Tag Archives: mass production

Chocolate Estranged; Mesoamerica and Mars, Inc.


Being allergic to chocolate is more socially isolating than one would immediately assume. So many birthday cake slices go uneaten, Valentine’s Day candies shamefully chucked into the trashcan when no one is looking, so much time spent wistfully staring at the chocolate-lined shelves of Walgreens and CVS check-out line. Being excluded from such a significant aspect of consumption and food culture affects one’s life in small, unexpected, and sometimes frustrating ways, such as discovering your chocolate allergy at a birthday party and going home with hives. I was four when that happened. That was not, however, the last time I ate chocolate. I have braved the storm of hives induced by my allergies more than a few times simply because I really wanted to partake in the experience of eating chocolate and trying out different brands, such as Twix or Mars Bars. And that is the power of marketing. The question of how European companies, such as Cadbury, Lindt, and Hershey, became the guiding hand in framing chocolate as a product in the west involves historical questions of ownership, appropriation, and colonization. By controlling the historical narrative of chocolate and redefining food culture, the mass-marketing practices of industrial-era European companies continue to influence how chocolate is perceived and consumed today. 

History of Cocoa

Cacao trees produce pods, and those pods contain small almond-shaped seeds that go on to be processed into what we recognize as chocolate. Cacao trees are native to the Amazon basin and they were first domesticated and commodified by Central American natives, namely the Mayans and Aztecs as early as 900 AD. In Mesoamerican culture, chocolate was the frothy beverage of the gods, embodying strength, divinity, and denoting wealth. In other words, if you were not a priest, an elite, or a warrior, you were not getting your hands on any sacred “xocolatl”, one of the many words for chocolate in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs (Coe and Coe 96). The seeds encased in cacao pods were not only the drink of the gods and their few human favorites, they also functioned as currency and demarcated sites of intense geopolitical warfare in the competition for control over fertile cacao-producing lands, such as the Soconusco in present-day Mexico, amongst native Mesoamerican populations (Coe and Coe 97). Whether obtained through means of trading, conflict, or planting, cacao seeds inevitably went into the stockpile of royals and the elite or the production of chocolate.

How Chocolate is Made

Mesoamerican xocolatl— the original chocolate– was produced through a lengthy process that transformed harvested cacao pods into a foamy drink. Cacao seeds were dried, roasted, removed from their shells, and ground into a paste (Coe and 25). A metate stone, a tool that functions as a giant mortar and pestle, was used to grind the beans into a paste. The resulting bitter-tasting paste, which looked like melted chocolate, was often flavored with spicy chili peppers, vanilla, and other natural flavors found in the region (Coe and Coe 90). The chocolate paste resulting from grinding cacao beans on the metate stone, however, was not the end goal. Drinkable chocolate, or xocolatl, meaning ”bitter water” in Mayan, was what many Mesoamerican natives made.

A video detailing the chocolate-making process used by Mayans and other Mesoamericans

Making xocolatl involved the additional step of pouring a mixture of cacao bean paste and water back and forth between two jars to produce the chocolatey foam that was so prized by the Maya, Aztecs, and other Mesoamerican groups. Little has changed in the process of chocolate-making since 900 AD, but the face of chocolate was forever changed by colonization. 

Takalik Abaj metate 1.jpg
Traditional metate stone used to grind cacao beans into paste by Mesoamericans

Chocolate Colonized

When European colonization began in Central and South America in the 1500s, everything was swept up into the current of goods being stolen and extracted from the New World and sold in Europe. Under this economic climate, indigenous Mesoamericans were enslaved and the artifacts of their world and culture erased and rewritten. A pillar in the architecture of European colonialism was the demonization of indigenous identity and customs. Oftentimes, such demonization was achieved by positioning indigeneity as monstrous and anti-Christian. Thus, it is unsurprising that 16th-century conquistadors, colonists, and priests opposed chocolate in the Spanish colonies of Central and South America. Voyager Girolmo Benzoni, for example, claimed that chocolate “seemed more a drink for pigs” (Coe and Coe 109). Such demonization of Mesoamerican cultures was common throughout European colonial rule and presence in the region. Whether classified as a food, drink, or medicine, the xocolatl brought to Europe by conquistadors quickly gained popularity throughout the continent, giving way to a new industry. Despite their enthusiastic conquest of foreign lands and populations, the European attitude towards the products brought from these regions was ironically cautious and skeptical. 

Many European elites who were among the first to receive items from the New World, scrutinized those very goods because of their proximity to indigeneity. European attitudes towards the New World goods “supplanting more familiar items” were not immediately welcoming despite the excitement surrounding their novelty (Mintz 151). Pseudoscientific theories cautioning against chocolate were widespread. For instance, Doctor Giovanni Batista Felici, physician to the Tuscan court, held that chocolate caused “palpitations, thickened blood, lack of appetite, and so on” (Coe and Coe 209). Convincing Europe’s elite to embrace cacao as a delicacy and, later, a staple and medical phenomenon was key to establishing chocolate as an industry in Europe. Spanish colonists’ usage of quick-dissolving tablets to make instant hot chocolate “mixed with spices” in the 1600s, for example, reveals the early chocolate craze that swept Europe’s colonial elite and nobles (Coe and Coe 184). The chocolate-drinking craze which later began to “spread through all classes” of Baroque Europe further demonstrates how the delicacy of the aristocracy became a socioeconomic phenomenon that crossed class lines (Coe and Coe 181). Ultimately, the technological advances and increased production rates of the Industrial era allowed chocolate to become a household staple. In other words, the repackaging of Mesoamerican cacao into a sweet, everyday dessert and medicinal commodity amongst the elite helped set the stage for an expanded market that would eventually reach the general public– the larger and more reliable engine of industry.

How Chocolate was Changed by European Enterprise

The startups of the Industrial period are the tycoons of today, and their marketing influence is historically rooted in the industrial revolution and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. While chocolate had been primarily consumed as a beverage or dessert for the elite, the 1800s industrial boom saw chocolate become accessible to the general public (Coe and Coe 211). Chocolate-making companies, such as Cadbury, Lindt, and Hershey, were launched during the industrial revolution of the 1800s. Continuing the precedents set by Europe’s elite consumers, such as Cosimo III de Medici, these companies departed from the original Mesoamerican chocolate recipes (Coe and Coe 145). Chili peppers were replaced with sugar, vanilla replaced with milk and cream (Coe and Coe 115). Joël Glenn Brenner’s observation notes the westernization of chocolate-making in “The Emperors of Chocolate”:

“Each process produced it’s own unique chocolate flavor, and over time, these differences translated into distinct national tastes. The British, for example, prefer their milk chocolate very sweet and caramel-like, while Americans identify with the harsher, grittier flavor popularized by Hershey. German chocolate generally ranks as the richest because of it’s traditionally high fat content, while Italian chocolate is drier, more bittersweet. Swiss chocolate, considered the finest by connoisseurs, is characterized by a strong, aromatic, almost perfumey flavor and the smoothest, silkiest texture.” (Brenner)

Industrial era companies, such as Nestle, created products that contained little to no actual cacao. Milk Chocolate, a mixture of powdered milk and cacao butter that uses little to no actual cacao, and other similarly faux chocolate products, like nougat, relied more on sweetness and chocolate coating than authentic cacao (Coe and Coe 250). Products from the Western Hemisphere, like cacao and sugar, flowed into Europe through Trans-Atlantic colonialism while the later Industrial Revolution allowed for production on a massive scale. This allowed for a fusion of Mesoamerican cacao with imported goods from the New World brought from Europe (Mintz 151).

Chocolate Moves to the Factory

Industrial-era companies focused heavily on marketing chocolate which had previously been reserved for the elite to the general public– “everything had to be faster, cheaper, bigger, better” (Brenner 8). Milton Hershey, for instance, constructed a town-sized complex to house and facilitate workers in his chocolate factory (D’Antonio 108). This was a sharp contrast to the way chocolate was hoarded in royal courts, like that of Cosimo III, in the seventeenth-century. Given the new technology of the era, the philosophy of chocolate companies transitioned to massive operation and marketing.

Image result for town hershey factory town
The original Hershey factory built in 1894, photographed in 1976

The history of chocolate was rewritten with a new origin story that began in Europe, demonstrated by the marketing campaign of companies, like Rowntree which owned one of the largest newspapers in London and used full-page advertisements and billboards to promote their chocolate (Brenner 65). Such marketing campaigns all but erased the Mesoamerican roots of cacao and chocolate consumption by westernizing chocolate’s history and redefining the good as quintessentially European in post-colonial consumer and popular culture. The development of factories allowed for shortened production time and increased volume. Further, the expansion of colonial plantation economies into West Africa and other regions supplied the factory economy developing in Europe. By controlling the historical narrative of chocolate, and redefining food culture, the mass-marketing practices of industrial-era European companies made chocolate a western good. Bolstered by a history of Trans-Atlantic slavery and colonialism, the Industrial Revolution allowed for powerful marketing campaigns that are largely the reason why companies, like Mars, Hershey, Lindt, and others, are among the most popular chocolate-makers today.

Works Cited

Brenner, Joel Glenn. “Chapter Five: To the Milky Way and Beyond.” The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars, Broadway Books, 2000, pp. 49–69.

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

D’Antonio, M. (2006). Hershey. New York, NY. (pp. 121).

File:Hershey Factory.jpg. (2016, November 29). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 20:19, March 25, 2020 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Hershey_Factory.jpg&oldid=223766892.

File:Takalik Abaj metate 1.jpg. (2019, March 20). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 20:20, March 25, 2020 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Takalik_Abaj_metate_1.jpg&oldid=343320395.

Khan, Gulnaz. “Watch the Ancient Art of Chocolate-Making.” National Geographic, September 11, 2017. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/north-america/guatemala/anitgua-maya-chocolate-making/
Mintz, S. W. (1985). Sweetness and power: the place of sugar in modern history. New York.

Tales of the “Christmas Crack”: Cracking into the Not-So-Sweet History of Cacao and Sugar Production

At my family’s most recent holiday party, I spotted my favorite dessert: my mom’s famous salt, butter, and sugar of the Earth, homemade “Christmas Crack.” In other words, a chocolatey saltine toffee delight that seemed to have been sent to us by the Mayan Cacao God himself (Figure 1). I eagerly grabbed a piece, brought it to my lips, and closed my eyes in anticipation…only to have them fly open in horror, as I remembered that the hundreds of years of labor atrocities that plagued the production of its key components were anything but sweet.

Figure 1.1 The Mayan Cacao God, depicted on an ancient stone bowl. Some anthropologists argue that the deity is not a unique Cacao God, but in fact the Maize God embodying a cacao tree.1 The Mayans revered cacao because it “originated from the gods,” giving it economic value and ritualistic significance.1 Cacao was representative of power, a view that was strongly paralleled in Europe in the 1500s-1800s.2

Society perceives chocolate to be a comfort food and luxury, views that are perhaps reminiscent of its introduction to wealthy and noble Europeans in the 1500s-1600s.3 At this time, the lower classes desired the security of high-society individuals – likewise, they aspired to emulate their habits, and in doing so, associated the act of eating sugar and chocolate with happiness and wellbeing.3 Increasing demand for sugar and cacao amongst all social classes in Europe aided in the New World’s shift from indigenous forced labor to slavery, perpetuating a cycle of mass demand, mass production, and egregious human rights abuses until abolition in the mid-1800s.

Modern chocolate was born of the encomienda system in the 1500s in the Central American Izalcos region, which had the perfect combination of environmental conditions for the Theobroma cacao tree – and thus, forced labor – to thrive (Figure 2).4 Instituted by the Spanish crown, the encomienda system granted colonists the right to impose substantial production quotas on the indigenous people of the region, under the guise that it was payment for Spanish “protection” and “Christianization.”2 This system helped cacao output to grow, such that peak Izalcos production coincided with cacao’s high-priced introduction to the European market and diet around 1580.4 In this manner, cacao – and thus, chocolate – made its violent European high-society debut, leading anthropologist Kathryn Sampeck to claim that “the wretchedness of the Izalcos example was so extreme…because the Izalcos was a roguish, wayward economic frontier, the kind of frontier that created wildness so that some—and not others—may reap its rewards.”2 While Spanish colonists and nobles accumulated money and power, indigenous farmers endured “physical violence and extreme labor demands with almost no regard for human dignity.”2 Thus, the Spanish use of indigenous forced labor to extract tribute in the form of cacao beans enabled the European elite to derive power from the consumption of this expensive commodity; as chocolate became increasingly popular with the wealthy, it developed into a symbol of social status and financial security. Consequently, the masses began to associate chocolate with a sense of well-being, while failing to recognize that it was a product that was deeply rooted in forced indigenous labor on the other side of the world.

Figure 2.5 Cacao cultivation was widespread throughout Mesoamerica, thriving in shaded, humid regions with rich soil.4 While other high-yield regions such as the gulf region of Tabasco, the Soconusco region near the Pacific coast, and Suchitepequez produced notable cacao quantities, the Izalcos region is historically significant because the Spanish valued its superproducer qualities.4

Chocolate, however, was just a single component in the development of the European sweet tooth. The harsh conditions that laborers in the New World endured can only be fully explored when sugar itself is analyzed as a high-powered commodity, one that asserted its authority over the masses as its functions shifted from spicing up small-scale bonbons to widespread use as a preservative, and later, as a substantial caloric source.3 Like cacao, sugar was one of the crucial crops that fueled the rise of capitalism in Europe – and thus, the boom in slave labor in the Americas and the Caribbean. Increasing demand for the two commodities required that production increase at corresponding levels (Figure 3).3 There was only one problem – 80-90% of the native Central American and Caribbean populations were dying from exposure to European diseases, meaning that colonizers had to bring in laborers by the millions to sustain society’s increasing hunger for sugar.6

Figure 3.7 Sugar consumption in England, 1600-1850. Sugar was regularly consumed by noble and wealthy Europeans in the early 1600s; by the 1800s, the once-exotic substance had become a daily necessity that spanned across social classes, comprising roughly 14% of British caloric intake.3 Such an exponential increase in demand required that production, and thus labor levels, match that growth. Consequently, the lower class’ desire to emulate the wealthy aided in the shift from indigenous labor to a capitalistic use of slavery in the New World.

In this manner, slaves became yet another commodity, shipped in from Africa because this was the most economical and feasible location from which to source human bodies to match demand (Figure 4).6,8 From 1690-1790, Europe imported roughly 12 million tons of sugar– about the same number of African lives that were lost in its production; in this way, sugar became the “most notable addiction in history that killed not the consumer, but the producer.”6 Such a dramatic toll on human life was enabled by a scaling of economies that was perpetuated by the lower class’ desire to emulate the wealthy, who, in turn, were more than happy to comply if it brought them more money and power. Mass production became the European mindset – after all, money now grew on trees. With this shift to mass production came a capitalistic use of slavery, a labor source that was rooted in countless human rights abuses. Thus, growing demand for sugar and cacao in Europe, spurred by the lower class’ aspirations to obtain a sense of security enjoyed by the elite, enabled the shift from indigenous forced labor to slavery in the New World.

Figure 4.9 Colonists imported upwards of 15 million slaves from Africa in an effort to sustain production efforts for crops such as sugar and cacao.9 Slave conception was discouraged in the sugar industry and death rates were high, meaning that the only way to keep up with production needs was to continue importing slaves.6

On that note, I returned to the present day, toffee melting satisfyingly on my tongue, yet mouth open in disgust. How can it be that something so enchanting is rooted in such brutality? How did some conservative members of society consider chocolate to be sinful when it was first introduced to Europe, not because its production required barbarism and carnage, but because it was enjoyable?6 So, the next time you indulge in a chocolate concoction, pay tribute to its exploitative and cruel past, and remember that your favorite holiday treat may not be coated in dark chocolate chips, but instead in deceit.

“Christmas Crack” Saltine Toffee Recipe

Prep + Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 1.5 sleeves saltine crackers
  • 1.5 sticks butter
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Line baking sheet with one layer of saltine crackers. Crush remaining crackers for later use as a topping.
  3. Place the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, then carefully pour the mixture evenly over the crackers. Use a baking spatula to smooth the mixture over all crackers.
  4. Bake the crackers in the oven for 5 minutes, until the toffee is bubbling all over. Carefully remove baking sheet from the oven and let cool for 1 minute.
  5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot toffee crackers. Allow to partially melt, then use a baking spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the entire sheet. Add desired toppings.
  6. Freeze the toffee for 30+ minutes. Once frozen, break into small pieces and enjoy!

References, Including Figure Sources

1. CHOCOLATE: Food of the Gods. Cornell University Albert R. Mann Library http://exhibits.mannlib.cornell.edu/chocolate/morethanadrink.php.

2. Sampeck, K. Cacao and Violence: Consequences of Money in Colonial Guatemala. (2019).

3. Mintz, S. W. Sweetness and Power. (1985).

4. Sampeck, K. & Thayn, J. Translating Tastes: A Cartography of Chocolate Colonialism. (2017).

5. Kaplan, J., Umaña, F. & Hurst. Cacao residues in vessels from Chocolá, an early Maya polity in the southern Guatemalan piedmont, determined by semi-quantitative testing and high-performance liquid chromatography. Jounrnal Archaeol. Sci. Rep. 13, 526–534 (2017).

6. Hobhouse, H. Seeds of Change: Five Plants that Transformed Mankind. (Harper & Row, 1986).

7. Hersh, J. & Voth, H.-J. Sweet Diversity: Colonial Goods and the Rise of European Living Standards after 1492. https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1402322 (2009).

8. Kahn, A. & Bouie, J. The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_history_of_american_slavery/2015/06/animated_interactive_of_the_history_of_the_atlantic_slave_trade.html (2015).

9. The Transatlantic Slave Trade. Pilot Guides https://www.pilotguides.com/study-guides/transatlantic-slave-trade/.

Fathers of the Milk Chocolate Bar

How the milk chocolate bar came to be during the industrial revolution.

US consumers prefer milk chocolate above all other types of chocolate. (Progressive Grocer)

Ask a random stranger on the streets in the US what is his or her favorite type of chocolate and the answer will most likely be milk chocolate. In fact, 51% of US consumers in 2012 prefer milk chocolate over dark and white chocolate (Progressive Grocer). This can be attributed to milk chocolate’s milder and sweeter taste compared to most other types of chocolate (“Cocoa”). Moreover, milk chocolate is an integral part of Hershey’s, Cadbury, Mars, Ferrerro, and Kraft’s flagship products, which account for the majority of the global confectionery market. However, milk chocolate bars are a far cry from the traditional chocolate in Olmec and ancient Mayan culture (where the origins of chocolate is believed to be): a frothy chocolate concoction containing cacao, spices, flowers, maize, and other grains. The industrial revolution in the 19th century played a critical role in the invention of the milk chocolate bar and its rise to popularity among the masses.

milk chocolate bars are a far cry from the traditional consumption of chocolate

Between the introduction of cacao beans to Europe in the 16th century and the industrial revolution in the early 19th century, chocolate was consumed in the form of a beverage brewed from roasted cacao beans with additives, such as cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and subsequently milk. Creating a hot chocolate beverage was a complicated and time-consuming process and usually occurred at chocolate houses. This changed in 1828. In the Netherlands, Coenraad van Houten leveraged his knowledge of hydraulic engineering and chemistry to pioneer the pressing and “Dutching” process to produce cocoa powder and cocoa butter (Miller). The pressing process reduces the cocoa butter content of chocolate liquor from 53% to 27% and the “Dutching” process treats the resulting cocoa powder with alkali for a darker and milder-tasting product (Coe 234-235). The resulting improvement in miscibility and mass-production of cocoa powder meant a hot chocolate beverage could be easily prepared and enjoyed by the masses in their households. Cocoa powder and butter would later become two key ingredients in many confectioneries, including milk chocolate.

Schematic of Van Houten’s hydraulic press. The apparatus applied force to extract cocoa butter from chocolate liquor and produce a cake that could be ground down to cocoa powder. (Van Houten)

The separation of chocolate liquor to cocoa powder and cocoa butter meant chocolatiers could better control and introduce new tastes and textures of chocolate. An example is Joseph Storrs Fry’s “Chocolat Delicieux a Manger” in 1847. Fry’s product was the first edible chocolate bar made from cocoa powder, sugar, and cocoa butter. The melted cocoa butter provided a thinner chocolate paste that could be casted into a mold and yield a chocolate bar. The popularity of the chocolate bar led to a high demand and price for cocoa butter, which made the chocolate bar a confection mainly for the elite. Fortunately, further refinement and industrial developments reduced manufacturing costs and allowed the general public to enjoy a blissful bite of chocolate (Coe 241). From drinking a chocolate beverage to eating a chocolate bar, the types of chocolate consumption increased to different forms with the advancements brought on by the industrial revolution.

The Fry’s chocolate bar was one of the first edible forms of chocolate in a molded shape. (Traynor)

“to make it more dainty, though less wholesome”

– DUfour, 1685

Soon thereafter, the chocolate paste recipe spread throughout Europe and captured the attention of Daniel Peter in Switzerland, where the first milk chocolate bar was born in 1879 (Coe 247). The earliest record of consumption of milk and chocolate together dates back to the 17th century, when milk was added to a chocolate beverage “to make it more dainty, though less wholesome” (Coe 169). In order to capture the “daintier” taste in chocolate bars, milk needed to be included in the chocolate paste before being molded into a bar. Yet, directly adding milk into the paste would introduce moisture and disrupt the solidification process of the chocolate bar. Peter tackled this problem with the help of Henri Nestle (the founder of Nestle) and his powdered milk. In essence, milk was evaporated down to a powder with large condensers, which was combined with the chocolate paste to form the milk chocolate bar (Coe 247). The machines used to produce both the evaporated milk and resulting milk chocolate bars borrowed many technological advancements from the industrial revolution. The milk chocolate bar had a milder taste compared to Fry’s original chocolate bar and became a popular chocolate bar across Europe, with multiple chocolatiers manufacturing milk chocolate bars.

Peter’s original recipe, which introduced powdered milk to a mixture of cocoa powder, sugar, and cocoa butter, led to the first milk chocolate bar in 1879. (Peter’s Chocolate)

Peter’s original milk chocolate bar recipe evolved over time, along with technological developments, to its modern day form. Nowadays, milk chocolate is still produced from cocoa beans, sugar, milk powder, and cocoa butter, but the manufacturing process is drastically different. Fermented cocoa beans are cleaned, roasted, and winnowed through machines. The resulting cocoa nibs are milled down to chocolate liquor, at which point the sugar and milk powder are added for flavoring. The milk chocolate mix is then passed through a refiner and into a conch, essentially a mixing device, along with cocoa butter to alter the taste and viscosity of the mixture. Finally, tempering the chocolate generates Form V crystals from cocoa butter, giving the solid milk chocolate the perfect melting temperature (slightly below body temperature) and a longer shelf life (Leissle 48-53). The entire process can be completed automatically through a series of special machines, which significantly reduces the price of a milk chocolate bar.

An overview of modern milk chocolate production. The machine-automated process is an evolution from the original milk chocolate bar production technique employed by Peter.

Within the span of 50 years, chocolate consumption transformed from a beverage reserved for affluent customers to a solid milky bar available for the masses. Van Houten made chocolate accessible, Fry made chocolate edible, and Peter made chocolate milky. Undoubtedly, there are many others (Lindt, Cadbury, Hershey included) who improved on the milk chocolate bar to its modern-day form, but it would not have existed without these three fathers of the milk chocolate bar. The $22 billion chocolate industry and many US consumers owe thanks to both the industrial revolution and these innovators for one of the best confections in existence.

Works Cited

"Cocoa." Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 Nov. 2018. Link, Accessed 15 Mar. 2019.

Coe, Sophie D. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed., Thames & Hudson, 2013.

Leissle, Kristy. Cocoa. Polity Press, 2018.

Miller, Ashley. “Coenraad Van Houten.” Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University Library, 2007. Link, Accessed 15 Mar. 2019.

“Our Story.” Peter's Chocolate, Cargill, 25 June 2018, Link.

Progressive Grocer. "Chocolate Consumption Share in The United States in 2012, by Type." Statista - The Statistics Portal, Statista, 2012. Link, Accessed 15 Mar. 2019.

Science Channel. Milk Chocolate, From Scratch | How It's Made. YouTube, 30 Oct. 2016, Link.

Traynor, Kim. Fry's Chocolate Advertisement. Kirkcaldy, 7 Aug. 2013.

Van Houten, C. J. Method of and Apparatus for Discharging Press Boxes in Hydraulic Presses. 9 Nov. 1916.

Resurgence of Terroir in Chocolate

When we take a first bite into a chocolate bar, what information can we glean? We can probably determine whether it is milk, dark, or white chocolate. We might even know what brand of chocolate it is. Yet, our information about the geographical origin of the cacao contained in that chocolate bar is quite limited. This geographical information, known as terroir, includes the growing conditions, such as climate and terrain, and cultivation of the cacao (Nesto 2010). The word, terroir, comes from the French word for land.

Depending upon its genetic makeup and geographical origin, cacao has distinct tastes. Agronomists originally thought that cacao had only two separate genetic groups, Criollo and Forastero. However, upon further examination, scientists recently discovered that there are actually ten separate genetic groups of cacao (Motamayor et al. 2008). This explains the diversity of taste in cacao beans among different varieties of cacao trees. Beginning with the ancient Mesoamericans, consumers of chocolate could determine the terroir of their chocolate based on its taste. However, globalization and industrialization have stripped chocolate of its terroir as cacao became an undifferentiated commodity. Despite this disappearance of terroir in mass produced chocolate, there has been a resurgence of terroir in artisanal chocolate in recent years.

Beginning around 1500 BCE, the Olmecs cultivated and harvested cacao in Mesoamerica (Watson 2013). The chocolate-making process originated in Mesoamerica with the Olmec civilization and it continued later on with the Mayas and the Aztecs. Mesoamericans grew, harvested, fermented, dried, and made cacao beans into chocolate liquor on the cacao farms. That is, the entirety of the production took place in the same location. Due to the small-scale and local production and processing, the final product exhibited the taste of a specific cacao flavor, known as terroir. Up until the industrialization of chocolate in the late nineteenth century, terroir remained tastable in chocolate.

Above is a depiction of Mesoamericans making chocolate. The workers carried out all of the steps in the same location. On the far left, one man cuts open the cacao pod and removes the cacao beans. The person on the far right grinds the cacao nibs on a metate. In the middle, the worker froths a chocolate beverage
(“Cocoa – The food of the Gods…” 2019).

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish came to Mesoamerica. Over time, the indigenous people died due to European-introduced diseases and the harsh conditions of enslavement. Subsequently, Europeans looked for other sources of slave labor to work on plantations. This search for labor led to Africa, where Europeans bought and sold Africans as false commodities in the Transatlantic Trade between Europe, Africa, and the New World. Europeans shipped the slaves under brutal conditions from Africa to plantations in the New World. In turn, people in the New World shipped cacao and chocolate back to Europe. Thus began the globalization of cacao.

Eventually, large-scale cacao farming moved to West Africa. This led to the mass production of cacao as opposed to the smaller scale, more local production in Mesoamerica of earlier times. Ultimately, industrialization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries led to the establishment of big chocolate companies, such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Cadbury. Additionally, industrialization and globalization allowed these big companies to separate the chocolate-making process and spread it out among numerous locations. In order to produce enormous quantities of chocolate, large chocolate companies purchase cacao in bulk. As a consequence of the great expansion of the chocolate production process, the cacao farmers and producers of the raw materials became more and more distanced from the final product. On large plantations, farmers receive incentives to produce large quantities of cacao regardless of its quality. Their profit is based on the quantity of cacao they produce. Often, plantation farmers send cacao to a regulatory board, which combines it with cacao from other plantations (Leissle 2013). The big chocolate companies then purchase the cacao in bulk from the regulatory board. Hence, there is no way to know exactly what cacao is in the mixture or specifically where the cacao is from in each batch of chocolate.

Aside from the mixing of cacao in a central location, the actual process of preparing the cacao to make mass-produced chocolate involves stripping the cacao of its unique taste. The taste of the cacao associated with its geographic origin is lost. In fact, the large companies desire a product that possesses a homogenous taste among all batches. Thus, during the drying and fermenting processes, producers intentionally remove the unique flavors of the cacao beans to standardize the taste (Leissle 2013). Significantly, the taste of the mass-produced chocolate does not reflect any place of origin. The terroir is absent.

Until recently, this lack of terroir was omnipresent in modern chocolate. Beginning in the late twentieth century, artisanal companies began producing single-origin chocolate. As opposed to large chocolate companies, small, artisanal companies are more interested in the quality of their cacao and the unique taste of their cacao rather than the uniformity of each batch of chocolate (Leissle 2013). Hence, the taste of artisanal chocolate may vary from batch to batch depending upon the season or the year, and especially revolving around the geographical origin of the cacao and the type of cacao tree. Furthermore, the small-scale production allows farmers and workers to be more involved in the process and see it through from “bean to bar”. Thus, the farmers and producers are more invested in the quality of the beans and not just the quantity of the beans. Furthermore, certain organizations, such as the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute, educate farmers on the chocolate-making process through various programs (“Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute” 2019). This helps to ensure that the cacao beans are of good quality and they will create unique flavors in the final chocolate product. Artisanal companies who process the beans and produce the chocolate buy the cacao beans directly from the farmers and producers of the raw materials. Artisanal production allows one to be able to taste the terroir in the chocolate.

The figure above denotes locations from where artisanal chocolate companies purchase their cacao. Most of these artisanal companies use cacao from Mesoamerica and South America but some use cacao from Madagascar, Hawaii, West Africa, and Indonesia (Wiley 2016). Image sources:
(Alter Eco 2019; Antidote 2019; Appalachian Chocolate Co., n.d.; Bronx Grrl 2013; Cacao Prieto, n.d.; Marcella Kriebel 2019; Escazu Chocolates, n.d.; Firefly Chocolate 2018; Fortuna Chocolate, n.d.; Garden Island Chocolate, n.d.; Harper Macaw 2018; Hilo Sharks Chocolate 2019; Madecasse 2019; Madre Chocolate, n.d.; Molucca Craft Chocolate 2015; Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, n.d.; Puna Chocolate Co 2019; Salazon Chocolate 2019; Santosha Chocolate 2019; Sibu Sura Chocolates 2016; Sol Cacao 2016; Taste 2018; Taza Chocolate 2015; TCHO, n.d.; Woodblock Chocolate, n.d.; Geology.com 2019).

Many factors contributed to this resurgence of terroir via small-scale artisanal chocolate companies. Numerous reports on child labor in the cacao cultivation process have inspired businesspeople to start smaller companies with a mission to promote fair trade with just labor practices (“Food Empowerment Project” 2019). Small-scale production of chocolate enables more control over the various steps in the chocolate-making process, which in turn allows for better labor practices and the avoidance of child labor and slave labor.

In ancient Mesoamerica, when chocolate production began, chocolate possessed flavors unique to its geographic origin and the variety of cacao. Ultimately, cacao and chocolate production became a world-wide operation. Mass-produced chocolate lost its terroir. However, in the last few decades, artisanal chocolate companies have restored terroir in chocolate. It will be interesting to see, as the artisanal companies become more profitable, if the larger companies will begin to instill terroir in their chocolate products. As chocolate consumers become more sophisticated, they might look for terroir to impart a unique taste to the chocolate that the consumer can relate back to the source of the cacao.


Alter Eco. 2019. Alter Eco Logo. Digital. https://www.alterecofoods.com/.
Antidote. 2019. Antidote Serious Chocolate Logo. Digital. https://antidotechoco.com/.
Appalachian Chocolate Co. n.d. Appalachian Chocolate Co. Logo. Digital.
Bronx Grrl. 2013. Bronx Grrl Logo. Digital. http://www.bronxgrrlchocolate.com/.
Cacao Prieto. n.d. Cacao Prieto Logo. Digital. https://www.cacaoprieto.com/.
“Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry – Food Empowerment Project.” 2019.
“Cocoa – The food of the Gods….” 2019. Lindt Chocolate World. Accessed March 14, 2019.
Escazu Chocolates. n.d. Escazu Chocolates Logo. Digital. https://escazuchocolates.com/.
“Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute.” 2019. 2019. https://chocolateinstitute.org/.
Firefly Chocolate. 2018. Firefly Chocolate Logo. Digital. https://ceremonial-cacao.com/.
Fortuna Chocolate. n.d. Fortuna Chocolate Logo. Digital. https://www.fortuna-
Garden Island Chocolate. n.d. Garden Island Chocolate Logo. Digital.
Geology.com. 2019. World Map – Political. Digital. https://geology.com/world/world-
Harper Macaw. 2018. Harper Macaw Logo. Digital. https://harpermacaw.com/.
Hilo Sharks Chocolate. 2019. Hilo Sharks Chocolate Logo. Digital.
Leissle, Kristy. 2013. “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate.”
Gastronomica 13 (3): 22–31.
Madecasse. 2019. Madecasse Logo. Digital. https://madecasse.com/.
Madre Chocolate. n.d. Madre Chocolate Logo. Digital.
Marcella Kriebel. 2019. Chocotenango Logo. Digital.
Molucca Craft Chocolate. 2015. Molucca Chocolate Logo. Digital.
Motamayor, Juan C., Philippe Lachenaud, Jay Wallace da Silva e Mota, Rey Loor, David N.
Kuhn, J. Steven Brown, and Raymond J. Schnell. 2008. “Geographic and Genetic
Population Differences of the Amazonian Chocolate Tree (Theobroma Cacao L).” PLoS
ONE 3 (10).
Nesto, Bill. 2010. “Discovering Terroir in the World of Chocolate.” Gastronomica 10 (1): 131–
Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company. n.d. Omanhene Cocoa Logo. Digital.
Puna Chocolate Co. 2019. Puna Chocolate Logo. Digital. https://punachocolate.com/.
Salazon Chocolate. 2019. Salazon Chocolate Logo. Digital. https://twitter.com/salazonchoc.
Santosha Chocolate. 2019. Santosha Chocolate Logo. Digital.
Sibu Sura Chocolates. 2016. Sibu Sura Logo. Digital. http://sibusura.com/.
Sol Cacao. 2016. Sol Cacao Logo. Digital. https://www.solcacao.com/.
Taste. 2018. Taste Artisan Chocolate Logo. Digital. http://www.taste-chocolate.com/.
Taza Chocolate. 2015. Taza Chocolate Logo. Digital. https://www.tazachocolate.com/.
TCHO. n.d. TCHO Logo. Digital. https://tcho.com/.
Watson, Traci. 2013. “Earliest Evidence of Chocolate in North America | Science | AAAS.”
Science. 2013. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/01/earliest-evidence-chocolate-
Wiley, Carol. 2016. “183 Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers In the United States.” Medium
(blog). 2016. https://medium.com/@CarolWiley/183-bean-to-bar-chocolate-makers-in-
Woodblock Chocolate. n.d. Woodblock Chocolate Logo. Digital.

Down to the Details: Dissecting the Intended Audience of Two NYC Chocolate Shops

New York City is constantly brimming with new additions to the food scene, and when it comes to chocolate, The Meadow and Chelsea Market Baskets are two specialty shops that aim to enhance one’s sensory and social experience. Closer comparison between these stores also yields distinct differences in their intended audience and marketing incentive. Whereas Chelsea Market Baskets has a more pronounced focus on gift purchasing and impulse buying, The Meadow offers a more well-rounded selection of origins and varieties, establishing itself as a solid destination for connoisseurs and consumers who place a greater priority on food product transparency.

Chelsea Market Baskets 

Chelsea Market Baskets (CMB) is located inside Chelsea Market, which boasts about 6 million visitors annually (Chelsea Market). The chocolate selection here is divided into three sections: Popular Chocolates, Specialty Chocolates (a sign reads “Chocolates that are not found in many places and we think are worth a bit of effort to find”), and Connoisseurs Chocolates (“Top quality chocolates that we are especially proud of and have sought out from smaller manufacturers”). The prices vary from around $3 to $11 per product.

CMB’s three sections of chocolate (shot with iPhone)


Whereas mass manufacturers rely on wholesale companies to ensure lower costs, bean-to-bar makers take pride in carefully sourcing higher quality beans through a more collaborative environment with farmers and aim to increase product transparency (Dandelion Chocolate). Many bean-to-bar goods are offered here, and while most of the single origin bars only designate the country of origin, Dandelion Chocolate and Sol Cacao specify the estate where their beans come from: Akesson’s Farm in Madagascar.

Bean-to-bar makers Sol Cacao and Dandelion specify the estate from which their beans are sourced (shot with iPhone). 


On the other hand, CMB also offers an equal amount of mass-produced chocolate by major European manufacturers (e.g. Cote d’Or). At least five brands represented at CMB incorporate more typical “Big Chocolate” ingredients: more refined sugar and emulsifiers (e.g. soy lecithin) to substitute for more expensive cocoa butter (Albader 55). This not only reduces production costs but also reduces the number of polyphenols (which can help reduce LDL cholesterol and raise HDL concentrations) naturally found in cocoa butter (Watson et al. 267). The homogenization of these sweeter, more artificially flavored products with the all-natural and single origin bars implies that the larger focus of CMB may be on the overall appeal of the product, rather than the nutritional value or manner of production.

Examination of packaging and flavor selection also furthers my impression that CMB greatest motive is to attract the gift-giving or impulse buyer. Several eye-catching packaging labels showcase cartooned creatures, which have been shown to specifically attract children (Shekhar and Raveendran 57). Makers such as Vintage Plantations showcase vibrant colors or paintings of exotic habitats; the dimension of packaging design that most significantly predicts impulsive buying is visual design (Cahyorini and Rusfian 17). Selling more visually attractive products is a particularly beneficial marketing strategy, because the more exposure to visual cues in packaging, the higher the probability of buying chocolates (Shekhar and Raveendran 60). Certainly, customers may come with a particular product in mind, but for those more impulse-driven visitors, CMB offers several choices that facilitate purchasing through graphic appeal. Another effective marketing strategy here is catering to the traditional “American” appetite. Many flavored chocolates are fused with bacon, caramel, cookies, or other familiar flavors; culturally, we are psychologically attracted to foods that are both sweet and high in fat (Benton 214). By offering a mixture of single-origin and mass-manufactured chocolate, visually attractive products, and both familiar and novel flavors, CMB accommodates all ages and flavor preferences.The primary goal is to retail “premium chocolates,” value-added products not just in terms of quality but also “taste and texture, packaging, image and perception, and communication” (Linemayr 13).

Visually appealing products (shot with iPhone)


Fusing bacon with chocolate

Ethical Concerns

CMB offers a number of Fair Trade products, which are based on a collective effort to justly compensate farmers. However, many of the label’s claims are not accomplished, and a very small proportion of money reaches the poverty-stricken farmers at the base of the production chain (Martin). The growing ubiquitousness of Fair Trade has led to a dilution of its label, with some companies merely using it to enhance their public image (Sylla 133). For more knowledgable consumers, CMB offers several Direct Trade goods by makers who offer more substantial premiums to farmers. Taza, which created the “chocolate industry’s first third-party certified Direct Trade cacao sourcing program,” publishes an annual cacao sourcing transparency report, listing in detail the premiums paid to their farmers (Taza Chocolate). Over fifteen of Taza’s products are sold at CMB, all of them in the “Popular Chocolates” selection, thereby facilitating an outlet by which visitors can enjoy the unique taste of their stone-ground chocolate but also learn about their socially responsible practices. By representing several companies that work beyond simply paying Fair Trade premiums, CMB offers potential for spreading more awareness about the more grassroots approach to relieving ethical issues in chocolate production.

A shot from Taza’s annual sourcing transparency report (Taza Chocolate)


Taza selection at CMB (shot with iPhone)


I purchased a few bars from each store to share some interesting flavors and textures unique to each location. From CMB, I purchased Taza’s Cinnamon Stone Ground Chocolate Mexicano Discs. Taza is known for their unique processing technique where traditional Mexican style stone mills, or molinos, are used to grind the beans. This accentuates the bold flavors of the unconched chocolate, producing a rustic, gritty texture that lingers on the tongue. Taza allows the consumer to harken back to historical Mesoamerican chocolate traditions through the similar process of grinding cacao on a stone, or metate (Presilla 26). I loved the biscuit-like texture because it allowed me to taste the bold cacao, sugar, and warm cinnamon individually.


I was first drawn to the artwork on Amano’s package and after turning it over, I found that Amano is the most highly awarded chocolate maker in America, which piqued my interest in its taste. Madagascar cacao is known for being fruity, and this tastes very smooth with clean raspberry, black currant, and cherry notes (Presilla 139).


The Meadow

The Meadow is located in the West Village, and pricing is significantly on the higher end, ranging from around $6 to $22 per bar. Like CMB, the chocolate selection is divided into three sections, albeit for different categories: the first section comprises flavored chocolates, the second comprising single-origin bars and bean-to-bar makers, and the third for dark chocolate (85% cacao content or higher).

The Meadow’s three sections of chocolate (shot with iPhone)


Unlike CMB, the vast majority of products here are by small batch craft makers, and one instantly notices the emphasis on minimal and natural ingredients. The flavored chocolates here rarely consist of emulsifiers or artificial sweeteners, and the associate can name several products with higher amounts of non-deodorized cocoa butter. The samples offered were only from 100% cacao bars, which may be a more unconventional choice for tasting. Some individuals may not be familiar with such astringent, potent flavors, but The Meadow urges one to stay true to the the pure experience of cacao. These factors all lead to marketing more health-conscious products; 100% cacao bars contain no sugar, and dark chocolate contains the most significant levels of antioxidant polyphenols and flavonoids, which have beneficial effects on hypertension and vascular disorders (Haber and Gallus 1287).

Tasting samples (shot with iPhone)

A thorough understanding of the selection is largely dependent on the visitor’s level of understanding of origin and terroir. There are significantly more single origin countries presented here; the Francois Pralus single origin bars span eight countries. Whereas CMB retails Madagascar chocolate bars which source beans from a single farm (Akesson’s), actual chocolate bars made by Akesson’s are sold here. Akesson’s is a family-owned heritage plantation, which provides beans for many U.S. based chocolate companies, such as Dick Taylor, Patric, and Woodblock, all of which can be found at The Meadow (Carla Martin, personal communication, May 2 2017). This selection offers a dynamic medium for tasting and comparing flavors made from varying partners within the supply chain.

Francois Pralus
Francois Pralus selection (shot with iPhone)

Akesson’s single plantation chocolate

The Francois Pralus bars list not only the country of origin but also the cacao variety used. Other bars state “Porcelana” on the front, a criollo variety that is prized for its nuttiness and low astringency (Presilla 67). Those who are familiar with or are in favor of a specific cacao variety will find the detail-oriented selection at The Meadow particularly accommodating.

Several bars are labeled “Chuao,” one of the most coveted type of criollo beans. Today, the Chuao plantation in Chuao, Venezuela is run by a small community that adheres to a centuries-long tradition of processing and operations (Presilla 77). The narrow valley yields a very limited space for cultivating cacao, producing only about 16 to 17 metric tons annually, but the beans are highly coveted for their taste and quality (White). The reputation of Chuao has led some makers to misappropriate its name and branding significance to mimic the terroir effect of the Chuao geographical region (Giovannucci et al. xv). This controversy itself is implicated at The Meadow, where I found two “Chuao” bars: one from Francois Pralus and the other by Domori. Although the Francois Pralus bar sources specifically from the Chuao village, the Domori bar is made from beans in a different region of Venezuela where the genetics of the Chuao strain have been implanted (The Meadow). This “Chuao” labeling despite it being produced outside of the valued village raises questions of legitimacy and violations of terroir, which places a strong emphasis on geographical origin, specifically, the “link between the product and the production area, depending on natural and climate conditions in the region” (Aurier et al.). The Domori bar also distances itself from the cultural and historical prestige associated with terroir. The Francois Pralus Chuao bar ($14) is more popular than the Domori Chuao bar ($8), perhaps due to an understanding of the terroir complications at hand, again likening consumer knowledge as an important factor for visitors.

This is a cacao pod in the Chuao region, lauded for its terroir and superior criollo beans (Wikimedia Commons). 


Francois Pralus chuao
The Francois Pralus and Domori “Chuao” bars (shot with iPhone)


Ethical Concerns

The Meadow represents a nice selection of Fair Trade and Direct Trade goods, and the sales associate is also fairly knowledgable about the downsides of the Fair Trade label. He pinpointed a few companies working more directly with their farmers, such as Madécasse. Madécasse, which makes their chocolate directly in Madagascar, pays farmers 10% higher than the maximum price for dry superior cacao and 55% higher than the median price for all cacao (Madécasse Social Impact Report).

He also told me about Askinosie, one of The Meadow’s top-selling companies, which places photos of their farmers, a map of their estate, and twine from their cacao bags on their packaging, attempting to secure a bridge of transparency with the consumer. Askinosie also pays a significantly higher premium than the Fair Trade market price, supports nutritional programs for children in underdeveloped countries, and shares a percentage of its profits through their “A Stake in the Outcome” program, incentivizing farmers to constantly improve methods to ensure better quality (Askinosie Chocolate). The selection at The Meadow, in addition to the knowledge of its sales associates, is better marketed towards spreading awareness of ethical issues and their relation to small batch makers.

Askinosie shares and explains financial statements with their farmers (Askinosie).

Askinosie goods at The Meadow (shot with iPhone)


Bertil Akesson’s plantation in the Sambirano Valley of Madagascar is divided into four smaller estates: Madirofolo, Menavava, Bejofo, and Ambolikapiky, but only the latter two provide the beans for Akesson’s own chocolate bars (Cocoa Runners). I wanted to compare an Akesson’s Chocolate with another maker who sources from Akesson’s Farm (e.g. Dick Taylor).

The Dick Taylor chocolate was very tart with cranberry and orange notes. The potent astringency significantly differed from the more sweet, berry-flavored Amano Madagascar bar. It finished off with a slightly overroasted taste, which made me experience firsthand how different bars sourcing from the same geographical region can yield differing flavors based on each company’s processing methods.

Dick Taylor

My second purchase was an Akesson’s 75% Criollo Bejofo Estate bar. Every Akesson’s bar shows not only which of the 4 smaller estates the cacao comes from but also the variety of beans used. According to the package, 300 tons of trinitario cacao are produced on Akesson’s Farm, but a limited 2 tons of criollo cacao are harvested separately to make this specific chocolate. As criollo varieties are generally perceived as the most mellow and refined in flavor, I compared the taste of this bar with the more trinitario-based Dick Taylor bar (Presilla 36). The Akesson’s bar has a familiar chocolatey aroma and significantly more refined taste with soft, tropical notes (papaya or peach) that balanced well with a very mild tartness. It has a much longer mouthfeel with a velvety texture. Of all the three Madagascar bars I purchased, this had the most delicate nuttiness and creaminess. Originally, I had thought the Amano, Dick Taylor, and Akesson’s bars would be difficult to differentiate in flavor as they all originate in Madagascar, but I was able to experience the complexities of terroir and processing techniques.

Akesson's criollo chocolate



Both CMB and The Meadow are valuable to the NYC food scene and heighten one’s experience with chocolate. Housed inside a bustling tourist attraction, CMB appeals to a wider audience, making it highly adapted to the marketplace. One can find goods that are suitable for the entire family, which relates to the store’s motto of gift-giving to share both popular and novel tastes. The Meadow caters to a smaller niche, one that requires a greater deal of knowledge. The high prices here can pose as a drawback, and had I visited The Meadow prior to taking Dr. Martin’s course, I would have had great trouble understanding the significance of “porcelana” or “single estate.” The Meadow’s selection is meticulously curated, just like the companies it represents direct great attention to their chocolate sourcing and production. The Meadow’s focus on minimal ingredients and terroir enhanced my affinity for chocolate, because I was able to apply my knowledge to various social, cultural, and ethical factors implicated by the selection. The Meadow’s greatest asset may be that it challenges traditional notions of what chocolate is and hones in on the complexities of food product transparency. By offering a more detailed rundown of production, sourcing, and cacao varieties, The Meadow works towards developing a more intimate connection of trust, reliability, and transparency between brand and consumer.

Works Cited

“About Chelsea Market.” Chelsea Market, http://www.chelseamarket.com/index.php/About/contact/about-chelsea-market. Accessed 29 April 2017.

“Akesson’s.” Cocoa Runners, https://cocoarunners.com/maker/akessons/. Accessed 3 May 2017.

Albader, Kawther. “Can you believe it’s not (cocoa) butter?”. Candy Industry, July 2012, 54-55.

Askinosie, Shawn. Direct Trade. Photograph. Askinosie Chocolate. https://www.askinosie.com/learn/direct-trade.html. Accessed 3 May 2017.

Aurier, Philippe et al. “Exploring Terroir Product Meanings For the Consumer.” Anthropology of Food, 1 May 2005.

Benton, David. “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving.” Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain, edited by Astrid Nehlig, CRC Press, 2004, 205-218.

Cacao en Chuao. Reg2bug. Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cacao_en_Chuao.jpg. Accessed 2 May 2017.

Cahyorini, Astri, and Effy Zalfiana Rusfian. “The Effect of Packaging Design on Impulsive Buying.” Journal of Administrative Science & Organization, Jan. 2011, 11-21.

“Domori Chuao 70% Dark Chocolate.” The Meadow, https://themeadow.com/products/domori-chuao-70-dark-chocolate. Accessed 2 May 2017.

Giovannucci, Daniele, et al. Guide to Geographical Indications: Linking Products and Their Origins. International Trade Center, 2009.

Haber, Stacy, and Karen Gallus. “Effects of Dark Chocolate on Blood Pressure in Patients With Hypertension.” American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 1 Aug. 2012, 1287-1293.

“How We Make Chocolate.” Dandelion Chocolate, https://www.dandelionchocolate.com/process/#anchor. Accessed 29 April 2017.

Linemayr, Thomas. “Establishing Premium Chocolate in the U.S. Mass Market.” The Manufacturing Confectioner, June 2011, 13-16.

“Madécasse Social Impact Report.” Madécasse LLC and Wildlife Returns, April 2017, 1-9.

Martin, Carla. “Lecture 10: Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/Globalization.” Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food. Harvard University: Cambridge, MA. 5 April 2017. Lecture.

Presilla, Maricel. The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised. Ten Speed Press, 2009.

Shekhar, Suraj Kushe, and P.T Raveendran. “The Power of Sensation Transference: Chocolate Packages & Impulse Purchases.” Indian Institute of management Indore, April 2013, 55-64.

Sylla, Ndongo. The Fair Trade Scandal. Ohio University Press, 2014.

“Taza Direct Trade.” Taza Chocolate. https://www.tazachocolate.com/pages/taza-direct-trade. Accessed 29 April 2017.

White, April. “The Potential and Pitfalls of Geographical Indications for Cacao.” Chocolate Class, 11 May 2016, https://chocolateclass.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/the-potential-and-pitfalls-of-geographical-indications-for-cacao/. Accessed 2 May 2017.



A Worldwide Treat: The Increasing Popularity of Chocolate

In Baroque Europe, chocolate was linked with notions of status and class. The elite of Spain, Italy, France, and Britain consumed chocolate in the form of beverages and foods to flaunt their wealth. They used extravagant serving pots, cups, and saucers (like the one below) which demonstrate the importance of material culture during this time period. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, chocolate was popularized across many parts of the world as well as across various socioeconomic groups. The spread of chocolate can be linked to the role chocolate played in social interactions, to the democratization and industrialization of sugar, and to the inventions that made it possible to expand its production and the forms it took.

Silver chocolate pot used for hot chocolate, France, 1779.

When chocolate was first introduced as a medicine around 1100 CE, it was primarily used to cure bodily ailments, to stimulate the nervous system, and to aid in digestion (Dillinger et al., 2000). In the mid-1500s, chocolate became popular among the aristocracy and the wealthy in Europe. The breadwinner in the family was first entitled to meat the family could afford, but women and children consumed chocolate to supplement their scarce portions in order to obtain enough calories. The use of chocolate evolved from a luxury to a commodity as it became tied to social life. The first Chocolate House opened in London in 1657 (Loveman, 29). “Food and drink, not surprisingly, reflected [the] economic, social, and religious cleavages…chocolate was [characterized] as southern and Catholic and aristocratic…” (Coe and Coe, 200). Chocolate acquired new meaning in European countries as its consumption became highly social and symbolic of wealth. As people used chocolate to connect and interact with one another, its consumption took on new meaning, and its previous status as an indulgent good transitioned into a good that became worthy of the expense. Chocolate became more popular, and transitioned from a symbolic form of power to a democratizer as it became more widely available (Mintz, 91).

This photo was taken in 1777, and was likely the oldest surviving pub of Wavertree (which is located in Liverpool).

According to Mintz, “by no later than 1800, sugar had become a necessity – albeit a costly and rare one – in the diet of every English person; by 1900, it was supplying nearly one-fifth of calories in the English diet” (6). Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the democratization of sugar occurred. Sugar decreased in cost and became easier for commoners to acquire through the use of cheap and brutal skilled labor of enslaved people. While there was opposition to slave labor, it allowed for the price of chocolate to fall. Its production thus expanded, and more commoners were granted access to this commodity. Liverpool and Manchester turned into gigantic cities as a result of “the exchange of their produce with that raised by the American slaves” (Merivale, Lecture 6).

During the nineteenth century, a number of inventions allowed for the further spread of the popularity of chocolate. The series of innovations began with the hydraulic press, invented by Coenraad Johannes Van Houten in 1828, which relieved the labor that was previously needed for grinding cacao. In 1847, Joseph Fry invented the first chocolate bar. A few decades later, Henri Nestle and Daniel Peter created milk chocolate (in 1867 and 1879, respectively). Finally, Rudolphe Lindt implemented the conching process in 1879, which allowed for chocolate to be blended and smoothed (Lecture 5). Through the implementation of these new machines and inventions, the mass production of chocolate became possible, as the taste and consistency of chocolate could be streamlined and managed in large quantities by its producers.

1950 hydraulic press, Wikimedia Commons.

While chocolate was once restricted to the elite in Europe, as it was expensive and inaccessible, it became popular around the world throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. First, chocolate became more widely consumed as a result of its social implications. Later, as consumers demanded chocolate as a necessity (rather than as a luxury good), people were enslaved to increase its production possibilities. Finally, new processes enabled its mass production as it could be streamlined and involved less human and manual labor. As chocolate became less expensive, technologies allowed for its popularity in the form of cakes and chocolate bars. Most recently, chocolate companies have turned to advertising to encourage its further consumption, often overemphasizing its nutritious value in the process.

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie Dobzhansky, and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Vol. 29. London: Thames and Hudson, 2007.

Dillinger T.L., Barriga P., Escarcega S., Jimenez M., Salazar Lowe D., Grivetti L.E. Food of the gods: Cure for humanity? A cultural history of the medicinal and ritual use of chocolate. J. Nutr.2000;130:2057–2072.

Loveman, Kate. “The Introduction of Chocolate into England: Retailers, Researchers, and Consumers, 1640–1730.” Journal of Social History (2013): sht050.

Mintz, Sidney Wilfred. Sweetness and power. New York: Viking, 1985.


Chocolate pot: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chocolatepot.jpg

Coffee House Pub: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Coffee_House_pub,_Wavertree.JPG

Hydraulic press: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prensa_hidr%C3%A1ulica-Villajoyosa_(chocolate).jpg