Take a moment to Imagine not having access to the luxury of indulging in chocolate. It’s hard to believe that prior to the Industrial Revolution, chocolate was considered more of an elite privilege that was practically out of the common man’s reach. This was partially due to the fact that the cost of growing and producing chocolate was extremely high – it was a laborious and time-consuming task, and only the earnings of the elite could support consumption on a regular basis. The Industrial Revolution birthed the modernization and development of chocolate production through mechanization, completely changing the effects around consumption. The Industrial Revolution lowered the production cost, increased efficiency, and improved taste, texture, and appearance of the product as a whole. Today, chocolate is everywhere! From well-known candy bars such as Hershey’s, and Mars (currently known as the Milky Way bar), to chocolate syrup mixed into mocha’s that is available at almost every coffee shop. For the purpose of this blog post, I would like to touch on a few of the incredible advances in the chocolate making industry made possible by the Industrial Revolution: the conche, winnowing machine, hydraulic press, and the marriage of chocolate and sugar.
Often referred to as the “food of the gods,” cacao was used by the Maya, Aztec, and Spanish to create a chocolatey drink that would most likely taste pretty bitter and unappealing compared to the endless forms, tastes, and textures available to us today. However, by the time the Industrial Revolution occurred, a man by the name of Rudolf Lindt was also craving something different – an indulgence that was far less coarse and gritty. He craved a chocolate that was smooth, offering that irreplaceable melt-in-your-mouth texture. Thanks to Lindt, his dream became a reality using a machine called the conche. The conche was developed in 1879 and radically changed the texture, taste, and appearance of chocolate. Instead of grinding the chocolate using a metate (just like the Maya, Aztec, and Spanish), the conche continuously stirred the chocolate while using heat to create a creamy, melty, heavenly texture. Rumor has it that Lindt discovered this technique by accidentally leaving the conche running for a few days at a time. In my opinion, what started out as an accident actually turned in to one of the tastiest chocolate making discoveries.
Another important improvement in the quality and texture of chocolate came about by the development the winnowing machine. As Kristy Leissle explains, “Prior to the Industrial Revolution, cocoa beans had to be broken and winnowed by hand” (Leissle 50). The process of winnowing by hand was extremely tedious and oftentimes excruciating, due to the fibrous husks that could easily cut the laborers’ hands and slip underneath their fingernails. Leissle goes on to explain the modern process as much more forgiving and user friendly. “Today, a machine usually cracks the beans, loosening or removing parts of the shell and breaking the seed into smaller pieces, which are then called nibs. A winnower sorts the nibs into piles of similar size, most often by vibrating them through screens with varying mesh” (Leissle 50). The winnowing process is crucial because when shells are not properly removed the taste and texture is compromised. The process is further explained and demonstrated in the video below.
One of the most impactful inventions in the chocolate industry was developed during the 18th century – The Hydraulic Press. Coenraad Johannes Van Houten’s hydraulic press completely transformed chocolate by pressing the chocolate liquor with immense force until two products appeared: cocoa butter and a solid cake. This process came about in 1828 when Van Houten decided that he wanted to create a powdered chocolate with a much lower fat content than what was already available. So, “For this, he eventually developed a very efficient hydraulic press; untreated chocolate ‘liquor’ – the end result of the grinding process – contains about 53 percent cacao butter, but Van Houten’s machine managed to reduce this to 27-28 percent, leaving a ‘cake’ that could be pulverized into fine powder” (Coe & Coe 234). Applying this type of pressure with the hydraulic press made the production of chocolate much faster and more cost effective. Additionally, the Dutch chemist used alkaline salts to improve the flavor and prevent bitterness, which was well received by the masses.
Lastly, I would like to discuss the important concept of wedding of chocolate and sugar. This marriage of these two products played a huge part in the development and appeal of chocolate. Sugar was so important that “During the period 1750-1850 every English person, no matter how isolated or how poor, and without regard to age or sex, learned about sugar… A rarity in 1650, a luxury in 1750, sugar had been transformed into a virtual necessity by 1850” (Mintz 148). Manufacturer’s such as Cadbury and Fry began to flourish. As a result of utilizing sugar instead of other more expensive ingredients (such as vanilla), chocolate became available to the different classes due to the significant cost reduction. It also boosted chocolate’s appeal to children through advertisements using images of smiling kids like the boy featured in the picture below.
Because of the Industrial Revolution, chocolate went from being an expensive drink that appealed to an elite group of wealthy individuals, to a treat that men, women, and children could enjoy regardless of the social class they belonged to. As mentioned above, the conche, winnowing machine, hydraulic press, and the marriage of chocolate and sugar all played a role in making chocolate appealing and readily available to a much broader audience.
Coe, Sophie D.,
and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames
and Hudson, 1996.
Kristy. Cocoa. Polity Press, 2018.
W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New
York: Penguin Books, 1985.
A few months back my aunt Bazat Saifiyyah made a chocolate sauce that everyone in my family went completely crazy over. We would eat it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With many different foods such as ice-cream, strawberries when they were in season, spread over toast or just eaten plain.
For my blog post I want to explore within the context of my aunt’s recipe, the ingredients that go into it, where does the chocolate come from, the historical backing and also the perception of chocolate and its health benefits.
The ingredients that go into the chocolate sauce are butter, dark chocolate compound, Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa, Hershey’s caramel syrup, icing sugar, milk and fresh cream.
The chocolate sauce is made by melting butter over a low heat flame, then add the dark chocolate compound broken up into many pieces. Then after this has melted the milk and fresh cream are added and then whisked until fully mixed. Then after this, the Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa powder is added with the icing sugar. After this, the caramel syrup is added. Then the whole mixture is to be whisked over a low flame for two minutes, then it is ready to be eaten.
This is a short video that I have taken during the making of the chocolate sauce.
What is the history behind the recipe?
Cacao first came to be cultivated agriculturally by the Olmecs in the lowlands of the Mexican Gulf Coast ( C ) It was picked up by the Mayans and then from them the Aztecs. In this time the way that they processed the cacao bean was very different then how it is processed today. The cacao pod would be harvested and then its beans would be dried, roasted, shelled and then ground on a metate to make a paste, this paste could have other flavoring additions to it depending on the culture that it was made in. This paste was then made into balls from which a hot foamy chocolate drink was made, this seems to have been the primary way in which the Mesoamericans consumed their cacao. However, there are mentions of it being used in other food items. ( C )
This is a video that demonstrates the Mesoamerican chocolate making practices.
This cacao consumption was picked up by the Spanish during their colonization period. It became an extremely important part of their culture and practices. Then it was picked up by the European colonizers and it became joined with sugar that was also being produced in the colonies. Then came the inventions that changed how chocolate was produced such as conching by Rudolph Lindt in Switzerland, this made the chocolate smooth by breaking down the large particles in a machine. ( P ) Also, the addition of dairy products like milk and cream to chocolate changed drastically how chocolate was enjoyed by many people.
Where does the cacao come from?
The two chocolate products that go into making this compound are Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa and Mordes dark compound chocolate ( CD D16 ). Both these ingredients are processed differently to reach the state that they are in.
Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa-
The processing of cacao to reach cocoa powder was invented by Coenerad Van Houten in the Netherlands. He developed a technique which processed cacao beans in such a way that they separated into two compounds, cacao butter, and a solid cake. ( P ) The cacao butter was the more prized of the two compounds and often it was sold by companies and not used with the solids of the beans that it came from. The solid cocoa cake that was made was then ground up into a fine powder and it is used in chocolate drinks and baking. Another process that also goes behind the cocoa powder made today is the dutch processing technique which is a treatment done by adding alkaline salts to neutralize the bitter taste and also to have a darker colored chocolate. ( P )
There is no mention of the product about where the cacao that goes into this process comes from. This makes the cacao completely anonymous.
This anonymity of chocolate shows a shift in the attitudes of people towards cacao beans and their sourcing. In the past centuries, before the manufacturing of chocolate became so connected to the industrialized process, the sourcing of the cacao bean was of utmost importance. The criollo pods were counted as the best type of cacao, it has the sweetest flavor and the richest taste ( P), the finding of this pod is extremely rare nowadays and many expert chocolatiers try with great difficulty to get a hold of this criollo pod to make their chocolate. This pod was mainly used by the Olmecs, Mayans, Aztecs and then it was transported to Hispanic plantations such as Venezuela during their period of colonization. ( P ) The most common type of cacao in use today is the forastero variety, this is purple and of a darker color then the criollo variety, it is also extremely bitter however the multiple industrial processes that cacao beans go through these days balance out the bitterness. Then there is also the Trinitario variety, this is a cross breed between the criollo and forastero, it was developed in Trinidad, this is the most resilient variety and it has a more pleasant taste than the foraestro. ( P )
The other factor that matters a lot in the sourcing of cacao is where is it grown, this contains the Terrior of the landscape and also carries a lot of history and chocolate traditions and culture with it. Chocolate has a dark history intertwined with the slave trade and abuse of peoples in plantations. In the modern day, the roots of colonization, the booming cacao trade, and European chocolate culture has led to established cacao farming in many parts of the world that were colonized such as Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ecuador and West Africa. Today West Africa produces 75% of the worlds cacao and most of this cacao is exported for production abroad, only 4% of the worlds chocolate is consumed by its people. West Africa collectively produces 3 million metric tonnes of cacao in a year( L 8)
There is a lot that goes into the cacao bean and if it is made so anonymous its history is wiped away and its variety and subtleties are emitted out of the chocolate making process as nobody knows where it originates from.
Mordes dark compound chocolate ( CD D16 )
This chocolate is also another example of the anonymity of the cacao bean today. The ingredients that go into making this bar are as follows, Sugar, Edible Vegetable fats, Cocoa Solids and Emulsifiers ( 492, 322 ) CONTAINS ADDED NATURAL (VANILLA) FLAVOURING SUBSTANCES, Hydrogenated Vegetable Fat Used- Contains Trans Fats.
This bar does not have a cacao percentage in it however it has cocoa solids, so it does not have cacao butter in it.
This is a video that demonstrates how chocolate bars are made today.
A look into Hershey’s
Hershey’s was founded in 1903 by Milton S. Hershey, it came to be known as Americans most iconic chocolate. It had a great influence on American business and taste. ( L 11 )
The two struggles that this company faced and managed to overcome were, one, the struggle to develop milk chocolate, so they made their own dairy farms and sourced their milk from there. Two, the struggle to control the sugar supply chain. Sugar used to come from Cuba and during the period of 1916-46 there was a highly volatile situation and this affected the sugar supply chain. To face this problem Hershey brought land in Cuba where he established his own sugar plantations, for the transportation of this sugar he also built some connecting railways. ( L 12 )
This is a video that demonstrates the history and founding of Hershey’s chocolates.
The potential health risks in consuming chocolate are environmental factors of polluted soil and water, problems in other ingredients such as milk, sugar, soy lecithin, inclusions, manufacturing issues, allergy or sensitivity to certain ingredients mixed with the cacao or to the caffeine, and a very high sugar and saturated fat content and a very high calorie content. ( L 12 )
There has also been a lot of contemporary research on the health benefits of chocolate. These are Antioxidant, Cardioprotective, Psychoactive, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-allergy and Anti-tumoral properties ( L 12 )
After knowing some of the history behind chocolate and everything that has gone into making it, one can eat the chocolate sauce with more understanding of what actually goes on in the making of it.
Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Thames & Hudson, 2013 – ( C)
Presilla, Maricel E. The new taste of chocolate: a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Random House Digital, Inc., 2009. – ( P )
Chocolate class lectures, Carla Martin, Harvard Extension School, Spring 2018 – ( L )
History of Hershey’s chocolate, Charles Dean Archive, Published on Jan 9, 2014 on Youtube
Milk Chocolate from Scratch How it is made, Science Channel, Published on Oct 30, 2016 on Youtube
Watch the Ancient Art of Chocolate Making, National Geographic, Published on Oct 13, 2017 on Youtube
The sourcing and production of chocolate had a direct effect on its place in the social hierarchy in different societies and cultures across time. It is possible to see this by going in depth into three chronological time periods in different places in the world where the allure of cacao had spread. By an early exploration of Mayan chocolate production to Venezuelan plantations ending at the discovery of the Cocoa press in the Netherlands.
Mayan Chocolate Making
Mayans revered chocolate, it played an essential role in their stories of origin and cosmology. It was used in burial rites and great ceremonies. Cacao was grown agriculturally by the Mayans 1.
One of the only direct evidence discovered about how Mayans made their chocolate is found in this vessel on the right-hand side which shows a lady pouring chocolate drink from a height into another cup. This was to create the foam that was extremely prized in the Mayan culture; it was thought to be the breath of the Gods.
This Maya Princeton Vase is evidence for the heavy usage and importance of cacao in the Mayan culture. It has engraved hieroglyphics for the word cacao coupled with cosmological depictions.
The Maya had many ways of using Cacao to make food.
Chacau haa – This is hot chocolate drink.
Tzune – This is a mix of cacao, maize and sapote seeds.
Saca– A gruel made from cooked maize, water, and cacao.
The flavoring that was commonly used was vanilla and ‘ear flower’2. These different ways of cooking show a creative and vibrant diversity in the usage of the cacao pod. It is highly developed and adaptable. It shows cacao to be an essential part of the Mayan culture and diet.
The remnants of traditional Mayan way of making chocolate drink are still alive today in certain parts of Mexico among the Mayan communities. This video highlights and explains the traditional ways women make the chocolate drink in these Mayan communities.
This video shows us how labor intensive and time consuming it was to make chocolate drink in the Mayan style. The cacao beans have to shelled, roasted, dried in the sun, ground and after this long process mixed with water ready to be consumed.
Venezuelan Cacao Boom
The high-quality strain of Criollo cacao is native to Venezuela. It started being produced agriculturally at the turn of the seventeenth century. The first recorded shipment is in 1607 from La Guaira to Spain 3. This was under the influence of Hispanic colonization, those working on these plantations were slaves and laborers 4.
Here the cacao was so abundantly grown it was consumed on a regular basis by everybody, from slaves to lords. There were three different styles in consuming the cacao 5.
Cerrero– ( rough and ready, bitter ) This was just plain cacao dissolved in water with no added flavorings or sweeteners. It was widely drunk by people in the interiors.
Chorote– Made by creating solid chocolate balls which are dissolved in water, added to this is muscovado sugar. The chocolate balls were created by boiling ground cacao to separate the fats and solids. This was drunk by people in the cities as well as given to slaves and laborers for lunch and dinner.
Chocolate– Made by mixing balls of ground chocolate mixed with sugar or honey, toasted corn, seasonings such as cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. This was consumed by the Spanish elite at morning and noon meals.
The mass production led to cacao being available for everybody to consume. However what marks the social classes is by what process they made their cacao and what was added to it. Also the number of cacao beans used in the food and the time and effort of making it.
Development of industrial techniques of cacao processing
Conrad Johanes Van Houten discovered, along with his father the Cocoa press and Dutch process chocolate 6.
This created a fast and easy chocolate producing technique. It was adopted by big industries to use in their ways of chocolate production. This created a speedy and cheaper way of making good tasting chocolate.
Another process invented was the conching of chocolate. This was invented by Rudolfhe Lindt in Switzerland 7.
. It created smoother chocolate and covered the origins and original flavors and textures of the cacao bean, hence a bean sourced from anywhere of any strain could be used. The image below portrays the process of creating smoother chocolate.
These invented process allowed for the anonymity of cacao in the chocolate drink and bar. It became possible to mass produce chocolate without knowing of the origins and sourcing of the cacao bean that went into the chocolate. This created a lot of distance between the agriculture of growing cacao, strains and qualities of the pod and the consumer of the chocolate.
Mass Chocolate Production Today
This kind of mechanized industrialized mass production allows for a lot of chocolate to be produced. When chocolate production moved to such a mechanized way of being made, it became widely available for the average consumer. In today’s world chocolate is a regular household good with a large gap between knowledge of the sourcing and production of chocolate and the regular consumers of chocolate. The intensive agricultural development of cacao with the support of slave exploitation and the inventions of chocolate processing in Europe led to chocolate as is known today.
1- Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Thames & Hudson, 2013.
2- Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Thames & Hudson, 2013.
3- Presilla, Maricel E. The new taste of chocolate: a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Random House Digital, Inc., 2009.
4- Romero, Simon. “In Venezuela, plantations of cocoa stir bitterness.” The New York Times (2009): A04.
5- Presilla, Maricel E. The new taste of chocolate: a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Random House Digital, Inc., 2009.
6- Presilla, Maricel E. The new taste of chocolate: a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Random House Digital, Inc., 2009.
7- Presilla, Maricel E. The new taste of chocolate: a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Random House Digital, Inc., 2009.
If one stands near the Chicago River fork, just by the world famous Merchandise Mart, they are struck by a familiar and enticing smell. On a good day, a large portion of downtown Chicago smells distinctly of chocolate. Following the railway lines just west of the river will lead you to the Blommer chocolate factory. Blommer currently processes almost 45% of the cacao beans in the U.S. and the Chicago headquarters stands as their largest processing plant. The smell is so strong and distinct, you can actually discern the difference between when they are making milk chocolate versus cocoa powder or dark chocolate. Traveling further down the river to the North is a strip of land that use to hold a coffee roasting plant. On a perfect day, these smells would intermingle as the roasting released their warm bitter notes on the air, reminding us of coffee and chocolate’s shared past.
(A former tumbler post allowed Chicagoans to track the chocolate scent daily)
Standing there, it begs the question about where their paths diverged. How did chocolate make the transformation from the beverage of revolutionaries and royalty to a confectionary treat to appease the masses?
By the time cacao became the darling of beverage establishments, the Old World had abandoned the Humors system of medicine. No longer were there debates as to whether chocolate was warm or cold or how to best balance it with spices. At the same time, drug crops such as tea, coffee and chocolate, which had long been associated with wealth and status, were becoming more accessible. Daily rituals were created around these beverages, often with the addition of sugar, which was growing in popularity. However, both chocolate and coffee fell out of favor as a beverage when the British East India Company increased the tea supply, causing tea prices to drop dramatically. The lower prices made it more accessible, transforming it to a national compulsion for the British. Coffee would eventually become more accessible and regain some lost ground, but rather than look to rebound as a beverage choice, chocolate evolved in the food space as a confection and flavoring.
Several different innovations helped chocolate with this evolution. Going back to its heyday as a beverage, drinking chocolate was growing in popularity in the new world. At the time, cacao was still being ground and processed by hand on matates. It was an arduous process, that took time and manpower, keeping chocolate in the hands of those who could afford it. In 1765, Dr. James Baker partnered with John Hannon to simplify the process and reduce labor. The pair rented a grist mill in Milton Lower Falls, MA, using water power to grind the chocolate. This was chocolate’s first step in to the industrial age, liberating it from the labor of hand grinding and creating a more consistent product. The company they formed, Baker chocolates, still exists today under the Kraft Heinz company.
(Baker Chocolates still stands today in Milton Falls, MA)
The next leap forward for chocolate came in 1824 from the Swiss. Coenraad Van Houten, a Swiss chemist, developed a new processing method using a hydraulic press. The press removed more than 70% of the cacao butter from the cacao nibs, leaving a cake, which could be easily turned in to powder. The cacao was then treated with alkaline, which reduced the bitterness, making for a milder, more palatable chocolate. This not only made it cheaper and easier to make in to a beverage, but the resulting powder could be used as a flavoring for cakes, and other confections, helping chocolate easily expand it’s usage beyond beverages in to foodstuffs.
(Van Houten’s Press had a multi-stage process to remove fats from the cacao nibs)
The next innovation came from the Quakers in England. In 1847, as sugar consumption was taking a drastic turn up, Joseph Fry mixed cocoa powder and sugar with melted cacao butter. The resulting mixture was malleable enough to be cast in to a mold, making the world’s first eating chocolate, and transforming chocolate from flavor to stand alone item.
The Swiss continued to innovate and in 1867 Henri Nestle, a Swiss chemist devised a way to make powder milk through a process of evaporation. This would become the first ready to mix infant formula. (which would eventually lead to a rather sorted history among the Nestle company.) This innovation proved to be useful when in 1879 Daniel Peter used it to make the first milk chocolate bar by mixing with chocolate liquor, drying the moisture out of the mix and adding cacao butter. The resulting chocolate was sweeter, smoother, and more palatable.
Not to be outdone, that same year Rudolphe Lindt invented the conching machine. The machine consisted of a flat granite base and granite roller. Cacao nibs were ground by the roller and the resulting liquor was splashed over it at the end of each roll, allowing more air to come in contact during the process. The conching process had several major advantages. First, the continual motion caused the cacao to be more finely ground, which would eventually produce a smoother chocolate. Second, the contact with the air made it easier for moisture and volatile oils to evaporate, removing some of the acidity and making for a milder, more enjoyable flavor. Lastly, and importantly, the friction in the conching process created heat, this allowed chocolate makers to reduce roasting time (as some could be done in during the conching process), which sped up chocolate production dramatically.
The last leap forward toward mass produced chocolate takes us back to the United States with Milton Hershey. In 1903, Hershey was just starting to build his chocolate empire in the center of Pennsylvania. The one process that he struggled with was processing the milk for his milk chocolate with attempts often leading to scorched or burnt milk. He finally called in John Schmalbach, who mixed skim milk with a high ratio of sugar. Using low heat evaporation, he was able to create sweetened condensed milk. The resulting product mixed beautifully with cocoa powder and cacao butter. Not only did it produce eating chocolate, but the process made the chocolate more shelf stable and able to be stored for several months. It also created a smoother mixture overall, which was easier to move through equipment and molds, allowing them to make chocolate faster and cheaper. We now had a chocolate that was cheap and fast to produce, and could stay fresh for months, allowing it to be shipped further and stocked longer. With Hershey’s the once beverage of royalty was forever transformed into an indulgence for the masses.
Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. 2007 (1996) The True History of Chocolate.
Brenner, Joel. 2000. The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars.
D’Antonio, Michael D. 2006. Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams.
MacCarther, Kate. “Blommer Chocolate to Back Cocoa Sustainability Program.” Crain’s Chicago Business. May 9, 2012. (online version)
Mintz, Sidney W. 1986 (1985) Sweetness and Power.
Murray, Sarah. 2007. Moveable Feasts: From Ancient Rome to the 21st Century, the Incredible Journeys of the Food We Eat.
Warmth, indulgence, luxury – chocolate evokes many images as a sinfully sweet treat. Commodifying these fantasies is profitable because consumers long to be associated “with the romantic construction of chocolate” despite the fact that “systematic exploitation” and manipulative advertisements usually lurk behind chocolate (Robertson 5). In this modern age of cosmetic beauty standards and visually driven social media, the euphoric emotions associated with edible cacao products has spread to a form of non-edible chocolate consumption: chocolate infused makeup. Since chocolate products allow consumers to “express our own sense of identity” while offering ways “to say things about ourselves, our families, [and] our social world,” I situate the marketing of chocolate based makeup products in the same trajectory as the gendered, classed, and raced advertisements of edible chocolate (Robertson 19). This entails comparing a chocolate cosmetic line (Too Faced) from Sephora, a leading beauty retailer chain, to a chocolate bar sold at department stores containing Sephora outlets in order to capture the differences and similarities found when advertising chocolate and chocolate makeup. While both chocolate makeup and edible chocolate advertisements separate Westerners from chocolate’s problematic origins and perpetuate gendered, elitist Western beauty standards, the racism present in the presentation of chocolate infused makeup is more noticeable because it is an object applied to the skin rather than ingested within the body.
Cocoa Cosmetics at Sephora
Sephora is a beauty and fragrance chain founded in France in 1970 (the first U.S. store opened in 1998) under the international luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Sephora offers an array of makeup, perfume, skin care, beauty tools, and body pampering items from different brands, including its own original Sephora line, in large stores complete with mirrors, makeup counters, and tester products to try on for free. Sephora believes that “every stroke, swipe and dab reveals possibility” and the company shares their “client’s love for the confidence that our products … bring to their life every day” (Sephora.com). The store oozes sophistication and style with extensive displays and its connection to the parent company’s elite Louis Vuitton brand. In 2006, J.C. Penney, a large American department store chain, began an exclusive agreement to feature Sephora outlet stores inside many of its locations in order to attract spendthrift younger crowds. In addition to home goods, clothes, and accessories, J.C. Penney also sells an assortment of Lindt chocolates including Lindor truffles, Cioccolata, and Hello chocolate. I will use an advertisement from Lindt Dark Chocolate Excellence, the main type of traditional chocolate candy bar sold in J.C. Penney according to their online inventory, as a lens for critiquing the marketing of chocolate-infused makeup.
The aisle of Sephora stores in Hawaii (left) and Minnesota (right) stocked with Too Faced products (the only cosmetics brand Sephora sells that contains cacao). These images are indicative of Sephora stores everywhere; they capture Sephora’s extravagance and its impeccably clean, classy makeup displays.
With “about 706 stores in the United States” (both outlets inside J.C. Penney and stand-alone stores) attracting consumers hoping toalign themselves with a certain image, Sephora has stores in every inhabitable continent except for one – Africa (Forbes.com). Despite selling chocolate cosmetics through Too Faced, Sephora – one of the world’s most popular makeup retailers – has no stores in the continent that produces 70% of the world’s chocolate (Wessel 2016). Consumers of chocolate infused makeup are divorced from the bean’s origins yet, in the case of makeup and edible chocolate, buy cacao to be associated with its symbolic meanings.
Separating Fact From Fiction
The majority of chocolate sold in America is from bulk cacao of the sturdy Forastero variety produced in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Since lesser developed areas in the global south have an abundance of unskilled labor, they rely on exporting primary products to the global market. Because colonization, slavery, and forced migration disrupted social connections, destroyed culture, and decimated the population, developing countries lack the infrastructure and capital needed to compete with developed places. Neoliberal policies of privatized industries, few regulations, and free trade instead divert international trade profits away from chocolate producing countries, which affects the modern-day chocolate industry. Commodities such as cacao are subject to extreme fluctuations in price because “price evolution is less and less dictated by changes in … supply and demand” and more determined by others in the supply chain (Sylla 40). Market volatility means that cacao farmers are mired in intergenerational debt, since relatives often work on family-owned western African cacao plantations to lower costs. However, consumers are far removed from the instability and inequality facing cacao farmers. Companies use advertisements that reinforce local cultural norms to sell chocolate so that they can entice consumers who want to satisfy and promote certain social standards. Doing so is a long-established tradition; once “chocolate became available for the working classes [in] the nineteenth century, … women were charged with providing wholesome cocoa for respectable consumption within the family,” as intimated by chocolate advertisements (Robertson 20). In a feminization of chocolate consumption, doting housewives and loving mothers provided their families with nutritious chocolate milk or sweetened their children’s day with chocolate candies. Chocolate marketing eventually progressed from idealizing familial love to idealizing heterosexual courtship by the mid-twentieth century through a focus on “light-hearted but respectable” stories of “young white couples” with female characters that were “irrational narcissistic consumers … seduced by the chocolate themselves” (Robertson 31, 33-34).
A commercial from 2016 for Lindt Dark Chocolate, which is sold in the same department store (J.C. Penney) that contains Sephora outlets selling chocolate makeup.
In a modern-day example, the commercial for Lindt Excellence dark chocolate (sold at J.C. Penney), hints at chocolate induced female “orgasmic pleasure” (Robertson 35). A woman’s silky voice encourages consumers to “experience the ultimate pleasure with Lindt,” as the chocolate is “luxurious” and “so intense.” She truly is seduced by cacao. These types of advertisements, where women feel “orgasmic pleasure” after eating chocolate, ultimately suggest “how women should project their heterosexual yearnings and fantasies onto chocolate consumption” (35). The dripping chocolate, the chocolatier caressing cacao beans, and the passionate fire add to this sexualized setting while the main character lustfully sniffs a chocolate piece. These sexual, romantic insinuations increase chocolate’s profitability as the fruit growing on cacao plantations in the global south has become fictionalized into a commodity that promises happiness and sensuality in the global north.
Chocolate Bar Palettes
Promises of happiness and feminine sensuality found in modern-day chocolate advertisements have been easily transferred to non-edible chocolate products. Through chocolate, women are encouraged to “project their heterosexual yearnings;” through makeup, women can project related fantasies involved in heterosexual courtship, such as female beauty, wealth, and seductiveness, onto cosmetic products that will allow them to be recognized as such (Robertson 35). In cacao-based makeup, chocolate, an edible item that promises pleasure, becomes a part of the user’s appearance in way that commodifies the body as a physical manifestation of chocolate’s symbolism. Chocolate makeup thereby transfers notions of female sensuality, sweetness, and lusciousness to the body, a reality that cacao cosmetic advertisements subtly emphasize.
Sephora sells a range of chocolate related facial cosmetics through two makeup brands (Bobbi Brown and Too Faced), though only the Too Faced chocolate makeup line lists cacao as an ingredient in the product. Beyond powdered bronzer and foundation, Too Faced offers a range of popular eyeshadow palettes that will be the focus of this analysis because they are packaged to look like traditional chocolate bars. For $49.00, consumers can buy Too Faced’s most reviewed, top rated eyeshadow collection that is “formulated using real cocoa powder” (Sephora).
Marketed as a “A sweetly tempting array of 16 matte and shimmer shadows,” the Chocolate Bar Eye Palette is shaped, named, scented (with Theobroma cacao fruit powder), and colored (on the outside) like chocolate to attract consumers who want to embody chocolate’s sexy sweetness (Sephora.com).
The shadow palette comes in a “playful chocolate bar tin,” complete with colors like “gilded ganache,” “black forrest truffle,” “triple fudge,” “haute chocolate,” and “white chocolate,” which evoke chocolate-related feelings of sumptuousness and opulence (Sephora.com). Subtle details, like pink cursive on the outside, cue consumers to the feminized image they are taking part of by using the product, but the wording and visuals are not as overtly sexual as the edible chocolate bar commercial. Edible chocolate like Lindt has been stripped of its physical reality, allowing non-edible products to draw from the sensual fantasy chocolate stirs. Too Faced also offers a Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar with slightly lighter colors and a Chocolate Bon Bons Palette with heart-shaped bright and neutral colors for the same steep price, as well as a smaller White Chocolate Chip Palette with metallic shadows for $26.00.
The three additional types of cocoa powder infused eyeshadow palettes sold at Sephora through Too Faced. All are shaped like chocolate bars and have colors written under each eyeshadow that are named for chocolate-related products.
Norton’s Tasting Empire mentions Bourdieu’s theory that “social subjects classified by their classifications distinguish themselves by the distinctions they make” in a way that is in “accord with social hierarchies” (Norton 663). Those reaching for Too Faced’s cocoa cosmetics are choosing to be recognized as tasteful consumers with a fondness for chocolate and all of its figurative images. The product’s high price and link with Sephora, a high-end makeup retailer, implies an elite status shared by those who use the Chocolate Bar palettes. Lindt chocolate uses similar, but more noticeable tactics beyond price and image to clue consumers in on their chocolate’s elite qualities. The chocolate is from the “Excellence” line and has the “richest flavors” from the “finest cocoa” according to the commercial’s narrator. The chocolate bar is a “thin masterpiece,” and Lindt prides itself on being known as a “Master Swiss Chocolatier since 1845.” These descriptions, plus the logo’s embossed gold, make the chocolate deluxe and top-tier, enticing consumers who seek to embed themselves in a particular class. Consumers play an active role in their product selection, using both chocolate makeup and edible chocolate as a “cultural mode” to express themselves or to “acquire social meaning” (Robertson 19). People aspire to be associated with chocolate whose presentation represents their values.
Race and Chocolate Advertisements
Besides attracting consumers with a promise of beauty and lavishness, the Chocolate Bar line sells racialized femininity and wealth, much like traditional chocolate bars.
This makeup tutorial uses the Chocolate Bar and Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette from Too Faced to create a completed look on a white woman who embodies Western standards of beauty and class.
Similar to the woman in the Lindt commercial, the women featured in the makeup tutorials for Too Faced’s collection are white and well-dressed, positioning shoppers “in relation to that product as gendered, classed and raced beings” (Robertson 19). Racism has permeated advertising for edible chocolate throughout history. Though falling prices and diverse products theoretically brought chocolate into the hands of the masses during the 1800s, only certain people were shown as deserving access to the goods. Wholesome, “sugary-sweet white boys and girls” in white families were the idealized consumers who grew “stronger through drinking cocoa;” blacks were often stereotyped in advertisements, depicted as cartoons, “supervis[ed]” by whites, or displayed as a combination of all three trends to support socially constructed racial hierarchies (Robertson 39).
In order to “reinforc[e] dominant contemporary ideologies,” chocolate “adverts created a world of white consumers in which the black producers of cocoa beans and the black consumers of chocolate were at best pushed to the margins, if not excluded completely” (54). Though Robertson is referring to the connection between Chocolate, Women, and Empire with respect to Rowntree and Cadbury, these prominent chocolate companies (founded in 1862 and 1824, respectively) successfully influenced other companies’ cocoa ads. Similar to Lindt’s chocolate advertisements, Too Faced’s Chocolate Bar Palettes also pander to white consumers, but in a more significant and noticeable way. Those with darker skin tones, for example, must guess how the shades show up on their skin, for the fair-skinned woman in the makeup tutorial is the stand-in for Too Faced’s average consumer. Reviews for the palettes are overall very high, but filtering the thousands of reviews by skin type reveals dissatisfaction from women of color. In reviews for the Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette, many mention that “a few of the colors are too close for distinction on my deep dark skin” and “they tend to blend together into a muddy mess on my lids” (Sephora.com). Ironically, once a user “tried the [colors] that were lacking over a white base … then [she] was able to see them” better (Sephora.com). A comprehensive review of the Chocolate Bar Eye Palette from a female user with a dark skin tone claims:
This is an adorable palette. Pretty colors and it actually smells like chocolate. However, what’s disappointing is that it’s only suitable for lighter skin tones. The colors were pretty on my fair-skined best friend but I found that on me, they were just dull. For you girls with darker skin tones, 90% of the shadows in this palette will just look chalky when applied. Not at all a high end look (Sephora.com).
The eyeshadow pigments were not vibrant enough to be seen properly on darker skinned women, but on lighter women the colors look wonderful.
Reviews for the Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar palette when filtered by users with “fair,” “light,” “medium,” and “olive” skin tones are more glowing: “the eye shadows are pigmented, creamy and blend like a dream” raves a fair-skinned woman (Sephora.com). A paper glamour guide comes with the Bon Bons Palette to show consumers possible looks they can create with the shadows, but each eye makeup example comes from the face of a light woman. Despite the fact that the colors in these eyeshadow palettes contain cacao and are named after cacao products, women with brown skin tones are disregarded in the advertisement and testing of this product the way chocolate’s true origins are disregarded by the fictionalized symbolism of chocolate (and chocolate-based makeup). This exclusion mirrors the way female cacao farmers and black women who enjoy chocolate are purposefully left out of chocolate ads.
Too Faced’s Chocolate Bar Palettes and Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate both use similar racialized, gendered, and classist advertising strategies that fictionalize chocolate’s reality and continue the separation between cacao producer and cacao consumer. Though the two items analyzed are sold in J.C. Penney department stores, they have different uses. Lindt Excellence’s commercial focuses on the physical pleasure chocolate brings, while Too Faced’s chocolate line plays into aesthetic beauty standards that exclude people with dark skin. Edible and non-edible chocolate products alike market values that consumers identify with and want to promote.
“Chocolate Bar Eye Shadow Collection.” Eyes/Eye Shadow Palettes. Too Faced, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
Loeb, Walter. “Sephora: Department Stores Cannot Stop Its Global Growth.” Retail. Forbes, 18 Apr. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.
Norton, Marcy. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics.” The American Historical Review 111.3 (2006): 660-91. Oxford Journal. Web.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester U Press, 2013. Print.
Wessel, Marius, and P.M. Foluke Quist-Wessel. “Cocoa Production in West Africa, a Review and Analysis of Recent Developments.” NJAS – Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 74-75 (2015): 1-7. ScienceDirect. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.
Chocolate in modern society is deeply intertwined with ideas of romance, love, and lust. From our celebration of Valentine’s Day, a holiday in which the exchange of chocolate and love notes is foundational, to advertisements from chocolate companies filled with sexual innuendos, we are constantly bombarded with ideas and images depicting chocolate’s association with romance. While many consider chocolate’s relationship with love to be a tactic manufactured by large chocolate companies to increase sales, there has been a long-standing association between chocolate and budding romance that began in pre-Columbian times. Chocolate’s affiliation with love and romance today is both rooted in tradition and influenced by capitalistic endeavors to sell more chocolate.
One of the earliest examples of chocolate’s role in romantic relationships is an ancient Mayan marriage ritual called tac haa. The ritual involved the potential groom’s family serving a chocolate drink to the father of the woman he wanted to marry. The men, including the father of the potential groom, father of the potential bride, and the admirer himself would sit together and discuss the marriage, while women remained removed from the negotiations. The women, such as the potential groom’s mother, would be involved in making the chocolate drink that was served to the guests (Martin, Lecture 2). Another Mayan marriage ritual involving chocolate took place at the actual wedding ceremony. The Mayan bride and groom would exchange five cacao beans with each other, and wedding guests would drink chocolate together (Coe and Coe 61). Ancient rituals such as tac haa and the exchange of cacao beans do not directly resemble modern traditions surrounding chocolate and romance (i.e. heart-shaped chocolate boxes that are presented to significant others), but both ancient Mayan marriage rituals and heart-shaped chocolate boxes share the common thread of lovers being united through chocolate. It could be that rituals like tac haa serve as prototypes for modern traditions involving chocolate and courtship.
An example of a contemporary courting ritual involving chocolate is depicted in the following advertisement for Edible Arrangements: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1I1FW1ffSc. The advertisement showcases a man setting up a romantic evening on Valentine’s Day. It is clear to any viewer that this is a romantic evening because of the cultural connotations of the objects presented in the ad. For example, the man lights candles, there is a rose and box of chocolates set on the table, and slow music plays in the background. Roses, candles, and chocolate are all objects American society associates with romance, specifically with courting women. As the advertisement progresses, the heart-shaped box of chocolates begins to speak, saying that he is the “ultimate wing-man,” reiterating the idea of chocolate being used to woo women in our society. The object of the advertisement is to demonstrate how Edible Arrangements is superior to the box of chocolates in wooing the woman. However, including the box of chocolates as something to compete with further emphasizes the notion of offering chocolate as an established method of courtship in our society.
Presenting chocolate to a significant other is not only used as a method of courtship in modern society, but has evolved into becoming fundamentally associated with the definition of “romantic” altogether. For example, AskMen, a popular website that offers life advice to men, contains an article entitled “9 Simple Romantic Ideas for Every Man” linked here http://www.askmen.com/dating/heidi_60/77b_dating_girl.html. One of the romantic ideas listed is to “Be More Thoughtful,” and a suggestion on how to do so is to “leave [your significant other] a chocolate ‘kiss’ on her pillow before bedtime.” It is apparent that giving your partner chocolate should be viewed as a thoughtful gesture, and by doing so one can be described as “romantic.” Thousands of men visit AskMen for daily advice and likely follow it, indicating how chocolate has become an extremely conventional method of showcasing a man’s thoughtfulness and affection for a woman. Similarly, the way chocolate is presented in this article suggests that women too have been conditioned to feel loved and appreciated when their partner gives them chocolate.
Chocolate’s affiliation with romance extends further than simple courtship and gift-giving. In fact, people have long used chocolate as an aphrodisiac, or in combination with believed aphrodisiacs, to heighten sexual desire in themselves and in others. A chocolate beverage called Atextli consumed by the Aztecs was believed to be healthy due to its supposed aphrodisiac qualities (Elferink 27). Chocolate beverages have also been documented as being used in love potions to seduce and control men. Margarita Orellana writes, “Because of its dark color and grainy texture, chocolate provided an ideal cover for items associated with sexual witchcraft. These included various powders and herbs, as well as female body parts and fluids, which women then mixed into a chocolate beverage and fed to men to control their sexuality” (81). Whether chocolate truly possesses aphrodisiac qualities or not, modern chocolate companies often use chocolate’s historical association with sexuality as the basis of their marketing. Linked here is an example of a typical chocolate advertisement from Lindt, a company known for their chocolate truffles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgGz2oNk0Pg. Although not overt, once can see how Lindt is sexualizing chocolate in this advertisement. Terms like “irresistible,” “passion,” and “luscious” have carnal connotations, and the image of the woman removing her scarf suggests that the idea of consuming chocolate has heightened her sexual desires.
The affiliation between chocolate and romance, beginning with Aztec and Mayan traditions, perseveres in modern times. Something else that has remained in tact is the idea of men using chocolate to court women, and women having sexualized responses to chocolate. There seems to be a stark difference between men and women’s interactions with chocolate that have become engrained into contemporary society.
Coe, Sophie D., Michael D. Coe, and Ryan J. Huxtable. The true history of chocolate. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.
From the Aztec and Mayan Empires to Europe and the New World, the chocolate drink of the elites became the solid treat for the masses. This remarkable transition was no easy process and did not happen over night. Many great minds emerged to shape the production and use of cacao by inventing processes and machinery to meet the world-wide high demand of chocolate. Without the brilliant confectionary minds that shaped the Industrial Revolution, the chocolate the world knows and loves today would not exist.
One of the most vital components of chocolate is sucrose (sugar), which is commercially extracted from several plants; and the simplification of sugar production is the start of what made chocolate for the masses possible (Mintz 19). The technology required for sugar’s cultivation and conversion encountered many obstacles, but one decisive step emerged (Mintz 25). The vertical three-roller mill was powered by water or animals and it eased the labor and time of sugar production (Mintz 25). The Crusades spread the use of sugar through Europe, and soon European countries were establishing sugar-producing colonies (Mintz 28/42). Without the new machinery and simplification of the sugar process, the sugar plantations would not have been able to meet the high and growing demand of sugar. “No other food in world history has had a comparable performance” in rise in consumption (Mintz 73).
The simplification and experimentation with cacao started with early documented uses of power machinery in the American colonies (Coe 227). 1776, in Europe, M. Doret began the use of machinery in chocolate confectionery with his invention of a hydraulic machine to grind chocolate into a paste (Coe 227). While at the larger market, “cacao beans were being ground on a machine that consisted of five rollers of polished steel” (Coe 227). These advances in machinery started to make mass production a reality. The Industrial Revolution started transforming chocolate from a “costly drink to a cheap food” (232). With these changes came the change in the per capita consumption of chocolate, which had maintained consistently, but now was surging dramatically with the rise in sugar consumption following (Coe 234).
The Big Changes
1828 started the beginning of the modern era of chocolate making and production with Dutch chemist, Conrad Johanness Van Houten, who took a process patent to manufacture a powdered chocolate with low fat content (Coe 234). He then developed a very efficient hydraulic press, which reduced the cacao butter content of chocolate liquor to 27-28 percent and eventually pulverized it to cacao (Coe 234). This was the fundamental invention that made cheap chocolate for the masses a possible reality. Another important year was 1847, when the Fry firm discovered how to mix a blend of cocoa powder and sugar with melted cacao butter which could be molded into chocolate bars (Coe 241). In 1867, Henri Nestle, a Swiss chemist, discovered how to make powdered milk by evaporation (Coe 247). This discovery made it possible for Daniel Peter, a Swiss chocolate manufacturer, to use Nestle’s powder in a new production of a milk chocolate bar in 1879 (Coe 247).
The changes of quality of chocolate were the next steps in the chocolate making process. 1879, Rudolph Lindt invented “conching”, which made the coarse and gritty chocolate a now smooth and creamy experience (Coe 247). Milton Hershey was another key figure in the chocolate world founding his own in Pennsylvania; with a social conscience he was able to bring chocolate to everyone (Coe 249). Hershey’s Kisses today are made in the millions making chocolate in the masses for the masses (Coe 252). Without the key figures in chocolate manufacturing, chocolate for the masses would have never became a reality. The drink of the elites in Mesoamerica was made into a treat for the masses with the brilliant minds and machinery that emerged from the Industrial Revolution, but without these key figures and inventions, chocolate may never have been available to everyone to enjoy.
The chocolate selection at any store indicates who their consumers are, what the most popular products are, and the overall price will indicate its purchase by the consumer. I have chosen to investigate the chocolate selection at Consumer Value Stores, better known as CVS, and Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe. The two shops are conveniently across the street from each other in Harvard square. The location of CVS and Cardullo’s is important to mention because that may indicate what products they have and the price points of each product. I chose the CVS location in Harvard square believing there may be some higher end options offered here due to the location and demand of Harvard square. I selected Cardullo’s as they are gourmet shoppe with foreign and unknown brands of chocolate.
Personal perceptions of each store prior to research:
Cardullo’s is a specialty shop and they pride themselves on providing an array of products from all over the world. You walk into their shop and you can buy jam from Greece, honey from Zambia, wine from California, bread from Somerville, and crackers from Latvia. When I think of Cardullo’s, I begin to have images of chocolates from far away, companies and brands I have never encountered before, and high prices. I generally would go here if I am looking for something new to try or window shopping to see what new items they have.
As for CVS, in my mind they are a one stop shop. I can buy toiletry items, have my prescription filled, and purchase chocolate all at the same time. I believe they have fair and equivalent prices for all of their products, so I generally don’t worry about getting the best deal when I shop here. This is a store where I can find all the popular brands, from food, to medications, to paper towels, and a CVS equivalent of the same brand name product. With the use of CVS yellow sticker prices indicating sale items, it is easy to locate the cheapest product when searching for the best deal.
All the chocolate you find at CVS is a popular brand name and the CVS brand chocolate. From the Nestle company, I could easily locate KitKat, Crunch, and Butterfinger chocolates. The Mars company selection consisted of M&M’s, Snickers, Dove, Twix, Milky Way, and Mars chocolate. Cadbury, Milka, and Toblerone from the Kraft Company. Throughout the chocolate aisle, I could find these chocolates in bar form, mini snack size, bite size, and in bags (bulk).
There were two other prominent chocolate bars to select from, Lindt and Ghirardelli, that are not associated with the large corporations mentioned above. For Ghirardelli, each bar variety that was displayed there was a CVS bar to match it. Not only were the flavors the same, but the packaging style and design are very similar. The bars were not the only ones replicated, but the small bag that contains 12 pieces of small Ghirardelli squares, that can be found in individual packing, was also replicated. As for Lindt, the same thing could be found – for every bar flavor, you could find the CVS brand directly underneath it. Similar to Ghirardelli, the small bag that contains about twenty-five Lindt chocolate truffles was replicated and found beneath it. Even though the CVS brand could be located beneath these chocolates you really have to search for it, as the display makes these choices close to the ground. When searching for chocolate at CVS you are overwhelmed with the choices present and it would be rare that the shelves closer to the ground would be immediately located.
The selection of CVS chocolate was limited to the Ghirardelli and Lindt as I described above, except for the few packages I saw of chocolate covered fruit, chocolate covered nuts, mint chocolate bites.
The chocolate selection at the CVS registers are easily located so while you are waiting in line, you can see the chocolate selection and ponder purchasing a last minute treat. Even at the self-checkout registers there is a small chocolate, candy, and gum rack for very last minute purchases while you are checking your items out. The chocolate choices that can be found here are the most popular purchases such as Snickers, Reese’s, and KitKat.
Cardullo’s has a very wide selection of chocolate from all over the world. They have small batch, craft chocolate maker, and chocolatier chocolates such as Francois Pralus pure origin bars and Chocolat Bonnat single origin bars. They carry craft chocolate makers such as Taza, Vosges, and Chuao. Craft chocolate makers are are companies that creates small batches of chocolate from bean to bar (Coe & Coe 2013). Cardullo’s also carries the Big Five chocolates such as Toblerone, KitKat, D’Or, and Cadbury. Then there are is the popular Belgian chocolate companies such as Godiva, Nehaus, and Dolfin that are regularly in stock.
Looking around at Cardullo’s selections, I was most attracted to the packaging of Francois Pralus pure origin bars. The front of the bar clearly and in the largest text states the country of origin for the cacao used in the bar. Directly under the country’s name you can immediately see what type of cacao was used in preparing this chocolate bar. Third, the chocolate bar also has the longitude and latitude of the location of the farm where the beans are grown! The bars seen at Cardullo’s indicates what we have learned in class, that cacao generally is grown 20 degrees above and below the equator (Presilla 2009:9). The packaging also has a map of the world with an indication as to where this cacao come from to give the consumer a better idea of how far the cacao farm is from your local grocer. I could imagine this map as a tool to indicate how far the chocolate is coming from and why the price costs as much as it does. This was the most expensive bar I could find at Cardullo’s, with a price of $11.99!
Depending on what kind of chocolate is being displayed, the display can vary at CVS. All of the chocolates that come in bags with multiple small size candy bars can be found in silver metal baskets. The individual chocolate bars are found on the general shelving, slanted at a 30 degree angle. This angle provides the consumer first with the type of chocolate rather than the brand name of the chocolate. This is because your eyes start at the bottom of the bar and move up to the top of the bar where the brand name is positioned.
The way CVS has their chocolate organized is by the most popular at eye level. Their shelving consists of five rows, and the second and third shelves have the most popular brands occupying that space. These shelves are prime at the prime height for most consumers, therefore their eyes are attracted to these shelves first and they generally will purchase a product from here. The other shelves hold the other less popular items and the CVS brand items.
As a consumer, I personally did not think much about what is being used to display the chocolate at CVS prior to this research. However, when comparing it to Cardullo’s, it is now more striking to me how plain and unattractive the displays are for chocolate at CVS. For chocolate that is known as the the food of the gods (Coe & Coe 2013)! The display at Cardullo’s was slightly more attractive, and that was not on the part of the shop, it is on the part of the product. Many of the packaging from the different companies were bright, attractive, and stood out from each other. Since the packaging was more attractive, this is what made the display more attractive.
What was interesting about the Lindt, Ghirardelli, and CVS knock-off brand of both of these chocolates, they were located in the front of the store. The display at the front of the store did start off the chocolate aisle, but it is also a prime place for the store clerks to keep an eye on their most expensive chocolate.
At Cardullo’s, the display of chocolate is very different than what I saw in CVS. First, you find no chocolates in bags. Almost all the chocolate is sold individually and in bar form only. Second, all the chocolate bars were kept in their original manufacturing boxes. These boxes were was used to prop the chocolate up, price of the chocolate, and to ensure the company’s logo is accurately displayed. I did notice some of the shelves did have a black, sleek, metal shelving unit in them, where bars who did not have manufacturing boxes were displayed on. However, this was not common. What was more interesting about these chocolate bars, was the fact that they contained no prices on them.
I personally was shocked to discover that Cardullo’s carries the general Kraft, Mars, and Nestle brands along with the higher end chocolates. My perceptions of this shop is of new foreign brands with high prices. I also stick to one area of their chocolate wall and never wander down the aisle enough to see what else they sell.
Since the checkout area at Cardullo’s is small, I have not found any chocolate that can be purchased last minute at the register. I believe this says something about Cardullo’s general customers, they have the luxury of time to make a full decision before checking out. Cardullo’s is a place where many customers have in mind what they would like to purchase and know their selection is very unique. You cannot walk into this store and buy anything you need, like you can at CVS. However, what you can find at the register is small pocket candies and sticks of marzipan for last minute purchases.
The price for an individual chocolate bar varied from $1.99 – $4.19 depending on the brand, flavor, and size. The prices at CVS are easy to read and understand with clear labels. As I mentioned above, there are also yellow price tags indicated sales and promotions throughout the chocolate aisle. If a price could not be located on a chocolate product, I could go to the price check machine at the front of the store to find the price. Overall, the pricing at CVS is easy to read, accurately placed, and a great customer value.
The most expensive bar chocolate I could find at CVS was Ghirardelli chocolate at $4.19 for a single bar. CVS brand, which is a replica of Ghirardelli bar was selling for $3.19 with almost exact packaging.
At Cardullo’s some of the bars of chocolate are easily accessible and labeled with prices. However, it seems that some of the more expensive chocolates do not have their prices clearly labeled. Some of the bars either had no price on them or they were on the back of the bar. Here I feel intimidated going to the cashier to ask them the price of a chocolate bar. If I do have the guts to do it, I try to control my emotions as much as I can and brace myself for an elaborate price for a product that is unknown to me. I feel if I walk in here I should know I am going to pay high prices and should not care about the price of it at all.
CVS is the type of store where I would not be intimidated to go to the cashier and ask for a price check. Cardullo’s, on the other hand, is a store where I would rather not approach the cashier and ask them for a price check. If I do happen to have gathered the courage, I would mentally prepare myself to control my emotions when I hear the price. This may sound extreme, but Cardullo’s is not a value store and many of their items are priced high.
What I found most interesting as I was doing my research, CVS was selling Cadbury chocolate for a higher price than Cardullo’s was! The price difference was about 30 cents, but still important difference to note. One would think that purchasing chocolate at CVS would be the cheapest and best way to go, but this case proved otherwise!
After a thorough analysis of the chocolate selection at CVS I believe that their chocolate is branded, packaged, and priced for the average consumer of chocolate. Prior to this class, I would have been perfectly fine purchasing chocolate from CVS, whether from the Big Five or CVS brand as they generally had the best prices. CVS chocolate is for the consumer who may lack time and would need to purchase their chocolate, while running other errands, instead of going to a speciality shop. CVS chocolate is for the consumer who may lack finances to purchase any chocolate that is over $4.50, so they are limited to what they may consume. Additionally, offering chocolate in bulk, bags, is an ideal product for many consumers who believe they are getting a deal when buying a large quantity of items.
Cardullo’s is a shop that carries many imported goods as well as locally produced goods. They cater to the consumer who likes to purchase foreign goods, possibly a consumer who misses a certain product from home. Or possibly for a consumer who once travelled to a specific place and wants to enjoy those products again in their own home. Or for a consumer who has never travelled to such a destination, but can have a try of it through their foods. What ever the case, I see this as a store who promises fond memories for the consumer who purchases their goods.
Francois Pralus, the bar from Sao Tome and Principe, is made with Forastero chocolate. As we have learned and discussed in class, Forastero is the type of cacao that is used to make 90% of all chocolate consumed today (Presilla 2009:72). With that in mind, for a bar that costs $11.99 I am not sure it is worth it to purchase and consume a bulk cacao variety for that price.
Chocolate has been transformed dramatically over the years through hybridization or creolization. Hybridization or creolization is, a combination of multiple cultures to create a new and unique culture. This is evident in chocolate in America as we can see the addition of ingredients only palatable to the American consumers such as peanut butter. “Entirely new, creolized culture was taking form that partook elements from both cultures …” (Coe & Coe 2013:113).
At Cardullo’s you can see the wide array of hybridization of chocolate with many unique choices. Chuao chocolate was the brand that stood out to me the most that had such a grand display of hybridization of chocolate. They had a selection of chocolate potato chips, popcorn chocolate, rocky road chocolate, s’more chocolate, cinnamon cereal, and so much more! As a matter of fact, I could not locate a single plain chocolate bar from Chuao company! With the varying types they had to offer, it is hard not to notice these.
While at CVS, you can see the hybridization as well, but not with as unique flavors Cardullo’s is offering. Peanut butter was the most common additional ingredient added to the chocolate that could be found at CVS. In second, caramel was found to be the additional ingredient in many chocolate bars. This small variety of hybrid chocolate is uninspiring and uniform. If a consumer was shopping for chocolate at CVS and looking for something new to try, CVS would not be able to provide that variety.
In conclusion, CVS provides the popular companies chocolates at a low price, with low variety. While at Cardullo’s they provide not only the bean to farm chocolate, but also popular companies, all on the same shelf! If you are looking for something new to try, stop at Cardullo’s while in Harvard square. If you are looking for the typical American chocolate, stop at CVS to purchase your chocolate.
I would like to make one last point of my research – My research at CVS and Cardullo’s may not be accurate of their general display, stocking techniques, or general product variety. A majority of my research was completed in a two day period, a very short window of time. I want to take a moment to acknowledge that I may have been at their stores on an empty day, prior to shipment arriving. This could have skewed my research and some points discussed in this post. Please let me know if you have realized other products or if you have any comments!
 Martin, Carla D. 2015. Lecture 7: The Rise of Big Chocolate and Race for the Global Market on March 11, 2015.
Chocolate and spice were married long before Lindt began producing its iconic chili-flavored chocolate bars. In fact, spices were found in chocolate when the Spaniards invaded the Aztec Empire, meaning that they have been integrated in chocolate for over 500 years. Over the course of chocolate’s lifetime, the amounts and kinds of spices used have varied widely and consumer’s attitudes towards them have changed drastically.
Though there is no concrete evidence of the first use of spice in chocolate, it is relatively safe to assume that chocolate was first consumed without spices. I assume this because most mixed products are originally consumed as separate ingredients simply because they must be tasted first in order to discern where they fall on the flavor spectrum. Only then can tasters determine which ingredients should be combined to maximize flavor sensation. When the Spaniards arrived, spices and flowers like chili peppers and “ear flowers” were used universally in chocolate (Coe and Coe 2013). As chocolate is thought to have first been consumed by the Olmecs (1500-400 BCE), spices must have been added sometime between 1500 BCE and 500 CE, approximately when Cortés invaded. As spice was so firmly intertwined with chocolate when Cortés arrived, it was probably introduced and perfected earlier on in that time period. In addition to ear flower and chili peppers, Mesoamericans also used vanilla, achiote, and mecaxóchitl (Mexican pepperleaf) to flavor their chocolate (Norton 2004). The spices and flowers used had a wide variety of heat and appearance (see pictures below), but they were used either to complement each other or as individual flavorings. The main use of these original spices was for flavor and not appearance as the chocolate was so dark that it would take a large amount of spice to alter the entire appearance of the chocolate. Chocolate’s consumption as a liquid also enhanced the use of spice for taste rather than flavor because liquid chocolate is well mixed, so spices cannot easily be placed at the top for a dramatic visual effect.
Some of the invading Spaniards took kindly to the spices in chocolate, but others did not. The flavors were so foreign to the Spaniards that they were not immediately appreciated. When chocolate made its way over to Europe, not all the spices came along for the journey. There are two leading theories for this lack of migration. First, Spaniards returning from Mesoamerica believed that their mainland counterparts would not enjoy the additional spice in the chocolate. Second, importing spices along with cacao beans would have increased the number of imports (Norton 2006). As silver and gold were so valuable and chocolate was so desired, spices for chocolate flavoring kind of fell by the wayside. Personally, I believe that both of these theories have some merit. Lack of space and lack of desire for spices by Spaniards made not including them in the Spanish diet very easy.
Though spices were consumed in moderation by some Spaniards, as Norton explains in her article Conquests of Chocolate, by “the end of the eighteenth century [in Spain], all that remained of the spice complex was cinnamon and sugar” (Norton 2004). Essentially, Spaniards substituted more familiar spices (like cinnamon) for use in chocolate and largely ignored the traditional Mesoamerican spices. Sugar use in chocolate continued to increase as sugar consumption in Europe increased, leading to sugar’s emergence as the primary supplement to cacao beans. Cinnamon was also frequently used, though mainly in chocolate drinks instead of in chocolate bars (sugar was used both in bars and drinks).
Though 18th century chocolate was largely spice-less, modern chocolate often includes chili peppers, sea salt, vanilla, or cinnamon. So how did spices become popular again? Today, spiced chocolate is viewed almost as a delicacy and as a food for those with refined tastes. This is a complete turnaround from a few hundred years earlier, when those spices were a mark of the Mesoamerican roots of chocolate. I believe this turnaround occurred for two primary reasons. Following the industrial revolution and in tandem with increased ease of travel, people began to venture further from their homes. The ability to travel was a marker of class (because travel could be expensive), and thus a taste for “exotic” ingredients became an indicator or how well-traveled, and therefore financially well-off, a person was. Spicy ingredients like chili peppers fell into this “exotic” category and thus experienced an upswing in popularity. Second, the ease of travel also meant a greater ease of transportation of goods. Transportation is now much quicker and more efficient than in 18th century Spain, meaning that more goods can be imported and exported. Thus the cost of importing spices is reduced, and more spices can be imported to chocolate-consuming countries.
In the modern era, neither of the original factors that prevented spices from becoming popular in Spain apply — there is a desire for the spices and there is a means to acquire those spices. Spices have become incredibly popular in western chocolate, with bakeries developing that specialize in chocolate and spice (like this one in Las Vegas). Because of the additional cost, spices are seen as somewhat of fancier ingredient for use in chocolate, but it is nevertheless available to most of the masses because of its use by companies like Lindt. Spice use in chocolate seems to have come full circle. Originally, Mesoamerican spices were mixed in, then abandoned for more European-friendly spices like cinnamon, and now both Mesoamerican and non-Mesoamerican spices are included in chocolate bars and drinks. I predict that the level of spice use in chocolate will only increase. Western consumers (largely the drivers of the chocolate market) now have a taste for both Mesoamerican and other spices, and that taste and the ability to satisfy it fairly economically indicate that spices will continue to enhance chocolate for the foreseeable future.
Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print.
Norton, Marcy. “Conquests of Chocolate.” OAH Magazine of History 18.3 (2004): 14-17. Web.
Norton, Marcy. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics.” The American Historical Review 111.3 (2006): 660-91. Web.
Figure 2C) – Open fruit of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana), showing the seeds from which annatto is extracted; photographed in Campinas, Brazil (January 2009). Digital image. Annato. Wikipedia, n.d. Web.
When we think of chocolate today, what comes to mind is a confection that was heavily impacted by industrialization. In the mid to late 1800’s, chocolate and sugar became increasingly more popular and widespread in Europe and in America. At that time, there were many developments made in the production of chocolate: Henri Nestle developed the milk dehydration process in 1867, Daniel Peter created the first milk chocolate bar in 1879, and so on (Coe & Coe, 2013). Perhaps one of the most important, and now practically universally employed, developments in chocolate production during this time period was the introduction of the conching process, which Rudolphe Lindt invented in 1879 in Switzerland. This process involves continuous friction and heat produced from kneading and stirring, allowing chocolate particle size to decrease and flavor to develop. Today, the degree of conching is thought to correspond with a degree of quality in chocolate (Coe & Coe 255). Prior to these industrial advancements in chocolate making, chocolate was used medicinally and consumed as a beverage. The development and popularization of conching improved the taste and texture of eating chocolate, and thus was instrumental in developing and popularizing a cultural taste for solid chocolate.
Chocolate was initially brought from Mesoamerica to Europe and propagated as a beverage of the elite and wealthy up until the 19th century. Chocolate also played an important role in medicine, as medical treatment at the time relied on balancing the bodies’ humors, and chocolate was commonly used as a balancing agent. Modern medicine began to replace this system during the 19th century, “releasing” chocolate from its medicinal responsibilities and allowing for its common and regular consumption (Coe & Coe 234). This, along with the technological advancements in the production of chocolate, allowed for the emergence of a popularly consumed solid treat, as chocolate transformed from a rare liquid to a solid food consumed by the masses.
Prior to the invention of the conche, chocolate mass was ground for further processing by hand using Mesoamerican metate stones. This method traveled to Europe as well, and was the primary technique for grinding and refining chocolate. In 1879, Rudolphe Lindt, inspired by the Mesoamerican metate, invented the “conche” (Presilla 40), which he named for its conche-like shape (Coe & Coe 247). Essentially, the machine grinds granite rollers against a granite slate in order to cause friction and produce heat, and chocolate can undergo this process for several days (Presilla 40). There is a chemical change that occurs through conching, as the chocolate becomes more aerated, which allows the evaporation of bitter and acidic flavors. Conching also homogenizes the mixture by allowing a thin “film” of cocoa butter to encapsulate each tiny particle of cocoa mass, making the chocolate “velvety smooth” with a “harmonious taste,” (“The Making of Chocolate”). Despite its nearly universal use in chocolate production, conching is not fully understood scientifically, but empirically we know it changes the flavor and texture of the chocolate mixture (Presilla 115-116).
The further refining of chocolate through industrial conching transformed a beverage into a more widely available and delicious food product, allowing for the spread and development of a cultural taste for solid chocolate. Before the popularization of conching and the technological advancements that came along with it, chocolate was consumed as a luxury beverage. As a result, there did not exist a market or a taste for solid chocolate at the time. Conched chocolate, however, yielded a highly desirable flavor and smooth texture unlike any other that preceded it. As a result, Lindt called this new chocolate “fondant”, named after the “smooth sugar creams” that were popular at the time (Coe & Coe 247-258). Conched, or “fondant”, chocolate also had a smooth melting property that allowed it to be worked into confections and candies for the first time (Presilla 41). These confections spread quickly as mass production increased, and people in both Europe and America began to develop a taste for conched chocolate. This led to an enormous increase in the per capita consumption of chocolate (Coe & Coe 234).
Another social consequence of conching was the use of chocolate in home cooking and baking. Conched chocolate was easier to use in recipes than unconched chocolate, because the smaller particles that were emulsified with a film of fat integrated completely into batters, custards, and other recipe mixtures. Both the popularization of solid chocolate and the transition to using conched chocolate in home cooking is documented in recipe history: “If you look at old cookbooks… they contain very few recipes for chocolate in any but beverage form until about 1890 to 1900,” (Presilla 41). Conched chocolate was easier to cook and bake with, both on the scale of the home cook and the large industry, which led to the cheaper, and thus more prevalent, mass production of chocolate and chocolate foods (Presilla 41).
What began as a medical treatment and an exclusive beverage is now one of the most popular and widely enjoyed edibles in the world, largely due to the technological innovations of the 19th century. Conching on an industrial scale, inspired by the Mexican metate, allowed for the improved tasted and texture of chocolate, and thus the development of a cultural taste for solid chocolate, as well as its use in baking, cooking, and other mass productions. In today’s chocolate-making processes, various other machines are used to refine the cacao particle size, but the production of chocolate still relies heavily on conching to develop the flavor and the texture of chocolate (Presilla 115-116).
Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013.