Sex Sells: A Brief History of Advertising Chocolate

By Cocoa Runners  ·  14th September 2021  ·  Sex

If there’s anything we’ve learned from years of Mad Men, saucy perfume ads, and the notorious Flake ads, it’s that sex sells.

And the Cadbury flake ads are a prime example of the advertising mantra “sex sells”. If the subject of saucy adverts arises at the dinner table, the flake ads will usually be the first to come up. This campaign spanned the 1980s and 90s, with each advertisement having one common denominator: a very attractive woman who suggestively locks eyes with viewers as she takes a bite out of a Flake bar. 

This year, Cadbury launched a very suggestive advert for crème eggs, oozing with innuendo on licking, sucking, and lip-smacking. The sexual metaphors were just overt enough to appear self-aware; Cadbury knew they were playing on a long-standing history of using sex to sell chocolate. 

But why is sex such an effective way to sell chocolate? Can we really believe that chocolate really will have women swooning and men drooling over us?  

It’s important to note that the connection between sex and chocolate was made long before the advertisements we know and love today existed. Ever since chocolate was first consumed – by Aztec heavyweights like Montezuma – it has been attributed with libido-lifting, virility-boosting properties. In short, it’s always been considered an aphrodisiac.  

And before Cadbury’s crème egg “golden goobilee” campaign, there were countless, more subtle (but equally suggestive) chocolate advertisements to grace our screen. The 1992 Galaxy ad showed a woman sinking into her sofa, parting her painted red lips and delicately placing a square of Galaxy chocolate onto her tongue before closing her eyes in a moment of satisfaction that borders on euphoric.  

Women’s sexually charged relationship with chocolate …

And it often is women we see being susceptible to the allegedly aphrodisiacal qualities of chocolate in these adverts. In fact, the thought of a man softly treading around his apartment, in a silk robe, on the “hunt” for a hit of cocoa-goodness seems almost ludicrous. There are far fewer intimate close-ups, parted lips, and satisfied sights from men than there are from women throughout chocolate advertisements. 

This seems especially interesting given that it was, historically, powerful men who indulged in chocolate as a means to increase virility; women were not thought to be so susceptible to the influence of aphrodisiacs. That these advertisements present women as the primary consumer – and lover – of chocolate signifies a recent cultural shift in our understanding of chocolate in relation to gender.   

Back to Reality…

Much as we would love to tell you otherwise, it’s sadly untrue that chocolate functions as an aphrodisiac; it won’t have you ripping each other’s clothes off like that hot couple you saw in the ads. However, chocolate can lock you into a moment – like the women in the ads – with your eyes closed and mouth puckered as you savour a square of your favourite bar.

And if you’re wanting to be like the women you see on Ferrero Rocher, Galaxy, or Flake adverts, then order some of our favourite bars, close your eyes and indulge.

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