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Why is Chocolate a Gendered Food?

Any exclamations about “craving chocolate,” we most often associate with the words of women, not men. Over the years, chocolate has become a “gendered” food, and by this I mean that it is a food most often associated with a certain gender; female, in this case. This gendering of chocolate is seen now more than ever in American media, as you rarely see a commercial for Dove or Lindt Truffles that stars a herd of burley men wolfing down pieces of candy. These ads usually feature beautiful modelesque women with delicate features, who daintily eat these small chocolate treats, making sure to savor every bite along the way.

So why is it that we automatically make this association with chocolate and women. Could it be merely an arbitrary decision of those Mad Men from large advertising firms, who one day decided that chocolate would be the food for ladies everywhere? Is this gendering purely a result of a decision of the media, or are there other factors in play?

According to sensory psychologist Marcia Pelchat, who specializes in food and beverage selection at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, this gendering may be influenced by our genes. According to her research, women are genetically predisposed to prefer sweeter tastes, and have more sensitivity to bitterness. So the reasoning behind targeting women in commercials for chocolate products may have more logic behind it than we thought. If women have a natural inclination toward sweeter things, it’s no wonder that ad agencies typically showcase women in ads for everything from chocolate candies to brownies, to ice cream.

The interplay of this female genetic disposition and cultural influence work to continually reinforce the idea that chocolate is a feminine food. In some ways, the feminization of chocolate makes it particularly attractive because it has a delicate, and often seductive quality. However, I do think it cuts out some opportunity for men to truly enjoy chocolate without feeling emasculated. I, for one, encourage any man who has a sweet tooth to embrace his sugary preferences, and voice his chocolate cravings with pride. Chocolate is for the whole lot of us. Let’s savor its deliciousness together.

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