Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage.

Chapter 15

Author: Margaret Swisher

Title: Commercial Chocolate Posters. Reflections of Cultures, Values, and Times.

During the 19th century, liquid chocolate became unfashionable in many parts of the world, especially in the United States, and solid chocolate—sold as candy—became the most popular form. Before that time, chocolate had been an expensive drink favored by the aristocracy, but new technologies created during the Industrial Revolution transformed it into an inexpensive food, available to the general public. As more confectioners specialized in making and selling chocolate, they competed directly with one another for customers. During the 19th century, advertising took the form of posters, and chocolate confectioners took full advantage of new developments in graphic arts, lithography, and commercial advertising, as companies boasted that their chocolate was the most pure, the most filling or satisfying, and gave consumers strength. In addition, chocolate advertising posters depicted scenes meant to elicit different emotions from consumers, such as adventure, comfort, and sensuality. Just as chocolate pots provide researchers with insights into the cultures that created them, chocolate advertising posters illustrate values and emotions tied to chocolate, and provide 21st  century researchers insights not only into chocolate, but into the cultures that created the poster art.

More than 500 images of commercial chocolate advertising posters from 11 countries were identified for analysis, posters from: Austria, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Monaco, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. French posters commonly used blue, red, and yellow colors, and commonly incorporated images of young children and infants holding chocolate bars or cups of hot chocolate. Adult women also were common themes in French chocolate posters, where mothers were depicted serving chocolate to children and conveying messages that chocolate was a wholesome treat. Swiss chocolate posters also were characterized by bright, vivid colors and commonly included children (usually girls) and alpine scenes. Austrian chocolate posters were relatively rare and commonly in a cartoon style depicting children, trains, and travel. German posters also incorporated travel and high-energy themes. Dutch chocolate posters commonly depicted nationalism through traditional dress, while Italian chocolate posters commonly were produced in an abstract style with clean lines and solid colors, commonly omitting facial features. Spanish chocolate posters commonly reflected women in highly romantic dress styles, and African men serving hot chocolate. Russian posters usually were elegant but sometimes depicted children with faces smeared with chocolate. English posters commonly depicted women dressed in formal Victorian era clothing and sipping chocolate. Chocolate posters from the United States commonly focused on chocolate bars and not chocolate as a beverage. As with any advertising form, these posters have been designed to associate chocolate as a positive food in the mind of consumers.

Chapter 16

Author: Nicholas Westbrook

Title: Chocolate at World's Fairs, 1851-1964

This essay examines the ways in which chocolate was presented at ten World's Fairs between the first World's Fair (Crystal Palace, London, 1851) and the New York World's Fair in 1964. Beginning during the self-conscious globalization of production, manufacturing, and marketing in the mid-19th century, world fairs provided an exciting new medium for public education and for product marketing. They introduced visitors to food production processes and to new ways of enjoying familiar foods (1851 London; 1904 St. Louis; 1939 New York). They provided a dramatic platform for corporate marketing. Appreciating the molding and casting potential of the liquid product on a mega-scale, corporate and national exhibits created chocolate sculptures (1876 Philadelphia: "Capture of Fort Ticonderoga"; 1889 Paris: full-size model of Venus de Milo; 1893 Chicago: 3000-pound solid chocolate rendition of the Niederwald Germania). They offered a forum for launching new products to international audiences (1939 New York). They celebrated corporate history (1904 St. Louis; 1907 Jamestown; 1964 New York) and product quality (1900 Paris; 1904 St. Louis). World Fairs also introduced new technologies that changed corporate history: Impressed by German chocolate-making machinery displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Milton Hershey acquired the exhibit's complete equipment, abandoned caramel manufacture, and redirected his corporate focus.


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