getting fresh: Chocolate and sinful behaviors
Alright, it’s a teaser headline. I’m not going to talk about my sinful behaviors, regardless if it involved chocolate. Rather, that’s the title of one of the chapters - 56 in all - found in the book “Chocolate History, Culture and Heritage,” published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The 975-pager (202 pages are appendices), which weighs nearly 10 lbs., represents the collective efforts of 115 members of a Chocolate Team from 1998 to 2009 who compiled a history of chocolate. As the preface says, it’s “an extraordinary journey through time and geographical space.”
Edited by Louis Evan Grivetti, professor emeritus, department of nutrition at the University of California, Davis (UCD), and Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science and external research, Mars, Inc., this fascinating tome is more than a coffee table “show me off.”
The Chocolate Team, which was established by the UCD and Mars in 1989 draws upon experts from anthropology, archaeology, biochemistry, culinary arts, gender studies, engineering, history, linguistics, nutrition and paleography.
Despite its textbook size and heft, it’s the perfect tool for all those texters and tweeters: you can browse at your heart’s content, although you’ll need a desk or table to support its weight. And while I’m not prone to texting or tweeting, I’m fairly adept at browsing, particularly when it’s “old school” and involves turning the pages.
So it’s not surprising that when I saw a chapter on “Chocolate and Sinful Behaviors: Inquisition Testimonies,” I immediately turned to p. 37. What’s fascinating is that authors Beatriz Cabezon, Patricia Barriga and Louis Evan Grivetti, besides drawing on previous scholarly works, poured over 23 previously unpublished Spanish Inquisition documents housed in Mexico’s National Archives.
Mind you, there’s nothing lascivious in this chapter, simply authentic accounts by the Dominicans of persons reporting or testifying to the friars about the use of chocolate to either seduce, bribe, influence or bewitch.
Okay, there’s one rather gruesome entry about Don Baltasar Pena finding “under the bed of a mulatto woman [that served in the household] a piece of flesh taken from a quarter of a man that had been hanged, and that she had roasted it, and then mixed with chocolate.”
And then there’s the case of a corrupt priest who refused to hear confessions from Indians unless they brought him 40 cacao beans and two guavas; not one Indian received the sacrament that day, the Inquisition document noted. And you thought tithes today were taxing.
As I continued to look over the book, I couldn’t help but be drawn to Chapter 28, “Dark Chocolate: Chocolate and Crime in North America and Elsewhere.” A now familiar author, Grivetti, writes that during the course of his research, the team “encountered chocolate-associated crime as a recurring theme.”
Given its noir connection, I had to delve into this chapter further. As our professor emeritus writes, “chocolate-associated crimes through the centuries commonly have been spur-of-the-moment decisions, crimes of opportunity, and with the exception of homicide and murder (by chocolate), only rarely associated with violence.” Something akin to a BBC mystery, I’d say.
By the way, did you know that chocolate was often used as a carrier for poison because it masked off tastes so well? But hey, I don’t want my teaser headline to mislead you; this is a scholarly work and well worth the price, $99.95, for anyone truly interested in chocolate’s history and mystery.
Otherwise, you’ll hear from the Chocolate Inquisition.
Marazita Candy Co. founder passes away
Tony Marazita, 79, of Sturgis, Mich., died on Sept. 27. Tony was the son of the late Frank and Josephine (Tignanelli) Marazita. He began his career at his father’s business: the Michigan Fruit Company. Tony went on to work at the Bendix Corporation before serving his country during the Korean War in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After receiving an honorable discharge, he rejoined Bendix. And in 1954, he established and opened the Mara Sweet Shop in Sturgis, featuring hand-dipped chocolates, homemade ice cream, malts, pizza and sandwiches.
Tony founded Marazita Candy Company in 1986, which originally sold sugar and sugar-free candy, with the bulk of its selection in the former; today, Marazita specializes in sugar-free. Tony retired in spring 2001 to spend time with his family, community and church. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Delphine.
The Hershey Company peddles into Breast Cancer Awareness Month
For the fifth consecutive year, The Hershey Co. hosted Hershey’s Tour de Pink, a four-day charity bike ride that supports women under 40 who are struggling with breast cancer. The 220-mile, held Oct. 2-5, went from Hershey, Pa., to New York City.
Hershey’s Tour de Pink also included an online Virtual Charity Ride that invites consumers around the country to join in and show support for the Young Survival Coalition, the premier international organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women and breast cancer.
In addition, Hershey’s is honoring young survivors by featuring five women and their survival stories on displays at participating retailers and on www.hersheyspledge.com.
The ride coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, during which special edition Hershey’s Bliss chocolates will feature pink ribbon wrappers.
For more information about The Hershey Co., visit www.hersheys.com.
Shaman Chocolates reformulates, repackages bars
Shaman Chocolates’ premium organic, Fair Trade bars now are easier to break into one-bit pieces thank to a recent reformulation utilizing new moulding technology; they also tell the story of the company’s work to help the Huichol Indians more effectively through new packaging.
All profits from sales of Shaman Chocolates help support the Huichol Indians, a tribe living in central western Mexico, who are said to be the last indigenous tribe in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions. The new packaging features Huichol artwork and images taken of children and adults in the three villages in the Sierra Madre mountains that are supported by the chocolates’ sales.
One package features Don Jose Matsuwa, the revered Huichol Shaman who passed away in 1990 at age 110. Don Jose adopted Brant Secunda, the founder of Shaman Chocolates, as his grandson, and after a 12-year apprenticeship, he left Secunda in his place to carry on Huichol Shamanism. Today, Secunda is a world-reknowned shaman, healer and ceremonial leader. He also is director of the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies and a teacher of seminars and retreats worldwide. (For more information, visit www.shamanism.com.)
Shaman Chocolates blend certified organic and Fair Trade chocolate with other organic and healthy ingredients and superfoods. Current varieties are Dark Chocolate with Acai, Lemon & Orange, Organic Dark Chocolate with Green Tea & Giner, Extra Dark Chocolate (82%), Milk Chocolate with Macadamia Nuts & Hawaiian Pink Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Ruby Raspberries, Dark Chocolate with Coconut, Milk Chocolate and Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts. The suggested retail price per 2-oz. bar is $3.00.
Retailers can purchase Shaman Chocolates by the box (12 bars for $24) with a minimum order of four boxes. Free shipping is available with master case orders, which contain 12 boxes of 12 bars each (flavors may be mixed within the case). To place an order, call 1-877-990-3337.
For more information, visit www.shamanchocolates.com.
TPC Partners acquires Tray-Pak
TPC Partners, LLC, an affiliate of Archbrook Capital Management, LLC in Reading, Pa., has acquired a majority interest in Tray-Pak Corp., one of the leading manufacturers of custom, thermoformed plastic packaging products for the confectionery, bakery, food and other industries. The company serves a national customer base and employs 275 people.
The acquisition marks the first major ownership transition of the company since David M. Bestwick founded Tray-Pak in 1975.
In addition, Tray-Pak has announced that Scott Myers has joined the company as chief executive officer. Myers comes to Tray-Pak from WinCup, Inc., a leading manufacturer of disposable cups, bowls, containers and lids, where he was executive vice president.
For more information, visit www.traypak.com.
sweet of the week: Aequare Fine Chocolates
Founded by native Californian, classically trained chef and now Ecuadorian resident Jeff Stern, Aequare Fine Chocolates creates origin-specific confections from ingredients and raw materials sourced virtually entirely from Ecuador, all the way to the packaging. The only exceptions are ingredients such as vanilla beans, which are not commercially grown or produced there. Varieties include lemongrass and mandarin orange made with 70% pure Arriba cacao. The suggested retail price per bar is $3.99. Retailers wishing to carry the product can call 1-800-975-7068.
For more information, visit www.aequarechocolates.com.