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OoO SHE BAD!

Chocolate, Sex, and Passionate Indulgences

  1. A Contextual History: The Ancient Origins of Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac

Introduction

In class, we discussed the relationship between Valentine’s Day and chocolate.  Because it is a Victorian-created holiday that can seem to a skeptic more of a consumerist ploy than a celebration of love, one may argue that the importance placed upon Valentine’s Day is in our culture is inflated.  Sure, maybe Valentine’s Day is just a (highly-gendered and heteronormative) convention, but nobody can deny the centrality of chocolate in its celebration. Many foods are said to have aphrodisiac qualities, but chocolate is amongst the most renowned.  The passion elicited from its indulgence dates back centuries. The Maya considered cacao sacred, encouraging its consumption during highly emotional or spiritual events like marriage and fertility rituals as well as death rites. In more transgressive accounts, Aztec emperor Montezuma consumed a gluttonous amount of chocolate each day to boost his sexual stamina.  This essay serves to trace the entwinement of chocolate, sex, and passionate indulgences through the contemporary state of the cacao-chocolate industry while situating it in its appropriate historical context.

The ephemeral nature of cacao consumption’s association with aphrodisiac qualities divulges a corollary truth between ancient wisdom and modern science.  While historically chocolate has been taken advantage of in the name of its spiritual effects, science, commerce, and even art contemporarily reveal there is a passion to indulgence.  Whether it is eating chocolate or having sex, fleeting benevolence. Consistent consumption of both nurtures an honest, transgressive air of ambitious pursuit that allows one to stay in tune their desires, promoting health, general well-being, and growth.  If demonstrated truthfully, this post suggests indulgence should not be understood merely as a momentary transgression, but rather an honest, consistent truth that leads to health and progress.

2. Contemporary State of the Cacao-Chocolate Industry: Modern Marketing and Cognitive Science

Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate: How We Fell In Love With Caffeine

Melanie King’s book Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate: How We Fell In Love With Caffeine explores the question of how contemporary culture and modern society became enamored with tea, coffee, and chocolate.  Broadly, she argues it has to do with their stimulative effects on dopamine. Specifically, King posits that drinking chocolate products benefits the consumers “sex life and physical appearance,” a wisdom that can be traced back through history.  The stimulation a consumer achieves increases their propensity to chace the transgressive desires weighing on their heart, promoting longevity and renewal.

Mood State Effects of Chocolate

Putting some science to Melanie King’s argument for ancient wisdom in the positive benefits of cacao consumption on our mood, the University of New South Wales’ School of Psychiatry conducted an academic review on the association of chocolate consumption with enjoyment and pleasure.  Historically, dating back to the Ancient Mesoamerican origins of cacao consumption, chocolate indulgence provokes a variety of mental, physical, and spiritual effects that bestow “stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, aphrodisiac, tonic, and antidepressant” properties. Specifically, the UNSW research team focused on the mood altering traits of chocolate.  Investigating chocolate’s psychoactive positionings, the team concluded: “chocolate can provide its own hedonistic reward by satisfying cravings but, when consumed as a comfort eating or emotional eating strategy, is more likely to be associated with prolongation rather than cessation of a dysphoric mood.” Thus, their research provides implications about the ephemeral, fleeting benefits derived from one’s chocolate indulgence.  This is not to say that chocolate consumption is malevolent or harmful, but rather that the endurance of its advantageous emotional effects requires habitual consistency.

Chocolate Consumption and Women’s Sexual Function

Further, Psychology Today’s article “Chocolate Consumption and Women’s Sexual Function” claims, “Aztec emperor Montezuma is reputed to have used chocolate in a manner akin to today’s Viagra pill.”  Nowadays, the aphrodisiac link between sex and chocolate is most visible around Valentine’s Day. Dr. Andrea Salonia, an Italian physician, piloted a research project that measured chocolate consumption against female sexual function and depression.  It was found that chocolate consumption increases the female propensity to achieve sexual satisfaction, positing a scientific legitimacy in the human inclination to sin and sin again consequently. The research team also found a correlation between age and scores on the Female Sexual Function Index. Younger women who consumed chocolate daily scored much higher, suggesting maturity impacts the desire to indulge transgressively.  

Sex, Chocolate, and Disability

The cultural perception that there is a transgressive nature to sex and chocolate consumption has influenced commerce, marketing, and media in various controversial ways.  In 2016, Mars-brand Maltesers ran a series of ads that featured disabled people discussing embarrassing intimacies while opening up over chocolate. The first ad featured a wheelchaired woman with cerebral palsy symbolically spilling a bag of Maltesers on the table as she describes an awkward sexual experience with her new boyfriend, implying her spastic disease caused a diuretic explosion during sex.  The risky ad provoked a highly controversial reception, polarizing audiences into camps of insensitivity and effervescence. Maltesers doubled-down, claiming lightheartedness and sense of humor are necessary forces of benevolence in a world of degradation, shame, and censorship. More importantly, these ads provoked public conversation about disability and suggested one ought to be optimistic about what defines their personhood.  

Much of debate surround Maltesers’ ads were concerned with “sensitivity and authenticity,” triggering empathetic ideas about vulnerability outside of oneself.  Remaining optimistic in ethos, a company representative stated, “Maltesers positions itself as a lighter way to enjoy chocolate and its ads encourage people to look on the light side of life. In three previous animated spots, comedians … relay awkward or embarrassing situations they’ve encountered, such as walking around a shop without realising you still have your umbrella up.”

Putting yourself in the shoes of the disabled, one must consider their perception of pity at odds with true equity; yet, the radical transparency of the Maltesers ads surely realized an air of bravery through creativity that encourages the disabled to exit their defensive comfort zones.  Further, Mars’ 2016 advertisements added visibility to the disabled by expanding their personal liberties through the proliferation of opportunities for employment and exposure. There is also an argument to be made about diversity. Rather than tokenism, a representative of Mars claimed, “we got better ideas by not just thinking about the white, middle-class, able-bodied family with two kids. Using a different lens has been a game changer for our creativity.”

3. Personal Analysis and Critique: Healthy Indulgences and Fleeting Flits

Beyond Veggies

Harvard Medical School published an article about the health benefits derived from unorthodox sources, such as chocolate and sex.  Typically considered a devious indulgence, the team wrote: “A steady stream of studies has won chocolate cardiovascular laurels by showing that it improves blood flow through arteries that supply the heart and the brain.”  Further, in 2008, researchers at Harvard found that “two weeks of enhanced chocolate intake quickened blood flow through the middle cerebral artery.” Additionally, Italian researchers found a feeble correlation between increased dark chocolate and reduced inflammation marked by the resultant low levels of C-reactive proteins.  However, this comes with a major caveat: the health benefits of one’s chocolate indulgence are best derived from the organic, raw, unprocessed type. Added sugars and other excessive processes only complicate the body’s ability to receive cacao’s naturally fleeting benefits. As it concerns sex, the article called it obvious that “sexual arousal and orgasm is a source of great pleasure and a sense of well-being,” noting that, “even after the immediate glow fades, there may be residual health benefits.”  While there are rare cases of sex causing heart attacks particularly in men, the effects of sexual activity regardless of gender are found to be overwhelmingly ameliorating. These benefits range from reducing the intensity of headaches and stress to the general wellness of cardiovascular and immune systems. When you put the two together, the consumption of raw chocolate and sex, there is a benevolent implication for overall health. But, it is important to tune into the fleeting nature of these benefits; to achieve a healthy balance, consistency is key.

Love and Chocolate

Love, ideally, is passionate, consistent, and true.  Due to legends involving Montezuma, Don Juan, and even Casanova himself, chocolate and love have been mythically inseparable for centuries.  The presupposition is that chocolate inspires passion. Whether in terms of sex, love, or both, it has been found that chocolate contains aphrodisiac powers of mimicry that can illude the passionate feelings of being in love.  Janet Vine of Aphrodite Chocolates reported that “chocolate contains substances called phenylethylamine and seratonin, both of which are mood lifting agents found naturally in the human brain. They are released into the nervous system by the brain when we are happy and when we are experiencing feelings of love, passion or lust. This causes rapid mood change, a rise in blood pressure and increasing heart rate, inducing those feelings of well being, bordering on euphoria usually associated with being in love.”  When consumed, chocolate releases these agents into the system and boosts a certain euphoric stamina that earns its reputation as an aphrodisiac instigator of passionate action.

Growing The Ultimate Aphrodisiac: Chocolate

Love, to me, is also something you must cultivate and actively work toward.  The Grow Network video “Growing The Ultimate Aphrodisiac: Chocolate” above discusses the modern cultivation of Theobroma cacao trees.  While it is imperative the leaves stay moist, they don’t retain all the water. It is a tropical plant that, in nature, grow as an understory, shaded by other trees so they don’t get the full brunt of tropical sun.  Today, they can be grown in personal backyards or greenhouses, ideally temperature-controlled around 60 degrees. They start from seeds, but reach 5 or 6 feet in about three years when grown in rich organic soil. Once mature, pruning begins; they flower and fruit all year long.  

Chocolate Rain

Artistically too, modern culture connects the indulgence of chocolate and self-permitted growth.  In 2007, YouTuber Tay Zonday went viral with his song “Chocolate Rain.”

Culturally, it was received as a funny video, but deserves to be recognized for its profound social commentary.  Chocolate rain is a metaphor for the tears of African Americans operating in a system of racism. In a way that tugs at the heartstrings, Tay Zonday sings of the pain caused by institutional lies and deceit.  He notes the inescapability of being wronged, for instance, when he sings “the bell curve blames the baby’s DNA,” referencing Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve, which argues for the innate intellectual superiority of white men.  It is again an interesting dichotomy between chocolate skin and tears of water.  The emotional act of crying, expressing vulnerability, allows renewal upon a stained existence of unjustified inferiority.  Crying, too, can be a passionate indulgence–a letting go.

Like Water for Chocolate

In other artistic representation of passion and chocolate, it is imperative to reference Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate, which is one of my favorite all time works of literature.  Symbolically, the title itself poses water’s purity against chocolate’s mercy; water is eternal like love, while mercy is fleeting like lust:

“it seemed Pedro’s rage dominated the thoughts and actions of everyone in the house. Tita was literally ‘like water for chocolate’—she was on the verge of boiling over.”

The real passion in Like Water for Chocolate exists between Pedro and Tita, star-crossed forbidden lovers. Esquivel’s style of prose, magical realism, portrays the otherworldliness of true love; it is a nature that defies reality and works in an irrational way. The quote above speaks to Tita’s divine feminity, and her arousal, showing her readiness to transgress and receive Pedro’s divine masculinity–she ultimately runs toward him. The novel positions true love as a life-giving force, requiring a nurturing attitude toward spiritual honesty, which brings happiness to pain. The story shows the ways in which truth, to oneself, is freedom.  It is an interesting act of balancing that operates over the twelve months of the book, revealing true love, water, is capable to remedy intermittent affairs and external romance, chocolate. It took a long time for Pedro and Tita to actively run toward the cultivation of a serious relationship. In the final scenes of the book, they let go of their fearful resistance:

“Little by little her vision began to brighten until the tunnel again appeared before her eyes. There at its entrance was the luminous figure of Pedro waiting for her. Tita did not hesitate. She let herself go to the encounter, and they wrapped each other in a long embrace; again experiencing an amorous climax, they left together for the lost Eden. Never again would they be apart.”

Thus, true love is proven an enduring force, but it requires the crossing of boundaries and ultimate indulgence in true passion.  Water’s solvent powers allow the indulgence of soluble chocolate to make for a greater drink, which, as we’ve learned in class, produces “stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, aphrodisiac, tonic, and antidepressant” effects that renew the soul.

Bibliography

“Beyond Veggies: The Health Benefits of Chocolate, Sex, Sleep and Social Networks, from the Harvard Health Letter.” Harvard Health Publishing. April 2009. Accessed May 03, 2019. https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/beyond-veggies-the-health-benefits-of-chocolate-sex-sleep-and-social-networks.

Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. London: Black Swan, 1998.

Goldstein, Kay. “Love and Chocolate.” HuffPost. May 25, 2011. Accessed May 04, 2019. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/love-and-chocolate_n_165040.

Hagi, Sarah. “10 Years Later, ‘Chocolate Rain’ Is Still the Wokest Song Ever.” Vice. April 25, 2017. Accessed May 05, 2019. https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/qkqewv/10-years-later-chocolate-rain-is-more-woke-than-ever.

Kiefer, Brittaney. “Sex, Chocolate and Disability.” Campaign (Sep 09, 2016): 14. http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1825218631?accountid=11311.

King, Melanie. Tea, Coffee & Chocolate: How We Fell in Love with Caffeine. Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2015.

Parker, Gordon, Parker, Isabella, and Brotchie, Heather. “Mood State Effects of Chocolate.” Journal of Affective Disorders 92, no. 2 (2006): 149-59.

Saad, Gad. “Chocolate Consumption and Women’s Sexual Function.” Psychology Today. Accessed May 03, 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/homo-consumericus/201002/chocolate-consumption-and-women-s-sexual-function

The Depiction of Women as Impulsive, Sex-Driven Consumers

Since the Victorian era, chocolate advertising has been slanted towards a female consumer audience. By the end of the 1860s, John Cadbury created and marketed the first heart-shaped box of chocolates for sale on Valentine’s Day which began to center the focus of marketing towards women as well as women involved in heterosexual relationships (Coe and Coe). As chocolate became a more popular sweet, advertising to the female population became a more popular marketing strategy.

Consumers are not “passive recipients of goods,” in fact, consumers use goods as a way to express identity; however, goods may define consumer perceptions of social meanings such as family dynamics, the social world and even the identity of the consumer herself (Robertson 19). This marketing curve towards women resultantly developed a social construction of women as impulsive, emotional consumers who tend to buy products on a more desire-based foundation than male consumers. Chocolate manufacturers often plea to stereotypical and dramatized qualities in women such as a heightened perception of body image, high emotionality, a desire to be comforted and their sexuality. Advertisements use chocolate to represent the fulfillment of hidden and subdued sexual desires and, by doing so, degrade the female consumer into a sex-driven, unsatisfied, impulsive consumer who will buy food products in an attempt to allow herself indulge in her pleasure. These advertising strategies have resultantly created real, permeating social constructs that alter the general perception of how a woman will react to the temptations of both chocolate and sex.

Women, particularly single women, are culturally constructed as constantly negotiating temptation it is their responsibility to maintain a pure body by resting male sexual advances except within marriage, and afterwards to remain monogamous. In the later twentieth century it has extended to maintaining ‘beauty’ by resisting the temptation of sweet and fatty foods such as chocolate. Succumbing to chocolate addiction momentarily allows the pleasurable surrender to such temptation. (Robertson 35)

Advertising to women can take many forms. The addition of chocolate into a woman’s day can range from comforting and relaxing, as shown in this Dove commercial:

 

to a slightly more sensual and elegant experience, as shown here:

to the most prominent and notable portrayal of the borderline orgasmic experience of a woman eating chocolate:

and…

As shown in the last video, chocolate has been transformed into an object of lust, as a commodity that will both reward and satisfy the insatiable female sexual appetite. Buying and consuming chocolate is portrayed to be the sexual experience women are apparently missing in life. Chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac allow advertisers to play on the idea that it will both heighten a woman’s sensuality and upgrade her beauty as well as allow herself to finally indulge in her sinful sexual desires. Bringing sexuality to the scene under the disguise of enjoyment of food reflects the idea that a woman’s sexuality is often hidden from the public eye. Sex and sexuality are very private ideas, especially for “respectable,” women, so market teams encourage women to finally give in to their lust for the forbidden- both chocolate (chocolate is forbidden due to its undesirable fattening qualities) and sex.

ferrerorocher

This ad for Ferrero Rocher begs women to “Redeem,” their “sin.”  The surface meaning is a ploy to collect participants for a contest through which a consumer can win a prize after consuming Ferrero’s “sinful,” chocolate; however, the use of the word “sin,” accompanied by the sexualized nature of the model implies that her “sin,” is more than chocolate consumption. The dark color scheme of the ad supports this association of chocolate with sinfulness, obscurity, and intrigue. Although the advertisement objectifies the portrayal of this woman model, it is clearly aimed to target a female audience by both encouraging them to embrace their sensual nature and to redeem their own sins. This advertisement degrades the female consumer into a very sex-driven, sensual being.

lily edit.jpg

I have created an advertisement that parodies this idea of hyper sexualization of women, especially for the purchase of a simple food good such as chocolate. Here, we have a female model, similarly posed to the model in the Ferrero ad, who does not present any striking references to her sexuality. Her hand is not placed near her lower body; in fact, she is eating the chocolate being advertised. Although I chose to use a female model to parallel the original advertisement, the revised female model portrays a more realistic connection between her feminine identity and chocolate. She does not sexualize her experience of eating chocolate, nor does her posture imply that she is indulging sinful desires. She will most likely to female consumers more than male consumers due to her identity; however, there is not the same obvious gendered target as is apparent in the Ferrero advertisement.  I chose to have this woman pose in a white sheet, rather than a dark sheet, to go against the inclusion of color themes that play on the sinful, dark nature of chocolate and sex. Here, the white sheet creates a more straightforward tone in the picture. I have also replace the script slogan of “Redeem Your Sin,” with “Because it is just chocolate,” to reiterate the idea that the act of a woman eating chocolate is not an earth-shattering representation of a sexual experience. This portrayal is a much more realistic depiction of a female consumer enjoying chocolate. It fights against the current of hyper-sexualizing women in chocolate ads and does not support the social construct of women as impulsive, sexual consumers who indulge in chocolate to replicate forbidden sexual desires.

 

Works Cited:

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

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

DOVE Chocolate: Issues of Gender and Class in Chocolate Advertising

Introduction

In the world of chocolate advertising, there are many problematic images that promote certain gender, race, ethnicity, and/or class stereotypes. Some images have become the norm when it comes to marketing chocolate such as the sexualized woman. This is one of the most ubiquitous tropes and this post will explore how women are used to sell chocolate and the potential consequences that this image has for society (such as promoting unhealthy relationships with food, body image, and sexuality).

Gender and Class

The above advertisement is a 2016 video ad from DOVE® Chocolate, which is a brand of chocolate from the Mars company. This is an ad for DOVE®’s new line of Fruit and Nut Blend chocolates; DOVE® invites consumers to “Revel in the pleasure of our…DOVE® Fruit and Nut Blends made with silky-smooth DOVE® dark chocolate…” (“DOVE® Story”). Throughout the advertisement, there is a Caucasian woman in a luxurious dress who appears to experience ecstasy from eating this chocolate. In many chocolate advertisements, we see these similar poses with the eyes closed, mouth ajar and head tilted back. Dr. Carla Martin has compiled images of these type of gendered ads, which one can view here. Furthermore, there is a scene of the woman holding a whip, perhaps making a subtle reference to sexual domination. With the slogan of “Choose Pleasure,” we see that DOVE® appears to be appealing to the sexual connotation of “pleasure.” This association of a sexualized women with chocolate is still pervasive and it has deep roots in chocolate advertising.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.53.15 PM
These screenshots from the video show the images of the woman in ecstasy from eating chocolate. In most of these images, her eyes are closed and there is a focus on her lips. Her styling (clothes, makeup, hair) exudes a high-class and luxury feel.

In the seventeenth century, chocolate houses were male-dominated. However, in the eighteenth century, there was a shift; chocolate consumption and production became feminised as it moved into the domestic sphere (Robertson 20). This resulted in the promotion of heterosexual romance narratives as well as the narcissistic female consumer (30). These themes are overt in the DOVE® ad where the main character is overcome by eating this chocolate. Furthermore, the sexual undertones mimic the projection of heterosexual yearnings and fantasies onto chocolate consumption (35). For example, the images of the dominatrix as well as the woman being chased by a horse may depict subtle sexual projections. All in all, these images are problematic because they show women’s identities becoming subsumed by their consumption habits and it forces a harmful and unidimensional character onto women in general (35).

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.55.06 PM
A screenshot showing the lead character with a whip in her hand, perhaps suggesting a sexual connotation of pleasure.

Another important theme that comes from this advertisement is class, which is closely entwined with gender. DOVE® started as “DOVE® candy shop,” and was found by Leo Stefanos in the 1950s. At its inception, Stefanos focused on the purity of his chocolate and this focus on quality and purity was continued when Mars acquired DOVE® in 1986 (“DOVE® Story”). On DOVE®’s marketing website, Mars totes DOVE®’s “Chocolate Difference,” emphasizing its “silky smooth” and “rich taste unsurpassed by other bars” and its “highest standard of quality” (“DOVE® Chocolate Difference”). By emphasizing DOVE®’s quality, Mars seems to be targeting a certain upper/middle-class audience who would care about DOVE®’s “special roasting and grinding” and the minute differences in mouthfeel. This is certainly evident in the film advertisement where this woman portrays an upper-class and elite image. Her dresses are luxurious and silky, simultaneously indicating her access to wealth as well as the luxuriousness and silkiness of the chocolate product itself.

In the eighteenth century, as chocolate became feminised, it also “became associated with luxury and leisure in the domestic sphere” (Robertson 20). At the same time, industrial progress in the nineteenth century allowed chocolate and cocoa to become available for the working class. However, it was common for companies like Cadbury and Rowntree to appeal to upper middle-class women and men (26). By portraying an elegant, wealthy-looking woman, female consumers could “aspire to the romantic lifestyle of the leading character” (27). This appeal to a high-class woman also elevates a simple chocolate bar into an item of luxury and provides an avenue for upward social mobility (27). All of these factors help promote DOVE®’s image as a high quality product.

Pushing Back

In order to push back on this advertisement, our group made a still image that addressed the issues listed above. Instead of using the sexual connotation of “pleasure,” we decided to define “pleasure” in different ways. For instance, for one person, “pleasure” could mean enjoying a meal with family members and finishing this meal with a piece of chocolate. Another example of pleasure may be relaxing and watching television after a long day of work. Furthermore, instead of just focusing on women, like many chocolate advertisements do, we also included men in our advertisement. By separating the sexual connotation of chocolate consumption that is often associated women, we hoped to avoid the trope of the narcissistic consumer and the heterosexual romance. Lastly, we found the advertisement to define an exclusive form of what the “high-class woman” is, so in order to make it more inclusive we included a mix of genders, ethnicities and activities. We thought that this could also broaden the market that this advertisement could appeal to.

Dove Ad
An advertisement created to push back on the typical images that we usually see in chocolate advertising.

Significance

Critically evaluating, deconstructing and pushing back on these advertisements are crucial because the mass influx of advertisements on a daily basis, particularly those that promote sexualized women, can have negative consequences for many. Studies have shown that adolescents’ views of sex and body image are largely shaped by marketing and that they often experience body image dissatisfaction after being exposed to sexualized advertisements (Parker et al.). An ad such as this could also have the potential to harm body image ideals by pushing a unidimensional idea of what “sexiness” and “luxury” are. Recently, there have been some positive effects of advertisement. For example, Dove Beauty’s campaign using models of many different shapes and colors increased their sales sevenfold by boosting female image satisfaction (Parker et al.). By being more skeptical of marketing tactics and being more knowledgeable, perhaps there can be a change in advertising techniques for chocolate and it could be a win-win for both the consumer and producer.


Works Cited

“The DOVE® Story.” DOVE® Chocolate. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

“The DOVE® Chocolate Difference.” DOVE® Chocolate. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

Martin, Carla. “Valentine’s Day: Women Being Seduced By Chocolate.” Bittersweet Notes. 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

Parker, Stephen, Diana Haytko, and Charles Hermans. “The Marketing Of Body Image: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Of Gender Effects In The U.S. And China.” Journal of Business & Economics Research (JBER) 6.5 (2008). Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

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

Image Links

http://www.couponaholic.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/DOVE®-fruit-and-nut-chocolate-218×300.jpg
https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/images/eatingwell/200280664_001_extended_family_eating_web.jpg
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQnRyX8TTU6hWodnBmmFfq_9berFrZwUT2IMuar57TOjYiAcqN2zg
http://d236bkdxj385sg.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/group-of-female-friends-pf.jpg
http://www.fiveoaksridingstables.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Woman-riding-a-horse-in-the-country-side.jpg
https://foodfetepress.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/DOVE®logonew.png
https://hers-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/stock-footage-black-and-asian-women-taking-selfie-while-on-tropical-vacation-400×242.jpg
https://interpretartistmama.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/woman-rock-climbing.jpg
http://now-here-this.timeout.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Top-Ten_ChocTube_EM005.jpg
Screen caps were taken from the video ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55ysVbtoZZ8.

Sexy Chocolate: How white women and black men are aphrodisiacs in advertising

Axe’s Dark Temptation commercial (2008) portrays a young white man who morphs into a “chocolate man” with brown skin, an exaggerated smile and bulging eyes after using the body spray. He then walks around a city while young thin white women scramble to snap his arm off, aggressively lick and bite his ears, and seem controlled by their cravings for chocolate/his body. They have no hesitations about consuming him and do not ask for permission to touch him. He seems in on the joke; at one point he breaks off his nose and sprinkles it into two white women’s ice cream cones without asking, because he already assumes their reaction will be delight and ecstasy. Even though the chocolate man is carnally exploited by white female desire, his plastered smile underlines that this is exactly what he wanted, and that is why he used the product in the first place. Despite that this commercial does not advertise a chocolate product, the fact that chocolate is used as a vessel to advertise the deodorant is significant in understanding how Western society conflates race and sexual desire, masculinity, heterosexual relationships, and chocolate as a food.

The commercial operates on the stereotype that women cannot resist chocolate and therefore will not be able to resist men who use this dark temptation spray. This is even literally written on their website advertising the fragrance today (2015).

axead

This trope has been done again and again in chocolate advertising involving young white women; it is implied that chocolate is something that they irrationally, orgasmically enjoy, and that in exchange for affection from these women, men should give them chocolate products (as evidenced by Valentine’s Day marketing).

http://bittersweetnotes.com/1642-valentines-day-women-being-seduced-by-chocolate

The blatant undertones of race take center stage in this ad; the chocolate man looks like a classic minstrel blackface stereotype, and the exaggerated smile has a history in chocolate advertisements such as the French company Banania’s ads that echo the Uncle Tom motif, a black man content with his exploitation for the pleasure of white consumption. There is also a history of black bodies posing as literal chocolate snacks for white cravings in Western advertising (i.e. Little Coco and Honeybunch from Rowntree’s Cocoa in the U.K., Conguitos in Spain), so this Axe storyline is nothing new (Robertson 42-44).

blackface     “classic” minstrel make-upScreen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.41.38 PM (screenshot of video above)

 

banana  Uncle Tom imagery  (France)

Axe is simply following tradition (i.e. Old Spice) by conflating the black male body with white female sexual desire and white male longing and envy when marketing their product. Axe is operating on the idea that in order to obtain the sexual attention of white women one must acquire “dark” characteristics (the product’s name isn’t even “Chocolate Temptation”—it’s “Dark Temptation.”) This ad shows that American society has a long way to go concerning portrayals of white women serving as the ultimate “trophy” for male sexual desire and black male bodies as sexual, hyper-masculine objects in chocolate advertising.

The second advertisement is for a fictional perfume for women called “White Chocolate Truffle” with the tagline “Anything but Vanilla”.

2sexy

The image of a young, curvy white woman wearing a revealing evening gown while unwrapping and eating a white chocolate truffle already echoes many themes already mentioned in this essay; white female beauty, lust, and chocolate products are all fused together, and the presence of the evening gown implies wealth and upper class status. White skin, specifically white female skin, has long been associated with quality and high social capital.  Here intersectionality plays an important role (Martin Lecture 16 Slide 11)—for even though her white skin is historically viewed as superior and desirable, she is still a woman, and ultimately in many chocolate advertisements her body itself is a commodity to be consumed, not unlike the truffle in her hand, or the implied truffles popping out of her neckline waiting to be “unwrapped” and enjoyed.

nakey

Commodification of women’s bodies (vimeo)

The message is clear: Women need to buy this perfume to smell like white chocolate—a desirable, sweet treat so they can smell as appealing/be as appealing as this sexy woman eating an actual white chocolate truffle, with curves that mimic the truffle shape of the candy to be consumed to satisfy another type of desire (male desire), yet again drawing a connection between receiving heterosexual attention by becoming more like a chocolate product.

Whereas the Axe commercial may be seem odd at best, offensive at worst to 2015 viewers, the White Chocolate Truffle ad looks like something we have all seen before in magazines, and could easily star a buxom white celebrity such as Christina Hendricks, Scarlett Johansson, or Marilyn Monroe, which brings up other complicated issues. White women who showcase their curvy bodies are associated with glamour, class and sex appeal in Hollywood, whereas women of color with round bodies in many cases are criticized for being overly promiscuous or classless for displaying their curves (one just has to look at the backlash for the recent cover art for Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda album to understand the double standard.) (Duca).

 

red

 

dolce

 

vintageboobs

booty

Why is society not offended when white curves are showcased? Would a milk chocolate truffle ad using Nicki’s curves be effective? 

This taps into Western cultural associations with the words “vanilla” and “chocolate” and their conflation with blandness, boringness, pure, clean, and whiteness and spiciness, exciting qualities, dirty, naughty, and people of color. This ad is communicating that this perfume is “anything but vanilla”, implying the user will be the opposite of vanilla–like chocolate—embodying the scandalous, sexually titillating qualities that chocolate (people of color) supposedly imbibe, but still while staying safely within the privilege of being white, and therefore “classy”, and like cocoa butter, sweeter and without as strong a kick. (Martin Lecture 16 Slide 12). The metaphorical imagery is allowing the white female consumer to become sexier and more sexual through the means of chocolate, while still safely and demurely playing up to common images of white female sexuality.

Ultimately, both white women and black men are consistently portrayed as sexual objects in chocolate advertising. Time will tell if this trend will continue.

Works Cited (in order of appearance)

“Dark Temptation” 10 April 2015. http://www.theaxeeffect.com/#/axe-products/dark-temptation-body-spray

Robertson, Emma. “Does you mean dis?: cocoa marketing and race”. Chapter 1: “A deep physical reason: gender, race, and the nation in chocolate consumption. Chocolate, Women, and Empire A Social and Cultural History. Manchester University Press. New York. pages 35-44.

Blackface. February 6, 2014. Hulton Archive Image. banana1015.com 10 April 2015.

Banania, French Chocolate Drink. Image. Slide 13, Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

Conguitos, Spanish Chocolate Candies. Video. Slide 14, Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

White Chocolate Truffle Ad original work of Julie Coates, conceived by Julie Coates and Dami Aladesanmi.

Six Basic Tenets of Critical Race Theory. Slide 11, Lecture 16. Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

Naked lady covered in chocolate. https://vimeo.com/6742298

Christina Hendricks advertisement. 20 Sept 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk./tvshowbiz/article-2074214. 10 April 2015.

Scarlett Johansson Gallery. mobile.fanshare.com. 10 April 2015.

“Marilyn Monroe voted cleavage queen.” http://www.santabanta.com/newsmaker/3892. Image.

Duca, Lauren. “Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ Cover Reveals Something Way Bigger than Her Butt”. HuffPost Entertainment. 31 July 2014. Huffington Post. 10 April 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/30/middlebrow-nicki-minaj_n_5635394.html

Chocolate and Vanilla. Slide 12.Lecture 16. Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

 

 

 

Women, Sex and Chocolate

For years media advertisements have associated women and chocolate. Even though males and females of all ages eat chocolate, the chocolate industry predominantly uses ads that feature women or target women by showing attractive men. A UK study from 2012 reported that 87% of men and 91% of women admit to eating chocolate. (cnn) Yet, if an alien were to visit the earth through media and marketing they would probably assume chocolate was only created for women. Marketing firms often centralize a woman’s enjoyment of chocolate around sexual pleasure. For our advertisement, we created a GIF that uses history to counter this modern day stereotype of chocolate as an aphrodisiac; our ad discusses 20th century female aviators who used chocolate for energy during long trips, not for sexual stimulation.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzcxM6u7ey0 

A sexual chocolate advertisement is the one above for York peppermint patties. The ad tries to parallel the sensation from the first bite into a York peppermint patty with the pleasure from a sexual orgasm. As the ad begins the actor looks down excitedly at the candy in her hand, then shyly looks away before opening the candy with the facial expression she is about to do something risqué. The actor then opens the candy by ripping its wrapping vertically, instead of opening the package by pinching the front and back and pulling open the top; I think this style of opening the candy is deliberate to replicate opening a condom wrapper. She then sniffs the chocolate and proceeds to represent sexual stimulation by biting her bottom lip, a look of satisfaction on her face with her eyes closed, goose bumps on her cleavage line and throwing her head back in a look of ecstasy. To further the sexuality, the slogan at the end of the advertisement is “get the sensation”. These advertisements may be effective advertisements, and the sensation of eating chocolate is truly sensational, but these ads also depict women as weakened by chocolate, as if they are desperate for the pleasure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh3BCEaGHmw#t=37

Another chocolate ad fusing the sexual desire of women and the pleasure of chocolate is the commercial for a French chocolate company pasted above. The commercial starts out with a series of men shot individually in locations in a city, the one thing these men share in common is their good looks and the appeal to every women they encounter. As the ad progresses it is revealed all of these men are chocolate candy chefs, which creates the image nothing is sexier to a woman than a man who is good with chocolate. In a minute long ad an apron isn’t shown until 26 seconds and chocolate not until 32 seconds, and for some not obvious reason all the bakers are naked underneath their aprons. This ad clearly aimed towards women attempts to endear the consumer to this particular chocolate solely based off their fictitious chefs being incredibly attractive, albeit the chocolate does look tremendously delicious as by the end they finally do show the stages in which the chocolate is crafted. The fact that the chocolate company thought this technique would work, and the fact that maybe it does, somewhat weakens the perception of women to that of chocolate craving beings.

http://gifmaker.me/PlayGIFAnimation.php?folder=2014041112nmPAH5sCm7TPeS6JLScLpn&file=output_u2peez.gif 

The advertisement my group and I constructed, posted above, attempts to counter stereotypes of women and chocolate. One of many stereotypes about women and chocolate is they eat for sexual pleasure. Our ad represents 20th century women breaking stereotypes of chocolate. 20th century female aviators used to consume chocolate regularly for energy and were often able to break flight records because of said energy. Today, there is even special military grade chocolate used to augment energy and moral of soldiers (Baglole). Our GIF works to break two stereotypes, the first that women and chocolate are only connected through sex and the second that all aviators are men.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Baglole, Joel. “Chocolate – Energizing Soldiers.” 2014. Web. 12 April 2014. <http://usmilitary.about.com/od/weapons/a/chocolate.htm&gt>

 

“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” The CNN Freedom Project Ending ModernDay Slavery RSS. CNN, 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. <http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate/&gt;.