The pairing of women and chocolates has been a longstanding combination that is an enigmatic mix of culture, hormones, and taste buds—and more than a dollop of advertising.
You can’t help but notice the obviousness of the advertising surrounding the sensual ideas that come up for a lot of people—including women themselves-when it comes to the female gender and the near-heavenly delights of what chocolatiers have done with the beloved cacao bean.
In a lot of advertisements, Madison Avenue pays near-worshipful tribute to the science that reports chocolate being full of certain chemicals that mimic being in love, or feeling sexually desirous. To say nothing of the serotonin boosters that assist women during their monthly cycles. Ad companies that represent the major chocolatiers take all this science-backed knowledge, reframe it in a very romantic way and target it at women, and have done so since the 1960s.
Why? Well, to be completely honest, women and chocolate are often paired together in these certain ways because they are still not exactly encouraged to be as open with their sexuality as men still are. While things have gotten better for women in that arena, even here in the United States, most Americans have this deeply entrenched, puritanical “cringe” point when it comes to women enjoying sex.
But, enter chocolate, and the table is turned. Turn on the TV, flip through a few channels, and you’ll inevitably come across a Dove, Ghirardelli, Ferrero Rocher or Godiva commercial where something akin to a chocolate silk scarf floats and teases a woman’s body as she takes a bite out of that company’s brand of heavenly deliciousness. It’s almost akin to a romance novel, the advertisements are that sensually-oriented.
Even the name Godiva, the name of a famous chocolate company (whose chocolate is truly delicious, by the way), is a bright, screaming neon arrow pointing to the famed naked, long-haired, horse-riding lady of English background. It’s a name that brings up similar images of Venus or Aphrodite, the Roman and Greek goddesses of love and sensuality. Bring all these images up to most people, in terms of chocolate, especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day, and we’re suddenly okay with a woman enjoying the physical aspects of being a woman.
It’s a truly tangled web of sex, love, chocolate and femininity, with heavy advertising and marketing stirring the chocolate river of delight. And quite obviously, the number of women complaining about this web of chocolate intrigue is not very large. You certainly don’t hear Oprah Winfrey, one of the most famous women out there, complaining about it. And you definitely don’t hear many female nutritionists complaining either, because the ladies in that field who love chocolate know of its mental and physical benefits, to say nothing of the fact it just tastes good.
Because, let’s be honest here: to many, many women who do love chocolate, nutritionist and talk show host alike, yes, the sensation and flavor of eating chocolate is truly a divinely sensual experience. Whether it’s white chocolate, which is usually mostly the white cocoa butter stuff that is just as delectable as its deep, delicious brown counterpart—or the darkest cacao concentration, which is often at about 80-something percent–for many members of the female gender, if you can get your hands on some really good chocolate, you are living la dolce vita, the sweet life.
And it would be no surprise to learn that many of these women would claim chocolate as a favorite flavor of cake or ice cream, even if it’s simply those little chocolate fish in Ben & Jerry’s “Phish Food,” a particularly chocolate-rich concoction that, technically, has done more of a favor to our taste buds and experience of chocolate than it’s done for our waistlines. But that’s only because the chocolate fish are swimming in a frozen lake full of sugar and cream. Take those chocolate fish out, reduce the milk and sugar content of the “fish” down to where they’re 75% cacao, and it’s another story altogether.
And this represents a decent chocolate bar’s worth of the female population that does like chocolate. But here’s a twist for you to chew on. There are actually women out there who do not like chocolate. “Oh, no, say it’s not so!” you cry, hands to your cheeks like Edvard Munch’s “Scream” painting. Yes, it is so. And just as science came to the defense of those who do like chocolate and are made to feel guilty because most chocolate’s fattening—especially if you eat too much of the milk chocolate stuff—science has also come to the defense of those women who really, truly cannot stand it.
Apparently, the women who do not like chocolate are likely the proud owners of a certain set of taste buds that is super-sensitive to the more subtle flavors in chocolate, whether it’s 75-85% cacao, or its sweeter cousin, 35% cacao-strength milk chocolate. Some women don’t even like the white chocolate, let alone its “uber-popular, dark and handsome” sibling. And we chocolate lovers often can’t imagine not liking chocolate. Our taste buds are set up for it. And of course, the less people are aware of how taste buds react to flavors, the more likely they are to act like the non-chocolate-lovers of the female persuasion are somehow deluded. Such women are ridiculed, being rudely asked if they gave it up for weight loss, or even religious reasons.
But such women are not deluded, nor does not eating chocolate have much to do with diet or religion, most times. They just don’t like chocolate. Their taste buds are just not set up for it, and quite often, they wish the rest of the world would leave them alone about it.
But regardless of which women like chocolate and which ones don’t, the connection between a woman and the ever-famous cacao bean is firmly entrenched in our collective psyche and it’s not going away any time soon.