chapter  1
28 Pages

Women and chocolate

Identity narratives of sensory and sensual enjoyment
WithMaryann McCabe, Timothy de Waal Malefyt

This chapter examines the attempt of a global confectionary company to develop and market a new chocolate product to a specific segment of women in the United States. The ethnographic research we conducted among women who eat chocolate on a daily basis reveals that the ritual of chocolate consumption is an act of full sensory enjoyment that entangles with a charged material agent that is highly transformative. Chocolate is a material object, rich in cultural meaning. Secrecy is a social force in women’s chocolate practices because consumption most commonly occurs alone at home in private and with other women in public settings. Chocolate consumption forms part of women’s broader regime of self-care pursued in everyday life at home and outside the home, such as exercising, getting a manicure, pedicure, facial or massage and other practices attached to the fitness, beauty and wellness industries. Another dialectic animating women’s chocolate discourse is exoticism and refinement.