Tag Archives: Milk Chocolate

Health Benefits of Chocolate

May 2019, Final Multimedia Essay

Obesity Rates and Diet

Obesity is rapidly on the rise and has been classified as one of the largest public health issues known today. Obesity is a disease that can cause an individual to be at risk for various other health complications such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. In the Untied States, the population of overweight children has tripled since 1980 causing around two-thirds of the American population to be considered overweight (Albritton, 2010). There is a stark contrast between the health of the population and the modernization of society. It has been shown that as populations continue to grow and society continues to modernize and improve, the health of individuals is on the downfall. Worldwide there has been a six-fold increase in the number of individuals who suffer from diabetes since 1985. In India, it was noted that 11 percent of the population suffers from obesity, whereas in Mexico this was found to be 14 percent (Albritton, 2010). This is in part related to the large increase in sugar and sugar filled substances available to the public. Marion Nestle, found that on average Americans consume around 31 teaspoons of sugar a day, half of this coming from soft drinks (Albritton, 2010). Because of the Industrial Revolution and the advancement of technology, sugar (one of the cheapest food ingredients along with salt and fat) has been used by various companies to increase mass production.  

Just as the sugar consumption has been increasing, there is a rapid increase in salt and fat consumption. Today in the United States, salt consumption has increased by twenty percent over a ten-year period. Consequently, as people increase their salt consumption they look for a substance to quench their thirst, which in many cases is satisfied with sugar beverages; thus, increasing sugar consumption. Additionally, there has been around a twenty-fold increase in fat consumption since 2005 (Albritton, 2010). Because of the rapid increase in chronic disease, the World Health Organization in 2003 enacted certain recommendations for specific dietary intakes. For example, they stated that sugars should not go beyond ten percent of an individual’s daily calorie intake. Despite these recommendations, the junk food business has catered towards children’s craving snacks causing American children to receive around twenty five percent of calorie intake from snacks and therefore a continuous increase in sugar consumption (Albritton, 2010).

Obesity Rates by Regions from 1990-2011

Misconception of Chocolate

While most of these sugary, salty and fatty substances come from other junk food brands rather than chocolate, many individuals continue to associate chocolate as a primary cause for the increase in health risks among individuals. Today, chocolate companies have transformed a substance that was once glorified and solely consumed by the elite into one that has become negatively viewed and mass produced. Just as in all other industries, the influence of technology has allowed for chocolate brands to increase their production rate by mass producing a variety of different forms of chocolate. Consequently, individuals have shifted from consuming the rich and pure form of chocolate to consuming a highly processed type that includes the use of more sugar and cheaper ingredients. However, this does not mean that all types of chocolate must be categorized as having a negative impact on an individual’s health but rather that there must be more precaution when choosing what and how much chocolate to consume. Contrary to popular belief, chocolate, can have a wide range of health benefits if the consumer properly selects for the correct type, quality and quantity of chocolate.  

History of Chocolate and Health

Chocolate was first used by the Olmec in 1100 BC. The cacao comes from the tree known as Theobroma Cacao originally found in the Amazon basin. The name itself, originates from the Greek language: Theo which means god and Broma which means drink. The Incas considered this drink to be “a drink of the gods” and therefore the elite were the only ones who were allowed to drink from it (Corti, Flammer, Hollenberg & Lüscher, 2009). They believed the fruit provided wisdom and power while the chocolate drink would benefit their health. The Aztec Emperor Montezuma referred to the drink as “A divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue” (Corti, Flammer, Hollenberg & Lüscher, 2009). Not only did they view cacao as an energy substance but also thought of it as having aphrodisiac properties. It was noted that the Aztec emperor would drink a large amount of chocolate each day before engaging in sexual intercourse (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Theobroma Cacao Tree

When the Spaniards discovered chocolate and observed the way the Aztecs used this substance, they soon realized the medicinal benefits the cacao drink could have. The Aztecs would primarily consume this drink before hard labor, in order to avoid getting tired throughout the day (Coe & Coe, 2007). As the discovery of chocolate began to spread, the literature began documenting the health benefits of chocolate. In 1592 the Badianus Manuscript stated that the cocoa flowers had the ability to reduce fatigue. In 1590, the Florentine Codex stated that cocoa could be used to treat fever, diarrhea and heart weakness (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016). In 1591 Juan de Cárdenas published the treatise on New World Foods and described that if cacao was prepared a certain way (toasting, grinding and mixing with atole) this could aid in digestion and make an individual powerful and joyful (Coe & Coe, 2007). Soon after the Spanish discovery of chocolate, it was introduced throughout Europe and in 1741 Linnaeus documented the role of chocolate as a source of nourishment, a cure for illness and an aphrodisiac. In 1834 prior to the first chocolate boom, the Dispensatory of the United States stated that chocolate was nutritious and should only be consumed as a drink in the morning as a substitute for an individual’s morning coffee (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Although the Aztecs and the Mayas mainly consumed chocolate as a liquid drink, the Industrial Revolution popularized chocolate as solid bars. In 1847 Joseph Fry created the first chocolate bar and soon after the first chocolate boom occurred between 1880-1940, when there was a spike in income and more people began purchasing and consuming chocolate (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016). The creation of two key inventions during this time, Hydraulic press and Dutch-process, allowed for diversity in the chocolate making business. The Hydraulic press was used to strip away the fats from the cocoa and produce cocoa butter from the beans. The Dutch-process introduced the alkalization of the cocoa which could change the color of the chocolate products made (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016). These key inventions allowed for the creation of different forms of chocolate, which large chocolate companies would benefit from in order to expand their specific brand. Chocolate was soon created in the form of cereals, cakes, ice cream and even lotion. However, chocolate bars continued to be among the most popular type of chocolate consumed in the American economy.

Not only were chocolate bars consumed by children but also by soldiers during the American Civil War. With the new packaging and production of chocolate bars, the soldiers were able to easily and quickly consume this new food product. Similar to the Aztecs, the soldiers took advantage of this energy dense food product. During the war and specifically in times of emergency, the chocolate bars would help provide soldiers an easy and efficient way to sustain themselves throughout battle (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Use of Chocolate in the Army

Biochemistry of Chocolate

In addition to energy, chocolate has been studied to provide a large range of health benefits including cardiovascular benefits, insulin resistance, lipid levels, antioxidant effects, mental health benefits and many more. In an interview with Marissa Zarco, MS RDN she noted the key reason for such health benefits comes from the micronutrients found in chocolate specifically flavanols. Mrs. Zarco explained that the flavanols found in chocolate exhibit a vasodilating effect on the human body and therefore can have a positive effect on cardiovascular diseases and blood pressure.

Flavanols are a subcategory of polyphenols which are found in plants and have been proven to alter the function of different pathways in the body. Flavanols are made up of two aromatic rings which are bound together by a three-carbon chain (Farhat, Drummond, Fyfe, Al- Dujaili, 2014). Flavanols can be subdivided into monomers which are called epicatechin and catechin and polymers which are known as procyanidins. The monomers are more common in various different types of fruit and the procyanidins give cocoa the bitter taste (Corti, Flammer, Hollenberg & Lüscher, 2009).  Flavanols have the ability to reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular effects through vasodilation, antioxidant effects by reducing reactive oxygen species and improving platelet levels etc.

Health Benefits of Flavanols

Specifically, flavanols activate nitric oxide concentration levels, which can help combat reactive oxygen species and prevent oxidative stress. When the body has too high a concentration of reactive oxygen species such as oxygen free radicals, the body will go into oxidative stress and cause for the development of severe diseases. Therefore, a high flavanol diet will allow for an increase in the nitric oxide concentration which can lead to vasodilation, prevent cell adhesion and platelet aggregation. However, not all types of chocolate contain the same amount of flavanol content because of the reduction in the flavanol levels that occurs as the cocoa beans are processed. (Corti, Flammer, Hollenberg & Lüscher, 2009).  

Three Factors to Consider

When choosing which chocolate to buy, an individual must consider three factors: type, quality, and quantity of chocolate. When choosing the type of chocolate there are usually three options: dark, milk and white chocolate. An individual should aim to choose one that has the highest amount of cocoa with the lowest amount of sugar (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016). In order to create the different types of chocolates, they must undergo manufacturing steps and therefore some are richer in flavanols, cocoa nibs, milk or added sugars compared to others.

Dark chocolate compared to milk and white chocolate has the highest number of cocoa solids and lowest amount of sugar and is rich in flavanols. Milk chocolate has a small amount of cocoa solids mixed with a milk substance whether it be condensed or powdered. Lastly, white chocolate is the least pure out of the three, this type of chocolate has no cocoa solids and is instead made up of twenty percent of cocoa butter in addition to a milk product (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Three Types of Chocolate

The quality of chocolate is assessed by the number of ingredients, the proportion of ingredients, and the processing methods the chocolate goes through. The key ingredients that are considered are: cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder. When choosing a chocolate an individual should pay close attention to the label and determine the proportion of cocoa nibs compared to all other ingredients (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Cocoa Nibs

Lastly, the quantity of chocolate is important when analyzing the nutritional benefits. In the past, many nutritionists recommended individuals who were suffering from obesity and/or trying to lose weight to completely eliminate chocolate from their diet. However, today nutritionists have realized the importance of chocolate in protecting the human body from severe diseases or a state of oxidative stress and therefore have emphasized the need to restrict the amount consumed rather than completely eliminate it. Studies have shown that small doses of 5-10g daily of dark chocolate can positively enhance human health whether it be through anti-inflammation, hypertension, and/or altering plasma lipid levels (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Overindulgence of Chocolate

Blood Pressure

Moderate consumption of dark chocolate can help with lowering blood pressure. A study conducted with the Kuna individuals stated that because of their high levels of consumption of chocolate beverages they exhibited remarkably low blood pressure states. However, after further investigation it was noted that this study was not properly conducted and the correlation between the levels of chocolate consumption of the Kuna individuals and blood pressure was not accurate (Howe, 2012). However, this is not to say that current studies have not found a correlation between chocolate consumption and blood pressure.

It has been shown that a regular intake of dark chocolate promotes blood vessel dilation because of the effect of polyphenols on increasing nitric oxide concentration and thus lowering blood pressure (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016). Additionally, chocolate has some levels of potassium which can result in the release of sodium ions therefore aiding the regulation of blood pressure levels. The Rusconi et al. (2012) study assed the relationship between different types of chocolate and blood pressure. The study recruited a group of adult males and had them consume a certain amount of either dark or white chocolate every day. Over the course of 28 days they noticed a decrease in blood pressure in the participants who only consumed dark chocolate (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Plasma Lipid Levels

Chocolate can also improve an individual’s plasma lipid levels. Specifically, cocoa butter found in dark chocolate contains oleic acid which is said to affect lipid levels. Cocoa butter has been found to increase HDL cholesterol, decrease LDL cholesterol and decrease the availability of triglycerides in the human body, which can then have a positive effect on the presence of cardiovascular diseases. A study found this to be true after a group of participants consumed around 75g of dark chocolate a day for three weeks. While this did not hold for the consumption of white chocolate, when assessing milk chocolate the researchers also found there to be a decrease in the triglyceride levels and an increase in the HDL cholesterol levels (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Mental Health

Chocolate can have an impact on mental health and cravings. Because chocolate contains highly branched amino acids, there can be an increase in the amount of serotonin released. Serotonin is neurotransmitter that is linked to depression: low levels of serotonin can increase depression. Therefore, by increasing serotonin levels, chocolate can help improve an individual’s mood. This can be observed throughout a women’s menstrual cycle. During this time a women’s progesterone levels decrease and their cravings for chocolate increase; thus, combatting the effect of depression during this time (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 2016).

Chocolate and Mood

Conclusion

Although there is a rapid rise in obesity rates and chronic diseases it is incorrect to generalize this to the effect of chocolate products. As shown, there are a great amount of studies that have been conducted in order to explore the health benefits of chocolate. While it is true that chocolate can negatively impact human health, this is not always the case. By focusing on the three factors: type, quality and quantity when consuming chocolate an individual protects him/herself from the negative effects that can be seen when someone over consumes chocolate that has high amounts of sugar and other cheap ingredients. While, most studies focus on dark chocolate and its health benefits there should be more research focused on how to make this type of chocolate more accessible to the entire population. A valuable food product such as chocolate, should not only be restricted to the elite, as it once was with the Aztecs and Maya, but rather consumed and enjoyed by all.

References

  1. Albritton, R. (2010). Between obesity and hunger: The capitalist food industry. Socialist Register,46, Socialist Register, 0, 2010, Vol.46.
  2. Coe, S ., &  Coe, M. 2007[1996]. The True History of Chocolate.
  3. Corti, R. J., Flammer, A. K., Hollenberg, N. F., & Lüscher, T. (2009). Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health. Circulation, 119(10), 1433-1441.
  4. Howe, J. (2012). Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health: The Kuna Case Reconsidered. Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, 12(1), 43-52.
  5. Farhat, G., Drummond, S., Fyfe, L., & Al-Dujaili, E. (2014). Dark Chocolate: An Obesity Paradox or a Culprit for Weight Gain? Phytotherapy Research, 28(6), 791-7.
  6. Squicciarini, M., & Swinnen, J. (2016). The Economics of Chocolate. Oxford: Oxford University Press USA – OSO.
  7.  Zarco, M. (2019, April 27). Personal Interview.

Media Sources

  1. Helen Thompson (2015) Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/healers-once-prescribed-chocolate-aspirin-180954189/
  2. Obesity picture Agovino, Crociata, & Sacco. (2019). Proximity effects in obesity rates in the US: A Spatial Markov Chains approach. Social Science & Medicine, 220, 301-311.
  3. Thad Zajdowicz (2013) https://www.flickr.com/photos/thadz/8442694606/in/photolist-dS41Y7-fg2ZyL-6jQpNU-5eLFT3-dc2XJc-78LhCZ-9dkby-Wzijnb-9dkp3-dkreBi-cjsShW-r7UaVw-7RgL9q-fhQGvd-pxD8nW-R41sXz-kAEWK-33jjq9-numEwn-nT8S8A-qQxxMn-HveCxP-dk3wQG-2e68yHZ-XCQUcV-bPYnb6-PceAo7-59cbXc-Gm9s3T-r9qZtQ-FwDcbQ-e9MeqM-84BqPP-7epu7k-dTbkFa-bF3jXT-Lx6W6e-aaRtjc-9oEEnC-bB4PXh-LRKNNp-om5Zg2-Cn8PZN-4BChg6-nVmLAF-97eFbd-Yy7XmG-bhqF3e-rjy7R6-rdBBQy
  4. Maria (2010) Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/22283683@N07/4545583732/in/photolist-7VFiFj-4dyStM-7QsCBQ-4dyAHB-6pi8JR-q5inYb-7Y5THp-9KdChU-bKAwxt-6swBxJ-qTXSNF-aLkVAg-FQxHi-TdGqbs-5qya4s-7caV2n-4bRGB6-4ArVer-qbY1nk-oHEvfX-7vrzxL-8awcR7-5q7GDC-nVGKEA-8udSQN-fsXJjX-jCYjBS-sJMkc5-6eE3j5-WejGdW-ePdvsA-V4KLJq-fzmv2j-25wKbby-gSp6Z3-VKT7c5-ftUotW-4G6tvK-cWvgEo-gaS4Ya-kiE5kP-aD3NiN-ftUmAU-H2DuEm-FygPDA-GvpHw-cWaVms-ftd733-ftDYKX-fuVaex
  5. Corti, R. J., Flammer, A. K., Hollenberg, N. F., & Lüscher, T. (2009). Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health. Circulation, 119(10), 1433-1441.
  6. Anne-Sophie L. (2008) Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/138239444@N05/25018430565/in/photolist-E7MZM8-7UWcRa-8qUcUj-qLVTnt-eAK3wx-9jbu4U-eAMZ9L-eAN8BL-jM8eNC-s9oLbM-7zS4Fz-nhDXrJ-7zAGxU-a9UNzT-eAKJNv-dAAMx3-9gjX3F-Mhsyxn-bcJ5yc-oA2dUC-Hw9Th1-BYYWma-x4LTKJ-26s2ZCh-6asR3w-2328FqU-afX6Lz-npoZ9m-2fEJXWT-2549poB-Twrra9-TwrHMN-oZjLmN-2549L9V-2egMEAK-Twru69-2egMEsP-dGn9i3-2fEJXYg-2egMFpP-2549qJH-2fA3BZd-bzwC4V-2dveMYY-gYG2Dv-8GXFCs-2egMEjc-2aaVnU5-TwruP3-TwrrpC
  7. Ashlae W (2013) Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/ashlae/8373127601/in/photolist-dKUt7Z-7TcBdj-jZ8c34-4v2jzm-b2KvmK-ZvL9qL-2bcAGnF-2bfCntf-pWTqDb-5RDtxf-8WBdf9-jELJ2b-fHKsK4-23vdxFi-gkrH5-gijbcQ-oxCEWx-dghNKA-5HW26V-cYAWHS-dt8RGa-TRmGXu-7vJfeA-qYDHUv-WfSRJ4-s5NYGL-22EETBU-5u89Wf-nzALTC-meFFc6-oZgrY-nzm6ZG-3sbE5n-6rdzLQ-2auTHYD-dNfLRU-7EAYSg-dNaedK-2auTJSn-26uU6ki-hY9wUG-8CEn2Y-dNL14k-Xfu3LM-4bAvPo-mLfx2-6fJfid-7aEF2E-azgoQD-2aSZYmu
  8. Ehudibur (2012) Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/59463562@N07/7007690176/in/photolist-bFff9q-4gNNGc-2dF3W8f-9yWH1Z-66ooXG-Fm1f5-dcF6vY-bvAT7b-9Mi1vL-9jBm4e-dNA62B-drfE4U-dNA5Up-KFTbu-5mtvq3-dEikrD-2iCKb-b8NfYT-z9d4Zu-e21EbF-vHYaR-SAjR1f-cEfAjA-mZfGsh-7vtoAW-6y6tbg-99wrHd-apeMaV-b8AXyF-4dZaqq-cYmUrE-dEyyQ2-2nr3C-dNA6a8-4JVw1-4HhMH1-87MUp4-a2KhpY-eJBtpB-7h4mtE-7fzpAq-Hu55X-5CgJaM-5qveU-h6GdC-7VektH-5TTNUv-4pDN5-67Bfo5-aQNWSt
  9. Redd Columbia (2016) Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/reddcolumbia/28276812596/in/photolist-K5J4eE-gAeoND-br952Z-e7hyZg-nDGRjp-dfffXc-nDtWFj-5mpGfw-nJ8tLo-4BeCAs-6fjypb-cajYB5-JBvBMX-7hriMG-nSMdkf-CL5v8R-hZwVch-gUTFR5-gUUHVF-5zSMy-c1V94f-bN7wkt-Zii1kn-djofoV-4U2kSg-7P5iNi-doJcmQ-8HhVnm-7BE8Lb-7JApJ-e4V85D-7QKsAQ-Yqu3Ub-7P5kwP-2Y5aVS-4QsXEo-5cTK8K-9iVujV-dULsLe-48dMVa-6nkWYZ-s65kkx-p9jbu-7FUXtc-9axeG6-7bo2ir-2khRVs-6ifXGC-3DsAS-9HBXF4

Divine Chocolate: Innovative, Fair, and Delicious

Introduction

A major problem that has existed within the chocolate production industry has been the ethics surrounding the harvesting of cacao. For decades the means of harvesting cacao involved slavery where people were forced to work in harsh conditions, for 18 hours a day without pay (Carla Martin, Lecture 5). After the major cacao producing countries outlawed slavery, the working conditions still didn’t improve and the pay the workers received was not nearly enough to live. In fact, because many of the cacao producing farms were hidden in the jungle, many farm owners still got away with slavery because the lack of visibility meant the farm owners weren’t held accountable for their unethical standards. Even today visibility and pay are still a major problem in the cacao farming industry. In 2015, the average income for a Ghanaian household working in the cacao farming industry was between 50 and 80 cents per day (Carla Martin, Lecture 7).  However, one company that is working to bring ethics and visibility to the cacao farming and chocolate production industries is Divine Chocolate. 

Divine Beginnings

Divine Chocolate is a British bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer that was founded in 1998. Their mission is to create delicious and ethical chocolate from the harvesting of the cacao beans, to the selling of the bars. They also, ensure that all other ingredients that go into their chocolate bars are produced in an ethical manner. Divine Chocolate was created when Twin Trading and Kuapa Kokoo came together with the goal of changing the world cacao market for the better.  Twin Trading is a non-governmental organization that creates farming co-operatives around the world. They focus on improving the working conditions and paying fair wages to farmers. Their main focus is on the ethical farming of coffee, cacao, and nuts (“Who We Are”). One of their farming co-ops is called Kuapa Kokoo, which is a farming co-op in Ghana that grows and trades cacao. Kuapa Kokoo is comprised of 85,000 farmers from 1,257 different villages (“About Us”). That number continues to grow because of the exceptional way they treat and pay their farming members. All of the cacao that goes into the Divine Chocolate bars are grown by farmers in the Kuapa Kokoo farming co-op. 

Scorecard grading the ethical standards of chocolate companies
Image Source

Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative

Kuapa Kokoo was founded in 1993 and it means “good cacao growers”. Their mission is “to empower farmers in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women’s participation in Kuapa’s activities, and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa” (“The Divine Story”).  In, 1995, Kuapa Kokoo was the first small farm farmers’ organization in West Africa to receive the Fairtrade certification. They ensure the farmers are working reasonable hours, with sufficient breaks, and proper pay. Kuapa Kokoo does all the administrative work that goes into trading cacao and bypasses all the shady government cacao agents. This is to ensure visibility, fairness and that the farmers are not getting swindled by government agents or other entities with ulterior motives. Specifically, Kuapa Kokoo, “weighs, bags, and transports the cocoa to market [and] ensures that all its activities are transparent, accountable and democratic (“The Divine Story”). Before the Kuapa Kokoo co-op existed, government agencies would use faulty scales that misrepresented the true weight of a farmer’s cacao harvest. This allowed them to steal from unsuspecting farmers which further harmed them. 

Structure of Divine Chocolate and Kuapa Kokoo 

Where Divine Chocolate is especially unique is in their company structure. Today, 44% of Divine Chocolate is owned by the Kuapa Kokoo farming Co-op. In other words, this means that each farmer in the Kuapa Kokoo co-op has a small ownership stake in Divine Chocolate. This unique business structure earned Divine Chocolate the Millennium Product award “for its innovative organizational model” (“Inside Divine”). This is the first company in the world where the cacao farmers have a stake in the chocolate company they are harvesting for. This is significant because Kuapa Kokoo and its farming members now have a say in how Divine manufactures, markets, and sells their products. Because the farmers partially own Divine chocolate and Kuapa Kokoo is a Fairtrade co-op, the farmers are paid exceedingly better than they were before. Receiving a cut of Divine’s profit, having a say in Divine’s operations, and having an influence in the worldwide marketplace has greatly empowered and motivated the farmers because now their work is properly valued, their ideas are considered, and their well-being is a priority. 

Divine is committed to ensuring that farmers of Kuapa Kokoo have a voice in the company. Currently two out of the five members of Divine’s Board of Directors are from Kuapa Kokoo. Divine also ensures that at least one out of the four yearly board meetings are held in Ghana (“Inside Divine”). This ensures that all the farmers can witness and participate in the company in a meaningful way. 

Video showing the success that Kuapa Kokoo and Divine Chocolate’s partnership has generated

Goodness in Ghana

The effect that Divine Chocolate and Kuapa Kokoo has had on the community has been immeasurable. First, because Kuapa Kokoo is a Fairtrade co-op, they receive a Fairtrade premium. The Fairtrade premium is a grant of additional money given to the co-op so the farmers can collectively decide how to improve their community and their workplace. With this premium, the farmers have invested in community development, farm skill development, clean water, improving education, and several other things that improve the lifestyle of those in the community (“The Divine Story”). They similarly receive dividends from Divine Chocolate which allows the farmers to upgrade equipment yearly so as to ensure high levels of production.

Kuapa Kokoo is also deeply concerned with social and environmental issues. They been on the forefront of speaking out against child labor because they understand that this is still a major problem that needs to be address throughout the industry. They also have created several goals that are aimed at improving the environment and increasing productivity while still adapting to environmental changes. 

Worldwide Effect

Divine Chocolate has also had a large effect on the global chocolate market. They have set an extraordinary example of how to ethically run a chocolate company. Since their founding in 1998, the number of Fairtrade chocolate sales in the UK has skyrocketed by more than 8800%. Many of the major chocolate companies have also made a shift to become more Fairtrade. Divine Chocolate’s success inspired Cadbury to convert Cadbury Dairy Milk to Fairtrade. This was a major move because, not only was Cadbury Dairy Milk its leading brand, but Cadbury was also one of the major five chocolate companies in the world so having them convert even one product to Fairtrade had a major effect on a lot of people worldwide (“The Divine Story”). In the years following Cadbury’s move, Nestlé and Mars began buying cocoa from Cote D’Ivoire which was the beginning of their process to partially convert to Fairtrade. By 2013, the shift to Fairtrade chocolate worldwide was in full swing. In the UK specifically, in 2013 eleven percent of the chocolate sold was deemed Fairtrade (“The Divine Story”). Divine Chocolate takes pride in the fact that they were one of the first companies to commit themselves to Fairtrade ethics and they are even prouder that their example has inspired other companies to commit to Fairtrade production. 

Graph showing the large increase in Fairtrade Chocolate Sales in the UK
Image Source

Divine in the US

As I mentioned before, Divine Chocolate was a company that headquartered and sold only in the UK. However, in 2007, with the help of Oikocredit, (a company that provides loans and capital), Divine Chocolate was able to launch its United States branch of the company. In fact, Divine Chocolate launched in the United States on Valentine’s Day 2007 which is the day the most chocolate is bought and consumed in the United States (“The Divine Story”). Their original launch was very small; however, now Divine Chocolate is sold at Whole Foods, Walgreens, Walmart, and through Amazon.com.

In 2015, after the Divine Chocolate USA branch gained solid footing in the American market, Divine Chocolate merged their UK and USA branches to form one unified company. With this new structure, the Kuapa Kokoo co-op still remained 44% owners of the company (“Inside Divine”). The CEO of the newly merged company was Sophi Tranchell. She was a managing director from the UK branch of the company before they made the merge. After the merger she said, “Having launched Divine in the USA nine years after the founding company launched in the UK, it has been very exciting to see it successfully navigate all the challenges in the USA market and mirror the success of Divine in the UK. We have seen a growing appetite around the world for business being done differently” (“Inside Divine”). In this statement Sophi Tranchell alludes to the fact that Americans became more aware of the issues involved with products that weren’t Fairtraded. This heightened people’s willingness to purchase Fairtraded chocolate even though they are typically more expensive. Sophi also mentions how the added American dimension to the company makes their global reach much larger and makes Divine stronger because they can inspire and market to a completely different group of people. Furthermore, the new market allows Divine “to deliver [on their] mission to fairly and sustainably remunerate smallholder cocoa farmers in West Africa” (“Inside Divine”). This larger market means more profit which, in turn, means more money for the farmers who need it the most. 

Uniqueness in the Fairtrade Chocolate Market

One way that Divine Chocolate differentiates itself from a lot of other bean-to-bar Fairtrade chocolate companies is through the products they offer. Many bean-to-bar Fairtrade chocolate companies only offer dark chocolate. This is very problematic because the majority of the global market prefers milk chocolate and, if there are no Fairtrade options, consumers are forced to turn to the big 5 chocolate companies which are generally not Fairtrade. In fact, in a 2013 survey it was found that 51 percent of people prefer milk chocolate, 35 percent prefer dark, and 8 percent prefer white chocolate (Ballard). However, Divine helps fill this gap in the Fairtrade chocolate market because they offer all three types of chocolate in a variety of different flavors which very few companies do. Divine, along with a few other diverse Fairtraded chocolate companies , are helping take power away from the Big 5 Chocolate companies that are not fairly traded. 

Shows the wide variety of chocolates and flavors that Divine offers
Image Source

Outlook

Divines presence in the world market place is growing nicely. I believe Divine Chocolate will continue to grow and thrive in the Fairtrade Chocolate market. Last year group sales increased 6.4%, however the impending Brexit decision has affected their overall profit margins mostly because of the decline in value of the dollar and pound in relation to the Euro (Annual Report 2017-2018). Nevertheless, the number of sales increased nicely from the year before and, once the turmoil surrounding Brexit is resolved, the increase in sales will begin to show in their balance sheet. 

Kuapa Kokoo is also flourishing as they now produce almost 5 percent of Ghanaian cacao, which equates to about 640,000 sacks of cacao a year (“The Divine Story”). While 5 percent may seem small, the most important thing is that it is all produced and sold ethically, while prioritizing the health of its workers and the environment. Divine also has plans within the next year to expand its range of cacao to São Tomé (Annual Report 2017-2018). This will broaden their market appeal and it will allow them to bring their groundbreaking business model to the people of São Tomé. The farmers on São Tomé have historically been treated very poorly over the years and they will greatly benefit from Divine’s co-op business model. 

Conclusion

I think things are looking up on all fronts for Divine Chocolate. Their commitment for over 20 years to empower the farmer has transformed thousands of people’s lives. It is very important that Divine continues with their mission because, while they have made a big impact already, there is still a lot of work to be done in the global market place. All in all, Divine has done a great job addressing the major problems in the chocolate industry that we have discussed in class. They have increased visibility, paid fairly, and empowered the farmer so that participating in the bean-to-bar chocolate making industry is desirable and sustainable for everyone from the top to the bottom. 

Scholarly Sources Cited
Multimedia Sources Cited

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.

From Producers and Consumers to Producing Consumers: Nestlé and the Weaponization of Brazilian Women

In a dense Rio favela or small Amazonian village at current day, you might meet someone much like Celene da Silva, who at 29 manages her own small business. This is no small feat for a woman from one of the most impoverished areas in the world. Armed with only a pushcart, da Silva travels door to door, selling infant milk products, candy bars, puddings, and cereals to her many clients.[i]

In the small town of Vevey, Germany (now Switzerland) at the turn of the 20th century, you might have stumbled upon Henri Nestlé, also a small business owner. Using his pharmaceutical background, Nestlé invented a milk alternative known as infant formula by combining cow’s milk, flour, and sugar.[ii] What, then, links a modern-day Brazilian entrepreneur to small-town German pharmacist? What if I told you they worked for the same company?

Da Silva, along with thousands of other Brazilian women, has been recruited and trained as a door-to-door vendor for Nestlé–the world’s largest food conglomerate with some of the most aggressive marketing practices in history. Vendors are dispatched throughout Brazilian cities and countrysides, offering “nutrient-rich” processed foods from a selection of over 800 products.[iii] Even in hard to reach areas, where geography or social stigma prevent women from vending, Nestlé has found a strategy. Pictured below is a Nestlé-sponsored boat, which travels remote Amazonian tributaries as a floating supermarket offering products to “isolated” consumers.[iv] Clients are often only interested in a handful of these products, however, with foods like Kit Kat bars, Nescau 2.0 (a sugary chocolate powder), chocolate pudding, and cookies being ordered the most.[v]

59c12a9538d20d7f378b76e8-480-320.jpg

What complicates matters is Brazil’s tortured history with chocolate–once one of the top producers of cacao, the country has faced severe drought in recent years.[vi] Look at the country’s historic disconnect between production and consumption, namely due to slavery, and Nestlé’s door-to-door program appears particularly menacing. The anthropologist Sidney Mintz most accurately encapsulates this divide in his 1985 seminal work Sweetness and Power, writing of 20th century “It is not ironical to point out that the white migrants would soon be eating more sugar, produced by the nonwhite migrants at lower wages, and producing finished goods at higher wages to be consumed by the nonwhite migrants.”[vii] Many of these “finished goods” are now sold by Nestlé, who while relying on the labor of cacao farmers in countries like Brazil then dilutes products with sugar and milk to sell them at a profit. While Nestle’s door-to-door vendor program has disrupted the feminization of poverty, its attempt to turn sites of production into sites of consumption has come with devastating health effects.

Nestlé’s strict hiring quotas have allowed it to conceal its aggressive marketing efforts under the guise of gender equity. By employing over 7,000 saleswomen and 200 microdistributors,[viii] all women with little to no previous job experience, Nestlé has established a strong relationship with the Brazilian government and managed relatively little international oversight. In fact, in 2014 alone food companies donated a total of $158 million to Brazil’s National Congress.[ix] For women on the ground like Celene da Silva, the program has also brought much-needed economic empowerment. As the New York Times details, “With an expanding roster of customers, Mrs. da Silva has set her sights on a new goal, one she says will increase business even more…’I want to buy a bigger refrigerator.’”[x] Da Silva’s strong relationship with the women in her neighborhood, coupled with Nestlé’s one-month layaway plan timed to match the government-funded food stipend program, has stabilized her income.[xi] Despite the fact that she herself is 200 overweight with high blood pressure, da Silva, like many vendors, believes in her employer’s commitment to health. The question then becomes, however, the limit to employing women whose life spans will be shortened by their own products.

Nestlé’s marketing practices rely on notions of their products as healthy in order to attract the support of governments and consumers alike. Along with lobbying and employing women as door-to-door vendors, the company aligns its brand with nutrition and exercise to garner attention. As consumers in the U.S. have given up sugary chocolate products in favor of healthier foods, Nestlé has moved to introduce these same products to even the most remote parts of the Amazon by adding commonly deficient vitamins and minerals. The chocolate powder Nescau 2.0, for example, claims to be “packed with calcium and niacin.”[xii] As Professor Susan George writes in “The Limits to Public Relations,” Nestle is one of the only companies to so publically document these efforts. She says, “Very rarely do multinational corporations provide details of their activities in underdeveloped countries. Nestle is an exception.”[xiii] This distinct tactic is what has strengthened the trust between vendors and their company. As da Silva explains, “Everyone here knows that Nestlé products are good for you.”

Brazil serves as a case study in the transformation of a country from cacao producer to chocolate product consumer. The public health effects of Nestlé’s aggressive marketing campaigns are only beginning to be studied, as are alternatives. As one Nestlé consultant points out, “If I ask 100 Brazilian families to stop eating processed food, I have to ask myself: What will they eat? Who will feed them? How much will it cost?”[xiv] Processed foods have undoubtedly provided a solution to the issue of overpopulation, but have failed to nutritionally benefit consumers. The story of Nestlé and Brazil has often been one of deceit, in which sugar-laden chocolate products are billed as nutritional through women’s empowerment programs in an effort to target communities with poor records on gender equity and public health. The question then becomes how to balance demand with accessibility, affordability, and nutrition–without exploiting vulnerable populations.

 

 

 

 

 

[i] Jacobs, Andrew. “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food.” The New York Times, September 16, 2017, sec. Health. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/16/health/brazil-obesity-nestle.html.

[ii] Owles, Eric. “How Nestlé Expanded Beyond the Kitchen.” The New York Times, June 27, 2017, sec. DealBook. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/business/dealbook/nestle-chocolate-milk-coffee-history.html.

[iii] Jacobs, Andrew. “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food.” The New York Times, September 16, 2017, sec. Health. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/16/health/brazil-obesity-nestle.html.

[iv] Garfield, Leanna. “Nestlé Sponsored a River Barge to Create a ‘floating Supermarket’ That Sold Candy and Chocolate Pudding to the Backwoods of Brazil.” Business Insider. Accessed March 20, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/nestl-expands-brazil-river-barge-2017-9.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] “Chocolate Has New Latin King as Ecuador Overtakes Brazil.” Bloomberg.Com, January 21, 2014. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-01-20/cocoa-has-new-latin-america-king-as-ecuador-beats-brazil.

[vii] Mintz, Sidney Wilfred. Sweetness and power: The place of sugar in modern history. Penguin, 1986.

[viii] “Door-to-Door Sales of Fortified Products.” https://www.nestle.com. Accessed March 19, 2018. https://www.nestle.com/csv/case-studies/allcasestudies/door-to-doorsalesoffortifiedproducts,brazil.

[ix] Jacobs, Andrew. “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food.” The New York Times, September 16, 2017, sec. Health. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/16/health/brazil-obesity-nestle.html.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] George, Susan. “Nestle Alimentana SA: the limits to public relations.” Economic and Political Weekly (1978): 1591-1602.

[xiv] Jacobs, Andrew. “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food.” The New York Times, September 16, 2017, sec. Health. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/16/health/brazil-obesity-nestle.html.

Tasting Chocolate or Tasting Sugar?

I held a chocolate tasting with 8 of my friends, and my goal of this chocolate tasting was to assess my friends’ preferences regarding cacao and sugar content. I selected 6 varieties of chocolate containing cacao percentages ranging from 11% to 95%. My theory was that people would prefer chocolate that contains more sugar per serving and less cacao. I believed this to be true because of the way modern Western society thinks about sugar. The results highlighted Western society’s taste for sugar, but they also illustrated other ideas related to what we have been studying.

I tried to create a controlled experiment by removing wrappers and breaking each bar into similar sized pieces. I put the chocolate samples into bowls and had my friends begin with Sample 6, the darkest sample, because of what Professor Martin mentioned in class.

Like the process Barb Stuckey writes about when tasting food, I wanted the subjects to taste the food from “two different perspectives.” First, to “think critically about what [they] taste” and second “to consider whether [they] like it or not” (Stuckey, 134). Following this guideline, I had comment cards for each sample where my friends would write about what they tasted and on the back rank how much they liked the sample from a scale of 1 to 5.

IMG_4358.jpg
The samples arranged from least to most cacao (left to right).

After the test was finished, I averaged the rankings into a decimal value. I first will present the results of the experiment, and then I will analyze the results. In lieu of including every comment, I will list any words that appeared more than once, or any descriptors that stand out in the context of what we have been learning in class. Many of the comments touch upon social and historical issues regarding the history of chocolate in America and the world.

THE RESULTS:

SAMPLE 1: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar:  Hersheybar

Cacao: 11%

Sugar: 24g per serving

Average taste ranking: 3.05

Frequent descriptions: sweet (5), hersheys (2), waxy (2)

Notable descriptions: “God, heaven, promised land,” “tastes the most like chocolate”, “sour, milk”

SAMPLE 2:  Chocolove XOXOX Milk chocolate 176046b9870bda4f8b0a145311f326ac.jpg

Cacao: 33%

Sugar: 16g per 1/3 bar

Average taste ranking: 3.74

Frequent descriptions: creamy (4), smooth (2), caramel (3), sweet (3), sugary (2)

Notable descriptions: “aggressively sweet aftertaste,” “luxurious,” “melts in mouth”

SAMPLE 3: Original Lily’s Dark Chocolate Lilys-Original_WS_LLR1

Cacao: 55%

Sugar: less than 1g, sweetened with Stevia**

Average taste ranking: 3.36

Frequent descriptions: sweet (3), coconut (3), not bad (2), simple/one-note (2)

Notable descriptions: “no kick” “not as bad but still not good”

SAMPLE 4: Raaka Smoked Chai 

Cacao: 66%41RLxHTcxsL

Sugar: 10g per half bar

Average taste ranking:  3.67

Frequent descriptions: sweet (6), vanilla (3)

Notable descriptions: “maybe 60% cocoa,” “chalky texture”

SAMPLE 5: GREEN & BLACK’S Organic DARK 85% green-blacks-organic-85-percent-dark-cacao-bar.jpg

Cacao: 85%

Sugar: 5g per 12 pieces

Average taste ranking: 2.78

Frequent descriptions: bitter (3), fruity (2), citrusy (2),

Notable descriptions: “hard to take a big bite”

SAMPLE 6: Taza Wicked Dark 95% wicked_dark_bar_large

Cacao: 95%

Sugar: 2g per ½ packaging

Average taste ranking: 1.64

Frequent descriptions:  bitter (3), sour (3), chalky (2), acidic (2)

Notable descriptions: “can still taste it 5 minutes later,” “earthy,” “almost like black coffee,” “This is Taza”

A brief video of my friends’ reaction to the very dark chocolate

ANALYSIS OF RESULTS:

Based on taste preferences, the group liked the chocolate in this order:

Sample 2 (33%), Sample 4 (66%), Sample 3 (55%), Sample 1 (11%), Sample 5 (85%), Sample 6 (95%)

My original theory was not exactly correct – people did not like the Hershey’s chocolate the most. However, my hypothesis that milk chocolate was favored over dark chocolate remains true. The two darkest varieties of chocolate were ranked last, and the highest ranked chocolate was milk chocolate.

First and foremost, I would like to analyze the involvement of sugar and how that relates to chocolate as well as the distinguishable taste of Hershey’s chocolate.

HERSHEY’S IS DISTINCTIVE:

398px-Hershey's_Chocolate_World.jpg
Hershey’s is such a distinctive brand, there are stores fully devoted to selling it.

Hershey’s chocolate (Sample 1) was the most polarizing, with a scale from 0.5 (Although the scale started at 1, I included this piece of data anyway) to a 5. No other sample had both the lowest and highest ranking. I believe that the polarizing nature of Hershey’s comes from both the high sugar content and the unique ingredients.

In his book Hershey, Michael D’Antonio writes that “Hershey’s milk chocolate has had a distinct flavor. It is sweet… but it also carries a single, faintly sour note. This slight difference is caused by the fermentation of milk fat, an unexpected side effect of Schmalbach’s process.” (D’Antonio, 108) The comment “sour milk” reflects that flavor. Hershey’s is certainly distinctive. I want to address the two notable comments, “God, heaven, promised land” and “tastes the most like chocolate.”  D’Antonio writes that Hershey’s “define[s] the taste of chocolate for Americans” (D’Antonio, 108). My tasting proved that for at least two of my friends, this idea is true.

SUGAR AND CHOCOLATE:

Robert Albritton, in “Between Obesity and Hunger: The Capitalist Food Industry” writes that “Sweetness is the most desired taste to the point that many if not most people can easily be caught up in an ‘excessive appetite for it.’” Americans consume about 31 teaspoons of added sugars every day, he writes (Albritton, 343). According to Albritton, “the addictive quality of sugar can be compared to that of cigarettes.” (Albritton, 343).

My mother finds sugar incredibly addictive. She has combated sugar’s negative health effects by avoiding all added sugar all year except for her birthday. I asked her to tell me about her experience with sugar…

“In college, after a night out, we decided to get a midnight snack. For me it ended up being an entire ice cream pie. Even though I felt sick about a third of the way through, I couldn’t stop eating it until there was none left. I decided that night that I would never eat sweets again—or anything with processed sugar if I could avoid it. Then I decided I could have sugar once a year-on my birthday. To me, the idea of eating a few M&M’s and then stopping is impossible. It is FAR easier to eat no sweets, rather than sweets in moderation. The hardest day of the year to continue this is the day after my birthday. I wake up wanting M&M’s. The rest of the year it’s easy. I don’t crave sweets or feel I’m missing out. Zero is easier then some.”

For most people, cutting out sugar completely is not the answer because it is very hard to do. Added sugar is in everything. But the facts are there—Americans eat too much sugar, and diabetes and obesity are on the rise. What is one to do?

From scientific and anecdotal evidence, it is clear that sugar is addictive and unhealthy in excess. So why isn’t the government doing anything about it? This question leads us to examine the role of government as a whole. In fact, according to Albritton, the sugar industry has an enormous impact on legislation passed by congress. He mentions the 2003 instance where the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) proposed that “added sugars should not exceed 10 percent of daily calorie intake.” However, “this was too much for the US sugar industry to swallow, and they threatened to lobby congress to cut off its $400,000 annual funding of the WHO and FAO if they did not remove the offending norm from their report” (Albritton, 345). And in fact, the UN did remove the guideline. This one example highlights a larger problem – the sugar industry is massive and can control parts of the government. Since the government currently is unable to provide solutions to the “obesity pandemic,” I believe that the next best thing is to educate children about what they are eating and try and provide affordable healthy options. This idea is obviously a much more complex problem, and requires much more thought and analysis than this one blog post. However, one potential solution for excessive sugar intake is sugar substitutes.

STEVIA AS A REPLACEMENT:

As a sort of experiment within my tasting, I included a sample that was sweetened with Stevia rather than sugar. Stevia is a plant-based zero-calorie sweetener. Stevia, like other

1280px-Stevia_plant.jpg
The Stevia plant that the sweetener is derived from.

artificial sweeteners, is between 100 and 300 times sweeter than sugar (Stevia, 2017). Sample 3, containing 55% Cacao and no sugar was ranked 3rd overall in the results. Many of the comments about Sample 3 included some variation of “simple.” After trying it myself, I must agree that the flavor is not very nuanced – once on your tongue there is no evolution. However, not one person questioned the contents of this bar or noted that it tasted fake, a common criticism of artificial sweeteners. According to the testers, this chocolate fit in with the others, and during the taste test, none of them knew it was sweetened with Stevia. While scientists and nutritionists debate the merits and side effects of artificial sweeteners, this Stevia sweetened chocolate bar appears to be an alternative for a person trying to limit sugar intake. Artificial sweeteners do not address the larger problems with the sugar industry. However, this experiment has shown that there are other options for those trying to eat less “real” sugar, and they taste pretty good too! One other caveat is the price point of this chocolate bar—At Whole Foods it cost $4.89, compared to a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar that costs $0.98 at Walmart, so these alternatives are not accessible to everyone.

 

WHY ELSE CHOCOLOVE WON?

After analyzing the comments, I believe that sugar and sweetness was not the only reason Chocolove was ranked the highest.

David Benton in The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving posits that chocolate cravings come from the “sensory experience associated with eating chocolate, rather than pharmacological constituents” (Benton, 214).

According to Benton, the optimal combination of sugar and fat for palatability “was found to be 7.6% sugar with cream containing 24.7% fat” (Benton, 214). Chocolate contains way more than the “optimal” amount of sugar for taste, however, more sugar is needed “to counteract the bitterness of chocolate.”

Therefore, milk chocolate has “the optimal combination of sweetness and fat.”

Benton also refers to “the melting of chocolate just below body temperature with the resulting mouth-feel,” which adds to the “hedonic experience” and thus the pleasure of eating chocolate. The comments about Sample 2, the Chocolove bar are consistent with this data—this winning chocolate was mostly referenced as creamy, with a note about “melts in mouth.” In direct opposition with those comments, the highest cacao content bar (Sample 6) had notes about its texture too. Many listed it is “chalky.” To me, it is grainy. Chalky and grainy are the opposite of smooth and melty, so perhaps this texture contributed to people’s not liking it.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, this tasting resulted in new ideas and affirmed old ones.

Some other details of this not-so-scientific study may be important to note. My taste testers were all in between the ages of 18 and 20 and all grew up consuming American chocolate. I expect the results might have changed with people from other countries.

If I were just focusing on cacao content, it would have been more effective to use different bars from the same brand. However, I wanted to look at other aspects of chocolate, like stevia as a sweetener and texture, which was why I used a variety of brands. In fact, subjects commented on the terroir of the chocolate without even realizing. Sample 3 and Sample 5 both had comments about flavors that were not listed in the ingredients, illustrated how flavor can be affected by many different things. In Sample 3, three people noted a “coconut” flavor that does not appear in the ingredients. For Sample 5, four people tasted fruity or citrusy notes Even those untrained in chocolate could pick up different notes in different bars of chocolates.

Finally, although some comments mentioned aftertaste, I did not instruct the testers to think about it or aroma. I should have, as they contribute to the overall experience of chocolate.

The testing and subsequent conversations with friends revealed the way chocolate and sugar fit into our lives. In today’s society, we crave sugar, and this study showed that chocolates containing more sugar were perceived as “better” than those containing very little.

The leftovers from the tasting further illustrate the preference for milk chocolate. In the tasting, most people did not finish the full piece of Sample 5 or 6. After the tasting was finished, I offered the leftover samples to everyone, and Samples 1, 2 and 3 were gone almost immediately. Even though Hershey’s chocolate ranked lower on the scale, people ate more of it. Based off of this tasting and conversations with friends and family, Chocolate is hard to resist and even harder to stop eating once we start. The results reflect America’s obsession with sugar by the less distinctive higher fat/sugar chocolate being ranked higher.

Benton argues that addiction may not be the correct word in the context of chocolate “Most people eat chocolate on a regular basis without any signs of its getting out of control, without signs of tolerance or dependence” (Benton, 215). Yet, from my personal experience and that of my friends, many of us do have a problem with chocolate eating getting out of control. I asked my sister what happens when she eats chocolate.

“If it’s in front of me, especially when I have no energy to control myself, I just eat it all. I can’t eat just some,” she said. My twin brother said the same: “For me, sugar is addictive in the very short term; once I start eating I can’t stop.”

800px-10_month_old_baby_eating_chocolate
Even babies love chocolate!

A friend from the tasting talked about the same thing. “Usually I eat more than I planned to,” my friend Simone said. For some, dark chocolate can circumvent this overeating issue. My friend Rachel said about chocolate: “I love chocolate. But if it’s super rich. I love it for a bit and then I’m done.”

Overall, the testing showed that most people prefer milk chocolate and chocolate containing more sugar over very dark chocolate, highlighting issues with the sugar industry.

 

SOURCES

Albritton, Robert. “Between Obesity and Hunger: The Capitalist Food Industry.” Food and Culture. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. 342-51. Print.

Benton, David. “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving.” Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2004. 205-19. Print.

“Comprehensive Online Resource for Articles, Recipes & News.” Stevia.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2017.

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

Stuckey, Bark. Taste What You’re Missing: the Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Food Tastes Good. New York: Free Press, 2012. Print.

Image sources:

Image 1: My photography

Image 2:  Wikipedia. Hershey bar wrapper image. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hershey_bar.

Image 3:  Jet.Chocolove XOXOX Milk bar. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. jet.com/product/Chocolove-XOXO-Milk-Chocolate-Bar-32-oz/dfd113b9fd134cca9e6a2c1c4d7f187f.

Image 4:  Lily’s Sweets. Lily’s Dark Chocolate Bar Wrapper. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. http://lilyssweets.com/dark-chocolate-bars/

Image 5:  Amazon. Raaka Smoked Chai Bar. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. https://www.amazon.com/Raaka-Smoked-Chai-Cacao-Chocolate/dp/B00QOU89I0

Image 6:  Green And Black. Organic 85% Cacao Bar Wrapper.Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. http://us.greenandblacks.com/organic-85-dark-cacao-bar.html

Image 7: Taza Chocolate. Wicked Dark Chocolate Wrapper. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. https://www.tazachocolate.com/products/wicked-dark

Image 8: Supercarwaar. Hershey World Outside.Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHershey’s_Chocolate_World.jpg

Image 9:Robert Lynch. Stevia Plant Leaf. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. https://pixabay.com/en/stevia-leaf-sugar-plant-sweetness-74187/

Image 10:  Maurajbo. Baby Wit Chocolate on Face. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:10_month_old_baby_eating_chocolate.jpg

 

 

Nestlé’s Milk Chocolate & its Fortuitous Beginnings

Milk chocolate was once a special, distinct variant of the chocolate so cherished in 19th century America, and although households across the country enjoyed it all the same, it was a new, different experience from the usual. Today, milk chocolate is chocolate, and with the merging of these two concepts into one, a stark dichotomy between the past and the present is established. What was at first an original idea is now the accepted norm. What was formerly considered novel is now convention by popular demand. And what was in the beginning a humble invention, is now the leading product of the entire industry. However, milk chocolate was never expected to give rise to the largest corporations of the past century, nor was it ever meant to replace the standard so quickly. Rather, milk chocolate was brought about by the creation of a commodity hardly related to candy at all. This revolutionary good was nothing more than the powdered milk every mother is familiar with, but in developing it, Henri Nestlé also became the unanticipated inventor of the world’s first milk chocolate bar (Nestlé, “History”). As such, the sweet, luscious treats that have now redefined chocolate itself, owe their existence to a mere coincidence, a matter of excellent fortune, and the combined efforts of a Swiss nutritionist and his neighbor candle-maker.

To truly appreciate how far milk chocolate has come, one needs to look no further than the food’s fortuitous beginnings. It all started in Vevey, Switzerland, where an altruistic pharmacist, in the hopes of saving the life of his neighbor’s child, put together a mixture of “cow’s milk, wheat flour, and sugar,” a combination he referred to as “Farine lactée” (Nestlé, “History”).

Henri Nestlé's Farine lactée, a combination of cow's milk, wheat flour, and sugar
Henri Nestlé’s Farine lactée, a combination of cow’s milk, wheat flour, and sugar

The pharmacist, of course, was Henri Nestlé, and although his first steps towards the invention of milk chocolate was instead in the direction of infant nutrition, his greatest discovery paved the way for both. In 1867, Nestlé demonstrated for the first time a process to make powdered milk by evaporation (Coe, Coe 250). The resulting formula could not only be preserved for a greater duration of time, but also prepared into liquid milk for feeding infants wherever, whenever. This newfound portability and convenience provided more freedom for young mothers everywhere, allowing many to take advantage of the extra time in their daily routines. Thus, with society’s increasing dependence on Nestlé’s product, his recently founded firm soared to unimaginable heights, but it did not get there on baby formula alone.

A 1903 magazine ad for Henri Nestlé's powdered, milk-based baby food
A 1903 magazine ad for Henri Nestlé’s powdered, milk-based baby food

Henri Nestlé is known for his work in the confectionery business, but by solely crediting him for the creation of milk chocolate, the world neglects to acknowledge the equally important contributions of his partner, Daniel Peter. As a candle-maker at the time, Peter’s connections to chocolate may have been even less aligned than Nestlé’s, but when he married into a family of chocolatiers, he became the missing link between the pharmacist’s independent endeavors and the delicious candy people love today (Peter’s Chocolate, “Our Rich History”). In fact, Nestlé’s neighbor, whose child he saved, was none other than Daniel Peter himself, and ever since then, Peter was inspired to create his own milk product. However, perfecting this blend with chocolate was no easy task. Due to the high water content in normal milk, simply combining it with cocoa paste always ended in a rancid, inedible failure (Presence Switzerland, “Daniel Peter”). Nevertheless, in 1879, Peter’s breakthrough came with his neighbor’s help once again. The two devised a simple plan of using Nestlé’s condensed milk and drying the mixture before adding the necessary cocoa butter (Coe, Coe 250). This method not only produced creamy milk chocolate bars without the original bitterness, but it also enabled manufacturers to reduce the proportion of cocoa used in their goods, paving the way for mass production in factories like Hershey and Mars. If Nestlé represented the milk of milk chocolate, then through the collaboration between these two men, Daniel Peter was without a doubt, the once missing, chocolate half.

Daniel Peter called his new chocolate product "Gala" the Greek word for "milk"
Daniel Peter called his new chocolate product “Gala” the Greek word for “milk”

The chain reaction of events that led to the development of milk chocolate began as an entirely separate incident, one completely unrelated to the food at all. If not for Nestlé’s powdered milk or Peter’s confectionery experience, the course of chocolate’s culinary history would have taken a completely different route, one without the large corporations, wide-reaching economic influences, and the avid fans everywhere. Fortunately, that isn’t the case, and the world has a pharmacist, a candle-maker, and Lady Luck to thank for that.

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.

"Farine Lactee." Nestlé: Good Food, Good Life. Nestlé, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. <http://www.nestle.com.my/csv/creatingsharedvaluecasestudies>.

"Gala Peter Chocolate." Milk Chocolate: History of Milk Chocolate. Whats's Cooking America, 2004. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. <http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/MilkChocolate.htm>.

"Nestlé’s Food." History Spaces: Out of the past. Blogger, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. <http://historyspaces.blogspot.com/2012/03/history-of-chocolate-chip-cookie-and.html>.

Nestlé. "History." Nestlé: Good Food, Good Life. Nestlé, 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. <http://www.nestle.com/aboutus/history#>.

"Our Rich History." Peter's Chocolate. Cargill, 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. <http://www.peterschocolate.com/pages/history.html>.

Presence Switzerland, ed. "Daniel Peter." Swssworld.org: Switzerland's Official Information Portal. Ed. Presence Switzerland. Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. <http://www.swissworld.org/en/people/portraits_chocolate_makers/daniel_peter/>.