04 October 2007

Thoughts on Godiva

I'm not sure why I'm here; the cursor is blinking and I'm trying to think of where I wanna go with this...

I guess I always thought of Godiva as this intangible chocolate Jehovah. Like a chocolate so rich, you'd climb an active volcanic mountain, barefoot, for a just a few tiny shavings. But after doing some research for mon blog, I realised Godiva is actually owned by goddamn Campbell Soup! and has been since the late 60's!

For some reason (read: great marketing) I never pictured Godiva as a tentacle of a colossal conglomerate; owned by a company who not only deals in condensed soups but also makes Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, Prego pasta sauce and Swanson TV dinners!

I guess they've done a really good job making it appear as if Godiva is still this tiny little chocolate house in Brussels, Belgium where moms, pops and elves work day and night slaving over steaming cauldrons of silky smooth cocoa.

Here's some history:

Godiva traces its origins to a wholesale chocolatier founded in 1926 in Brussels by a guy named Joseph Draps. The chocolatier established its own shop in Brussels under its present name, a name chosen in honor of the legend of Lady Godiva.

Lady Godiva was a WASPy noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry, England in order to gain a remission of the oppressive toll imposed by her husband on his tenants. The name "peeping Tom" for comes from later versions of this legend in which a man named Tom watched her ride and was struck blind.


The first Godiva shop outside Belgium was opened in Paris in 1958; in 1966, the company's products reached the United States, where it was sold at luxury department stores. Also in 1966, the Yagudaev family sold a controlling interest in the company to Pepperidge Farm, part of Campbell, which later acquired the rest of the company. Two years later, Godiva began production of its chocolate in Reading, Pennsylvania.

So what you're telling us is that Godiva is basically just really expensive Hersheys? Figures!

I dunno; I just liked it better when Godiva was a bit more elusive. Now I feel like everywhere I turn someones selling me a Godiva chocolate brick. Just about every mall I've been to, theres a Godiva just like theres a Borders, a Ladies Foot Locker and an Applebee's. Godiva is no longer exclusive to the high end department stores, and I guess thats why Godiva boasts annual sales of approximately $500 million. They, not unlike Starbucks and American Apparel, sell a cult of personality wrapped in foil and disguised as chocolate.

I guess I just have this romanticised idea in my head of Lady Godiva and Godiva chocolate and its lost its fanciness for me. A friend and I were walking through Grand Central the other day and I realised Godiva is just no longer this special, verbotenly rich chocolatier; its become like Duane Reade.
"Shit, its Mothers Day, I didn't get mum anything; lemme throw my car at the hydrant and run into Godiva and pick up a box of chocolate. "
Godiva has become as ubiquitous as a Whitmans Sampler at Rite Aid. When I hear the word "Godiva" I think buying the chocolate should be this elaborate experience. A chocolatier should come out and talk to you for a few hours about your life and then decide which chocolate best fits you.

They've done an amazing job making a brand that has become synonymous with fancy chocolate; now its time they took the power back.

Buying a box of Godiva should be like buying a Patek Philipe from Tourneau. Godiva shouldn't be a last minute gift spot or a place to grab a candy bar; that's what Snickers and Timex are for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree - the realization of Campbell Soup owning Godiva just somehow changes things a bit. One thinks of chocolatiers as intimate and personal places and not being a repetitious factory process. One thing about Godiva is that they know how to brand and their stores around the world are pure class. Their chocolate isnt half bad either. Something about a gold wrapped gift box adds to the sense of enjoyment.