, these companies and their products have become globalized and they are all known to have a reputation of producing easily accessible, affordable chocolate.

However, a growing concern in the chocolate industry surrounds the cacao-chocolate supply chain and emphasizing the necessity for ‘ethically based cacao’ (Barrientos, 2006). This term applies to a broad range of topics including environment sustainability, fair treatment of cacao farmers, and direct contact with workers (Barrientos, 2006). These concerns arose mainly from speculations of unfair treatment of workers and exploitation of children in West African cacao regions, such as Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire (Martin, Lecture 15). In response, various certifications have arisen that attempt to motivate chocolate companies to engage in these efforts. The three main ones are organic, fair trade, and direct trade certifications. Fair trade and direct trade certifications are similar in that they both address fair treatment and pay of farmers (Barrientos, 2006). However, some argue that direct trade is a better alternative to fair trade as it addresses many of the critiques associated with fair trade. Organic certification, on the other hand, stipulates that produce has to have been grown without the use of pesticides or other fertilizers (Martin, Lecture 18).

There are now multiple chocolate companies that make a conscious effort to obtain these certifications. They identify themselves as ‘ethically sourced’ and attempt to target consumers who wish to purchase chocolate that not only tastes good, but also is ethically produced (Barrientos, 2006). However, one of the main problems with these companies is that their products are often more expensive since their production costs are higher and they are paying a premium to farmers (Martin, Lecture 18). Furthermore, there has been some controversy over the certifications themselves and whether there is accountability in some of their promises (Martin, Lecture 18). This raises some interesting questions: are consumers thinking about these issues when they make purchasing decisions? What are the tradeoffs between cost and ethics? And most importantly, what influences consumers to choose ethically sourced chocolate bars over other chocolate bars?

The challenges associated with motivating consumers to buy ethically sourced chocolate is a major barrier that companies face when producing certified chocolate bars. In order to make an impact in relation to the cacao-chocolate supply chain, the consumer has to be willing to purchase the products. The efforts of fair and direct trade chocolate companies don’t summate to anything if no one is purchasing their products. If one were to turn to the success of the Big 5 chocolate companies, they have attracted consumers primarily through advertising and marketing strategies. Since direct trade chocolate companies have additional barriers, such as inflated costs, marketing their products is even more critical to their success. As such, I would argue that the sole placement of the term ‘ethically sourced’ on a chocolate bar is not sufficient to sway the typical chocolate consumer to buy their products over a ‘more affordable’ option. Instead, these companies need to both focus on ethically based initiatives and also enable a way to connect with consumers to establish the same brand loyalty that is seen among the Big 5 chocolate companies. Thus, when it comes to influencing consumer decisions, the most impactful companies will be able to both prioritize direct trade relationships over profits as well as find an effective way to advertise their brand to appeal to the general consumer.

The importance of advertising can be assessed by closely examining a direct trade chocolate company, and gauging its overall impact on both the main issues of fair trade and of gaining consumer interest. If these two components are addressed, direct trade chocolate companies will be more successful and influential overall.

Taza Chocolate Factory is situated in Somerville, MA and was founded in 2005 by Alex Whitmore (“TAZA chocolate”, 2012). Taza chocolate-makers pride themselves in producing “stone ground, organic chocolate” (“TAZA chocolate”, 2012). From the beginning, Taza’s mission was “to make and share stone ground chocolate that is seriously good and fair for all” (“TAZA chocolate”, 2012).

The process of making Taza chocolate is relatively unique compared to other US companies. First, they use solely organic products and aim to include as few ingredients as possible. This is meant to enhance the flavors of cacao as well as promote environment sustainability (“TAZA chocolate”, 2012). Their chocolate is also unconched, giving it a grainy/course texture. This is interesting as most chocolate these days undergoes a conching process, so this aspect creates a distinctive tasting experience for consumers.

Taza chocolate was the first in the USA to establish direct trade certification. They have partnered with La Red Guaconejo, a cooperative of cacao farmers that is based in the Dominican Republic (“TAZA chocolate”, 2012). They pay a premium to these farmers upon the sale of cacao beans and make an effort to visit these cacao farms at least once per year. In order to ensure accountability, Taza chocolate produces a transparency report once a year that provides a detailed account of their impact on the cacao industry (“TAZA chocolate”, 2012). This report is highly visual and makes it easy for consumers to understand.

Some of the more valuable components of these reports are the pictures of Taza workers with the cacao farmers. These pictures really emphasize Taza’s direct relationship with cacao farmers and presents the farmers as valuable members of their business. Since the challenges associated with cacao farming are often ignored or not revealed to consumers, these pictures provide meaningful insight to a crucial element of the chocolate-making process.

As indicated, Taza chocolate claims to be ethically sourced in two respects. First, they claim to only use organic ingredients in their recipes and second, they are direct trade certified. What makes Taza chocolate stand out, however, is their high accountability and transparency to consumers, which builds a reputation in the product. While Taza’s efforts address some of the cacao-supply chain issues, the problem of attaining consumer interest still remains.

There has certainly been more interest in buying ethically sourced products. As Low and colleagues (2005) state, fair trade sales are continually growing and it is evolving to become more mainstream. They describe this shift as an ethical consumer movement, where the consumer has the ability to create positive change by choosing one good over another (Low & Davenport, 2005). Given this rise in popularity, they emphasize the importance of building fair trade brands and marketing their products to consumers (Low & Davenport, 2005). On average, a typical consumer spends about 4 seconds examining a shelf before making a purchasing decision (Low & Davenport, 2005). In this time, they are likely not considering the details of each company, but rather choosing products based on the labels and taste preferences.

While people enjoy the idea of being an ethical consumer, they are not always willing to incur the additional costs associated with it. An average Taza chocolate bar sells for about $7.50, whereas a regular-sized Hershey’s bar sells for about $1.00 (“TAZA Chocolate”, 2012; “The Hershey’s Company”, n.d.). This is a significant gap between prices. This means that there has to be additional incentives to purchase fair trade chocolate. As such, in order to compete with the sales of the Big 5 companies, fair trade companies like Taza need to be able to effectively advertise their products to the public.

If we look to the success of companies like Hershey’s, it has become such an iconic brand in the USA because they are able to align themselves with mainstream values. This is commonly displayed in their advertisements as they integrate elements of taste and pleasure to create a sense of desire among consumers. That way, consumers are primed to crave Hershey’s chocolate before they even step into the store.

For example, in their S’mores Around The Campfire commercial, it takes a popular social gathering and makes it seem more appealing with the addition of a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

The ad features adults and children, all smiling, and sitting around a campfire enjoying a s’more that is made complete with a Hershey bar. It plays on elements of taste by capturing people biting into the s’more as well as showing close up shots of the construction of the s’more. Even though it’s only a 15 second clip, it builds an association with a pleasurable event that consumers can draw on when making purchasing decisions.

If fair trade chocolate companies could integrate similar marketing strategies, consumers could build positive associations with the product, which would ultimately increase the likelihood of buying their products. As of now, Taza chocolate company does market their brand in some respects. They have online videos that are meant to increase brand awareness and make consumers aware of their story.

These videos are targeted toward the ethical consumer and are meant primarily to be educational. In the first video, the viewer is taken through a brief story of the creation of Taza chocolate. This video is interesting as there is no script, just festive music playing in the background.

The second video, on the other hand, focuses on children and educates them on the processes that go into making the chocolate. Both these videos were likely created with the intention of raising awareness and maintaining their image of transparency.

However, both these videos lack the psychological elements that implicitly draw consumers to chocolate. David Benton (2004) states that the consumption and craving for chocolate is highly psychological. Eating chocolate is a very emotional process and is often craved due to its association with mood elevation (Benton, 2004). Given this knowledge, it seems as though the implementation of psychological elements in advertising is necessary to attract a wide consumer-base.

In sum, the increase in direct trade initiatives is positively impacting the cacao-supply chain in numerous ways. Companies, such as Taza Chocolate, have been able to generate more interest in ethically sourced cacao and sustain relationships with their cacao-supplying nations. However, while fair trade companies excel at portraying these efforts to consumers, they lack in their ability to directly relate and incentivize their brands over others. Since marketing and advertising has a tremendous effect on consumer purchasing decisions, improving in this area would likely lessen the discrepancy in profits between the Big 5 chocolate companies and fair trade companies. Thus, the ability to influence consumer decisions plays a big role in the success of chocolate companies, and is an area that is lacking in the fair trade industry.

Works Cited

  1. Barrientos, S. (2006). Transformation of Global Food: Opportunities and Challenges for Fair and Ethical Trade. In Ethical sourcing in the global food system. Sterling, VA: Earthscan.
  2. Benton, D. (2004). The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving. Nutrition, Brain and Behavior, 205-218.
  3. Chocolate Products, Recipes, Nutrition Information. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2015, from http://www.hersheys.com
  4. Low, W., & Davenport, E. (2006). Has the medium (roast) become the message?: The ethics of marketing fair trade in the mainstream. International Marketing Review, 494-511. Retrieved May 1, 2015, from http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/doi/full/10.1108/02651330510624354
  5. Martin, C. (2015, March 9). The rise of big chocolate and race for the global market. AAAs 119x: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food . Lecture conducted from , Cambridge.
  6. Martin, C. (2015, March 25). Modern Day Slavery. AAAS 119x: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food . Lecture conducted from , Cambridge.
  7. Martin, C. (2015, April 6). Alternative trade and virtuous localization/globalization. AAAS 119x: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food . Lecture conducted from , Cambridge.
  8. Taza Chocolate | stone ground chocolate. (2012). Retrieved May 1, 2015, from http://www.tazachocolate.com

Multimedia Sources

  1. Curious George Visits The Chocolate Factory, 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY_wD10tszA
  1. Hershey’s “S’mores Around the Campfire” Commercial, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGRAmQeu2xo
  2. Taza Workers and Cacao Farmers, Image http://www.tazachocolate.com/documents/image/DirectTrade.jpg
  1. The Taza Chocolate Story, 2012.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tcA51tUOxU

Life Has Always Been Delicious With Hershey’s: Comparing Hershey’s Ads

Hershey’s was the first chocolate company in the industry and still remains one of the largest players today. As a company that possesses such an established history and with a product that has remained relatively consistent at its core through a constantly changing environment, Hershey’s has clearly constructed an unmatched reputation and captured a unique, irreplaceable place in the hearts of consumers. A close study of the company’s branding and advertising techniques over the last few decades reveals that Hershey’s ultimate takeaway messages about its products have remained the same, with a strong emphasis on the pure, universally “good”, quality taste of its chocolate, the positive emotions conjured up by its consumption, and how sharing it strengthens relationships.

Since Milton Hershey founded the company back in 1894, Hershey has been focused on creating chocolate consumed by the general American public (DAntonio, 2006). Although the specific target audience segments have changed a little bit since the beginning, with earlier chocolates being more luxurious and later chocolates being designed for common mass consumption, Hershey’s has always emphasized the central role of the chocolate itself in all of its products, fully mastering the entire process from how the chocolate is produced to how it is packaged and marketed. While similar chocolate companies, such as Mars, have created different candy variations based on chocolate, Hershey’s has continued to be the most steadfast in its focus on the simple quality and taste of its chocolate (Brenner, 2000). Although there certainly are a variety of different Hershey products, they are still more grounded on the fundamental chocolate the company is known for, more so than similar companies, whether that be with the early Hershey’s Kiss and almond bars to Kit-Kats and Reese’s later on (DAntonio, 2006). Whereas, with candy products like Snickers, M&M, and Milky Way that significantly consist of other ingredients, Mars has not always completely centered the development of its products on pure chocolate the way Hershey’s has.

Hershey’s focus on chocolate production and taste is reflected in the way it has advertised its products over the past few decades. Most likely because it is considered the first original chocolate company, Hershey’s didn’t even really need to focus on promotional campaigns until the late 1960s because the brand carried itself (Craig, 2001). However, with consumers being offered a variety of new candy products in the later half of the century, Hershey’s commercials began solidifying what makes their products stand out among the rest.

One key aspect that was particularly emphasized in the 1980s was how timeless, “American”, and reliable Hershey’s chocolate was.

 This commercial stressed how Hershey’s was there since the beginning, was a snack that could be enjoyed at any time, and symbolized the diversity and pride that was America. A 1987 commercial positioned Hershey’s as popular among the period’s most famous stars and icons.

 These ads showed that while society and pop culture continued to change with time, Hershey’s has been consistently “great” through it all.

Another focus of Hershey’s ads is on the pure quality taste of its products and how that makes consumers feel. An ad currently on Hershey’s website epitomizes how its products are still all about the chocolate, with everything else simply as additions to enhance the flavor.

 It’s also interesting to draw similarities between a commercial in 1987 about Hershey’s candy bar and one in 2014 about Hershey’s new chocolate spreads.

While the products have changed, largely dependent on what is currently demanded amongst consumers, both commercials focus on how delightful tasting Hershey’s continues to be.

Finally, the other aspect of Hershey’s that has also remained central to its message is how sharing its chocolate products simply brings people together. From sweet and poignant mother-child bonding over Hershey bars in an older ad to fun family and friends gathering over Hershey chocolate s’mores in a recent commercial, the brand symbolizes not only quality taste, but also quality time with loved ones. 

 

While the specific details of the various advertisements have differed over the years, depending on what activities and references are most salient to target consumers, the main associations Hershey’s wants people to make in terms of their chocolate products have remained clear and consistent. The brand has made a strong statement in saying that no matter how the surrounding environment and society continues to evolve, Hershey’s has been here since the beginning and will be here to stay, with the same simply pure quality taste that makes consumers feel happy.

Media Cited

1987 Hershey’s Commercial (One of the All-Time Greats). Accessed on March 12, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dZ3svPD32Y

Hershey’s chocolate candy bar commercial 1980. Accessed on March 12, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2qex2cLj_M

We Love It. Accessed on March 12, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA-6PG0Pop8

Hershey’s confectionary – ‘you can’t hide a Hershey’s smile’ (Australian ad, 1987). Accessed on March 12, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNRZoLoq-cQ

Hershey’s Spreads TV Commercial. Accessed on March 12, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DwJeruGFQs

Let’s Share a Hershey Bar – Vintage Advertisement. Accessed on March 12, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuPcEQWeT_w

Hershey’s TV Commercial, ‘S’mores’. Accessed on March 12, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oROkBRde1pI

Work Cited

Brenner, J. (1999). To the Milky Way and Beyond, Breaking the Mold. In The emperors of chocolate: Inside the secret world of Hershey and Mars. New York: Random House.

Craig, D. (2001, April 21). A Taste for Nostalgia: Hershey’s advertising a model of consistency, says visiting COM alum. B.U. Bridge. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.bu.edu/bridge/archive/2001/04-27/hershey.html

D’Antonio, M. (2006). Here There Will Be No Unhappiness. In Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s extraordinary life of wealth, empire, and utopian dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Hershey’s: The Emergence of A Benevolent Big Business with a Long-Lived Playful Product

The turn of the 19th century witnessed the growth and development of big chocolate manufacturers and with it, as exemplified particularly by Hershey’s, the development of a new and differentiated conceptualization of “Big Business,” rooted in benevolence and playfulness. This new development of business values, particularly of respecting and valuing employees before profits, set Hershey’s apart from other self-interested, profit-squeezing big businesses of the Gilded Age, such as Carnegie Steel and Standard Oil, companies that heavily exploited labor during that era. Hershey’s took pride in weaving its vision of a peaceful, fun, and playful firm through the two central avenues of product design and firm culture, each contributing to the larger theme of creating a local society of happiness centered around chocolate. The premise of creating a playful culture has continued at Hershey’s to this day.

Hershey’s innovative product design involved introducing an aura of playfulness and fun to the chocolate retailing process, as exemplified by development of the “Hershey Kiss” in 1907. Resulting from the noise made during the processing of the conical, flat-bottomed candy, the company coined the term “Kiss” to label this form of chocolate presentation. The “Kiss” was originally wrapped in silver material, individually and by hand, and upon its introduction to the market immediately captivated the imagination of consumers, making it a fast-selling income-generator that drove company sales to $2 million by 1910 (D’Antonio, 121).

Image Credit:
Image Credit:<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Hershey_Kisses_Ad_photographed_March_23_2013-8579.jpg&gt;

The advertisement to the left shows a smiling young boy and girl, with the girl gently and delicately putting a Hershey Kiss into the boy’s mouth with the tagline reading, “A kiss for you.” This advertisement emphasizes not only the playful nature of the product itself as exemplified by the shape, silver wrap, eventually the tissue-paper plume but also the development of a social construction of the Hershey Kiss symbol. Giving a Hershey Kiss represented an experience of sharing goodness and kindness, emphasizing and facilitating the idea of children having fun, a symbolism in phase with Hershey’s goal of creating a harmonious “utopia.” Simultaneously this imagery subtly rejected the prevailing view of children as exploitative laborers, as promoted by other firms, like Standard Oil during the time. In this way, Hershey’s was progressive in its idealization that a benevolent, playful product can lay the foundation for a benevolent business and in turn a benevolent society. Continuing on these early foundations, the “Kiss,” shown in the image below, still represents the quintessential example of chocolate that first comes to children’s minds and a classic chocolate that can be shared and enjoyed in social contexts by all given its low-cost. As a result of the early product design centered on playfulness, Hershey’s today reports more than $500 million in annual revenue from the “Kiss” alone.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:
Flickr. Commons. Link below.

Both as a consequence of the playful product and Hershey’s utopian idea for the company and community-at-large, a benevolent and playful firm culture emerged at Hershey’s. M.S. Hershey plowed back the company’s earnings from its chocolate sales into developing a town and society of peacefulness and playfulness for both himself as well as his laborers.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:
<http://www.hersheypa.com/about_hershey/our_proud_history/about_hersheypark.php&gt;

The carousel shown in the image on the left is part of a broader project of building business culture centered on chocolate, vividly exemplifying the happy culture Hershey sought to build for his workers. M.S. Hershey cared deeply in making sure his employees enjoyed working for him and ensuring that the laborers’ working conditions were far from the conditions of the slaves that historically had produced the bulk of the world’s chocolate. D’Antonio writes, the “Hershey plan…called for a perfect American town in a bucolic natural setting, where healthy, right-living, and well-paid workers lived in safe, happy homes (D’Antonio, 115).” He even offered them electricity at home. There existed an element of awe towards how a business could have such lofty principles and still succeed given that profit-maximization and capitalist self-interest were not considered primary concerns. Comparing this ideology to other firms of the time, such as Carnegie Steel, Hershey’s carousel, as seen in the image above, its zoo, gardens, and the motive of placing fun and peacefulness of society ahead of money-making seemed more moral, but at the same time seemed to other capitalists as absurd. Even Forrest Mars believed that delving into the economics and profit-making aspects of business at Yale would help him succeed and make him shrewd (Brenner, 56).

Image Credit:
Image Credit:
<http://www.laborhistorylinks.org/chronological.html&gt;

The image to the left is a cover of Harper’s Weekly illustrating the 1892 Homestead Strike, when Carnegie hired private police to fight laborers. At that time, a social Darwinian belief that the rich and successful are the “fittest” generated friction between America’s elite and working-class, such that the elite subjected workers, including children to long-hour work in harsh conditions. One can clearly see the contrast between the relationship of firms and labor during that era and Hershey’s more inclusive and benevolent community-building pursuit at that time. Through his desire of keeping his workers happy he could transform the way the public viewed his big business. Today, difficulties may exist in maintaining this type of culture, given continuous consumer demand for chocolate and cost-cutting measures driven by competition. However, despite Hershey’s recent controversy over fair trade, Hershey’s has recommitted to its founding values.

One can see how Hershey’s idealistic vision gained support from the playfulness associated with product design and firm culture, allowing for the emergence of a benign type of big business very different from exploitive businesses of the day. To this day, Hershey’s has continued to emphasize the playfulness of its chocolate product, as seen by the creative building structure decorated with neon lights in New York’s Times Square in the image below. The positioning of this building in the middle of one of the world’s great financial centers underscores Hershey’s prevalence in the world economy and its presence in the Fortune 500. As the business continues to grow worldwide, one only hopes it does not lose touch of its history, the playfulness of the product, and the new kind firm culture it was founded on and thus ushered.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hershey_Company#/media/File:Hershey%27s_en_Times_Square.jpg&gt;

Works Cited

The Battle of Homestead Foundation. (1892). The 1892 Battle of Homestead. <http://www.laborhistorylinks.org/chronological.html&gt; (Accessed March 12, 2015).

Brenner, Joel Glenn. (2000). The Emperors of Chocolate. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

D’Antonio, Michael. (2006). Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Flickr. Creative Commons.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hershey_Company#/media/File:Hershey%27s_en_Times_Square.jpg&gt; (Accessed March 12, 2015).

Flickr. Creative Commons.

<https://www.flickr.com/photos/kungfubonanza/5629562301/in/photolist-9zsYJZ-4kXbUx-9TFGAZ-94QpHb-4mEinE-5oiVh4-5oiVe2-5oiVfp-5oiVjc-5oiVca-5oiV9K-aeBovs-o6rPzJ-iA6aTn-dcg3N2-dDDcPh-nHnTGN-nMcLje-nsVH9b-nMcHqD-81AGxV-nsVGqP-5ZPeod-4r266d-nKnKFy-nKer97-nKq8G4-nsVYbV-nMcFNa-nsVp3b-nKnW6S-nsVMuY-nsVzxE-nsVvJC-nK7Y3K-4ubzyN-619qtJ-eRSnYo-5LjENp-5ZMX7P-8FQdE9-91XA6g-4c3jm3-8ixw9C-4GRXwK-4KC2L-eCRxqS-5G3gtx-cVVUto-9ZgQVu&gt; (Accessed March 12, 2015).

Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. (1907). Over 100 Years of Happy.

<http://www.hersheypa.com/about_hershey/our_proud_history/about_hersheypark.php&gt; (Accessed March 12, 2015).

Wikimedia Commons. Wikipedia.org.

<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Hershey_Kisses_Ad_photographed_March_23_2013-8579.jpg&gt; (Accessed March 12, 2015).

Redefining “Purity”: The Evolution of Chocolate Adulteration

The legal definition of adulterated food is: “food that is generally impure, unsafe, or unwholesome (USFoodLaw.com). Since before the Victorian era, horrific accounts of food adulteration have tainted the food industry, and chocolate was not spared. Throughout the 19th century, chocolate’s rising demand made it a ripe target for adulteration (Coe and Coe, Ch. 9). By analyzing the concept of purity and adulteration in the context of chocolate, a critical trend in food adulteration as a whole is evident. Due to advances in science over time, the rise of large food industry conglomerates, and an expanding market for cheap food, adulteration has flourished in complexity, and the concept of purity has become hard to define.

The first half of the 19th century brought rapid growth of industrial towns in England and the development of the manufacturing industry stirred social change by removing people from the means of primary production (Goody, 85). Fast forward to the early twentieth century and the problem has only compounded. To raise awareness, media portrayals of food attempted to reveal these atrocities and warn consumers. Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking expose, The Jungle published in 1906, ruthlessly and graphically exposed adulteration practices across the food industry, largely focusing on the meatpacking industry.

This image taken from Sinclair’s The Jungle, highlights the wide range of adulteration practices within a variety range of food industries. By removing the human hand from food production, products carry more risk and uncertainty.

The image above from Part 3, entitled “Food Was Not as it Seemed,” illustrates everything from a leather boot to arsenic being dumped into an urn of industrially produced butter. Though the USDA was established in 1862, Sinclair’s accounts were a demand for stronger infrastructure. The Jungle shocked the nation and directly resulted in the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, which prevented the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded foods (“FSIS History”).

Chocolate was not spared, and during the 19th chocolate was adulterated with everything from powered dried peas, potato starch, veal, and even egg yolks (Coe and Coe, Ch.9). If chocolate could be produced more cheaply, then lower classes could become consumers. Chocolate adulteration was no secret, however, and people began to develop “tests” to determine genuine content before regulation practices were implemented. Companies such as Cadbury also began to enter the media war on food adulteration by including promises of purity in their advertisements.

This Cadbury’s print ad from 1897 illustrates the worry of contamination and the motivation for companies to assert their quality by advertising their high standards.

“Contains no alkalies” and “Absolutely Pure, therefore, Best,” were slogans used to ensure customers of the quality of Cadbury’s product. Consumers did, however have reason to worry. In the mid-19th century, an investigation commissioned by a British medical journal found 39 of 70 chocolate samples had been colored with red brick (Harwitch, 147). While adulteration was a growing issue during the 19th and early 20th centuries, contemporary advances in food science and chemistry during late 29th and early 21st century would give adulteration an a new meaning.

Though consumers of contemporary mass-produced chocolates are unlikely to find bricks or potato starch in their chocolate bars, adulteration is far from over. To comply with FDA legislations, however, it has taken on a complex role. Hard-to-detect forms of adulterated chocolate made possible by modern technologies are a concern for even the observant consumer. Because cocoa butter is a high-profit commodity in the pharmaceutical industry, and has experienced a dramatic increase in price, manufacturers often separate the cocoa butter and substitute cheaper vegetable fats, such as lecithin and palm oil (Coe and Coe, Ch.9). Candy bar lovers should check out this 2008 article from ABC news scrutinizing ingredient lists of bars such Take 5, Mr. Goodbar, and Baby Ruth. Unfortunately, cocoa butter is not a frequent constituent.

Though Sharon Leitner, a Take 5 lover interviewed for the article, claimed the substitution of cheaper fats tasted “waxy and artificial,” petitions from consumers and small chocolatiers have had little success (Gomstyn). This suggests the average consumer either doesn’t care, or, arguably worse, doesn’t notice.  Issues of equality are also raised here, as Hershey’s bars and kisses are still made with cocoa butter. Just as name-brand foods often produce a cheaper, generic equivalent to gain another share of the market through capturing the lower income consumer, individual chocolate companies seem to be creating a spectrum of products by sacrificing quality for the sake of a dollar. Clearly, the players in the game of adulterating chocolate have gotten sneaky.

The most dominant issue regarding food adulteration involves questions of equality in food choices and what we consider “pure” in the food industry. Because chocolate adulteration has taken on a more complex meaning, marketing schemes have evolved with the definition of pure itself. Rather than claiming “no vegetable fats,” as would be the twentieth century parallel of the 1897 Cadbury ad, campaigns today tend to shift the focus of “purity” from a literal to a figurative sense. Rather than communicating exactly what is in their products, companies tend to complicate the meaning of pure by elevating it to a more conceptual level, such as this recent Hershey’s campaign.

Rather than highlighting the quality of its ingredients, the Hershey’s brand wants viewers to associate its chocolate with purity and happiness. Even if you can’t afford “real” chocolate, you can enjoy Hershey’s and still have “pure” chocolate. Thus, this complicates who considers which foods “pure,” leading to large-scale ambiguities.

Food has been adulterated, domesticated, manipulated, and genetically modified for centuries. Rather than solving problems these processes present, regulations imposed on food encourage companies to find loopholes to increase profits. I believe the hardest part to eliminating adulteration practices lies in eliminating the market for them. With a widening socioeconomic gap in developed countries such as the U.S., lower classes are a key market for companies looking to produce cheap products. Therefore, as long as there someone will buy these modern day adulterated goods, companies will be hard-pressed to stop producing them.

Bibliography

“Adulterated Food Law and Legal Definition,” 2015. USLegal. http://definitions.uslegal.com/a/adulterated-food/.

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

“FSIS History” USDA. Updated Sept 2014. url: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/informational/aboutfsis/history/history

Gomstyn, Alice. “Chocolate Lovers Pained by Candy Changes,” ABC News. 2008. http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=5689239

Goody, Jack. 2013. “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine.” In Food and Culture. ed. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. pp. 72-88

Harwitch, Nikita, 1992. Historie du chocolat. Paris: Editions Desjonqueres.

Multimedia Sources

(1) Image from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle: Part 3: Food Was Not as it Seemed, 1906.

(2) Cadbury Advertisement, 1897

(3) Gomstyn, Alice. “Chocolate Lovers Pained by Candy Changes,” ABC News. 2008

(4) Hershey’s Commercial, 2008.

Dark chocolate and its consumer

In the world today, every individual has different preferences, favourites and likes. In chocolate, this can be the choice of either milk or dark, expensive or cheap, fair-trade or big-5 company etc. These differences are partly due to the specific taste of the person, but also the influence of society and the economy.

In order to understand this concept better I decided to run an experiment. This is how it was conducted:

1) I gathered 4 different chocolates with differing cocoa contents (pictured below). The 4 samples were:
– 45% Hershey’s Special Dark
– 60% Ghirardelli Squares
– 70% Lindt Dark Chocolate
– 85% Lindt Dark Chocolate

I chose these chocolates as they include three common brands that the tasters are familiar with. They are available at almost any convenience store and are recognisable. This was important to me, as I wanted to look at the effect of the big chocolate companies on the consumer. Many of these companies are also associated with the less rich and lower cocoa content candy bars, so they also opened the eyes to the smaller market of dark chocolate within the bigger companies.

samples

2) I then gathered a group together (some of them pictured below) and asked them to taste the chocolate and see whether they could decipher distinctly between the cocoa-content of the chocolates. This was a blind test, so the tasters didn’t see the packaging prior to tasting, but they could tell the brand of the chocolate due to the imprint on the chocolate bar itself. The test was done with no conferring as to test the single taste of the person. I asked them to make note of the taste and mouth feel while tasting.

tasters

 

testing

3) Prior to them tasting the chocolate I asked some simple introduction questions. These included:
– Gender
– How often do you eat dark chocolate?
– When was the last time you ate dark chocolate?
– On a scale of 1-10 (1-will never eat, 10-can’t get enough), how much do you enjoy DARK chocolate?
– On a scale of 1-10 (1-will never eat, 10-can’t get enough), how much do you enjoy MILK chocolate?

4) This was followed up by a series of question considering purchasing, packaging, and associations with dark chocolate.

My experiment came back with very useful results. I tested a total of 7 people, 2 of which were male. Conclusively, the tasters who preferred dark chocolate (3 out of 7) to milk chocolate came back with a 100% correction in distinguishing the different cocoa content of the chocolate. Those that preferred milk chocolate found it hard to separate the 60% chocolate from the 70% chocolate. I feel like this is due to not being accustomed with the taste. However, two of the four people that preferred milk chocolate had eaten dark chocolate within the last week, while some of the dark chocolate eaters hadn’t eaten dark chocolate for a longer period of time, but were still able to define the difference.

I wanted my testers to state their gender so that I could indicate whether there was a difference between male and female in their preference or how they choose chocolate. The two males that taste tested were milk chocolate lovers. One of these males could not tell between the 60%, 70%, and 85% chocolate, while the other couldn’t determine 60% from 70%. The following advertisement from Lindt claims dark chocolate being a product for the female. It is described as sticking in your throat, being bitter, and having a smudgy texture. This association with dark chocolate and the female may be a possible deterrent for the male, or it could also be down to science and the way that females taste different to males.

lindt advertisement

When describing the taste and mouth feel of the 85% chocolate, the reactions of the milk and dark chocolate lovers were very different. The milk chocolate lovers described it as ‘bad’ and ‘horrible aftertaste’, whereas the dark chocolate lovers were less harsh by noting it as ‘bitter’ and ‘chalky’. It appears that it wasn’t their favourite chocolate, but for the milk chocolate lovers, the taste was so bad that it sparked a bigger reaction. This raises the question as to whether milk chocolate lovers are hyper-tasters due to their sensitivity to the bitterness of the chocolate, and how the smoothness and less intense taste of milk chocolate on their taste buds is better suited.

One of the main disparities between milk chocolate and dark chocolate lovers was their approach to purchasing chocolate. The group as a whole decided that dark chocolate is a high-end product and in general is more expensive compared to your everyday candy bar. The tasters that preferred milk chocolate were more likely to opt for cheaper, more for your money, and well-known chocolate bars. As for the dark chocolate lovers, they were likely to spend more on dark chocolate to satisfy their cravings, but if they wanted a quick energy boost they would turn to the cheaper candy bars. They were more likely to savour dark chocolate and spend time enjoying it, which also attributes it to being a luxurious good associated with high class. One participant in this experiment told me that her family would not allow her dark chocolate until she reached a certain age, which also gives it a higher status, in comparison to the many candy bars we find at the counter at a checkout. Two companies mentioned when discussing what chocolate brand they buy, Hershey’s and Mars were at the top of the list. As we know, these are both part of the big-5! However, the dark chocolate lovers said they would also consider smaller companies and seek out something alternative, giving them a more exploratory nature. Laudan writes, “For all, culinary modernism has provided what was wanted: food that was processed, preservable, industrial, novel, and fast, the food of the elite at a price everyone could afford” (Laudan 40). This statement appears to correlate with the feedback from my tasters. Dark chocolate is now more available at a lower cost, but the price issue even presides over taste. We can also put this down to the sugar craving and the rise of sugar in the diet.

For the American consumer, impulse and self-indulgence purchases drive the companies. However, in a new market to chocolate, such as China, there is more gifting taking place.

“China’s breath-taking transformation from a command to a market-socialist economy over the past twenty-five years has turned some 300 million of its 1.3 billion people into ravenous consumers of everything from candy to cars. And until twenty-five years ago, almost none of them had ever eaten a piece of chocolate. They were, to coin a phrase, “chocolate virgins,” their taste for chocolate ready to be shaped by whichever chocolate company came roaring into the country with a winning combination of quality, marketing savvy, and manufacturing and distribution acumen. In short, China was the next great frontier, a market of almost limitless potential to be conquered in a war between the world’s leading chocolate companies for the hearts, minds, and taste buds – and ultimately the wallets – of China’s consumers. To the victor of the chocolate wars would go the spoils of over a billion potential customers for generations to come” (Allen Introduction).

Allen explains how the big-5 companies targeted the Chinese population to convert them to become chocolate consumers. However, the society was very unprepared for it as “chocolate was so foreign that it would have limited appeal to their untrained palates” (Allen 10). There was a shift in the consumption of chocolate but not to as great of an extent as experienced in the west. Chocolate was also seen as a means of gifting, as opposed as a purchase for self-consumption. My tasters explained that sometimes it was hard to purchase higher quality and more expensive chocolate for themselves, but when they looked towards seeking a chocolate gift for someone they would turn to dark chocolate and spend more. They explained that this was due to the association of dark chocolate as a classy product. The packaging as a gift would also sway their choices as they didn’t want to purchase chocolate that looked low quality and cheap.

Dark chocolate seems to hold a role in society which places it above that of milk chocolate. The disparity between people that like the two different types of chocolate cause changes in how they purchase, as well as consume chocolate. Dark chocolate seems to retain its authoritative nature through a word-of-mouth concept about its good properties, as opposed to candy bars with higher sugar and lower cocoa content.

Works Cited

Allen, Lawrence L. Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of China’s Consumers. New York: American Management Association, 2010. Print.
Laudan, Rachel. Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History. Berkeley, CA: U of California, 2013. Print.