As with many consumer products, advertising is an often used method for companies to increase awareness and desirability of their products. Chocolate is no stranger to this phenomenon. In this blog post, we will examine two chocolate advertisements: one by Lindt and another original creation. I argue that the former advertisement only promotes one use case of chocolate, along with gender stereotypes that fit with current socio-historical trends driven by growing media influence. On the other hand, the latter accommodates for a greater variety of use cases and adheres better to traditional chocolate consumption practices. That said, both advertisements do share similarities in their ignorance of the entire cocoa supply chain and their focus on the upper-class.
The first difference between the two advertisements is the purpose of chocolate that they put forward. Advertisement 1 clearly frames chocolate as the appropriate method of appeasing (or seducing) a man’s girlfriend using two key devices. First, the term “big boys” suggests that men must use chocolate in this way to be desirable in society. Furthermore, the disheveled nature of the chocolate box and dark, mysterious setting has connotations of sexual activity. This suggests that the man’s effort at seducing his girlfriend succeeded, thereby appealing to men who believe the stereotype that a successful relationship for men is one filled with sexual activity. On the other hand, Advertisement 2 portrays chocolate as a treat to be enjoyed in a wider array of settings that enhances “any relationship”. This agrees better with historical chocolate consumption patterns in Mesoamerican society, where chocolate was consumed in group settings . Thus, these two advertisements imbue chocolate with two very different purposes.
Another difference relates to the extent that each advertisement promotes various gender stereotypes. Advertisement 1 is clearly heteronormative. It also portrays women as objects owned by men, by placing the focus on the “big boys” and presenting the women as “their girlfriends”. The advertisement is clearly targeted at men, promoting the stereotype that men should be the ones purchasing chocolate for women. Advertisement 2 on the other hand, by portraying chocolate as an item to be consumed by friends, does not cater to a particular ethnicity, and in particular, does not promote any sort of gender stereotype. Thus, a key difference between the two advertisements is the extent to which they promote existing gender stereotypes.
Given the characteristics of both advertisements, we also argue that the first advertisement falls more in line with current advertising trends. When chocolate was first introduced to Europe, although it was known to be an aphrodisiac, it’s main purpose was not as a romantic gift . However, in Advertisement 1, this is very much the suggested purpose of chocolate, fitting in with a popular culture that has associated chocolate with love so much that it became a staple gift on Valentines’ Day .
That said, although both advertisements are very different, they share some similarities. Firstly, they both portray chocolate as being consumed by upper-class citizens. In advertisement 1, the packaging of the chocolate suggests that the chocolate is aimed at the upper-class and in this sense, we move against the trend of the late 19th century, where technological innovations made chocolate cheaper and more available to the masses . Although less explicit in advertisement 2, the people in the advertisement are likely part of the upper-middle class, given the urban setting and their attire. Targeting the upper class with these advertisements makes sense, because that is the target market of the chocolate brand Lindt, with their motivation for profit causing them to rebrand these chocolate offerings as premium products.
Another similarity is that both advertisements fail to sufficiently explore the entire production process of cacao, in particular the harvesting of cacao pods as in Figure 1. Advertisement 2 is in a fairly developed urban city, whereas Advertisement 1, though unclear, seems to be set in a home. Both of these settings are far away from the plantations that create the cocoa. That said, I argue that Advertisement 2 is still socially justifiable on the grounds that it does not promote many of the cultural stereotypes current chocolate advertisements do. Furthermore, forcing all advertisements to cover all aspects and issues in chocolate production, marketing, and consumption process is excessive and idealistic.
In conclusion, this blog post has compared and contrasted two advertisements for the chocolate company Lindt. Advertisement 1, though alluring, only depicts one use case of chocolate: one that reinforces existing gender stereotypes. On the other hand Advertisement 2 is more neutral and still portrays the chocolate in a positive light. Advertisement 1 can be seen as a manifestation of the homogeneity we see in chocolate advertising today. Given this, advertisements more diverse and less stereotypical are important to ensuring that chocolate consumers are properly informed.
 Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000. Print.
 Carr, David. Candymaking in Canada: The History and Business of Canada’s Confectionery Industry. Toronto: Dundurn, 2003. Print.
 Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York, NY: Viking, 1985. Print.
For most of us, chocolate symbolizes a tasty, rich, wholesome experience. Many even choose to only consume chocolate with natural or organic ingredients, to support the integrity of its savor and our palatal desires. There is a feeling of power and an experience of imagination that is connected with the ability to choose the contents and texture of the chocolate one wishes to consume. Yet, there was a time when this power, imagination and choice was willed to chocolate manufacturers, unbeknownst to the consumer. Consumers trusted the labels of their food to read what they consumed–with no knowledge that what they were actually consuming was intentionally omitted from labeling and advertising. The most craved food in the world that we historically associate with love, relief and medicine, was tainted with foreign materials and poison to mask and stretch its consistency for financial profitability. It was the early 18th century-where the adulteration of our beloved chocolate, began.
The adulteration of chocolate initiated in 1815 (Coe 2013, 243). The purpose of adulterating was that chocolate had transitioned from a food symbolizing wealth, consumed upper echelon of society to being made available to everyone for mass consumption. Thus, the demand for chocolate grew exponentially. And while this massive growth opportunity for manufacturers could have been observed as a time to create legal cost effective methods to expand their viable products; for some, it became the impetus for lies, greed, deceit and manipulation of vulnerable consumers. Instead of continuing to use wholesome ingredients, which were good enough for their wealthy clients, some manufacturers chose to dilute and enhance the ingredients of their chocolate product with foreign and dangerous products, to stretch its consistency. This action prepared chocolate to be consumed by the masses and provided profit increases, while cutting the costs of production (Coe 2013, 243-44).
There were two main categories of adulteration:
expensive cocoa butter was removed from the chocolate, sold to external buyers and replaced with olive oil, sweet almond oil, egg yolks or suet of veal or mutton (Coe 2013, 243); and
foreign materials, such as potato starch, wheat, barley, flour, ground brick, cacao shells and other ingredients were added (Coe 2013, 243-44). Poisonous additives were also added, such as lead and vermilion (Coe 2013, 244).
A third form of adulteration was liquid. In an article published by Peterson’s Magazine in 1891, chemical adulteration such as alkali substances and ammonia were exposed as being used to modify the color [by darkening] of chocolate (Storify). This modification was intended to deceive consumers into believing they were purchasing authentic dark chocolate. The article went on to detail the potential hazards that alkali (a chemical metal compound) could potentially cause – such as gastritis and inflammation of the stomach’s mucous membrane. Likewise, ammonia (an industrial chemical) was noted to potentially “excite the catarrh of the stomach and intestines” (Storify). Thus, the lives of consumers were placed at risk with every bite of chocolate consumed.
Following the publishing of the article, chocolate giant Walter Baker & Co. reacted by advertising their chocolate as “easily digestible” and “pure” (Storify). However, fellow manufacturer Cadbury Company, who previously advertised their brand around purity, later confessed to adulterating their chocolate with starch and flour (Coe 2013, 245). Amongst the public backlash and protests, Cadbury rebranded their chocolate as “the only pure one” (Coe 2013, 245). Yet, they worked tirelessly for decades to earn back public trust and rebuild the integrity of their brand to its former success. The British Food and Drug Act of 1860, and Adulteration Food Act of 1872 were set in place to end and regulate the adulteration of chocolate (Coe 2013, 244). However, these laws failed to police or enforce the criminal acts.
Overall, the adulteration of chocolate caused the once safe and trustworthy natural source of purity and goodness to become a hazardous substance–resulting in a need for policing and regulating its ingredients and consumption. The deceit and betrayl of manufacturers committed against their consumers was a crime. In their quest to make chocolate affordable and consumed by the masses, the commitment to preserving capital proved more valuable than the health and safety of their consumers.
Coe, S., Coe M.D. (2013). The True History of Chocolate. London:L Thames & Hudson Ltd.
The 1800s saw rapid increases in chocolate consumption. As Mintz notes, in this time, chocolate went from being a luxury a necessity in the everyday person’s life . One important driving force behind this change was the technology developed during that time. This blog post aims to illustrate that inventions in the 1800s by people like Joseph Fry and Henri Nestlé were crucial to the chocolate’s rapid growth in popularity by making it cheaper, widening the contexts in which chocolate can be consumed or used, and improving its taste. Given the claims in Mintz about the importance of chocolate and the sugar trade in the development of capitalism, this would also indicate that such innovations were key to the formation of capitalism.
Innovations in Form/Usage
In 1828, van Houten invented the hydraulic press, which provided an inexpensive way to separate the cocoa powder from the cocoa butter. The hydraulic press had two important effects. First, it lowered production costs for chocolate such that it became more affordable to the mass market. Secondly, because cocoa powder could be extracted, it became possible to mold chocolate into different forms, ushering in the new use for chocolate as a confectionary ingredient . These lower costs and new use cases increased the popularity of chocolate, signifying the importance of van Houten’s hydraulic press.
Another innovation came in 1947, when Joseph Fry managed to craft the first chocolate bar. What this did was make chocolate portable, allowing people to consume it more often. Though not strictly in the 1800s, an example of how this boosted chocolate’s popularity worldwide is World War II, where American troops often carried “military chocolate” as a source of energy . Thus, not only did innovations affect the food make-up of chocolate, but also in its form and how it was consumed, helping chocolate become more popular among working class citizens.
New Chocolate Varieties
As an avid fan of milk chocolate, the next innovation is very near and dear to me, as well as being an important to this blog’s argument. In 1876, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé found a way to dehydrate milk to create powdered milk. Using this innovation, Peter and Nestlé were able to invented milk chocolate. Today, milk chocolate is the most widely consumed type of chocolate, making up about 51% of consumption in the United States. Thus, it’s clear to see how great an impact this creation had on chocolate consumption worldwide.
Innovations in Taste
Finally, we have Joseph Lindt, who the chocolate company Lindt is named after. In 1879, Lindt developed the conching process. Conching involves heating and mixing the chocolate’s ingredients (e.g. cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar) for hours, fully developing the chocolate’s taste and texture . Thus, aside from changes in form and variety, the taste and texture of the chocolate were also being innovated on, improving the experience of eating chocolate, thereby increasing popularity.
Chocolate, Sugar, and Capitalism
So far, we’ve shown the integral role that these inventions have played in chocolate’s rising popularity. With this growth in popularity comes the potential for large profits for certain participants of the chocolate trade. In particular, these participants were the owners of plantations in Africa and the West Indies, as well as the middle men in the growing shipping industry. These businessmen also spent much of their time lobbying government to enact favourable policies for their corporations . The profitability of these roles incentivized more people to take them on, and created many of the capitalist practices we see in today’s society (e.g. large multinational corporations, lobbying). Indeed, Mintz notes similarities between work being done on sugar and cacao plantations as those being carried out in factories during the industrial revolution . Thus, not only did these inventions make chocolate more popular, but in doing so, they expanded the potential for profit, incentivizing practices and organizational structures typical for a capitalist society.
Addressing the Alternative View
Those who disagree with this blog post’s thesis would likely argue that chocolate would have still have had the large impact it did on capitalism without these technological advancements. Tt is difficult to determine with certainty whether they did or not, since we cannot go back in time and test what the world would’ve been like without these inventions. That said, before any of these inventions, chocolate was consumed primarily as a drink and consumed far less often than coffee or tea, because of its very high price . This suggests, that chocolate’s popularity might not have grown as it did without these innovations lowering the production price and moving it into the food category instead of the drink category, where it would have had to compete with coffee and tea.
To conclude, the innovations and improvements in technology in the 1800s were instrumental to chocolate’s rise in popularity during this time period. These advancements made chocolate taste better, more useful in a variety of contexts, and more convenient to consume. Furthermore, by contributing heavily to the rise of chocolate, these inventions also contributed to the rise of capitalism. As an afterthought, note that today, technological innovation is a large driver for many aspects of the economy. Thus, it is interesting to see that this also the case 200 years ago.
 Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York, NY: Viking, 1985. Print.
 “The Sweet History of Chocolate.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2016.
Chocolate and sugar were relatively unheard in Europe of before the 16th century. Yet, just 100 years later, both would begin their rise to prominence in European diets – a position they hold to this day. While the cacao tree and the sugarcane plant have wildly different areas of origin, the Americas and Southeast Asia respectively, there paths converged and were forever joined in Europe. Chocolate’s rise to prominence in European diets mirrors and is in many ways linked with the history of sugar. As such, it is essential to examine sugar when seeking to understand how chocolate became a staple of diets around the world.
Sugar Consumption Over Time
Tea Consumption Over Time
Once chocolate was introduced into European diets, it was almost immediately combined with sugar. The Spanish were the first to mix the two, and adding sugar quickly became not just an option for the drink, but a requirement (Presilla, 2001, p25). For, when the Spanish first drank chocolate, they did not like it and claimed it was “a bitter drink for pigs” (Fiegl, 2008; Smithsonian). With this fact in mind, it is easy to understand the importance of sugar in the rise of chocolate – sugar made chocolate palatable to the Europeans. Thus, as chocolate consumption spread to other European countries, the practice of adding sugar did as well.
This is not to say that it would not have been possible for the Europeans to enjoy chocolate without sugar, but it certainly made it easier. Bitterness is a flavor that humans can grow to like and even love, but sweetness is much more easily accepted and liked (Mintz, 1985; 108-109). Likely, chocolate would not have ever reach such a level of prominence in European diets had it not been for its connection with sugar. This is not a unique phenomenon – sugar is also directly responsible for the European adoption of similar/related drinks like tea and coffee (Mintz, 1985; 114). Examining the consumption of sugar and those drinks like tea reveals close correlation and rises over time.
This is not all chocolate and sugar share, however. Both owe a large portion of their rise to dominance to their associations with wealth and nobility. Even as consumption spread across Europe, use was confined to the wealthy and upper-class (Coe & Coe, 1996; 177). Chocolate was originally considered a food of royalty and high social standing in Spain, and as it spread involved several pains and unique serving instruments that also served a secondary purpose of indicating one’s wealth (Presilla, 2001, 25). This association with wealth mirrors that of sugar. Uses imply meanings (Mintz, 1985, 6); and a large part of the consumption of sugar and chocolate was fundamentally social in nature. The rich in Britain favoring chocolate over tea in the 1600/1700s is an illustrative example of this – chocolate was harder to produce than tea and therefore more expensive: it indicated a higher social standing.
This recipe is an illustrative example of the elite nature of chocolate and sugar – the very nature of a recipe is that one must be able to read it. Thus, one who enjoyed the beverage was not only wealthy but likely literate. This book also indicates another shared aspect of sugar and chocolate – both were considered to have medicinal properties (view the top of the page, “Health is preserved”). Chocolate was a more varied substance, being both dry and moist – considered important medical qualities in that era, while chocolate was more neutral (Presilla, 2001; 27). One man of the time noted at least 24 medicinal properties of sugar (Mintz, 1985, 101). The purported medical benefits of the two foodstuffs likely helped increase their popularity and bind their rises to prominence ever closer.
Ultimately, these foods expanded to the masses. The desire to emulate the higher classes and increased production of the items eventually lead to mass consumption (Mint, 1985; 118). By 1800, they were staples of almost every British diet and their place of prominence in future had been sealed. Today, the two still go hand in hand: when one thinks of chocolate, likely they do not think of its actual bitter taste, but its sweet sugar flavor. The Spanish forever linked chocolate to sugar and it is likely that we wouldn’t have it otherwise. Yet, there is imprudence in attributing too much to the power of sugar – chocolate also also increased the popularity and necessity of sugar too (Mintz, 1985; 137).
Presilla, Maricel. 2009. The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.
Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. 2013. The True History of Chocolate. 3nd edition. London: Thames & Hudson.
Mintz, Sidney. 1986. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books.
Book – Ledesma, A. C., & Wadsworth, J. (1652). Chocolate, or, An Indian drinke by the wise and moderate use whereof, health is preserved, sicknesse diverted and cured, especially the plague of the guts, vulgarly called the new disease … London: Printed by J.G. for Iohn Dakins. image: Chocolate. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/chocolate
Nowadays society knows chocolate as a pleasure food, something tasteful to complement dinner, a type of candy, or even something to heat up into liquid form for a cold night’s drink. However, historically, chocolate served other uses, one intriguing one of which was that for medicinal purposes.
[See informational video of uses of cacao such as for medicinal uses, by the National Confectioners Association at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSTuk6PBfT4 ]
In this report it will be discussed how Mesoamericans regarded chocolate as having potential medical usages, applying the food item to certain ailments, sicknesses, and even preventative measures. Finally, the Mesoamerican conception of medical uses of chocolate will be contrasted with scientific descriptions of the actual medical and health benefits that chocolate may actually poses such as its possible involvement in biological effects on humans nowadays.
It is quite interesting to see that over thousands of years ago, an item that is so commonly taken for granted, chocolate, was thought to be “Food of the Gods” (Dillinger et al, 2000) and believed to poses a multitude of medicinal abilities. For instance, Montezuma would consume superfluous amounts of cocoa, as would his society as well to do exactly what Viagra does for men today (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2015). Yet soon after the Columbian discovery of the cacao bean, Europeans also joined the bandwagon in believing in possible health benefits of chocolate. Accounts from friars and priests discuss consuming and administering chocolate to soldiers for strength, and for diseases such as liver disease and kidney failure, respectively. Oftentimes Europeans would even prepare pure cacao paste to consume as a beverage for alleviating fevers (Grivetti, 2005; Lippi, 2009).
However, not only did both Mesoamericans and early Europeans consume chocolate for beliefs in medical benefits, but they also consumed it together with certain medications and foods to aid in consuming purposes. Ancient Mexican texts of the Aztecs such as the Badianus Manuscript, Florentine Codex, and Princeton Codex all point to combining cacao with certain other foods such as maize or even bark of silk cotton trees to cure a multitude of different sicknesses and pains (Dillinger et al, 2000; Lippi, 2009). Dillinger et al (2000) discuss that through ancient artifacts and manuscripts it can be seen that such ancient civilizations would consume significant amounts of chocolate not only for pleasure, and not just for medical benefits, but in fact simply to help take down other medications and less-tasteful foods. Doctors would even prescribe the food item for energy gain, and interestingly enough, to calm people down. When not used for energy related fixes, it was consumed for weight gain and in other times to detract from more unfavorable tastes and medicines (Givetti, 2005; Lippi, 2009).
Therefore, taken together it can be seen that the ancient civilizations and even early Europeans included chocolate immensely in their daily lives, from not just leisure, but also to medical benefits and in preventing certain ailments. However, one may ask now why current society does not regard the food item so highly. Although it is tried and true that current medication, preventative measures and surgeries, and other ailment fixes are substantially more effective than certain foods like chocolate, there have still been reports of health benefits to cacao and chocolate. In fact, some studies such as that conducted by Hervé Robert in 1990 point to Theobromine and caffeine in chocolate serving as neurological remedies to depression and mood. In fact, serotonin and alkaloids in the cacao have been studied to serve as mood enhancers and diuretics respectively (Hudson, 28-31).
A detailed news article documenting studies and different physician and psychologist viewpoints on the benefits and health effects on chocolate. Within the article there is an emphasis on mood and anti-depressive effects chocolate may serve on human beings.
Furthermore, a handful of the discovered 500 or so compounds found in chocolate have been found to serve as antiseptics, and others to be involved in other biological ways (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2015). As a result of discussing former–Mesoamerican and early European–conceptions of possible health benefits of chocolate and relating them to current discussions, beliefs, and findings of the health-related effects of chocolate on humans, it can be seen that although there are not fully conclusive results on the subject, it can be reasoned that cacao may provide interesting and possibly beneficial biological effects on humans. Once serving as a diuretic, erectile fix, and even anti-depressant or energy booster, our common snack food, desert, or nice cup of cocoa may in fact provide related benefits today as our Mesoamerican and European ancestors once thought.
Coe, Sophie Dobzhansky, and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Third Edition. London: Thames and Hudson, 20013.28-31.
Dillinger, Teresa L., et al. “Food of the gods: cure for humanity? A cultural history of the medicinal and ritual use of chocolate.” The Journal of nutrition130.8 (2000): 2057S-2072S.
Grivetti, Louis E. “From aphrodisiac to health food: A cultural history of chocolate.” (2005).
Lippi, Donatella. “Chocolate and medicine: Dangerous liaisons?.” Nutrition25.11 (2009): 1100-1103.
William Hurst. “Chocolate as Medicine.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2015 63 (45), 9899-9900. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b04057
If a very skinny woman buys chocolate, people might think that it is not unusual because how would she be able to maintain that body while eating chocolate? However, if people were to see a larger woman buying chocolate, they might think that her chocolate consumption explains why she has a bigger body. Both guesses can be wrong in reality; maybe the larger woman buys chocolate only once a year but this example demonstrates the connection we often make between women, body image and chocolate.
Since the 19th century, women have been confined to distorted beliefs about beauty, health, eating, and appetite. Having a lean, fat-free body became the new religion. Like any religion, failure to follow it, meaning becoming overweight, results in damnation. In following the religion, one is guaranteed a more beautiful, sexy, successful self. However, historically, the ideal body image was not skinny women. Plumpness was a sign of emotional well-being and good health (Seid, 1994). In time, the obsession with slenderness emerged, and certain food such as chocolate started to be vilified. Slim became attractive, sexy and healthy. As the ideal body image as well as the image of dieting and the understanding of health for women changed, chocolate advertisements have also changed to parallel these broader concepts. We can see this through early advertisements, a close analysis of Dove chocolate commercials since 2000 and the raw cacao movement.
As women and children became the primary consumers of sugar products in 19th century, chocolate advertisements quickly started to market to women not as individual consumers but as mothers and wives. Mintz discusses in his book “Sweetness and Power” that as sugar became cheaper and more popular in households, wives and children drastically increased their sugar consumption (Mintz, 1985). Around early 20th century, chocolate advertisements started to focus on this consumption trend. As Robertson mentions in her article, the consumption of chocolate became feminized (Robertson, 2009). Women, as the main person responsible for the family’s health, were assigned by advertising companies the role to provide wholesome cocoa for the family (Robertson, 2009). As an example, the Rowntree advertisement below highlights the relationship between a mother and her children. Her children desperately want chocolate but the mom, who also looks like a housewife, perfectly balances the chocolate in her hand that she is probably about to give to the children to calm them down. In this advertisement, chocolate is shown as an intermediary in a mother-child relationship.
Appealing to women as mothers in advertisements varied by product: the image of women as mothers in cacao advertisements changed into wives who get their husband to buy chocolate for them in chocolate advertisements. The Rowntree chocolate advertisement below portrays a woman receiving boxed chocolate from her husband who is eager to see her reaction. Similar to the advertisement above, women are shown in the context of a family and not primarily as individual consumers.
Over time, however, the portrayal of women as wives or mothers changed into a focus on them as individual consumers. Dove chocolate is a chocolate company that builds on the image of women who buys chocolate to enjoy by themselves. Dove chocolate, sold as “Galaxy” in the UK and other countries, is a brand made and marketed by Mars Company since 1986 (“Mars Acquires the Dove Bar” article). It started in Chicago as “Dove Candies and Ice Cream” by Leo Stefanos in 1939. Dove produces a variety of chocolate products including milk chocolate, chocolate truffles, chocolate with nut varieties and ice creams. Since 2000s, the brand’s advertisements have been mostly focused on women, often hyper-sexualized, indulging in chocolate and losing control. Although women are typically portrayed as indulging in chocolate in their advertisements, the message given about indulging changes over time.
In Dove’s “Eat Up Your Moment” commercial, released around early 2000s, a woman is portrayed as simply indulging in chocolate without any concerns about her body image. She is literally “eating up her moment,” meaning the only thing she cares about is her ice cream. Her hair is messy, adding to her sexualized image because of the stereotype of women with messy hair after sexual intercourse. As chocolate is depicted as an innate desire for women, it goes together with other innate needs such as sex. Thus, she is portrayed as an “irrational narcissistic consumer” (Robertson, 2009), who demonstrates the wonderful feeling of indulging in chocolate. The camera is only focused on Dove chocolate ice cream and her face. The camera does not even show the rest of her body. Her body image, or any other concern about life, does not matter. As can be seen from this advertisement, the association of a slim body image and beauty and sexual appeal is not emphasized. This advertisement approximately corresponds to the time in the 19th century when dietetics and nutrition separated from medicine as a field, and when chocolate came to be as much associated with health problems as with health benefits (Watson et al., 2013). However, it does not acknowledge the concerns that a woman might have by gaining calories from chocolate and potentially getting fatter and less attractive. It does not acknowledge the concerns regarding ideal body image and how eating chocolate deviates from that ideal.
Dove’s “Senses” commercial resembles the previous advertisement and does not overtly refer to any body image or dieting concerns. The commercial is all about senses and being aroused. It demonstrates chocolate as a freedom from adulthood (Barthel, 1989). According to this notion, chocolate relieves people from the boredom of the real world and puts them in a euphoric state in which they give in to their innate need for chocolate. The woman in the commercial is very thin that even her collarbones are prominent. She looks very aroused and enjoys the stimulation in her body from eating chocolate. The background voice in the commercial is soft and sultry, and resembles a female bedroom voice that is indicative of her increased sensations. The message implied in the advertisement is clear: indulge in chocolate and you would still be able to have your ideal, thin body.
Around 2010, Dove released a series of “Only Human” and “Confessions” commercials that acknowledge women’s concerns of body image more directly and emphasize that it is okay to indulge and not have a “perfect” body. The advertisement starts with an average looking woman saying, “we are only human but we try to be perfect.” In these commercials, women pretend as if high heels are comfortable, or waxing does not hurt much in time. Although women are aware of the sensory gratifications of chocolate, they are also concerned about potentially unhealthy nutritional properties and weight gain associated with over-indulgence in chocolate (Benford and Gough, 2006). Thus, they reduce the use of chocolate or omit it completely to lose weight (Mooney et al., 2009). As portrayed in the advertisements, just like the pain of high heels or pain of waxing, gaining weight from chocolate can make women feel bad or guilty. However, instead, as the commercial communicates, they should “cut some slack” and let themselves indulge in chocolate.
In Divine chocolate advertisements, women farmers are depicted as producers and cosmopolitan consumers of chocolate (Leissle, 2012). As Robertson discusses in her book, women as consumers of chocolate have historically been depicted as obsessed by chocolate (Robertson, 2009). The woman in the advertisement is a Ghanian cacao farmer of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative (Leissle, 2012) holding a piece of chocolate in her hand. She is wearing revealing clothes that highlight her breasts and has an alluring pose. She looks thin, sexy and sassy. The advertisement makes the viewer think that if even a female farmer who produces chocolate, and thus likely consumes a lot of it as well, is that thin, an individual female consumer would be able to stay thin too. She would be inspired by the standards of physical “excellence” that the model in the advertisement represents (Joshi et al., 2004).
As chocolate and advertisement companies cultivated the understanding of women’s concerns about their body images, they sparked a raw cacao movement. Raw cacao is the raw cacao nibs and beans that do not go through processing used in making chocolate such as roasting and steaming. In this way, raw chocolate companies intend to create “diet chocolate” that is especially endorsed by the popular Paleo diet. In his interview, David Wolfe, founder of various health and nutrition websites, discusses the potential benefits of raw cacao. He mentions that it is “10,15,20 times more antioxidants than green tea” and “30 times higher in antioxidants than wine.” He also suggests that raw cacao food is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, different than processed chocolate that contains no vitamin C because “it is all destroyed through the process by heat.” He adds that raw cacao is one of highest natural sources of magnesium, copper and iron. As a result, he emphasizes that raw cacao can be used as a mineral supplement. However, he does not provide any evidence to back up his claims, not does he mention the potential health risks of raw cacao such as containing mycotoxins or salmonella (Copetti et al., 2011). As corporations realize women’s emphasis and concerns about their body image, they can be deceptive and make claims without backing up with any scientific evidence. The raw chocolate companies, and other chocolate companies such as Dove and Divine, market their products to women while deceiving them as if the companies take into account the concerns related to women’s body images. It is crucial to not fall into media traps about health and nutrition. You are beautiful and your body is perfect, no matter what you consume.
Barthel, Diane. “Modernism and Marketing: The Chocolate Box Revisited.” Theory, Culture & Society (1989): 429-38.
Benford, R., & Gough, B. (2006). Defining and defending ‘unhealthy’ practices. A discourse analysis of chocolate ‘addicts’ accounts. Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 427–440.
Copetti, M., Iamanaka, B., Frisvad, J., Pereira, J., & Taniwaki, M. (2011). Mycobiota of cocoa: From farm to chocolate. Food Microbiology, 1499-1504.
Joshi, R., Herman, C. P., & Polivy, J. (2004). Self-enhancing effects of exposure to thin body images. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 35, 333–341.
Leissle, Kristy. “Cosmopolitan Cocoa Farmers: Refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate Advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies2 (2012): 121-39.
“Mars Acquires The Dove Bar.” New York Times. 1986-08-12. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
Mintz, S. (1985). Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books.
Mooney, E., Farley, H., & Strugnell, C. (2009). A qualitative investigation into the opinions of adolescent females regarding their body image concerns and dieting practices in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Appetite, 52, 485–491.
Seid, Roberta P. 1994. “Too Close to the Bone: The Historical Context for Women’s Obsession with Slenderness.” In Feminist Perspectives on Eating Disorders, ed. Fallon P., Katzman M. A., and Wooley S. C. New York: The Guilford Press.
Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Watson, Ronald Ross, Victor R. Preedy, and Sherma Zibadi, eds. 2013. Chocolate in Health and Nutrition. pp. 11-22, 265-276.
Beyond its incredible presence in the real world, chocolate is intimately tied into our imaginations of many fictional worlds as well, especially those aimed at children. From Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Patrick Skene Catling’s The Chocolate Touch, the link between chocolate and fantasy has been made clear. And even in fantasy worlds in which chocolate does not necessarily play a central role, it can still have great significance. In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, for example, chocolate is seen as a cure to the depressed state associated with the happiness-sucking dementors, creatures that guard the wizards’ prison. It brings back feelings of warmth and happiness, and as pointed out by David Colbert in his book The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, “doctors say [chocolate] can make depressed people feel better…[and]…has some of the same effects as the medicine that doctors prescribe” (Colbert 66). We see then that though chocolate is not necessarily a key or central part of the world, it nevertheless has important value beyond just being a food commodity.
This clip from the third Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, shows the harmful effects of the dementors – meant to represent depression – and the value of chocolate, which is portrayed as an effective cure. (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2/5) Movie CLIP – Dementor on the Train (2004) HD.”)
However, in the real world chocolate has also been linked – historically and in the modern day – to forced labor and slavery, including that of children (“Chocolate’s Child Slaves”; Martin Lecture 15; Lockwood Lecture 14). Especially in recent years, there have been movements to promote ethically sourced chocolate in an effort to reduce and eventually eliminate this slavery (“International Cocoa Initiative”; Martin Lecture 18). Outside of just citing the evils of slavery, the fact that chocolate is in our minds tied to something so fundamentally good and uplifting and that brings the consumer so much joy and pleasure has been part of the push to end the use of slavery in the chocolate supply chain. Because chocolate is viewed in this way, it can be “tarnished” and “polluted” by slavery in a way that we don’t see included in the rhetoric against use of forced labor to make iPhones, for example (Gibson). To focus on one specific group, the Harry Potter Alliance’s Not In Harry’s Name campaign has linked not just the idea of the purity of chocolate but also the idea of the goodness and inspiration of the novels to help motivate their fight against slavery in order to draw people in and get thousands of fans involved. They succeeded in getting Warner Brothers to declare that all Harry Potter chocolate products would be Utz or Fair Trade certified by the end of 2015, which has been lauded as a great success by the consumers and fans. However, this should not turn to complacency, as there are still problems with Fair Trade certification and therefore the so-called “victory” may not be as thorough as hoped, and furthermore working to eliminate unethically sourced chocolate in Harry’s name alone does not account for the vast amount of chocolate produced via forced/child labor that still circulates in the rest of the industry. Moving forward, then, these are some critiques of the movement that should be tackled in order to truly push against modern slavery and for better working conditions across the board.
To go back to the connection between Harry Potter and chocolate, outside of the novels this link can be found in the products made and sold under the Harry Potter brand – specifically confections like the chocolate frogs mentioned in the books. Though there are numerous recipes for makings one’s own chocolate frogs (“Honeydukes’ Chocolate Frogs”) and though there are a few different companies that make them (“Harry Potter Chocolate Frog – 0.55 oz”), the most official version is that created by Warner Brothers, the studio that created the Harry Potter films.
The 150 g solid milk chocolate frogs that form the bulk of the Harry Potter chocolate products, over which the “Not In Harry’s Name” was run to push Warner Brothers to use ethically sourced cocoa for these frogs (“Chocolate Frog – with Authentic Film Packaging.”)
These WB chocolate frogs are available at locations such as the Harry Potter Theme Park at Universal Studios and the Studio Tour in London, as well as online (“Chocolate Frog – with Authentic Film Packaging.”). These frogs are one of the main food products under the Harry Potter brand, and as such are very popular. However, in 2008 concerns were raised regarding whether the 30.9% cocoa solids content of the frogs was ethically sourced (“Not in Harry’s Name”).. The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), a group that “turns fans into heroes…by making activism accessible through the power of story [to work for] equality, human rights, and literacy” (“The Harry Potter Alliance: What We Do”) created the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign to pressure Warner Brothers to investigate their sources and ensure that their Harry Potter chocolate products were Fair Trade certified.
The rhetoric surrounding this campaign focused primarily on the role that chocolate has in the Harry Potter novels and in relation to fantasy and childhood in general, the values that the novels espouse in relation to equality and justice, and the idea that child labor and unethically sourced chocolate are in fundamental contrast to these roles and values, and could in fact ruin the purity of chocolate. Through a close reading of the novels, including the points regarding the effects of chocolate against dementors, we can see an association between chocolate, purity, innocence, and happiness. The Washington Post’s article on the “Not in Harry’s Name” movement phrases it as such:
“Chocolate and candy play an important role in the Harry Potter books. After he leaves his abusive aunt and uncle to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry is boggled by the abundance of sweets his peers have access to; chocolate is a symbol of how Hogwarts will be the first place that really nourishes Harry’s body and his mind. And chocolate is big real-world business in the Harry Potter empire: You can buy Chocolate Frogs, one of the series’ signature sweets.” (Rosenberg).
Citing one of the novels mentioned earlier, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Hamida Bosmajian in 1985 similarly discussed the “pleasing associations of chocolate, whose high concentration of energy-producing compounds combined with caffeine and theobromine makes it truly a food for the gods as well as for those who, like Charlie, are empty buckets of deprivation” (Bosmajian) – as is Harry, too, prior to attending Hogwarts.
Based on these associations, statements such as those seen in this video sought to galvanize Harry Potter fans to sign a petition and protest Warner Brothers’ use of chocolate that had not been certified as ethically sourced.
This video shows a montage of clips that serve to summarize the progression of the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign and to celebrate the letter the Harry Potter Alliance received from Warner Brothers in December 2014 pledging to make Harry Potter chocolate products UTZ or Fair Trade certified. From this video, we can identify a number of comments and remarks that showcase the types of rhetoric as mentioned above. (“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”).
This video showcasing the movement included quotes such as this one from a speech at the Yule Ball in Cambridge, MA in December 2010:
Speaker: “When you are facing a dementor after a dementor attacked you what is the best thing you should eat?”
Speaker: “But what if that chocolate was made by a child who was kidnapped from their family and forced into slavery on the Ivory Coast”
Speaker: “The chocolate would not work.”
(“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”)
The HPA Facebook page similarly made a post urging supporters to “protect your friends and loved ones from using faulty chocolate against Dementor attacks” (“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page” 2013).
This idea that the unethical production of chocolate would sully it enough so that its beneficial effects would be lost speaks to the value that we associate with chocolate, especially so for Harry Potter fans. Another quote from the video states “It doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that something that is for children, essentially, Harry Potter chocolate, should not be sourced by children” (“Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”). HPA founder Andrew Slack pushes this point by asking readers to
“Picture a 9 year old enjoying a Chocolate Frog at the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando. She is happy to be a part of JK’s Rowling’s magical world — a world that inspired in this young girl a love for reading and a commitment to human rights. Now imagine a 9 year old boy in West Africa, kidnapped and enslaved… all so that he can harvest the cocoa use to make that very chocolate frog” (Slack).
As we see from these quotes and from the books mentioned at the beginning of this post, chocolate is associated with children and children’s fantasy, and here the interesting contrast is posed between those children who have the chance to enjoy a childhood of this fantasy and consumer products associated with them, and those children who are forced to labor in order to produce the raw materials for these products.
Scholar and University of Southern California professor Henry Jenkins additionally points out that:
“The effort defines HPA members as fans of the franchise and as consumers likely to buy affiliated products, but also mobilizes content-world expertise to challenge studio decisions:
[6.5] When Hermione Granger discovers that the food at Hogwarts, chocolate included, is being made by house elves—essentially unpaid, indentured servants—she immediately starts a campaign to replace exploitation with fairness…In Harry Potter’s world, chocolate holds a unique place: it is a Muggle item with magical properties. Chocolate is featured prominently throughout the books as a powerful remedy for the chilling effects produced by contact with dementors, which are foul creatures that drain peace, hope and happiness from the world around them…It is doubtful that chocolate produced using questionable labor practices would have such positive effect, both in Harry’s world and ours. (Harry Potter Alliance 2010b)
[6.6] Rather than seeing the licensed candies as mere commodities, the HPA evaluates them according to their meaningfulness in the content world and then links their “magical” powers to the ethics of how they are produced and sold: “As consumers of Harry Potter products, we are interested in supporting and purchasing products that are true to the spirit of the Harry Potter franchise.” Throughout its campaign, the HPA holds open the prospect of a meaningful collaboration with corporate interests, but it also pledges to use boycotts and buycotts against the studio and its subcontractors.” (Jenkins)”
Ultimately, through what Andrew Slack calls “cultural acupuncture” – the “practice of mapping the fictional content world onto real-world concerns [to help] empower young people to become civically engaged and politically active” (Jenkins) – the HPA got 400,000 signatures, the support of J.K. Rowling, and finally in December 2014 a letter from Warner Brothers stating that by the end of the following year, all of their Harry Potter chocolate products would be “100 percent Utz or Fair Trade certified” (“Not in Harry’s Name: A History”).
Projecting the real-life success of the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign onto the fictional The Daily Prophet newspaper from the Harry Potter series, this image showcases the sentiments felt by members and supporters of the HPA following the letter from Warner Brothers.
The letter from Warner Brothers to Andrew Slack reveals the plan to make all their Harry Potter chocolate products Utz or Fair Trade certified by the end of 2015 – the victory that the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign had hoped for.
However, while this was lauded as a victory for the HPA, there remain issues both with the outcome and with the way the campaign was framed. The HPA blog showcases Fair Trade as a sort of panacea for ethical issues associated with chocolate and for the struggles endured by cocoa farmers, stating that Fair Trade International “[ensures] that their products are produced by people making a living wage, and are not being produced with harmful or inhumane practices such as the use of child labor” (O’Brien) and provides “fair exchanges with farmers and artisans” alike [to make] certain that there is enough money to issue better working conditions, health-care, [and] education for the children of the workers” (Simeti). However, as we learned in class Fair Trade is still quite problematic. For one, though in theory Fair Trade should eliminate child labor, because it “does not ensure a direct relationship between producers and buyers” and lacks thorough quality control there have been cases where child labor is still used on Fair Trade-certified cooperatives but has gone unnoticed (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”). Therefore, the chocolate in chocolate frogs being Fair Trade certified is not guaranteed to solve the specific problems that the HPA seems to think it will. And beyond this, in reality Fair Trade puts a “significant burden for new producers and manufacturers [who have to pay to be certified], and drains money from the sourcing relationship” (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”), making it difficult for small farmers especially. Therefore, while getting Warner Brothers to use Fair Trade certified cocoa is certainly a step in the right direction towards the goal of chocolate being ethically sourced, there is still work to be done – and the fact that the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign is portrayed as a huge success, and has been covered by many prominent media outlets, can be misleading and affect how the general public sees Fair Trade. Ultimately, a push towards Direct Trade – the sourcing model used by Taza Chocolate, which cuts out the middlemen and provides more benefits to farmers and producers – would be even more desirable (“What’s the Difference Between Direct Trade and Fair Trade?”).
Furthermore, while the use of Harry Potter and all the emotions and values associated with it to galvanize such a huge movement of people in favor of ethically sourced chocolate was immensely creative and has had results, this should not limit the scope of the push against forced and child labor. The statements “We wanted to make sure that child slavery would no longer be carried out in Harry’s name,” “Maybe we can’t end child slavery altogether, but we can at least get Harry’s name out of it,” and “Not in Harry’s name and not in ours either” (“The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page” 2015; “Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery”) were helpful in promoting the movement, but problematic in that they focus too much on the consumer and the value of Harry Potter rather than condemning child slavery in general – though of course I do not think that is the message the campaign intended to send with this. Focusing on Harry Potter was simply a way of rallying this online community to fix specific problems one step at a time, but moving forward this approach needs to be broadened to protest all unethically sourced chocolate, not just those products which happen to be associated with a beloved fantasy world and the ideas of purity and childhood.
Luckily, it seems both issues mentioned here are being addressed: Walk Free, the anti-modern slavery movement that partnered with HPA in its campaign, is “designing and propagating a new certification for slavery-free supply chains” and Slack “hopes to use Warner Bros.’ decision to pressure other chocolate chains, such as Hershey and Nestle, and mobilize fans of other franchises” (Rosenberg). As Slack said,
“If ‘Harry Potter’ [as a franchise] were to be in alignment with the values of Harry Potter [himself], it could be a real symbolic and coherent victory… [Harry Potter] represents righteousness, nobility, love, so much beauty and a place of safety that people go to, and moral authority. If the ‘Harry Potter’ brand were to move something like fair trade, it would be making a statement that not only is the ‘Harry Potter’ brand a cut above the rest but that [other franchises] have to catch up to it.”
Jenkins, too, sees potential here beyond just this one campaign, identifying that HPA is “developing messaging tools that can be adapted to any number of causes, rather than identifying campaigns and then developing strategies for them” and suggesting that “‘In some ways, the flexibility of what the Harry Potter Alliance is doing is very useful…It can form new kinds of alliances, it can again evolve over time as the cultural references change’” (Ibid.). And in the broader scheme of things, “the cocoa campaign proves that the impact of Rowling’s novels isn’t limited to the pleasure it gives readers, or to a win in a single campaign for more ethical chocolate” (Ibid.).
Overall, we see a very interesting situation play out here where consumers have really taken control and, through their personal associations with the Harry Potter series, its values, and the role of chocolate in it, have fought back against unethical labor conditions. This is truly a fan-based internet movement, and can be seen as proof that online mobilizing really can have real-life effects. While the HPA was successful in getting Warner Brothers to make their chocolate products Fair Trade certified, however, we see that there are still problems with this “victory” – and moving forward, we certainly hope to see a push for more direct, regulated supply chains that truly do benefit the producers and others who historically have gotten the short end of the stick. And while “Not in Harry’s Name” has been a great movement in terms of bolstering people to care about these issues, we should turn to protesting unethical chocolate simply because it is unethical.
Chocolate has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. Additionally, it has progressively adapted to various cultures. The story begins in Mesoamerica; however, upon the arrival of Europeans, chocolate expanded first to Spain, then adapted as it traveled across Europe, and then came back to the Americas where the new forms, including solid chocolate bars, widely spread into modern times. While, originally it was a drink, now chocolate is consumed as a drink, bar, syrup, and more. Chocolate is now readily available worldwide. Through a long history including social and historical issues, chocolate reached its current state of being. By contextualizing an interview with a young adult in her twenties, aliased Nicky, with the historical factors leading to her thoughts, it becomes evident one essential factor needed to understand humanity’s relationship with modern chocolate is holistic health as chocolate’s effect on holistic health will affect how people consider chocolate.
In order to better understand the role chocolate plays contemporarily with holistic health, first one must understand the definition of holistic health and be knowledgeable with a brief history of how views of holistic health and chocolate relate. Holistic health is defined roughly as the state of a person’s being “that considers the whole person – body, mind, spirit, and emotions” (Holistic 2015). Thus, for the purposes of its relationship with chocolate, it is possible to group this into three subdivisions: physical health, emotional health, and mental health. Here, physical health is determined by the state of one’s body. Emotional health is how a person feels in terms of moods such as sadness, stress, etc. Finally, mental health regards how one thinks about chocolate and its interactions with the world and community.
Historical Views of Chocolate Regarding Holistic Health
Through the history of chocolate, it is easy to find examples of how people’s conception of holistic health incorporated chocolate. There exists a plethora of examples relating to physical health dating back to Mesoamerican civilizations. For the majority of history, chocolate was viewed as a potential benefit to one’s overall physical health. For example, the Aztec people believed chocolate could be used in healing practices. Thus, they included chocolate in both ritualistic health practices and in botanical remedies for common ailments (Coe 43). Following, shortly after this, the Spanish grew to believe chocolate could cure many ailments. Amongst these are skin issues, fevers, probability of conception, and more (Martin, Mesoamerica 2015). Although these treatments had no data supporting them, the belief in the healing power of chocolate persisted. As it became more popularized in Europe, these healing properties had to be adapted to fit their model of health. Thus, when looking at the 1500s and the following centuries, chocolates influence on physical health was to balance the four “humors”. These “humors” were yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm. Illnesses were believed to be an imbalance of these four humors (Coe 120-121).
Therefore, at various times, chocolate was used to increase various humors in order to ascertain this balance. Throughout these periods, chocolate was persistently used as medicine. Beyond that, another key moment for chocolate’s utilization in physical health comes when women in Europe more commonly began working outside of the house around the 1800s. Then, chocolate was sometimes used as a mealtime necessity in order to provide stimulation and energy to the family, when it became too time-consuming to prepare lunches (Mintz 146-147). Due to these factors and more, chocolate was almost universally seen as a net positive in regards to physical health; however, when nutrition and medicine broke apart as fields, the association between chocolate and health problems began to become more noticed (Martin, Health 2015). Thus, until this split happened, chocolate was seen as healthy in regards to one’s physical well-being at least until the modern era.
Throughout history however, chocolate was not only important in terms of people’s belief in its effects regarding physical health, but also because individuals sought the benefits or feared the detriments chocolate offered both individually on an emotional level and as a community. In the Mesoamerican realm, the Mayans believed chocolate to be necessary for societal relations and in appeasing the gods. This can be seen through the various religious ceremonies that involved chocolate. These include, sacrifices, death rites, birth rites, and more (Coe 40-45). In addition, chocolate was used for societal health in the Mayan society by providing a means to tighten communal bonds. Accordingly, chocolate was often drank together to strengthen friendship and community. The act of drinking chocolate together in the Mayan language is chokola’j, which is similar to the modern word chocolate (Coe 61). Thus, due to chocolate’s inherent ties to religious life and community it becomes exceedingly clear that chocolate was necessary to both ease the Mayan’s minds of stress and to create a stronger societal dependency. This communal strengthening is continually seen even in Europe. As chocolate popularized in Europe and, specifically, England, beverage shops also grew in popularity. In these locations, tea, coffee, and chocolate were drank while community issue and politics were discussed (Mintz 111). Therefore, it is apparent that chocolate, through its role in these shops, helped form the English society and the close bonds of those drinking in these shops. Negatively, chocolate also furthered the use of slavery during the imperial age. Thus, in terms of the mental health of Europeans, chocolate made them feel more at ease by lessening work-related stress and furthering the profits garnered by the slave trade. However, it also hurt them in reducing their morality and by causing societal and economic issues as the slave trade ended. As such, these stressors caused much unrest both on the individual level and on the community level. Nevertheless, chocolate was still seen as a positive for holistic health in that people believed it provided many physical health benefits, provided emotional stimulation, and increased community kinship. However, despite this idea of chocolate, the modern conception can be seen to be drastically different.
A Contemporary View on Chocolate and Holistic Health
After understanding a brief history of how chocolate was believed to relate to holistic health since its introduction into Mesoamerica society, it next follows to appreciate how chocolate is thought about in the modern world. To do this, modern research is combined with an interview of a young adult to result in a snapshot of the contemporary view on chocolate. One of the first questions asked in the interview was how Nicky thought about chocolate in regards to physical health. To this, she responded, “chocolate is bad for your health… but I always think dark chocolate is much better for you than milk chocolate” and when further questioned, added, “Chocolate is bad because of all the sugar added. Also, there is little nutritional value to it” (Chocolate Interview 2015). Thus, it is evident she believed the main aspect of chocolate, in regards to physical health, is the amount of sugar it contains.
In relation to the modern data, this viewpoint is largely correct. Moreover, per person we eat 12 pounds more each year than 30 years ago (Mother Jones 2015). However, this increase in sugar alone does not tell the whole story. Instead, it is also important to note that until very recently almost all the research determining the effects of sugar intake healthy has been subsidized by sugar lobbies and companies like Mars who have a strong interest in promoting the use of sugar (Mother Jones 2015). More chocolate also contains much fat. Worse, a decent proportion of that fat is saturated fat which is worse for health than unsaturated fat. One Hershey’s bar contains about 6 grams or 30% of the saturated fat one should consume in an entire day and 19 grams of sugar.
Correlated with this sugar intake is a stark rise in the prevalence of chronic diseases including obesity and diabetes. In the past three decades, both the number of children with diabetes and the American obesity rate have more than tripled (Mother Jones 2015). However, the negative roles chocolate has on health could be ameliorated if chocolate made clear positive impacts on physical health like reducing bad cholesterol or providing anti-oxidants. Instead, the nutrition value of chocolate, as Nicky said, is lacking. This corresponds with a trend in human diets. American diets lack the necessary micronutrients, fiber, and fatty acids needed for health, while having too much, sugar, saturated fats, and calories (Martin, Health 2015). Thus, chocolate exacerbates the negative parts of the American diet by further providing an excess of sugar, fat, and calories while lacking the necessary nutrients for health. Meanwhile, there has been arguments that chocolate contains chemicals and anti-oxidants that would lessen cardiac ailments, provide anti-inflammatory properties, and give other health benefits. (Watson et al 2013). However, meta-analysis of these suggestions shows that conclusive evidence cannot be determined. Thus, overall, the conclusion regarding physical health seems to be that, generally, people view chocolate as physically unhealthy with some hope that certain chocolates, such as 70% or more dark chocolate, may provide preventative benefits.
In this regard, today’s views on chocolate chocolate differ drastically as compared to how societies previously thought about chocolate and physical health. Until contemporary times, chocolate was almost universally regarded as medicinal or, at least, beneficial for physical health. However, modern times have revealed a much different understanding due to a variety of factors which could include a difference in overall quality of the chocolate bar in that many modern chocolate bars are greatly sweetened and have other added Regardless of why, now, chocolate is often seen as an antagonist in the war against obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
Although the chocolate generally eaten in the modern times seems to be unhealthy in terms of physical health, people normally refrain from saying they eat chocolate because of its properties regarding physical health. Instead, many people suggest a more emotional reason for eating chocolate. For one, Nicky suggested that she eats chocolate in order to de-stress, and that she eats chocolate when she is moody or sad. Importantly, she states that when she was younger she did not eat chocolate based on her mood, which as will be discussed later could be because Nicky was yet to be conditioned to use chocolate to benefit mood at that young age. More, she says she eats chocolate “because it is there” or “because of its temptation” (Chocolate Interview 2015). This reveals two distinct and important characteristics about chocolate and its role regarding emotional health. The first is chocolate is often seen as emotionally therapeutic and is eaten in order to better one’s mood. The second is chocolate is eaten not out of an innate desire but instead out of a need or addiction to the substance. Here, this refers to Nicky saying she ate chocolate simply because it was readily available and, in a manner, she cannot help herself when tempted with chocolate. The idea that chocolate is used as a “pick-me-up” is common. One belief for why chocolate makes one feel better is purely psychological. From a young age, chocolate is introduced as something happy, delicious, and a reward. Thus, people are conditioned to associate chocolate with positivity. Therefore, upon eating chocolate, even if it offers no innate benefit to mood, people are trained to feel emotionally better after eating chocolate. However, new research shows this reaction may be more than conditioned. Instead, this research suggests that polyphenols and flavanols, which are found in some chocolates, may help moodiness and decrease the effects of neurological disorders (Watson et al 2013). Thus, chocolate through one mechanism or another plays a role in benefiting emotional health. On the other hand, chocolate also can be viewed as a drug. More, one study goes as far as to claim, “sugar and sweet reward can not only substitute to addictive drugs, like cocaine, but can even be more rewarding and attractive” (Ahmed et al 2013). From this, it is clear that chocolate can be addictive. Thus, the feelings of emotional improvement derive from the reward of being given a drug. Either way, chocolate can produce positive feelings when consumed and, thus, can be seen as beneficial for emotional health.
The modern view on chocolate as proposed both through research and anecdotally through an interview correspond with the historical view of chocolate and emotional health. Both then and now, chocolate was seen as a pleasure benefiting ones emotional being. In both cases, chocolate was a manner of reward and used to celebrate or help move past bad times. In Mesoamerica, chocolate was used as an emotional stimulant as well for celebrations like marriage and birth, but also used to get past emotional distress in death. Thus, it is obvious that the relationship between chocolate and emotional health although it has taken slightly different forms has been constant and consistent in regarding chocolate as a net positive for emotional health.
Finally, in terms of evaluating the relationship between holistic health and chocolate, it is necessary to assess the role chocolate plays on mental health as it relates to how people interact with their societal environment. To this aspect of holistic health, there are two main components with which Nicky was concerned. The first was that capitalistic tendencies would lead to decisions solely based on profit and not public welfare and the second was that chocolate consumption would be detrimental to the environment because she was unsure if there were common regulations about the use of pesticides and agricultural practices (Chocolate Interview 2015). In regards to the first concern, modern research supports this worry. For example, one researcher claims that capitalism leads to decisions that simultaneously exacerbate the issues of hunger and obesity. Albritton argues that a multitude of factors including the misuse of lands for non-foods, poor diet choices, and inappropriate farming techniques all contribute to the decline in health and are partially due to a capitalist system (Albritton 242-251). In this manner, capitalism exacerbates the strain on the community by encouraging a system in which chronic nutrition-based diseases are common. However, another issue found with the standard practices is a lack of regulation leading to poor standards for the quality of food and the living conditions for laborers. Accordingly, Nicky asserted that direct trade, fair trade, and organic certifications play a large role in her selection of groceries (Chocolate Interview 2015).
However, these certifications are limited and often fail to account for many of the issues at hand. As such, the current state of chocolate detriments mental health as it brings added concerns of equality, environmental protection, and rights rather than helping ameliorate these inequities found throughout the world.
This differs as compared to the role chocolate used to play on an individual’s interaction with the world around them. In the past, chocolate was used as a meeting point to socialize and tighten kinships or discuss politics and local happenings in Britain. Nowadays, chocolate is normally bought and eaten more individually. In current times, chocolate instead exacerbates the differences between groups by promoting obesity, helping maintain poor working conditions, and harming the environment through agricultural and shipping practices.
Throughout history humans have revered chocolate for its believed effects on holistic health. It was appreciated for its supposed benefits to one’s physical health, for the emotional bettering found in chocolate’s consumption, and for its enabling of more tight-knit communities. However, chocolate is not considered as wonderful today. Although humans still appreciate it for its great taste and its ability to improve one’s mood, they worry about its effects on physical health due to its association with obesity and diabetes and they worry about the conditions that surround the commodity trade of chocolate. As such, it is apparent through an analysis based on history, modern research, and anecdotal evidence that chocolate’s perceived effect on holistic health is a fundamental factor in how people regard the substance.
Ahmed, S. H., K. Guillem, and Y. Vandaele. “Sugar Addiction: Pushing the Drug-sugar Analogy to the Limit.” Current Opinion of Clinical Nutrition Metabolic Care 16.4 (2013): 434-39. Web.
Albritton, Robert. Food and Culture: A Reader. By Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. New York: Routledge, 2013. 342-50. Print.
In the world of chocolate sales, advertising is everything. Companies try to develop brand loyalty through customers who will promote their chocolate effectively from “cradle to grave” (Martin Lecture 13). The problem with such chocolate ads as that shown below for Nutella is not just that they posit the idea of chocolate being universally desired – which, though not the case, is perhaps justifiable given that this is after all advertising – but that they gives the implication that this product is available and accessible to everyone, ignoring the state of affairs in many of the places where cocoa is grown. For example, Africa produces 75% of the world’s cacao but only consumes 3% of its chocolate (Martin Lecture 14). Essentially, this advertisement is part of a trend that focuses exclusively on the consumer and their experience, because those are the people buying their products and in order to sell chocolate the companies want consumers to be able to put themselves into the shoes of those they see eating chocolate in the ads. Furthermore, through this manner the companies are also able to avoid addressing issues of sourcing which could potentially harm their sales if consumers see the direct connection between any unethical practices they might be involved in and the food they are purchasing.1 In contrast, the ad we created in response is not promoting any particular company, but rather is simply meant to draw attention to those who make the production of chocolate possible yet often take little share of the profits, and in many cases work under harsh conditions – the cocoa farmers in West Africa. In focusing on the state of the producers rather than the contentment of the consumers, our ad places itself within a growing trend of concern about ethical chocolate sourcing. Thus it is a reflection of much of the conversation regarding chocolate today.
Created by graphic designer college student Chee Aki in Ha Noi, Vietnam in June of 2011, the original advertisement displays a girl with Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread smearing around her mouth and a jar of Nutella balanced on her head (Aki). The girl appears to be relatively young, with a backpack hanging off of one shoulder – likely a high school or college student. Though the girl depicted does not look overly model-like, nevertheless we see her sexualized in a way that we have seen in many other chocolate advertisements that include women, portraying the idea that women have urges and cannot control themselves around chocolate (Robertson 35). Advertising can be said to be fundamentally based on imagination – when viewing someone on screen thoroughly enjoying a bite of chocolate, it is the fact that we can imagine ourselves in their place that makes our mouth water in anticipation of also eating that chocolate. The purpose of this advertisement therefore appears to be to promote the idea of eating of chocolate as very desirable, so viewers of the ad can imagine themselves in the place of the girl depicted and then hopefully buy chocolate to satisfy the resultant cravings. It “ignores the history behind the creation of what is now known as ‘chocolate’ from the cocoa bean….[instead it taps] into popular western understandings of the commodity as luxurious, hedonistic and sensual” (Robertson 3). Though there is no full narrative arc depicted, the emotions played on by this advertisement are those related to desire, fully centered on the consumer experience.
Such a portrayal – and especially the words “everyone wants it” – can be seen as problematic as they imply not just that the product is universally desired, but in a way also that it could be seen as universally accessible, when in fact we know that to not be true. Taking Nutella as an example, while the cocoa used for the product is produced and supplied from Nigeria, there are no factories or main sales offices anywhere near the West Africa region, suggesting that the product is perhaps limited in its availability there (Ferdman).
To push back against the Nutella advertisement, we created an image that draws focus to the cocoa producers unacknowledged in and not targeted by the first advertisement. Using an image produced by Nutella itself of the world’s continents made out of bread and coated with the chocolate spread – again problematic as it implies Nutella is equally present throughout the world – we placed images of West African cocoa farmers in that region on the map, to draw attention to their role. While some of the portrayed workers appear content, if not perhaps particularly wealthy, we also have an image of a child identified by Henrik Ipsen and the Huffington Post to be a child slave forced to work in cocoa production, and through this we highlight the worst problems with the cocoa supply chain (Gregory). In answer to the problematic statement from the original advertisement, “everyone wants it,” we reply with the follow up question “but who actually gets it?,” again underlining the production, consumption, and overall economic disparity between those who make cocoa and those who get to eat it. We created an ad that supports wider acknowledgement of these issues and, we hope, would help inspire action against them.
Luckily, there has in recent years especially been increasing focus on these producers and the issues with the current supply chain, though often outside of the big chocolate companies, and our advertisement is therefore part of this trend (Martin Lecture 18). One interesting and perhaps unconventional example of this is the work done by the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), an activist group working against human rights violations. As recently as this past December 2014, after four years of campaigning they succeeded in having Warner Brothers, the company that produces Harry Potter chocolate products, announce that they would make all of those products with UTZ or Fair Trade certified cocoa (Rosenberg). Their campaign video here shows similar representations of forced child labor to what we see in our advertisement, and therefore is also part of the growing trend that takes a critical look at cocoa sourcing.
This video was part of the Harry Potter Alliance’s campaign for Warner Brothers to use ethically sourced cocoa in their Harry Potter chocolate products.
We certainly see increased focus on the producers and their well-being as a positive shift – however, this does not come without any further issues. Though the HPA’s campaign is an example of consumer-driven activism, and though “studies indicate that more U.S. consumers would be willing to purchase products at a premium if they were aware of the child labor concerns at stake in the supply chain” (Baradaran and Barclay), there are many different actors who could take up the mantel, so picking who should represent these issues can be difficult – there is pressure for regulation by law, the companies, and/or the industry itself (Martin Lecture 18). Furthermore, there are critiques with this countermovement in so much as that some certifications such as Fair Trade, for example, may help eliminate some of the worst forms of child slavery but may not actually end up alleviating the more widespread problems of poverty in cocoa-producing regions (Martin 18). This, then, is a problem that stems from our current advertisement – drawing attention to the issues is certainly necessary, but there is still much to do in moving forward. Overall, though, pushing against the mainstream trend of focusing on consumers and their experience alone is one which will hopefully move the cocoa supply chain and industry as a whole in the right direction.
In England, chocolate first became popular as a drink consumed primarily by men in public coffee houses. However, this consumption pattern quickly reversed as chocolate gained popularity. By the end of the 18th century, chocolate was considered to be a feminized product, with more female than male consumers (Robertson 20). Today, women are responsible for the majority of the 3 billion pounds that English consumers spend on chocolate every year (Cook 265). In fact, the only time of year in which men spend more money on chocolate than women is Valentine’s Day, and even then, it is estimated that 75% of all chocolate purchases in the week surrounding the holiday are men buying chocolate as a gift for the women in their lives (Cook 266). Considering that the vast majority of chocolate purchased in the western world is the result of an impulse buy, not the result of a gift purchase, big chocolate’s prioritized targeting of women left a gap in the market for advertising that would appeal to men as impulse buyers, not as gift buyers (Allen 20). Yorkie stepped into this gap in England, using advertisements that focused on a negative portrayal of manliness, based on what being a man was not, in order to create a chocolate bar aimed at male impulse buyers.
Yorkie, owned by Nestle, was started in 1976 with the goal of creating a chocolate brand aimed towards male consumers. For its first 30 years, Yorkie mostly played into traditional and stereotypical positive notions of manhood, ideas of what manliness was, by running advertisements that featured men driving tractors and trucks and operating heavy machinery (Query). This advertising could be considered similar to other chocolate advertising that fetishizes traditional notions of motherhood for women (Robertson 21). Such advertising casts its gender roles in positive stereotypical and hetero normative ways – showing what ideal motherhood, or ideal manliness, looks like. However, in 2003, Yorkie decided to take their advertising in a different direction, towards a negative conception of manliness. They shifted from branding their chocolate as a consumption good for men, to branding it as consumption good that was “not for girls” (Query). As you can see in the advertisement below, Yorkie defined manliness as something that girls couldn’t do.
There are some elements of this simple advertisement that appeal to a positive notion of manliness. The primary color is blue, the color typically associated with maleness, and the print is a simple, manly, block face type – there are no frills. However, these small details are overwhelmed by the ad’s explicit appeal to a negative conception of manliness. The advertisement is based on stereotypes of things that girls do but men don’t – like drive poorly, or give into their tender side and feed chocolate to the birds. This message is driven home by the fact that the phrase “not for girls” is both written out, and also displayed pictorially – with a slashing red line across the symbol of a women – so it cannot possibly be missed. There is nothing subtle about this advertisement – it is very clear in its intent to cast Yorkie chocolate as the manliest of candies by showing not what manliness is but what it is not – girliness.
This Yorkie advertising, however, is not an isolated incident, but rather is part of a larger trend. Remarkably similar negative appeals to manliness can be found in advertising for other foods that have been traditionally consumed by females – like diet soda. In 2011, Dr. Pepper launched its Dr. Pepper ten – it’s not for women, advertising campaign, a commercial from which can be found here (Anderson).
The advertisement below is a direct response to Yorkie, but also an indirect response to the marketing trend of advertising any food products as not for women or girls. This ad emphasizes equal access, and positive notions of who should be consuming Yorkie chocolate with the phrase, “it’s for everyone,” and the pictorial representation of the phrase with both male and female symbols – and no red lines crossing anyone out. Gone are the unflattering stereotypes of things women do that men don’t – and they are replaced with appeals to inclusive consumer choice, and gender equality – appeals that apply equally to people of both genders.
Nestle claims that the “not for girls” slogan was intended to be “tongue in cheek,” and that in a world of “increasing gender equality,” they felt that society was ready to begin to again explore the idea of “men being men” (Query). However, what Nestle failed to realize was that “increasing gender equality” is not the same thing as gender equality. In a world where only 24 women world wide are the head of their state or government, and where only 22% of national parliamentarians, and 5.4% of Fortune 1000 CEOs are women, there is no room for an advertisement that perpetuates the idea that there are spaces, or products, that are just for men and not for women (“Women in Leadership”; “Facts and Figures”).
Allen, Lawrence L. Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of Chinese Consumers. New York: AMACOM, 2010. Print.
Anderson, Mae. “Dr Pepper Ten ‘not for Women'” COM. USA Today, 10 Nov. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.
Cook, Wendy. Foodwise: Understanding What We Eat and How It Affects. Forrest Row: Clairview, 2003. Print.
“Facts and Figures: Leadership and Political Participation.” UN Women. The United Nations, Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.
Query, Vanessa. “Nestlé UK’s Yorkie Is Not For Girls.” Insipid Missives. N.p., 02 July 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.
Robertson, Emma. “A Deep Physical Reason: Gender, Race, and the Nation in Chocolate Consumption.” Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2011. 18-63. Print.
“Women in Leadership.” Pew Research Centers Social Demographic Trends Project RSS. Pew, 14 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.