Much Ado About Chocolate: Moments of consumption in everyday life
Updated: May 21, 2020
Today at the Quilt office, we’re discussing a topic very dear to us all.
Always, always the highlight of our pantry, and always gone too soon (what can we say, we’re a peckish, chocolate-loving bunch).
In TV sitcoms, movies and in real life, chocolate is a staple in the Heartbreak diet: an essential immediate post-breakup balm for bruised souls. It’s a stress-relief staple in the office pantry and in a university flat’s kitchens.
In the last few months, Ferrero Rocher has been the uncontested office favourite, and so we decided to study it in-depth. What are the moments in life where chocolate is present, and are there shifting meanings of chocolate in these instances?
We ran 200 of the most recent instagram posts with the hashtag #ferrerorocher through our text and image Cultural AI models. Our semiotics model showed two distinct moment types in which chocolate is present.
Straightforward, uncomplicated joy-in-eating
In the first instance, Ferrero chocolates appear in moments of indulgence. Images in this cluster showed the confectionery as a topping on decadent looking cakes and cupcakes, as a garnish on a cocktail, and on cake pops.
The style of images in this group are such that the focus is on indulgence and pleasure. These images are often close-up shots, often at a slightly tilted angle as well, which connote a certain sense of immoderation- of ‘letting go’, and of indulgence.
The message is simple and clear: by posting these images, people are celebrating their ferrero-adorned food items, documenting the joy present in this moment of consumption.
Say it with Chocolate: Ferrero as medium for a message
The second cluster identified by our Cultural AI was more interesting. Chocolate appears in moments of relationship-building (and relationship-fixing).
It seems that chocolate is the language of love, but also the language of apologies. In this cluster, ferrero chocolates appeared as a means to soothe and placate, and as means to display affection.
We see pictures of apology bouquets — flowers and ferrero, with an “I’m sorry” sign. The Ferrero chocolate in this instance functions as a symbol to win back the recipient’s favour. Chocolate- as an object- holds significance as an item helpful in coaxing the consumer back to the desired status quo.
The act of gifting food indicates one’s intention to nurture, and is an act of rewarding the recipient.
We also saw ferrero chocolates present in birthday gift hampers, and as ferrero flower bouquets with valentine’s greeting cards.
Ferrero chocolates had strong associations with affection-giving, as a love language. In our text AI models’ analysis of instagram captions, the words “love” and “surprise” were top words detected.
Examining these pictures of ferrero chocolate from another perspective, we see that documenting ferrero chocolates means documenting moments of unity.
Turning to our Emotions AI analysis results, we observed that the top three emotions found in these 100 images were affection, happiness and bonding.
Given how two of the top three emotions are both facets of joy that involve multiple actors i.e. “Bonding” requires at least two parties in the interaction, “affection” requires a subject of the affection, we see how talking about chocolate means talking about relational joy.
Digging deeper into chocolate, here’s what we saw elsewhere on the net…
If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also like: Food for Thought: Looking differently at food photography The Rise and Rise of the Alt-Milk Revolution and What Makes Oatly Stand Out