Are You a Slave to Chocolate?

It bothers me that ads for chocolates are aimed almost exclusively at women.  If you take a close look at the ads on your favorite TV shows or in magazines, you will find women eating chocolate, women sharing chocolate with their girlfriends or their children, or women enjoying S’Mores around a campfire.  There are two guys playing a game with chocolate in one ad, but in nearly every instance, you will see only women eating it.  Women, it appears, really love their chocolate.

So, that said, what do you, as a typical consumer of chocolate, know about chocolate?

91 percent of women eat chocolate and 87 percent of men eat chocolate, according to a study in the UK.

Nearly everyone eats chocolate.  That doesn’t surprise me.  Still, these ads that feature women exclusively must be effective on men, too, because the difference in percentage of chocolate eaters by gender, 91 versus 87 percent, is not much wider than the expected margin for error.  Let’s call it a draw.

Consuming dark chocolate is good for you.

I have never really understood what an anti-oxidant did for you, but apparently dark chocolate does that anti-oxidant thing, whatever it is, because it lowers high blood pressure.  That’s a good thing.

Chocolate is associated with sex.

That might explain why all the women in the ads look moderately sedated and really, really happy.  There are studies on all sides of this topic, but according to Women’s Health, chocolate consumption by women improves libido.  That’s probably why men would purchase chocolate for women, but I have to ask, doesn’t it also imply that we really don’t need men so much when we can get a Hershey bar to do the same trick?

Is it getting steamy in here?  I wouldn’t want your chocolate to melt while you read on.

Smelling chocolate increases the urge to buy romance novels.

A recent study in Belgium, which is home to some of the world’s largest suppliers of retail chocolates, tells us that when you smell chocolate, you are more likely to buy romance novels.  According to the study, in fact, 40 percent more likely.  Published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the writers were fascinated that the end result had little to do with the source. Rather, the smelling encouraged the smeller to do something unrelated to the smell.  Smell chocolate, buy chocolate makes sense.  Smell chocolate, buy books is an unrelated response.

Ivory smugglers use chocolate to cover their illegal cargo when it’s being transported.

This one surprised me as well.  They carve up ivory into chunks and dip the chunks in chocolate and then wrap them up as chocolate bars.  Since they are operating in some of the hottest climates on earth, you would think they would use something that didn’t melt, but apparently it’s a popular trick to conceal chunks of illegal ivory in a chocolate coating.

Cocoa production still uses slave labor.

In January 2012, CNN aired a documentary that brought to light the practice in Africa of using child slaves to harvest cocoa.  By June 2012, Nestle, Ferrero Rocher, and Hershey had issued statements against the practice of using child slaves in cocoa harvests.  Nestle mapped their supply chain to display how their purchases of cocoa did not include plantations using slave labor and that their profits would be used in part to fund education and awareness of these practices.

But according to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, slavery and forced labor are still very real in at least some of the current production of cocoa.  Kelsey Timmerman writes about meeting a man whose annual income was less than a dollar a day for his work on a cocoa farm.  Timmerman’s article, one of the most current on this topic, implies that the man he interviewed was not at full liberty to leave the farm where he was working.

Nestle appears to be the industry leader in not tolerating forced labor, slavery, or child labor in the production and harvest of the cocoa they use to make chocolate bars.  Ferrero Rocher also has spoken out against child slavery in cocoa production,  Hershey published their commitment to end their relationship with slavery by the year 2020.

So what do we know about chocolate?  Apparently, women are the target audience.  Smugglers cover their ill-gotten gains with it.  It lowers high blood pressure and when you smell it, you want romance.

Still, I can’t help thinking that if cotton were still picked by slaves, wouldn’t we buy a lot less of it?

For more information on where we sit on the global supply chain, visit the Christian Science Monitor’s Follow Your Labels site.

Anne Born has been an editor and writer all her life.  She writes poems, short stories, and personal essays on family history and her view of living in a big city after growing up in a small one.  She likes an audience or she would keep her writing in her personal notebook.  This embarrasses her children.  She lives in the South Bronx and writes on and about the MTA – the New York City system of buses and subways. You also find her at Open Salon and Red Room, and you can follow her on Twitter at @nilesite.

Image Source: Cia Gould via Flickr.

  • Amy McVay Abbott

    You got chocolate on my peanut butter!

  • Anne Born

    Want another S’More, Amy?

  • Joan Haskins

    Fair Trade is the only way to satisfy our chocolate cravings and our consciences.

  • Anne Born

    Eyes wide open, right? Thanks, guys!

  • Yes I am a chocolate slave, but I prefer dark chocolates. Make sure to consume those that has 70% cocoa content for you to enjoy its amazing benefits. Its actually considered a super food because of its antioxidants ingredients. Here’s a good list of dark chocolates available online:

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