Pleasure vs. Fun

Hope everybody had a great Memorial Day! Before I get back after my doughnuts, I wanted to put up a couple of last thoughts on the candy show in Chicago last week. One thing that has since occurred to me is the way in which the show echoed some of the themes from a chocolate discussion from several weeks back. Specifically, the differences between the way New Worlders and Old Worlders think about chocolate.

No one could visit the All Candy Expo, I think, without being struck by the the stark differences between the American and European booth designs. Whereas the European chocolatiers designed their booths like jewelry shops and art galleries, the big American booths looked more like theme parks. To visit one of them — say M&M Mars — was to be immersed in stimuli: bright colors, flashing screens, props of all descriptions, motorized moving signs and of course samples that were almost literally thrown at you. A trip to the Lindt booth, by contrast, was an extremely calm, almost cerebral experience, where visitors were encouraged insert small samples of chocolate into their mouths, then take a moment to think about them.

Both had their merits, and both, I think, said very interesting things about New vs. Old World approaches to the confectionery arts (and maybe life in general). Themes like novelty vs. tradition, quality vs. quantity and refined pleasure vs. all-out fun were very apparent. It could have been a thesis topic for an enterprising (and hungry) anthropology student.

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