Tag Archives: history

Sweetness and Bitterness: A Common Path

For those who are interested in the ethnic and historical origins of foods, chocolate and sugar may be two of the most exciting elements of the traditional English diet (see fig. 1). Linked by their indigenous sourcing and early production during the British colonial period, the bitter taste of chocolate and the ground sweetness of sugar grew in demand and influenced the commercialization of one another. Both, used as food condiments or spices, in medical remedies or as a source of energy and calories share a history of conquest, adventure, social evolution and slavery. Thus, when it comes to England and perhaps other European nations, it is fair to believe that today’s spike in sugar consumption –as suggested by Harvard University professor Carla Martin in her “Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food” class is owed in great part to the expansion and ever-growing demands of the chocolate industry.

Fig. 1. Early 20th century advertisement of a sweet chocolate bar by Fry’s.
Fig. 1. Early 20th century advertisement of a sweet chocolate bar by Fry’s.

Long before Colombus arrived to the Americas, sugar was known in Europe thanks to the Crusades and the conquests of the British empire (SKIL – History of Sugar). The European expansion beyond the Caribbean plateau brought the discovery of the cacao tree and chocolate, highly praised by the natives, according to chapters One and Two from The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe. This discovery increased the European interest in the region causing the assimilation of local elements that helped export indigenous recipes, traditions and beliefs to the wealthiest European social groups and consequently, to the British. This is commonly known as “hybridization” and it resulted in the adoption and rapid commercialization of chocolate throughout Europe (see fig. 2).

Fig. 2. 18th century illustration of a chocolate house in London.

Chocolate quickly became a sensation among the British bourgeoisie. The enigmatic cocoa powder traditionally obtained by a long process of selecting cacao beans, drying, toasting and hand-grinding them with an hand made “molinillo” (Presilla 26) was an edible bounty for the wealthy. Early colonizers learned from the Mesoamerican aborigines that chocolate was “food of the gods” and such was the official name they gave to it as described in The True History of Chocolate (D. Coe and D. Coe 18). The belief that it had magical and medical properties head its way into England where soon the chocolate drink and the cocoa powder were used in medical recipes, as sources of energy and as mood enhancers.

Around the same period of time, sugar had also medical and multiple other uses in Britain. Sugar was an “everything” type of remedy or food condiment. The influence of sugar in the Anglo-Saxon world was such that as professor Martin denoted in class, it moved beyond the Hollywood era so we can recall popular movies like Mary Poppins carry the reminiscent of it in song lyrics that talk about sugar and sweetness, as for instance Disney’s “A Spoonful of Sugar” shown below.

“A Spoonful of Sugar” from the Mary Poppins film.

In 1847, the English company J.S. Fry & Sons produced a chocolate bar from the mixture of sugar and chocolate powder with cocoa butter, which according to the authors of the research paper Welcome to ChE: Chocolate Engineering “had a grainy texture and lacked the smooth flavor of today’s chocolates” (Patton, Ford and Crunkleton 2). This, in turn, prompted Henry Nestle and Daniel Peters to experiment further by adding milk to the mixture, creating the first milk chocolate bar as early as 1876 (Patton, Ford and Crunkleton 2).

Henceforth, sugar and chocolate crossed a common path: that of the “bitter-sweetness.” This bitter-sweetness is a descriptive metaphor derived from their combination: chocolate is naturally bitter and sugar is the embodiment of sweet. From the history of their discovery, production and consumption the bittersweet blend evokes a distant grief infused with human slavery which was viewed by its wealthy consumers like the “necessary evil” –as professor Martin puts it, to achieve the finest tasting, sweetest chocolate cup or chocolate bar.

Knowing the historical and socio economical factors that made possible a “rendezvous” of chocolate and sugar, it is possible to find correlation between the sugar consumption and the production of chocolate. Professor Martin illustrates this in class with visualizations of the rise in sugar consumption from the colonial times before chocolate was brought to Europe up to the present times. Those graphs shown by professor Martin reveal a dramatic curve of growth. It is then evident that the discovery and commercialization of chocolate influenced the consumption and demand of sugar. The image below illustrates the period of time in which the sugar consumption rose in England, which coincides with the time in which chocolate began to commercialize during the 1800’s, as well as the corresponding price depreciation per pound (fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Spike in sugar consumption after the creation of the first chocolate bar in England during the 19th century.

In conclusion, the social contexts of contemporary Britain, the Anglo-Saxon culture and all of Europe keep sugar and chocolate forever bound in tasty combinations. Often is our own “sweet tooth” that helps move chocolates off the shelves because some of us suffer a disease called “chocolate craving.” Yet, one thing is certain: today’s chocolates are generally sweeter than those of yesterday… either because they have thrice the amount of sugar, or because they no longer come from the bitter tears of slavery.


Works Cited

Chocolate House in London (18th Century). Digital image. “The World of Chocolate.” Worldstandards.eu. 2017. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. “The Tree of the Food of the Gods.” The True History of Chocolate. Thames & Hudson, Inc., 1996, New York, Print. Feb. 2017.

Fry’s Five Boys Milk Chocolate. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Jarrold & Sons, Ltd., 2 Dec. 2005. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.

“How Sugar is Made – the History.” SKIL – History of Sugar, 2017. Web. 6 Mar. 2017, http://www.sucrose.com/lhist.html

Martin, Carla. “Popular Sweet Tooths and Scandal.” Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food. 22 Feb. 2017. Harvard University Extension School, Cambridge, MA. Lecture. Mar. 2017.

Martin, Carla. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food. 1 Mar. 2017. Harvard University Extension School, Cambridge, MA. Lecture. Mar. 2017.

Patton, Christi L., Ford, Laura P., and Daniel W. Crunkleton. Welcome to ChE: Chocolate Engineering. Strong Point Center in Process Systems Engineering, Trondheim, Norway. 2005. Web. 5 Mar. 2017. http://folk.ntnu.no/skoge/prost/proceedings/aiche-2005/non-topical/Non%20topical/papers/162e.pdf

Presilla, Maricel E. “Natural and Cultural History of Chocolate.” The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Ten Speed Press, 2009, Berkeley, Print. Feb. 2017.

Real Sugar Prices and Sugar Consumption Per Capita in England, 1600-1850. Digital image.
“Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?” Normal Eating Blog. 18 Jun. 2012. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.

Walt Disney Records, DisneyMusicVEVO. “A Spoonful Of Sugar.” Mary Poppins. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 1 Aug. 2014. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.

Chocolate,Chocolate Everywhere

As I ponder the selections of chocolate available in my local Trader Joe’s , it is important to understand a bit of the history of chocolate that is included in The True the History of Chocolate by  Coe & Coe .Cacao, Chocolate originated in Meso-America and is referred to as the “Food of the Gods” consumed by the elite and used in sacrifices to please the gods.  

Did you know that unlike money cacao really does grow on the pods and barks of trees.The chocolate trees were scientifically named Theobroma cacao in 1753 by the “great Swedish Naturalist” Linnaeus (1707-78). 

Theobroma cacao
Linnaeus- Swedish Naturalist that named the cacao tree-theobroma cacao

Raw Cacao beans don’t taste anything like the chocolate bars we consume.  After the cacao beans are harvested the cacao and pulp are fermented once fermentation is complete the beans are laid out to dry in the sun.  Once dried the beans are then sorted and roasted.  After the beans are roasted they are winnowed and finally  the cacao nibs that are used to make chocolate reveal themselves. The cacao nibs are naturally bitter therefore sugar and other ingredients are added when making chocolate to reduce the acidity and bitterness and increase the sweetness.

Sidney Mintz in his book Sweetness and Power reminds us that sugar and sweetness is introduced to us at a very young age , “the first non milk food that a baby is likely to receive in North American hospital is a 5% glucose and water solution used to evaluate its postpartum functioning because newborns tolerate glucose better than water.”(Mintz, 1985)  The fondness for sugar influences the chocolate that we consume as “most Americans instinctively go for blends with a high West African cacao content – this is a dominant cacao in some mass-produced brands that most American have eaten since childhood that is naturally identified with full chocolate flavor. Americans gravitate towards very light chocolate.” ( The New Taste of Chocolate, p. 136) Sweetness is a preferred taste from a very young age Cacao and sugar go together sort of like peanut butter and jelly. Alone each tastes okay but together they taste wonderful.

Chocolate has always evoked pleasant happy memories for me. From my childhood I can remember the heavenly aroma of chocolate from the Lowney Chocolate Factory wafting  through the air as we walked to school, the anticipation of devouring my  grocery store chocolate Easter bunny after Mass and the way the chocolate icing on a Honey Dew Donuts éclair melts in your mouth in an explosion of chocolate mixed with Bavarian cream. 

As I matured my love of chocolate did not waver and I stayed loyal to brands like Hersey and Nestle and for special occasions Godiva was the go to brand.  Then one day in 1987 a local chocolate shop called Puopolo’s Candies opened nearby.  As a big believer in supporting local business I felt that it was my duty to check out the new chocolate shop.  It was heaven!  The aroma and the wide assortment of chocolate confections was astounding. There wasn’t a Snickers, Milky Way or Kit Kat in the place and it didn’t matter because these chocolates didn’t require brand recognition as one could see, smell and anticipate the chocolate truffles melting smoothly on your tongue while the milk chocolate flavors come to life. I never knew exactly why I came to prefer the chocolate sold at Puopolo’s over Hersey, Nestle or even Godiva, until now.

The big chocolate manufactures like Hershey, Nestle and Godiva appeal to the masses for both taste and price of their products.  The chocolate  is made in huge factories using industrial equipment. Each batch of chocolate is made to taste exactly the same as the other so that there is no variation  of taste, color or texture in the thousands of candy bars that are made each day. Chocolate manufactured in this manner is referred to as industrial chocolate.

 

Shops like Puopolo’s are known as chocolatiers’ that appeal to people who appreciate and will pay for high quality chocolate . Chocolatiers’ produce chocolate creations on a much smaller scale and create confections in small batches by melting large bars of chocolate.

 

Sailboat and Anchor Favors
Puopolo chocolatiers’ confection

Another player has come on the scene and companies like  Taza chocolate  are part of a growing movement of small companies that produce  bean to bar products.

Image result for taza chocolate

 

The bean to bar companies are conscious of the long history of exploitation in the chocolate industry including children being used as forced labor on cacao plantations. (Off, 2006)  The bean to bar companies produce an ethical and sustainable product by controlling all stages of their chocolate making including choosing and grinding their own cacao beans.
The advantage of industrial chocolate for the consumer is that whether you purchase a Hershey bar in Alaska or Massachusetts the wrapper texture, color and taste of the chocolate will be the same. Whereas the smaller manufacturers including chocolatiers and bean to bar, aim to produce small unique batches of products.  Cacao beans alone are bitter thus sugar and sometimes other flavorings like vanilla and milk are added to cocoa beans to make the chocolate bars more palatable.  The more cacao content in a product the more intense the chocolate flavor which to many tastes bitter.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a local chocolatiers nearby so I set out to my local Trader Joe’s  to utilize my new-found knowledge and analyze their chocolate section.

Mintz states ” food choices and eating habits reveal distinctions of age, sex, status , culture and even occupation.” (Sweetness and Power).  Trader Joe’s is a slighty upscale, funky progressive full service grocery store who cater to their customers food and need to shop at a socially responsible store. Customers that shop here generally care about where and how the ingredients in their food come from . Trader Joe’s listened to their customers and according to the timeline listed on their website in 1997 they “made a commitment to eliminate artificial trans fats from all private label products (along with artificial flavors, artificial preservatives & GMO ingredients… but that’s old news by now).”

Trader Joe’s shoppers are diverse and span the  socio economic scale. They want to feel as if they are being socially and environmentally responsible without spending a lot of cash. They will however spend a bit more for a product if it makes them feel like they are achieving the goals of being a responsible consumer.   One such chocolate bar checks all those boxes the  Fair Trade Organic Belgium Chocolate Bar is  included in the wide selection of chocolate products that are displayed throughout the store. These bars were included in the chocolate bar section located at the back of the store at the end of an aisle near the milk.  The majority of the chocolate bars were 3.5 ounces with price points between $1.99 for the Fair Trade Organic Belgium Chocolate bars , $2.99 for a Valrhona dark chocolate bar and for $4.99 you could purchase a milk and almond pound plus bar.  There were quite a few chocolate products located in the impulse buy zone at the front of the store including dark chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate covered almonds for $4.99 each.

As I strolled the isles I noticed some chocolate bars above the seafood section that had pretty and exotic looking labels.  Upon closer inspection it is revealed that these are dark chocolate bars made with 70% cacao and delicious fillings like coconut caramel and toffee and walnuts.  Along side these bars there was a 65% Dark Cacao bar that is made from single origin fairly traded beans from Ecuador. These chocolate bars highlight the cacao content to entice those that believe the claim that chocolate is good for your heart . However,  James Howe  advises  that the claim that chocolate is heart healthy  is not scientifically proven that chocolate consumption alone is the primary element in increasing cardiovascular health. ( Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health, 2012) The artwork depicts nature scenes to enhance the natural allure of these chocolate bars that are priced at just $1.89.

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In spite From the  lovely artwork and detailed descriptions highlighting the cacao content and country of origin of the beans it is clear from the price points of $1.89 that these are mass marketed  industrial made chocolate bars covered in cleverly  designed Trader Joe’s wrappers. The wrappers contain all the buzz words and images  the consumer wants to see so they feel like they are purchasing socially responsible products.  When I questioned the  store manager about the private label chocolate bars he did not know what company Trader Joe’s bought the chocolate bars from however he assured me that they were made from the finest organic ingredients yet… only a few chocolate bars are labeled organic or Fair Trade.

IMG_1461IMG_1462 IMG_1463

The Trader Joe’s Chocolate truffles look decadent on the shiny red background of the package. They even provide directions on how to”taste these delicate truffles”.  Trader Joe’s selections so far were on target for their consumers, good cacao content, some organic selections. therefore  I was very surprised when the first ingredient listed in the Cocoa Truffles was vegetable oil , the second sugar and finally cocoa powder appears as the third ingredient. This was disappointing  as it is not as high quality chocolate product as it appears and not consistent with the prior products viewed.

After reviewing the chocolate bar and other chocolate products at Trader Joe’s  I’ve concluded that Trader Joe’s should expand their chocolate selections to include more Fair Trade chocolate products and add a few  Bean to Bar and local chocolatiers products to the inventory.  It would be a clear statement to Trader Joe’s customers and the chocolate industry  that  Trader Joe’s cares about ethics and is committed to providing  their customers with more Fair Trade, organic and local chocolate products.  While the typical Trader Joe’s customer appreciates a bargain , many would be willing to pay more for chocolate if they know that their purchase directly benefits the cacao farmer or the small business person.  Trader Joe’s has the opportunity to make a difference in the chocolate industry if they go beyond selling private label chocolate bars and include bean to bar and local chocolate makers.
If you want to make an effort to consume Fair Trade organic chocolate the key is read the labels or find your local chocolate shop , either bean to bar or chocolatiers you won’t be disappointed.

 

Works Cited

Coe, S. D., & Coe, M. D. (2013). The true history of chocolate. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Mintz, S. W. (1986). Sweetness and power: The place of sugar in modern history. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

“Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health: The Kuna Case Reconsidered.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 12.1 (2012): 43-52. Web.

The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Ed. Maricel E. Presilla. New York: Ten Speed, 2009. 61-94. Print.

Carol Off, Bitter Chocolate: the dark side of the world’s most seductive sweet.2006. The New Press.  print.

 

Multimedia and internet sources

Google Images , date accessed 5/7/16. http://exhibits.mannlib.cornell.edu/chocolate/images/content_img/CacaoGod.jpghttps://madhuwellness.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/cacoa.jpg
http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/~/media/fairtradeuk/farmers%20and%20workers/images/text%20images%20440px/fw_cocoa_440px.ashx?la=en&h=280&w=440
http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0738/3955/products/Taza_Stone_Ground_Chocolate_80_perc_Dark_B_grande.jpg?v=1438702196
http://newwoodbridge.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/WelcomeTJ.jpghttps://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/cocoa#
http://www.traderjoes.com/images/fearless-flyer/uploads/article-428/95474-Trader Joes 95475_Fair_Trade_Chocolate.jpg

Websites referenced.
http://www.traderjoes.com

Hershey’s Chocolate Making Process. htttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TcFYfoB1BY-
http://www.traderjoes.com/our-story/timeline
http://cspinet.org/transfat/timeline.htm
http://honeydewdonuts.com/
http://www.nestleusa.com/brands/chocolate/nestle-milk-chocolate
https://www.hersheys.com/en_us/home.html
http://www.godiva.com/
https://www.snickers.com/
http://www.milkywaybar.com/
https://www.kitkat.com/http://www.puopolocandies.com/
https://www.tazachocolate.com/
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/02/13/171891081/bean-to-bar-chocolate-makers-dare-to-bare-how-its-done.
USDA Organic guidelines.  https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification

 

A Brief Review Of A Bean-To-Bar Company:

 

 The Case Of Xocolatl Mexica

When one first accesses Xocolatl Mexica’s website, it is possible to read “Since 1989 we fabricate pure Xocolatl made with 100% organic Mexican cacao and ancestral natural flavours.” The small Mexican chocolatier was founded about 30 years ago by local entrepreneurs trained in the ancestral art of Xocolatl making and consumption, and since then, they have made it their mission to modify the way in which Mexican societies think about chocolate. By going back to the roots of the tradition, the small company aims to restore indigenous handling of the basic ingredients with which Xocolatl and chocolate were prepared in the past in order to reincorporate them to mainstream society. In this essay I will evaluate the processes that take place in and through this bean-to-bar chocolate company in order to offer quality products, this with the objective of corroborating the affirmation that Xocolatl Mexica is a sustainable, fair company that is helping solve some problems in the cacao-chocolate supply chain.

History of the Company

Xocolatl Mexica is a small family-owned company that was founded in Aguascalientes, Mexico in 1989. Their name comes from the Mayan word ‘Xocolatl’ which translates to ‘bitter water,’ and ‘Mexica,’ which references the homonymous indigenous civilization. According to the company itself, they started experimenting with a few kilograms of cacao in a household setting, trying original indigenous recipes and disregarding the practices of larger chocolatiers and other companies in order to create an authentic Xocolatl essence that stemmed from original local techniques. In their own words, it was “thanks to a trial and error process that [they] learned that cacao must be worked and that every stage of the preparation requires specific knowledge and dedication to ensure that its texture and aroma can be brought to their best.”

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Logo of the company depicting their name and a historically accurate representation of Xocolatl consumption by indigenous people.

The company aims to bring back the traditional preparation method of the Xocolatl, which was a beverage created by the Olmeca people during the Prehispanic era of Mesoamerica that involved the use of cacao beans and water and was sometimes utilized in rituals. It was known as the beverage of the gods and the Maya and Aztec people also used it for years. Xocolatl has had about 4000 years of history, and chocolate as we known it today has only been around for a couple centuries. By going back to the basics of cacao consumption, Xocolatl Mexica aims to restore the conception that the people of Mesoamerica—nowadays partially Mexico—have of cacao, chocolate, and their relevance in social and folkloric practices (Godiva Chocolate, Inc.).

Xocolatl as a beverage was taken to Europe where it was modified, still in liquid form until 1828 when Van Houten invented the hydraulic press that allowed for a solid version to be created. Even though this allowed for ease of spread of chocolate to the masses, Xocolatl Mexica views this transition from liquid to solid consumption of cacao as a sacrilegious happening that corrupted the “beverage of the gods” by adding fats, lower quality cacao, and other impure ingredients that detracted from the natural scents of cacao and other natural Mesoamerican additives. It is because of this transformation that the company wants to return to organic processes.

Cacao Sourcing

The cacao used by Xocolatl Mexica ranges from the coasts of Chiapas, where the plant grew naturally since ancient times. It is Cacao Criollo and is grown organically by local Chiapaneco producers who are also fairly remunerated. Furthermore, the supply chain is reduced by the direct purchase from cacao plantations without any intermediate steps, which in turn accounts for a higher return to the producers themselves.

1280px-Chiapas_in_Mexico_(location_map_scheme).svg
In this map, it is possible to see the Mexican state of Chiapas, where the cacao used by Xocolatl Mexica comes form.

Xocolatl Mexica works with Cacao México, an initiative similar to the Mexico Cocoa Project that the Hershey Company and Mars have in Mexico with the same nonprofit organization, but that unlike the further, is completely independent from the chocolatier, which means that information about progress cannot be tainted by a conflict of interests or economic impediments. The Cocoa Project is a subsection of Cacao México that focuses on the practices of Hershey and Mars and has as a goal the improvement of their production systems in particular (Cacao México).

Cacao México aims to promote an increase in high quality cacao production in Mexico (as of now, Mexico is not even close to West Africa even though cacao is native to Mesoamerica) by fomenting sustainable farming practices and supporting the improvement of the life conditions of agriculture workers and their families (Triple Pundit).

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Image of the cacao used by Xocolatl Mexica for the fabrication of their products. 

This all is really important because it not only means that Xocolatl Mexica sources their cacao from sustainable producers that do not negatively impact the environment, but furthermore, the company works with partners that endeavour to ensure that the producers of the crop are actually benefitted and justly remunerated by their labour. The current international climate around the production of cacao and the lack of fair-trade systems in many countries around the world calls for responsible consumers that engage in efforts that strive for equality amid those involved in the chain from bean to bar, which is why companies that make this an integral part of their work are crucial for societal understanding of the magnitude of the issue and the solutions that can be taken to fix it.

Process

The products sold by Xocolatl Mexica go through most of the same processes that other cacao-based products do, with the only exception that no hydraulic presses are utilized by the company due to their philosophy of no separation of components. As it was mentioned before in this paper, the company as a whole believes that separating different parts of cacao is a transgression of the organic qualities that the plant possesses and those that it can provide as an ingredient, which is why they do not use presses in their preparation processes.

However, the rest of the machinery normally used is still employed by Xocolatl Mexica, albeit specifically crafted to fit their company goals. “Every machine has been carefully crafted, following [the company’s] necessities, which means that the machines have adapted to the Xocolatl and not the other way around,” ensuring that their main objective of going back to the roots of cacao consumption is still met. In addition to that, many of the methods of modification for cacao seeds that the company makes use of liken those that ancient civilizations used too, utilizing metates and molcajetes to achieve a more rustic grinding that preserves more aromas and textures characteristic of cacao.

Ancestral preparations of Xocolatl oft included flowers or spices native to Mexico, which in addition to smells and tastes, gave medicinal properties that added to those of cacao. Xocolatl Mexica produces several products that include ingredients such as organic vanilla bean, chili peppers, magnolia flowers, and honey. They also mention how some components of ancient Xocolatl were produced by using plants that have gone extinct and thus are no longer available for consumption, which is important when raising awareness about the potential ecological future of different vegetal ingredients that are consumed by the general population and have a cultural impact, creating an example of virtuous consumership. By presenting the case of these ingredients in particular, the company ensures that whoever consumes their products has some sort of historical context, is able to appreciate whatever ingredients go into current products, and understands why preservation efforts are crucial not only for biological wellbeing, but also for cultural continuation.

Culture of Consumption

A very important component of Xocolatl Mexica’s cultural restoration efforts is the fact that they have established a Chocolatería that people can come to in order to consume their products. This locale is different from a store because the way in which it was designed embodies everything that the company has set as their mission. Their different products are offered there, served in clay xicalli and accompanied by wooden molinillos that can be used to froth the beverages. Both the xicalli and the molinillos have existed in Mexico for over 2000 years, and the ones used in the Chocolatería have been designed in cooperation with local artisans in order to be historically accurate and reflect indigenous traditions of cacao consumption (Bowman).

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Picture depicting a xicalli and a molinillo next to a clay jar possibly containing Xocolatl.

The accompaniments offered by this place include tamalli, crêpes, confitures, and cacao fondue, which also speaks to the goal of situating cacao and its products as edibles that can constitute something other than a dessert. In mainstream culture, cacao and its derivatives are often only seen as desserts or side dishes, whereas in ancient times, Xocolatl and other preparations were considered dishes in an of themselves, so prestigious even that they were offered to deities worshiped by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. The fact that Xocolatl Mexica pushes for a reconsideration of the place of cacao in the normative diet brings back traditions dating from years gone by that were representative of the culture of prehispanic populations.

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Snap of the Chocolatería where Xocolatl Mexica sells their products.

Conclusion

Xocolatl Mexica asks the common person to reconsider what their thoughts on cacao-based products are, and to think beyond mainstream chocolate. Their efforts to restore indigenous practices by incorporating instruments such as molinillos and xicalli, as well as the creation of a space destined specifically for the consumption of their products speaks of their commitment to their cause as an immersive experience rather than a commercial transaction (Puratos). Furthermore, their sourcing and processing of cacao are sustainable, fair, and true to their mission; by only accepting the parts of the process that they believe do not detract from the essence of the Xocolatl, they preserve the inherent aromas, textures, and flavours of cacao, which in turn results in a more authentic tasting experience.

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The Obsidiana chocolate bars are some of the most popular products sold by Xocolatl Mexica.

In the words of their mission:

“El objetivo que tenemos con la chocolatería es difundir la cultura del cacao y del chocolate puro. Por eso, con mucho gusto estamos dispuestos a dar explicaciones sobre el cultivo del cacao y de la fabricación del chocolate. Desgraciadamente, esta cultura milenaria se ha perdido con los años en México, pero queremos que el patrimonio Mexica y Maya siga vivo para que cada uno de los mexicanos y los extranjeros valoren la cultura mexicana y la calidad de sus productos.”

“The objective that we have with chocolate-manufacturing is the diffusion of the culture of cacao and pure chocolate. It is because of that that we are more than happy to provide explanations about the cultivation of cacao and the fabrication of chocolate. Sadly, this millennial culture has been lost in Mexico with the passing of years, but we want that the Mexica and Mayan heritage remains alive so that each Mexican and each foreigner is able to value Mexican culture and the quality of its products.”

By staying true to their roots and revitalizing local traditions while supporting the economic growth of the region, and by overseeing and caring for every step in their manufacturing process  from the production of their ingredients to the containers in which they serve their beverages, Xocolatl Mexica can justly be said to be a sustainable, fair company that is helping solve problems in the cacao-chocolate supply chain.

Works Cited:

Pictures taken from Xocolatl Mexica’s website, and from Wikimedia Commons.

Bowman, Barbara. “Molinillo – Mexican Chocolate Whisk (Stirrer).” Gourmet Sleuth. GourmetSleuth, Inc, n.d. Web. 04 May 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/articles/detail/molinillo

“Cacao México.” Cacao México. Telaio, n.d. Web. 04 May 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.cacaomexico.org/?page_id=1402

“Hershey Goes to Mexico: The Mexico Cocoa Project.” Triple Pundit People Planet Profit. Triple Pundit, 22 June 2012. Web. 04 May 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/06/hershey-pledges-improve-cocoa-farming-conditions-mexico/

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

“Sustainable Cocoa Production and Livelihood Improvement in Mexico.” Puratos: Reliable Partners in Innovation. Puratos Group, 2016. Web. 4 May 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.puratos.com/en/our-group/sustainability/CSR-programs/tikul.jsp

“The History of Chocolate: The Mayans and Aztecs.” The History of Chocolate: The Mayans and Aztecs. Godiva Chocolate, Inc., n.d. Web. 04 May 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.godivachocolates.co.uk/the-history-of-chocolate-mayans-aztecs.html

“Xocolatl Mexica | Fábrica De Chocolate.” http://www.xocolatlmexica.com. Xocolatl Mexica, 2007. Web. 04 May 2016.

Savory Chocolate

max brenner
The homepage logo for Max Brenner Chocolate Bar (1)

In the back bay of Boston there is an establishment called Max Brenner Chocolate Bar and Restaurant1. Their mission: to “create a new chocolate culture worldwide”1. They have locations in seven countries, and five major US cities, and are very popular1. One look at the menu of this restaurant is enough to know that they are not creating a new chocolate culture. Rather they are feeding the mass misconception that chocolate is for dessert and not dinner. Not a single item on their food menu offers a dish with chocolate as a savory ingredient1.

 

In the last two centuries, since the invention of mass produced chocolate candies, chocolate has been seen exclusively as a sweet or dessert. However, in recent years that has all begun to change. Instead of being stuck in the narrow minded approach to chocolate as sweet we are now beginning to embrace the versatility and the savory side of chocolate in our culinary culture. This recent ‘trendiness’ in savory chocolate began in the world of the gourmet but has recently begun to trickle down to the world of home cooks as well. Changing attitudes in regards to health and the negative effects of sugar, a revival and focus on authentic and traditional recipes and media coverage of this luxurious product have facilitated this expansion in the use of chocolate. By looking at the history of savory chocolate and the contemporary presentation of savory chocolate, these patterns become evident and an entirely new realm of culinary possibilities becomes accessible for everyone from culinary icons to even the most basic home cook.

History

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A New Taste of Chocolate by Maricel Presilla has recipes from chocolate lobster stew to Mayan Hot Chocolate (7)

Chocolate has a long culinary history, from ancient Mesoamerica to Renaissance Europe to modern America. In each new place, chocolate has transformed to fit local tastes, desires, and ingredients. Original chocolate dishes in Mesoamerica were incredibly varied, but the most common dish was a beverage made from a sort of ground cacao bean paste3. Made during the period of the Late Maya this dish combined water, cacao paste, and maize (corn) to make a savory sort of gruel3. This dish, called saca, was the foundation of chocolate cuisine and most other dish were rifts off this original3. By adding spices, herbs, or flavors like vanilla and honey, the Maya were able to create a myriad of beverages for all occasions3. Depending on the ingredients, each beverage would be served at specific events or gatherings3. By adding sapote seeds, the Maya created a drink called tzune, which (based on depictions and accounts) was served at only very special occasions3. On the flip side of this, one of the most common recipes was Batido3. The ground cacao was made into a paste and vanilla, black pepper, seeds and other herbs were added, along with achiote which gave the drink a distinctive red color that appears in several accounts of exploration encounters3. Through the addition of honey and sugar (once the Europeans introduced cane sugar to the New World), the Maya and other Mesoamerican societies consumed chocolate that was sweetened3. However, these particular substances were rare, which meant that in most circumstances Mesoamerican chocolate culture was centered around savory beverage concoctions. There may have been a few exceptions to this beverage preparation, as some believe that the Maya used chocolate in stews and as sauces with meats7. We all know about the classic mole sauce that came a little later, but in A New Taste of Chocolate, by Maricel Presilla, there is a recipe for a Maya turkey stew with cacao and chile7. Though there are no accounts of the original recipe, this one is created from a recipe that has been handed down for generations, and then stripped of any old world ingredients that it inherited over the years7. Through writings, recipes, and depictions, we are able to see that early cultures in central America used chocolate in a very different way than we are used to; there is no record of chocolate every being used as a consumable on its own, nor being paired with meat or other food3. It seems to have been contained to the realm of a culturally significant beverage or gruel that was itself very versatile.

Chocolate was introduced into Europe in the 1500’s3. Over the next few centuries, the way chocolate was eaten would be shaped by new tastes, ingredients, and technology to create the culture that we know today. There is a common misconception, or perhaps just a version of history that is often told, that Europeans took Mesoamerican chocolate traditions and improved upon them in their own culture. However, in Tasting Empire by Marcy Norton, it becomes clear that Europeans originally did their best to emulate the Maya and Aztec traditions that they had unwittingly grown a taste for through assimilation into the central American culture6. This meant that “there was little difference between the types of chocolate consumed by creoles, Indians, and Iberians” in the first few years of chocolate’s introduction to Spain6. In the years and centuries that followed, small changes would bring about an entirely new chocolate culture in Europe. There are even recipes dating from the 1700s in Spain that pair chocolate and almonds with prawns and lobster7! This shows that in the beginning, Europeans used chocolate extensively as a savory ingredient. In Catalan (Spanish) cooking, chocolate even became a part of their central herb mixture called picada, with chopped nuts and herbs to add flavor and texture to all sorts of dishes7. The industrial revolution and mechanization of production of chocolate would change the way western culture treated chocolate for the next few centuries. This began in earnest in 1828 with Van Houten’s invention of the hydraulic press to separate chocolate from cacao butter3. This and subsequent innovations in technology allowed chocolate to become a substance that people came to expect to be served as a solid foodstuff and not just a beverage3. This would be important for chocolate’s place in savory contexts, but the transition to chocolate as sweet had already been made. When chocolate did become solid, it also became practically limited to the realm of sweet, sugary treats.

Changing Attitudes

Despite big business take over of chocolate culture and a narrowing of chocolate’s role in the 20th century, today we are experiencing a culinary expansion among the gourmet food world that is seeking to explore the greater food possibilities of chocolate. This small renaissance has its roots in a number of movements. The first movement is a pushback against the processed food industry and the simultaneous research that has been released about chocolate’s potential health benefits. Many studies have come out in recent years about the negative effects of processed sugar consumption. For example, a study published in 2007 by the American Society of Clinical Nutrition, linked sugar to the growing epidemic of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease5. The case against sugar has continued to grow with mounting evidence being presented on the national stage through and films such as Fed Up. To add to the demise of sweet treats and what chocolate has become, studies about the health benefits of cacao have made consumers more eager to try chocolate in a different, more nutritious way. In a 2013 report released by Nutrition and Health, researchers found that antioxidants and flavonoids in chocolate could have implications for improved cardiovascular health10. To cater to these changing tastes, increased consumer awareness, and overall thirst for new flavors, the gourmet community has begun to use chocolate in a whole new way, different in many ways from anything that has been seen before.

Trending Today

With changing attitudes about chocolate, along with advances in general culinary technology and knowledge, the gourmet food industry has become much more adventurous in its uses of chocolate. Much of this exploration has begun to trickle down to the more general public as well. We have begun to see savory chocolate as a sort of trendy new flavor that adventurous eaters and chefs are eager to try.

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Pollo en mole pablano. Saveur (4)

For instance, Saveur (a gourmet food and wine magazine) published an article in February of this year highlighting 12 savory chocolate recipes4. This is just the most recent article in a stream of columns and writings in food magazines, newspapers, and gourmet blogs within the last two or three years that focuses on chocolate as savory. “It’s for more than brownies and cakes”, as a subheading, this suggests a general trend that seeks to look at chocolate differently and use it in new ways4. The recipes include everything from sauces to stews, including the most widely known chocolate dish, the mole4. No discussion of chocolate as savory is complete without mention of mole. Mole is a group of traditional sauces originally from Mexico3. Known for its deep, complex flavors it is most often paired with meat, and is one of the oldest uses of savory chocolate that we know of today7. Though its exact origins are a little fuzzy, mole has become an icon of savory chocolate today3. In the Saveur magazine recipe, three different types of chiles are combined with an extensive list of herbs and Mexican chocolate to create a traditional “puebla-style” mole4. Mole has survived the test of time and has been adapted to fit modern culture, acting as the ultimate savory chocolate recipe.

 

 

But today’s recipes are not limited to central American cuisine. In an episode of the popular food network cooking show, Giada at Home, viewers are given a recipe for Chocolate fettucine with peas and pancetta2. As Chef Giada introduces her dish, her tone is almost imploring, reminding the home cooks that this is a savory recipe2. The final product looks incredible, but it is very likely something that most home cooks have never seen, let alone made, before. Chocolate pasta? It seems to defy our sensibilities and notions about the place and order of chocolate in food. But its presence as a featured home recipe on the Food Network shows a shift; rather than being entirely relegated to gourmet food like Saveur, chocolate is working its way into the fabric of savory dishes for the general public. This unprecedented change highlights the growing expansion of food horizons.

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Jacques Torres (Photograph by Barry Johnson) (8)

Chocolate is an incredibly versatile ingredient, as seen from its uses in everything from sauces to pasta. But Chef Jacques Torres (An MOF collared chef from France) takes chocolate even further8. In a post on the very successful food site Serious Eats, three chefs are highlighted and interviewed about how they use chocolate as a savory ingredient in their restaurants8. Torres, uses cocoa nibs to crust salmon and then cooks the salmon in a pan of melted cocoa butter8. He even adds cacao to alcoholic beverages in his restaurant8! Another chef on the list, Julian Medina, makes a miso sauce with dark chocolate to use over fish and pork8. Miso is a salty paste made from soybeans that is often used as a salad dressing or in soups, not something that we are accustomed to containing chocolate. But Chef Medina insists that miso and chocolate work well because it combines “salty, sweet, a little acid, a bit of savory, and a bit of spice”8.

Expanding Horizons

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My own creation of Baba Ghannouj in White Chocolate. Recipe from Saveur (9).

 

 

In reading about the many ways chocolate can be used, I was inspired to try my own hand at making a savory chocolate dish. I’ve had mole and savory sauces and I really wanted to push my own boundaries. That’s when I found a recipe for White Chocolate Baba Ghannouj9. We can rationalize the use of dark chocolate in savory foods because it is more bitter than sweet, but white chocolate is coco butter and sugar, it is sweet. I have perhaps eaten baba ghannouj once or twice before this and all I could remember was the traditional Middle Eastern dish being very savory and not the slightest bit sweet. It is an eggplant puree with spices and salt, and definitely no sugar. The particular recipe that I found calls for eggplants and garlic to be charred and cooked under a broiler and then made into a puree with lemon juice, parsley, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, tahini (a ground sesame seed paste) and white chocolate9. I will admit that as I was combining all the ingredients together I was very skeptical, given my memories of the dish and how odd it seemed to put chocolate in. The first thing I noticed about the puree was its smell. The sweetness of the chocolate subtly lingered in the air. The taste was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. The first notes were sweet, with the white chocolate coming through immediately. The coco butter also added a smooth, silky texture that set this baba ghannouj apart from its classic origins. As the flavor developed the tahini and lemon and smokiness of the eggplant countered the sweetness to create a complex and intriguing bite. When I had my friends try it, their initial reaction was similar to mine- it was unlike anything they had ever tasted it. After a few moments and a few more bites all of them nodded their heads and stated that they liked it. Almost addictively, as if to figure out whether they liked it or not, they all went back for more. This dish exemplifies an expanding horizon. All of us that tried this were momentarily confused by the drastic departure from familiar flavors. But once we dug in a little more we found that the chocolate added a richness and a complexity that elevated the dish, making it more exciting, and opening a world of savory chocolate possibilities.

 

 

Works Cited

  1. Brenner, Max. “Creating a New Chocolate Culture Worldwide.” Max Brenner. 2016. Web. <http://www.maxbrenner.com/&gt;.
  2. Chocolate Fettuccine with Peas and Pancetta. Giada De Laurentiis. Perf. Giada De Laurentiis. Food Network; Giada at Home, 2015.
  3. Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.
  4. Editors, Saveur. “12 Savory Chocolate Recipes.” Saveur3 Feb. 2016. Print.
  5. Johnson, Richard J., Mark S. Segal, Takahiko Nakagawa, Daniel I. Feig, Duk-Hee Kang, Michael S. Gersch, Steven Benner, and Laura G. Sanchez-Lozada. “Potential Role of Sugar (fructose) in the Epidemic of Hypertension, Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Kidney Disease, and Cardiovascular Disease.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition4 (2007): 899-906. Web.
  6. Norton, M. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics.” The American Historical Review3 (2006): 660-91. Web.
  7. Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. New York: Ten Speed, 2009. Print.
  8. Raposo, Jacqueline. “Hey Chef, What Savory Dishes Can I Make With Chocolate?” Web log post. Serious Eats. 10 Feb. 2015. Web.
  9. “White Chocolate Baba Ghannouj.” Saveur11 Feb. 2103. Print.
  10. Watson, Ronald Ross, and Victor R. Preedy. “Chocolate in Health and Nutrition.” Ed. Adrienne Bendich and Sherma Zibadi. Human Press(2013). 1007/978-1-61779-803-0. Web.

Fixing (Child) Slavery: We Must Look Home

In lecture, Professor Martin stated that, “Labor rights issues in cacao production are nothing new. They are tradition.” This is exactly the problem with the historical narrative of cacao and chocolate: the labor rights and slavery issues have not changed significantly and in many ways the issue has increased in severity with reports of rampant child slavery. Unfortunately, looking back into cacao and chocolate’s history of slavery and the numerous efforts to banish slavery completely, and have those efforts be ignored and fail, is a cruel reminder of the difficult task advocators of clean chocolate face. However, there is one company that perhaps deserves a deeper look at in order to see how a big chocolate company can approach the scandal of slavery and work to see that it is abolished. This company is Cadbury, the British multinational chocolate company.

Founded in 1824, almost 192 years ago, by John Cadbury, the company has had a history of slavery. The troubles of the Cadbury slavery issues began in 1901, when William Cadbury, a nephew of George (son of John Cadbury who took over in 1861), visited Cadbury cocoa farms in Trinidad and hears reports about slave labor on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe. This was a shocking discovery given that the British Slavery Abolition Act abolished slavery throughout most of the British Empire in 1834, legally freeing almost 800,000 slaves in the West Indies (Martin, Lecture). While William was aware of the issues of slavery and their cacao farms in Sao Tome and Principe (STP), it was not until at least four years later, in 1905 that the Cadbury family sent Joseph Burtt, a relatively inexperienced researched to report and investigate the conditions of the Cadbury cacao farms in Africa and STP (Coe & Coe) Burtt confirmed what Henry Nevinson, a British journalist who investigated slavery in the early 1900’s, had been reporting on: slavery still existed although it was meant to be abolished.

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The book published by Henry Nevinson on his discovers of slavery during post-abolish times in the 1900’s. His title sadly still applies to our society today – a modern slavery as child labor now. 

Here is where we can see the connections to cacao farming and child slavery in our modern age. It has long been illegal for child labor to exist, although more and more claims are being released and studied that call attention to the fact that child labor is very much still a large part of cacao farming. Most recently even, on March 1st of this year (this month), a reporter by the name of Brian O’Keefe reflecting on how big chocolate makers have made promises to end child labor in their industry but there still exists at least 2.1 million West African children working on cacao farms (O’Keefe). O’Keefe’s disappointment with the promises of big chocolate companies today speaks to the pace at which the Cadbury company slave scandal made it out to the general public scandal. It was only in 1909 that a report was published about Cadbury’s actions, almost a whole eight years after the clear evidence of slavery was found in STP. It took years to build up the voice and courage to attack a giant such as Cadbury’s. This, I believe, is what we still face today – a fear of attacking the giants, of being ostracized, as in the end, it seems like the big chocolate company always wins – as Cadbury did in the end, since Cadbury still exists today and relatively few know of it’s torturous past. While Cadbury was the first mainstream chocolate brand to become Fairtrade certified, we can’t help but think child labor slavery is looming in the background of the Cadbury Crème eggs, that Cadbury is hiding child labor now as it once did in the early 1900’s (Fairtrade.org.uk).

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Cadbury ad advocating for the support of Fairtrade. However, just as before, we need to look further into Cadbury’s labor practices – consumer driven grass roots research would be “taking a step” as the ad focuses on. 

Brian O’Keefe, in his article, poses the important question: what will it take to fix the problem? I believe the problem cannot be left to reporters or companies researchers anymore, the problem belongs to the consumers. At Oxford in 1839, Herman Merivale wrote:

We speak of the blood-cemented fabric of the prosperity of New Orleans or the Havanna: let us look at home. What raised Liverpool and Manchester from provincial towns to gigantic cities? What maintains now their ever active industry and their rapid accumulation of wealth? The exchange of their produce with that raised by the American slaves; and their present opulence is as really owing to the toil and suffering of the negro, as if his hands had excavated their docks and fabricated their steam-engines…

Every trader who carries on commerce with those countries, from the great house which lends its name and funds to support the credit of the American Bank, down to the Birmingham merchant who makes a shipment of shackles to Cuba or the coast of Africa, is in his own way an upholder of slavery: and I do not see how any consumer who drinks coffee or wears cotton can escape from the same sweeping charge (Martin, Lecture).

We must look at home to fix cacao slavery. We must look at our chocolate bars and be responsible for finding out how it was made and speak up if we believe it to be made from child’s hands or from coerced workers.

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This photo is from the FORTUNE magazine article by O’Keefe- child labor is the slavery of our modern time. 

 

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. N.p.: n.p., 2013. Print.

Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. N.p.: n.p., 1986. Print.

O’Keefe, Brian. “Inside Big Chocolate’s Child Labor Problem.” FORTUNE 1 Mar. 2016: n. pag. Print.

http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/buying-fairtrade/chocolate/cadbury

Photos:

https://archive.org/details/modernslavery00nevirich

http://anothercreative.co/work/cadbury-fairtrade/

http://fortune.com/video/2016/03/01/big-chocolate-child-labor/

The History of Chocolate Advertising: How Parenting got Involved and Big Chocolate Took Advantage

The buying power for the family pantry in the 20th century has historically rested with the mother. To get after that market, then, the candy makers of the 20th century went after the children’s sweet tooth by advertising to the mothers that would buy sweets for them. From being a cheap snack to a quick meal supplement to finally evolving into the sugar loaded evil we know today, the appeals companies made to moms are striking evidence of the dominant health and parenting practices and how they changed between 1900 and today. It was in this fashion that the chocolate companies could maintain and grow chocolate consumption through the century, even to today, where the average American consumes 22lbs of chocolate per year (Allen 28).

Before even the start of the 20th century, sugar generally was being consumed as a cheap and quick calorie boost. By the 1850s, sugar was a necessity in most British households. Households, and especially the women and children, were economically inclined to substitute away from more expensive and nutritious parts of meals for the quick calories from sugar instead (Mintz 148). The advertising of the time reflects this in showing chocolate or cocoa as an adequate substitute for a child’s meal despite the fact that we now realize that a nutritious meal and cocoa are not even in the same ballpark in terms of healthfulness (Mintz 186).

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This early Cadbury ad featuring a small child lauds the benefits for her of a cup of cocoa

Despite today’s reality of chocolate’s health effects, the price tag and the calories it provided made it hard to resist meal supplements like Cadbury’s cocoa.

While the reputation of sugar and chocolate for being a cheap calorie boost hadn’t really gone away, it’s primary utility grew to be its ease in preparation and consumption. The quickness with which one could mix a cup of cocoa or hand a child a bar made it an attractive option for parents that suddenly found that they didn’t have as much time to make a family meal (Mintz 186). One can see this change in the rapid rise of prepared foods throughout the second half of the 19th century first half of the 20th (Goody 74). With chemical and technological advancements in the creation of processed or preserved foods as well as in the actual methodologies and containers used to preserve them, it became easier and more practical to get nutrition in the smallest amount of time possible (Goody 78). A large part of this is likely due to the entrance of more women into the workforce in later half of the 20th century. In war and peace times, chocolate and manufactured food products allowed mothers to put a “nutritious meal” on the table for their kids, even if their day would have prevented cooking a family meal.

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Companies capitalized on this sentiment with advertising like this, featuring “a glass and a half” of milk in every bar

Even the government made it hard to deny the nutrition of milk chocolate bars, when the bars they gave to soldiers headed out on long missions were made of chocolate (Kawash).

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Companies combined children, soldiers, and family to show the health virtues of chocolate bars in a truly “All American” Way

How then, did we get to today, when doctors, dentists, and other parents advise against overconsumption of chocolate and especially sugar? The health revolution was quick to pounce on sugar as yes, quick, but empty calories that would give your child (and you) diabetes and cavities (Albritton 342). As the adverse health effects of eating too much candy became the more prominent reputation of their products, candy advertisers had to react accordingly— children may still go into the chocolate aisle to purchase a chocolate bar but their health-conscious moms certainly wouldn’t. Chocolate and candy advertisers went about combatting this in two ways. The first was to start somewhat artificially limiting the overall sugar content of their products and started to market them as “reduced sugar” (Bailin, Goldman, and Phartiyal. 5-8).

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This cereal box is a perfect example, where the health benefits of this breakfast are lauded on top and the “reduced sugar” banner is prominently displayed. Frosted Flakes still aren’t that good for you

The second way in which advertisers continued to go after parents’ conscious wallets was to return to sentimental advertising appeals (Nudd). This could be nostalgic, with a beloved theme song from a 1960s childhood, or offer up a piece of chocolate as a meaningful connection with a child.

Here, Mars has used nostalgia to both honor its history and make an appeal to new and older consumers with its 75th M&M anniversary ad, that feature a modern take on a classic song that was featured in an M&M advertisement as well as cuts of historical ads. Children can connect because of its modernity, but parents will connect with its history.

Hershey’s in particular has done a brilliant job capitalizing on the latter because of its reputation as “America’s candy bar”. Ads for Hershey’s chocolate may feature adorably animated chocolate kisses but end with the wrapped kiss given from parent to child.

Here, a recent Hershey’s ad uses the bond between father in daughter to sell Hershey’s chocolate as a way to spend quality time as a family in a busy world.

The transformation of these ads from print to video short is remarkable in of itself in terms of how consumers process information about the barrage of products in the world. But just as interesting is the feedback loop that is created when dominant attitudes about certain products (and the people that consume them) change. There was always a clear reason for eating sugar and chocolate—even if it was just because it was a sweet treat! Advertisers over time evaluated those reasons and found the best ways to get the candy addict in every child the sugar fix he or she needed by appealing to a parent’s nutrition needs for their child. Chocolate and sugar have mutated in the public mind from cheap calories to quick meal supplement to sweet indulgence without a lot of the actual chemical or procedural makeup changing over time. Ads from throughout the1900s to today tell a different story, however, one that almost seems to advertise three different products at three different times. Given that the product was, however, more or less the same, it is fair to conclude that the prevailing parenting and health attitudes on chocolate and sugar drove childhood sugar consumption and chocolate companies responded by routinely creating advertising that would appeal to those attitudes and keep sugar consumption growing.

Works Cited

Albritton, Robert. “Between Obesity and Hunger.” Coulihan, Carole and Penny van Estrik. Food and Culture. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Allen, Lawrence. Chocolate Fortunes. New York: Amacon, 2010.

Bailin, Deborah, Gretchen Goldman and Pallavi Phartiyal. Sugar-coating Science. May 2014. UCSUSA. 9 March 2016 <www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/center-for-science-and-democracy/sugar-coating-science.pdf>.

Goody, Jack. “Industrial Food.” Counihan, Carole and Penny van Esterik. Food and Culture. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Kawash, Samira. Candy and Corn: “Rich in Dextrose”. 24 September 2010. 9 March 2016 <http://candyprofessor.com/2010/09/24/candy-and-corn-rich-in-dextrose/&gt;.

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

Nudd, Tim. M&M’s UNveils 75th Anniversary Spot Featuring Zedd and Aloe Blacc’s ‘Candyman’. 29 February 2016. 9 March 2016 <http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/mms-unveils-75th-anniversary-spot-featuring-zedd-and-aloe-blaccs-candyman-169923 >.

Image Sources:

https://www.cadbury.co.uk/~/media/cadburydev/com/images/story/HERITAGE_IMAGES_0026_28_IMAGE_GLASS-HALF_AD.png

http://thumbs.ebaystatic.com/images/g/uWIAAOxyVX1RxvtE/s-l225.jpg

https://candyprofessor.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/1942-dextrose-baby->ruth.jpg?w=455

http://i5.walmartimages.com/dfw/dce07b8c-f868/k2-_45985884-042e-483e-9494-231b6a415d25.v1.jpg

On Church and Chocolate…

Some things never change –especially in church. For centuries people have read the accounts of the early church in the book of Acts and have determined to keep its traditions, two of whicccch are fellowshipping and arguing over what is constituted as right or wrong for believers. Over the centuries these two things have evolved. What we observe is that over the past four hundred plus years, chocolate has made its way into the life of the church. Not the life only , chocolate has made its way into the controversy that keeps the ears of the parishioners tingling.

 

In the beginning days of the church, the saints are recorded to fellowship with food and prayer daily. Alongside this daily fellowship of prayer and eating was weekly fasting. The book of Acts records arguments among believers on who could be Christians as well as what rules they had to follow once they were Christians. What was eaten, we do not know. However, what we do know is that the tradition was held strong and it was little room for private interpretation. When questions arose, men immediately turned towards leadership to give clear and district direction. Click the following link to see detailed information about one of the first major debates in the early Christian Church.  https://bible.org/article/acts-15-gentiles-gentiles-davidic-promise-and-clarification-paul%E2%80%99s-offer-gospel-acts-13

 

Nearly fifteen hundred years after the birth of the church it seems like nothing had changed. At least in the story of a Dominican Friar from Chiapas. The saints were continuing in fellowship. It was not everyday as it was in the beginning. But, they did fellowshccccip in worship and sharing food. Here in this 14th century Mesoamerica context, saints come together to worship and enjoy one another’s company by sharing in a common drink of chocolate.

 

Amazing enough, fifteen hundred years after the start of the church believers were still arguing over what was appropriate for believers and what was not. This time the subject was fasting. This Dominican Friar was concerned that saints who were fasting and consuming chocolate beverages were not “truly” fasting. The issue was so important to him that he wrote to the pope. Unfortunately for him, it was not an important subject to the pope. This was proven by the lack of the response he received. Evidently, the pope thought it was quite hilarious to have received such a question.

 

Four hundred years later the saints are still the same. They are still fellowshipping –much less. But, they are questioning even more. The question of what constitutes a fast is still on the table. I suppose the questions have been answered –although not by the pope of Rome. In many colder climates of north America many church groups still gather and enjoy the company of one another by consuming chocolate before or after worship. But the church has split on the question of chocolate being able to be consumed while fasting. Many modern day Christians have taken the side of the pope by believing it is not a matter of importance. However, there are those who have taken up the concern of the Dominican Friar. The end result is that they believe it is a sin to consume chocolate while fasting.

 

I suppose there is nothinfightg new under the sun. Fifteen hundred years from now the church will probably be doing the same thing. They will be getting together to hear the preached word. They will fellowship,  with or without chocolate. And of course, they will continue to argue over what constitutes a fast and what does not.

 

 

Works Cited

“Acts 15: Gentiles as Gentiles in Davidic Promise and the Clarification of Paul’s Offer of the Gospel in Acts 13”. Bible.org. Gregory Herrick Web. 19 February 2016

Dr. Carla Martin (2016) Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Lecture Video. https://matterhorn.dce.harvard.edu/engage/player/watch.html?id=bbf932d0-696b-417b-811d-a9b3fc051aea Web. 19 February 2016

Lilac Chocolates https://www.pinterest.com/pin/280208408038817747/ Web 19 February 2016

“Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the World’s Poorest Citizens, Makes His Case – Knowledge@Wharton.” KnowledgeWharton Muhammad Yunus Banker to the Worlds Poorest Citizens Makes His Case Comments. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

The Chocolate House http://www.chocolateuk.com/about.html Web 19 February 2016

“The Kingsman Review”, Peter Orrestad Web. 19 Feb 2016

 

A Royal Indulgence: The Elite Origins and Introductions of Chocolate

Hundreds of years before Cadbury, Hershey and the like transformed chocolate into a mass-produced and affordable dietary staple, chocolate was a royal indulgence. Reserved for the most prestigious social classes in Mesoamerica, sumptuary laws in New World governed who was able to consume it and, according to some accounts, consumption of chocolate without sanction by commoners was punishable by death (Presilla, 18). The value and reverence the Aztecs had for chocolate made a strong impression on early travelers, who readily shared the frothed-beverage with their commissioners in the Old World, making the ruling elite of the 16th century among the first Europeans to regularly imbibe.

Elite Origins in Mesoamerica

Chemical analysis has allowed researchers to place chocolate over 38 centuries back, although not much is known about the drinking habits of early cultures such as the Olmecs and Mayans (Coe, location 464-578). The only surviving written evidence for classic Mayan use of cacao has been found on elegantly painted and carved cylindrical vases and vessels in the tombs and graves of the elite (Coe, location 578). Some of these excavated vases are externally marked with Mayan hieroglyphs denoting cacao, and internally bear chemical traces of alkaloids found in cacao and dark rims on the interior that suggest the contents were once liquid (Coe, location 625). There is not enough evidence to concretely conclude that chocolate was chiefly drunken by the ruling class, but the inclusion of chocolate provisions for the afterlife of the elite suggests Mayans placed a high level importance on the drink.

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A Mayan lord sits raised above a servant on a platform next to a frothing pot of chocolate, forbidding the servant from touching the container. (Mayan Civilisation)

Much more is known of the chocolate consumption habits of the Aztecs than the Mayans. Aztec emperor Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina (c. 1398-1469 AD) issued a series of laws stating that “he who does not go to war, be he son of a king, may not wear cotton, feathers or flowers, nor may he smoke, or drink cacao” (Coe, location 1372). Only members of the royal house, the lords and nobility, long-distance merchants who endured dangerous lands and battles with foreign groups, and warriors were allowed to drink chocolate in Aztec society (Coe, location 1324). In Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, Sahagún describes how stringently this hierarchical framework for chocolate consumption was followed by the Aztecs; cacao was very valuable and rare, and was proverbially referred to as “Yollotli eztli”, or the “price of blood and of heart”, because if people of the working class drank it without permit, it would cost them their life (“si alguno de los populares lo bebía, costábale la vide si sin licencia lo bebían”) (Moreno, 500).

Chocolate’s link to luxury and power in Aztec culture is further enforced with the cacao bean’s role in the economy. The Aztecs used cacao beans as currency: a rabbit cost about ten beans (Coe, location 832). When the elite drank chocolate, they were quite literally drinking money. This did not go unacknowledged by the Europeans, who quickly realized that cacao was as valuable to this group of people as gold and gems (Presilla, 18). Watch this video to learn a little more about cacao beans in Aztec culture and the introduction of chocolate to Europeans (Youtube).

Royal Introductions in Europe

In 1544, chocolate made its first documented European appearance in Spain. Dominican friars brought Mayan nobles to the courts of Prince Philip, who presented some of the wonders of the New World to the king: quetzal feathers, painted gourds, and containers of beaten chocolate (Presilla, 24). Forty years later in 1585, the first official cacao bean shipment reached Seville from Veracruz (Coe, location 1848).

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A Spanish mancerina with a metal tray. Mancerinas were also made with porcelain trays to match the cup. (Tamorlan)

The Spanish altered the chocolate recipe slightly – preferring it hot as opposed to cold, as the Aztecs had taken it. The Aztecs would add ingredients they were familiar with such as vanilla, herbs, flower petals, and honey, and the Spanish did the same with sugar, cinnamon, hazelnut, anise, and almonds (Presilla). The Spanish sipped it out of mancerinas, a plate or saucer with a ring in the middle to hold a small cup and prevent it from slipping, rather than jícaras. One thing that didn’t change, however, was the elite ties of chocolate; making and drinking chocolate “involved special pains and paraphernalia” (Presilla, 25).

During the 17th century, chocolate spread throughout Europe. It was highly valued as an exotic, tasty alternative as well as a health-promoting drug and was treated differently than other foods. During the reign of Charles III of Spain, chocolate was sent directly to the “royal keeper of jewels” rather than the kitchen (Presilla, 32). France mimicked Spain’s royal consumption of chocolate, reserving it strictly for the aristocracy while England allowed it to hit the free market (Coe, location 2412). Any Englishman or woman was able to consume it so long as they had enough money to pay for it.

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A woman drinks chocolate. Notice her elegant clothing and the chocolate paraphernalia on the tray next to her. (Raimundo)

Sources

Castriocto, Alessandro. “File:João V – Duque de Lafões.Jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. 1720. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

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

Mayan civilisation. “File:Mayan People and Chocolate.Jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

Moreno, Wigberto Jiménez and Sahagún, Bernardino de. Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España: Libros I, II, III, y IV. Linkgua digital, 1938. Online.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed, 2001. Print.

Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta. “File:Raimundo Madrazo – Hot Chocolate.jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

Salvor. “File:Chocolate-house-london-c1708.jph – Wikimedia Commons”. 2006. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

Tamorlan. “File:Macerina-Barcelona-03.Jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

YouTube. “This Is México – Cacao”. Royal Channel Cancun, 2009. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

Chocolate: A Way of Life

Being a chocolate lover for as long as I can remember, I have ventured around Cambridge the past four years in hopes of discovering locations where I could buy a quality selection of the gift of the gods so as to broaden my tastes. It was not long before I stumbled upon Cardullos, a gourmet shoppe located right in the middle of Harvard Square. Walking into the store my eyes grew wide as I saw the beautifully colored wall filled from floor to ceiling with chocolate bars! I was amazed to count around thirty different products of chocolate from at least 15 different countries. It was amazing that so many different types, flavors, and forms could all be classified under the same name. Chocolate, historically prepared to serve as a hot drink (Norton, 660), has undergone immense changes to get to its current state and analyzing various features of this fascinating and delicious product, I learned something about the way it affects the consumer. Because chocolate is a massively available good, contains addicting ingredients, and has a complex and unclear origin, it is hard to change consumption preferences.

The industrialization of food has provided consumers with a massively available production of chocolate (Goody, 88). Walking into a store, like Cardullos, consumers have an endless amount of chocolate and varying brands at their fingertips — literally an entire massive section dedicated purely to chocolate. As a creature of habit, when forced to choose from with such a huge selection I tend to form a preference for a certain product. But generally the variety of prices, flavors, and sizes of the chocolate bars may play into a typical preference. Depending on the chocolate bar, some brands provide a condensed backstory of their company along with the ingredients and products used to produce the delectable chocolate. Nowadays, this product can be found all over the world, even when scarcity of more necessary goods persist, demonstrating that chocolate grew to be such a common and illustrious commodity.

Not only is chocolate readily available at a limitless number of locations, but it also has addictive properties that keep the consumer wanting more. The sugar and fat content of chocolate are just some examples of what prolongs its consumerism, no doubt serving as partial contributor to the obesity epidemic that has struck the United States. “Given that fat and sugar constitute 50 percent of the caloric intake of the average American, it is also not surprising to find that over two-thirds of All Americans are overweight, while the very obese (at least 100 pounds overweight) are the fastest-growing group” (Albritton, 344). This evidence is not saying that chocolate is the sole reason that people are unhealthy, but it seems to be a factor influencing and contributing to generally unhealthy food choices because of the addictive properties of fat and sugar.

In addition to the massive able production of chocolate and the addictive properties that perpetuation consumerism, the complex and unclear origin of chocolate contributes to the difficulty in altering consumption preferences. Concerning Market Ethics and the slave trade, Lowell Satre writes about how the demand for slaves and labor was so much greater than the supply available; there was an unquenchable thirst for labor that only helped in sustaining the slave trade (Satre, 11). Just about everything functions in a supply and demand relationship and therefore chocolate, without exception, maintained this; as a result its production disgustingly treated human beings as commodities of trade. Sāo Tomé and Príncipe are just two of the many countries within in the extensive line of cocoa production where slavery was capitalized upon for the cacao trade (Satre, 98). Non-resolved labor conditions may mean that, despite all of the work done to improve labor, trade, and standard of business environments, there is still likelihood that chocolate companies that fail to acknowledge the origin of their cacao beans are linked to unacceptable source.

Along with the slave trade generating a great amount of controversy regarding the production of chocolate, the true origin of the product is also often questionable. When it comes to chocolate, every ingredient influences the resulting taste and the origin, or the cocoa beans, could have a determining influence. By and large consumers want to know what they are putting into their bodies and an important component of this ties in where the product came from. In Food Justice vs. Food Power, Levkoe portrays the problems that may arise when people are forced into consumerism, without knowing the sources of the product they put into their bodies (Levkoe, 589). Food justice movements engage activists of all sorts to consider the rights of consumers, human and environmental health, the importance of the production and distribution of food, and the political coalitions capable of making a difference. Through these community promoting and individual empowering campaigns society can learn a more valuable way to live. The consumption of chocolate can serve as representation for general consumerism because it too reflects on the common phrase you are what you eat in regards to ones actions concerning its production. Despite the origin or the cacao beans that are used to produce chocolate being predominantly unknown, the consumption of chocolate persists all over the world.

Seeing that chocolate is a massively available good, contains addicting sugar and fat contents, and stems from a controversial history with an unclear origin, I would argue that it would be quite difficult to change consumer preferences. It is not difficult to learn about contentions surrounding chocolate, but I surmise that each consumer feels incapable of making a crucial impact by changing the product they purchase. When I took stock in the huge variety of chocolates in Cardullos, I reflected on the industrial taste of the chocolate that portrays high quality with a higher price. Can we be certain that what is in each wrapper truthfully corresponds to its label? Food adulteration was once a common occurrence in the industrialization production (Goody, 86) that I wonder if there could still be a trace of misconduct when producing chocolate. It does not seem like it would be very difficult to tinker with certain ingredients, such as substitutions that would be hard to discern. Even the slightest adulteration may make a profitable difference for producers. Many chocolatiers labor to make sure that the consumer can be satisfied with what they put in their bodies but this often hikes the price up because of all the additional and necessary steps to make their chocolate.

Though the more expensive chocolates may have been crafted with a higher moral compass in regards to the labor demanded in order to launch its production, I do not think it would be too easy to get consumers to change their ways when it comes to purchasing the product. The final chocolate product could be flashy or have colorful styles on the wrapper, there could be massive public hype surrounding a certain brand, or the mere convenience of purchasing a certain type may be reason for chocolate consumerism. But when it comes to their preferences, an individual has a more innate response to their consumption. Even with all of the medical findings that the media publicizes regarding the health risks or benefits of chocolate, when consumers habituate chocolate into their diet I think it would be tough to break their dependency. Historically speaking, when Europeans developed the taste they first had for Indian chocolate, they set out to recreate the good for America and Europe so that they might taste the indigenous experience (Norton, 660). Now Europeans, as I saw during my exploration of Cardullos, produces many chocolate brands that are consumed around the world. I think that by adapting chocolate in such a fashion helped create this dependency and consequentially an unbreakable preference for chocolate

When I was a child I considered pretty much any type of sweet to be yummy, always wanting anything chocolate. I developed a sweet tooth and grew dependent on sugar. With every possible brand of chocolate available to consumers, picking a favorite and sticking to it seemed somewhat necessary. Even as I recently learned more about how chocolate is made and the process and ingredients that go into its production, I still have that original preference for my chocolate. Sure, I think that it is possible to enjoy trying new products and the experience of new tasting chocolates, but I think that the innate preference that one forms for chocolate is hard to break.

My adventures in search of new chocolate tastes has been quite a rewarding experience and it helped lead me to assert that it is difficult to changes a consumers preference on chocolate because of its massive and readily available supply, the inclusion of addicting amounts of sugar and fat content, and the complexity associated with its controversial history and the lack of clarity in cocoa bean origin. Whether you grab a Hershey bar from the gas station, a Dove bar from CVS, Ghirardelli squares from a supermarket, or Lindt truffles at the mall, chocolate is a readily available good no matter where you go. The price placed on a item of chocolate may have an influence on what a consumer actually chooses to purchase, but the original preference one has associated with the chocolate he or she likes is hard to put a end to because of its massive availability, addictive ingredients, and complex history and origin.

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This chocolate from Brussels illustrates the industrialized pricing, portraying a finer quality along with a high price.

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France’s François Pralus portrays the multitude of origins in order to market the chocolate.

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Artisan Michael Autourorsi’s Chuao Chocolatier here demonstrates the production of unique types of chocolate.

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This Cadbury product reflects on chocolate’s past, as it was originally consumed as a liquid.

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Taza is manufactured in Massachusetts and is a delicious stone-ground chocolate.

Works Cited

Albritton, Robert. “Between obesity and hunger: the capitalist food industry.” Food and Culture: A Reader (2013): 342-354.Higgs, Catherine. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. Ohio University Press, 2012.

Goody, Jack. “Industrial food: towards the development of a world cuisine.” Food and culture: a reader (1997): 338-353.

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

Levkoe, Charles Z. “Learning democracy through food justice movements.” Agriculture and Human Values 23.1 (2006): 89-98.

Norton, Marcy. “Tasting empire: chocolate and the European internalization of Mesoamerican aesthetics.” The American historical review 111.3 (2006): 660-691.

Satre, Lowell Joseph. Chocolate on trial: Slavery, politics, and the ethics of business. Ohio University Press, 2005.

(Photos taken at Cardullos)

Cardullo’s: A Mélange of Cultural and Historical Flavors in Chocolate

The industrialization period brought about the emergence of mass-production chocolate companies that have come to dominate the modern-day economic realm. The crucial component fueling this industry rests on the interplay between consumers and chocolate manufacturing companies, whose existence relies on accommodating the subsequent party’s needs. Competition between big chocolate companies fosters growth in the industry, however it also challenges the quality and practice of chocolate production, as companies employ cheap means in order to provide the most profitable product for the consumer. Cardullo’s is a small retail shop located in Harvard Square that historically has focused on supplying quality international foods, carrying a wide array of artisanal as well as bulk-produced chocolate. The shop very much intertwines with Harvard’s cultural values, and has adapted to provide a unique Harvard type “experience” by carrying crafted chocolates that stray from the conventional mass produced chocolates typically purchased by Americans. Cardullo’s legitimizes its products by generating a “social terroir” inviting the inquisitive Harvard community to taste the history of chocolate infused by different cultures inside the varying brands of chocolate, while simultaneously redefining the psychology behind high quality taste appreciation by promoting good ethics of production with its foreign associates and higher pricing of its chocolates. Ultimately, Cardullo’s challenges modern societies devalued sense of chocolate tasting appreciation that has been tainted by this generation’s fast pleasure-seeking life style.

Cardullo’s was established at the steps of one of the world’s most pristine academic institutions, luring in students and visitors from an array of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Franck Cardullo, who set out to fill a niche that could provide quality foods for the neighborhood’s international population, developed the store in 1950 (Culinary Cambridge, 2012). The original store was located across the street form it’s current location, however the layout and décor inside the shop remains much in the traditional style of the old days. The shop carries a wide assortment of imported chocolate, from recognized brands like Tobleron and Mars, to less known labels such as Francois Pralus and Reger. Interestingly, the store piles all the popular mass produced brands of chocolate and crams them in the lower right hand level of a shelf, while what are to be considered “finer” and more expensive chocolate brands are shelved with more precision, in a somewhat artistic manner. The two images below depict the cluttered arrangement of the cheaper over-refined chocolate in comparison to the graceful layout of the pristine deemed Godiva chocolate.

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Cardullo’s carries chocolate brands and flavors specifically targeted towards an audience of consumer conscious students, as well as the bountiful international tourists flocking to the University’s historical site. Harvard students are vey much driven by moral issues, and the community fosters consciousness on many social and ethical issues unfolding around the world. I will later introduce a concept of moral and social terroir that drives Harvard’s consumer choices. A second factor driving the choices of these consumers results from the impact of history in the community. Harvard students and tourists visiting the university have a great appreciation for historical contexts and the preservation of historical traditions. Marcy Norton describes in a book on “Tasting Empire,” 16th century records from Zapoteca, Nahua, and Mayan regions depict entries in diaries of cacao drinks being prepared with cacao and maize, cacao and chili peppers, and sometimes cacao alone (Norton, 2006). The tastes of the cacao drinks may be unique to the time, but Cardullo’s has found a means to capture a similar historical essence by selling a spiced Mayan cocoa drink labeled as such, instead of simply tagging it as “hot chocolate”. The chocolate supplied by Cardullo’s can thus be seen as a connection between the past and the present, serving as a means of unifying different cultures and historical eras.

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Premium chocolate blend made with Venezuelan chocolate, which is considered one of the finest in the world (also historically important in the chocolate industry). Deeply flavored, aromatic drink.

While Cardullo’s supplies chocolate containing original flavors consumed by the people in Mesoamerica, it also emphasizes the detrimental role played by Europeans in the transformation of chocolate form it’s ancient condition to renown modern form. Many scholars have argued the case that the Spanish were appalled by the taste of the chocolate drink consumed by the natives and drastically transformed it when they returned to European soil. Norton however, counters this misconception by arguing that while Europeans added their own inventions to the chocolate they brought from Central America, “there was no conscious effort to radically reinvent the substance. Instead, modifications came about because of gradual tinkering motivated by efforts to maintain- not change- the sensory impact of chocolate” (Norton, 2006). Cardullo’s further supports Norton’s argument, and seeks to educate it’s consumers on the transformative history of chocolate as a part of their experience. The image below portrays a box of German chocolates called “Reber Mozart Kuglen,” plastered with a portrait of Mozart himself. The chocolate is placed on the highest level of the shelf in the store, almost as if on a pedestal, thus accentuating the celebration of European tradition in chocolate. The label further details that the box contains “filled chocolates,” a crucial European innovation to the manufacturing of chocolate.

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Classical Reber Picture Box containing 20 “Genuine Reber Mozart-Kugeln” filled with pistachio marzipan with green pistachios, almond,s and hazelnut praline. They are coated with milk and bitter-sweet dark chocolate and are imported from Germany.

Cardullo’s really builds on the idea of providing its consumers with a unique sensory experience of chocolate’s historical origins, by focusing on removing any outside influences of modern times that could be altering the pureness of chocolate appreciation. Cardullo’s captivates the interest of its consumers by appealing to their focus on good morality and strive towards a greater appreciation of the world. One of the ways in which they achieve this is by supplying single origin chocolate, as a means of directly altering the consumer’s sensory experience to a foreign region. Over the recent years, consumer preference in the US has increasingly shifted towards single origin bars, resulting from an appeal towards the “localization” of foods whose origins tend to be anonymous (Leslie, 2013). This can also be described as the “beans to bar” notion that Leslie characterizes as chocolates that are produced from a single variety of cacao produced in one region. An example of this can be seen in the Francois Pralus selection at Cardullo’s shown below, which even details the precise latitude and longitudinal coordinates of the region in which it was produced.

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Different origins of the Francois Pralus chocolate. Notice the global coordinates printed above the brands logo.

Such emphasis on location of the origins of the chocolate draws on the notion of terroir, which can be described as a characteristic taste and flavor of chocolate resulting from the environment in which it is produced. Nesto argues the case for single origin chocolate, in which using site-specific, quality cacao produces a bar fused with terroir given the minimal and sensitive processing sustained (Nesto, 2013). Cardullo’s generates a “social terroir” in its selection of chocolate by providing its consumers with a taste of the history of chocolate simultaneously infused with different cultures. This attraction to the exotic and unknown is what drives consumers to purchase chocolates from origins of Sao Tome, Madagascar, and Indonesia, like the ones seen above. Madagascar for example is an attractive origin largely because of “it’s cooca’s unusually bright, high citrus notes” (Leissle, 2013).

This social terroir provides information to the consumer about the potential ethical dilemmas behind the chocolates production, while also serving as a publicity measure promoting the improvement of relations between the United States and its foreign partners. Most of the brands supplied by the store stray from the renowned brands of mass-produced chocolates that carry negative qualifications due to the ethics behind production. Cardullo’s sells brands labeled with other countries, which the United States promotes positive relations with as a tool to draw a parallel between positive foreign relations with countries and the good ethics behind their chocolate production. One can observe Cardullo’s supply of the Madagascar and Sao Tome selection of Francois Pralus almost as a diplomatic tool. As Leissle argues, Madagascar has a positive reputation in US popular understanding since it “seems culturally, historically, and politically separate from the troubled continent of Africa proper” (Leissle, 2013). On the other end of the spectrum, Cardullo’s also supplies the Sao Tome label as a means to amend the negative light shown on the region as a result of its past turmoil with the Cadbury Company. As Catherine Higgs describes in her book, Cadbury employed slave labor practices on cocoa farms in Sao Tome during the early 20th century, leaving behind a region that continues to be rocked by political and social turmoil (Higgs, 2012).

Cardullo’s strays from supplying conventional fair trade and organic stamps as a means of legitimizing its products, and instead focuses more on the price range of chocolate. If you click on the chocolate tab on the stores website (http://www.cardullos.com/category/view/chocolate), there is a range in chocolate from the most expensive price being $65.00 for a chocolate basket, to more moderate chocolate bars sold for $10.00. The lofty price of the chocolate boxes reflects on the artistic quality of the design as well as the ingredients, but comparing similar sized chocolate bars across the spectrum there is a significant price difference that results from the quality of cocoa beans and other ingredients used. Williams et al. wrote a piece in which they argue against the cheap cocoa beans and artificial ingredients used by certain companies to make a profit, further asserting the freshness in flavor that results from the use of natural ingredients, such as in the Mast Brothers Chocolate’s products (Williams et al., 2012). People tend to develop different levels of taste appreciation depending on the exposure to different types of chocolate during their lifetime, which can be a result of the affordability in price of the chocolate. However, consumer’s appreciation of chocolate can also be influenced by the price of the chocolate. People automatically tend to associate more expensive chocolate to a higher quality and sophistication in the product, especially in modern day society where most consumers purchasing decisions are driven by financial forces. Stuckey argues there is a psychology behind consumers understanding the food they are tasting (Stuckey, 2012). This can result in consumers quite literally focusing on the taste of the price of chocolate, and lead them to try unusual flavors such as “Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar,” simply because they assume the higher price applies to higher quality.

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Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar made with applewood smoked bacon,  Alder wood smoked salt, and 62% dark chocolate. Sold for $8.99

This however, serves as an important marketing strategy allowing Cardullo’s to redefine the tastes associated with more expensive, and finer chocolate.

Cardullo’s marketing measures divulges the stores concern on redefining consumer’s ordinary, present day experience when eating chocolate. The chocolate sold at Cardullo’s presents a break in tradition of which Williams et al. would describe as “a generation that wants pleasure fast,” (Williams et al., 2012) further challenging the morality and taste appreciation of the mass-produced chocolate market. The store’s attempt goes hand in hand with the Harvard culture’s desire to experience new things, while paralleling to Harvard’s exclusive nature in providing unique tastes, such as the collection of brands and flavors seen below. Stuckey argued the importance behind the psychology of taste, stressing the more food you taste the more you will develop to appreciate it (Stuckey, 2012). Cardullo’s wide selection of chocolates differing in origins and tastes therefore reflects the businesses goal in challenging the way this generation appreciates chocolate.

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Works Cited

 “Cardullo’s.” Culinary Cambridge. N.p., 2012. Web. 04 May 2015 <http://cambridgehistory.org/discover/culinary/cardullos.html&gt;.

“Chocolate.” Cardulloscom RSS. Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe, n.d. Web. 04 May 2015. <http://www.cardullos.com/category/view/chocolate&gt;.

Higgs, Catherine. 2012. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. pp. 133- 
165

Leissle, Kristy. 2013. “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. 13 (3): 22-31

Norton, Marcy. 2006. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics.” The American Historical Review 111 (3): 660-691

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

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