Chocolate has a long, winding path around the world, said Joshua Tetteh, associate professor of Sociology, in a presentation for the Chocolate Gala at the Murrell Memorial Library on Feb. 13.
Tetteh also has been part of the path, working as a boy on his grandfather’s cocoa bean farm in Ghana, sharing the ownership now of the farm with his siblings, and working for Hershey company in Pennsylvania.
In Tetteh’s “From Bean to Bar” presentation, he said the origins of the cocoa bean are from Central and South America, but Spanish explorers took the beans to colonies in Africa and now “most of it is grown in West Africa.” With the Ivory Coast as the leading producer of cocoa beans in the world, Ghana also is one of the top producers.
The cultivation, economics, and politics of cocoa bean farming were also discussed by Tetteh.
Nestle, Hershey, and Mars are the giants in the field of chocolate companies, he said. Hershey, where Tetteh worked for eight years in the 1980s, has the largest sales volume in North America. The Hershey Bar is its best-selling product, followed by Hershey Kisses. Chocolate has a long shelf-life, which is good for manufacturing, Tetteh said.
Tetteh said he was impressed with what the company was doing. “They’ve perfected chocolate manufacturing,” Tetteh said.
Tetteh said Hershey company has worked on quality assurance and knowledge of consumer tastes and preferences. The
company has found that Americans like chocolate that’s crunchy, whereas Europeans like it smooth.
Tetteh talked about how the town of Hershey was named after the company’s founder. He said the founder donated most of his fortune to the town, established an orphanage, and kept townspeople employed. Sales of chocolate products continue to increase, he said.
Following the presentation, students and other library visitors were able to sample a variety of chocolate treats during the same week as Valentine’s Day.