A Recipe of Contradictions: Chocolate’s History

Cacao leaves. A cacao tree is white-barked, with red, yellow, and green pods shaped like small footballs (Healy,127).

By Arianna Jepsen

Hershey kisses are amazing examples of how chocolate is still popularized today. In the background, other common chocolate items can be seen.

Chocolate, from it’s very beginning, has been viewed with mixed feelings; worthy of gods vs food for pigs, life saving vs. human’s downfall.  Chocolate has been around for centuries, with each new culture adding their own changes to it.  It embodies the definition of a global commodity as its presence spans the globe.  Today, chocolate is a widely used and  popular treat.  People have always been obsessed with chocolate, some even self-identifying as “chocoholics”.  According to the World Cocoa Foundation the U.S. chocolate industry had $23.5 billion in sales and exported about $799 million to over 50 countries (Young, preface).  As with most large scale products, the production and consumption of cacao effects more than just cacao farmers, but the producers of the add-ins or the producers of the items used in eating chocolate.  Chocolate is one product that touches almost everyone, even those who don’t like it still know of it.    According to surveys, chocolate was found as energizing, interesting and fit for both genders (Szogyi, 38).  Chocolate is so well loved that cacao’s scientific name of  Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods”.   The simple fact is, chocolate tastes good.  However, some people don’t realize that chocolate is also considered a fashionable item.  How can food be considered fashion?  Fashion can be anything that had a significant impact on how the consumers of a product carried or changed themselves to reflect the trend.  Since chocolate was so popular and considered to be the height of luxury, its use in society and the tools used to make and consume it, were fashion.  There are many sides to chocolate, so continue reading to find out chocolates origins, it adaptation into Europe’s Society, and some of the ramifications of producing it.

Chocolates Beginning

Chocolate’s Claim to Fame

Chocolate: the Dark Side

Suggested readings:

    1. Healy, Kevin. Llamas, Weavings, and Organic Chocolate: Multicultural Grassroots Development in the Andes and Amazon of Bolivia. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2001.
    2. Szogyi, Alex. Chocolate Food of the Gods. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997.
    3. Young, Allen M. The Chocolate Tree: A Natural History of Cacao. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.