The History of Chocolate
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 42.0
Credit Value: 3.0
Credit Value Notes: N/A
Effective: Fall 2016
Prerequisites: N/A
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: N/A

Program(s): General Education Electives
Program Coordinator(s): N/A
Course Leader or Contact: N/A
Version: 20160906_00
Status: Approved (APPR)

Section I Notes: This is a Sheridan College course that is offered through Sheridan FCAPS. Students who register for the course through Sheridan will receive credit from Sheridan College only. Access to the course materials will be through This is a web-based course taught fully online, using Brightspace by D2L Learning Management System. To take this course, students will need reliable access to the Internet. They should have a basic level of comfort using computers as well as self-discipline to work online.

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
Students survey the 4000-year-old history of chocolate: from its ancient Mesoamerican origins as a bitter drink of ritual and medicine, to the growth of a modern "chocolate culture" and its place as a mass-produced globalized product of the twentieth century. Students investigate how chocolate came to be imported into Europe by the Spanish during the sixteenth century and transformed into a sugary drink of the nobility, as well as its later importance to colonization, the slave trade and the Industrial Revolution. Students explore, through six module videos with integrated reading assignments, podcasts and other media, current academic research on the topic and encounter a wide range of primary sources including art, literature and the economic and administrative documents of daily life. Students also have the opportunity to analyse several primary sources (historical documents, paintings, photographs and maps) relevant to the study of chocolate's cultural history.

Program Context

General Education Electives Program Coordinator(s): N/A
This course is part of the General Education curriculum which is designed to contribute to the development of the students consciousness of the diversity, complexity and richness of the human experience; their ability to establish meaning through this consciousness; and as a result, their ability to contribute thoughtfully, creatively, and positively to the society in which they live and work. General Education courses strengthen students generic skills such as critical analysis, problem solving, and communication, in the context of an exploration of topics with broad-based personal and/or societal importance.

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
By the end of this course, students will have demonstrated the ability to identify the relevance of the social, cultural, and economic history of chocolate to the modern world.
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Explain the social, cultural, and political forces that have shaped the history of chocolate from its Mesoamerican origins to its place as a global produce of the industrialized age.
  2. Identify the relevance of the history of chocolate to our understanding of cross-cultural contacts, global economies, and the lasting legacy of colonization.
  3. Survey current research methodology and historiography in food, culture and economic history, particularly with respect to chocolate.
  4. Assess the impact of globalization to world history beginning with colonialism and the slave trade to modern westernization and integrated economies.
  5. Analyze primary and secondary historical sources relevant to study of the cultural history of chocolate.

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Evaluation Plan: ONLINE
 Analyses (3 @ 10%)30.0%
 Quizzes (6 @ 5%)30.0%
 Term Research Project - Part 1: Proposal10.0%
 Term Research Project - Part 2: Final Project30.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


General Education
This General Education course relates to the following themes as specified by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

  • Social and Cultural Understanding

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar
Students may apply to receive credit by demonstrating achievement of the course learning outcomes through previous relevant work/life experience, service, self-study and training on the job. This course is eligible for challenge through the following method(s):

  • Challenge Exam
    Notes:  Students may apply to receive credit by demonstrating achievement of the course learning outcomes through previous life and work experiences. This course is eligible for challenge through the following method(s):
  • Interview
    Notes:  Students may apply to receive credit by demonstrating achievement of the course learning outcomes through previous life and work experiences. This course is eligible for challenge through the following method(s):
  • Other
    Notes:  This course is delivered through OntarioLearn at and is hosted by (Sheridan College) SH-CULT70001G.

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: Online
Professor: Multiple Professors
RequiredTextbookThe True History of Chocolate, Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe, New York: Thames & Hudson, Third Edition, 2013

Applicable student group(s): Continuing Education Students Online General Education Elective Students
Course Details:

MODULE ONE: Orientation and Introduction to the History of Chocolate
     - Unit 1: Chocolate and Historical Study
     - Reading: Coe and Coe, Introduction
     - Topics:
          - Course Orientation
          - Introduction to the study of history
          - Primary and secondary sources
          - Understanding food and cultural history
     - Unit 2: Introduction To Chocolate and the Cacao Plant
     - Reading: Coe and Coe, Chapter 1
     - Topics:
          - The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao)
          - Different definitions of 'chocolate'
          - Properties of chocolate and cacao
          - Chocolate cultivation and biology
     - Quix #1: 5%

MODULE 2: Chocolate in Pre-Contact Mesoamerica
     - Unit 3: The Mesoamerican Origins of Chocolate
     - Reading: Coe and Coe, Chapter 2
     - Topics:
          - Sources for early history
          - Mesoamerican agricultural revolution
          - The etymology of cacao
          - Mayan civilization and sacred chocolate rituals
     - Analysis #1: 10%
     - Unit 4: Chocolate and the Aztec Empire
     - Reading: Coe and Coe, Chapter 3
     - Topics:
          - Origins of the Aztec Empire
          - Importance of Chocolate and Octli
          - Aztec elite culture and chocolate drinking
          - Aztec cultivation and production of chocolate
     - Quiz #2: 5%

MODULE 3: Chocolate and Cross-Cultural Exchange
     - Unit 5: Crossing the Atlantic - Chocolate and 'First Contact'
     - Reading: Coe and Coe, Chapter 4
     - Topics:
          - European exploration and 'first contact'
          - European cultural context of food and drink
          - Concept of cross-cultural exchange
          - New Spain and the slow adoption of chocolate
     - Analysis #2: 10%
     - Unit 6: The European Transformation and Adaptation of Chocolate
     - Reading: Coe and Coe, Chapter 5
     - Topics:
          - Documentary sources for chocolate in Early Modern Europe
          - Spread of chocolate through Europe and early chocolate
          - Chocolate and European royal courts
          - Chocolate in European medicinal writings
     - Quiz #3: 5%
     - Term Research Project Proposal: 10%

MODULE 4: Chocolate Colonialism and Revolution
     - Unit 7: Colonialism and Chocolate
     - Readings: Coe and Coe, Chapter 6
     - Topics:
          - European colonialism and triangular trade
          - Colonial empire of Spain
          - Economics of slavery and chocolate cultivation
          - Exploitation of native workers
     - Unit 8: Reason and Revolution - Chocolate in the 18th Century
     - Readings: Coe and Coe, Chapter 7
     - Topics:
          - Chocolate and the intellectual culture of the European
          - French philosophies and chocolate
          - Chocolate, coffee, and social revolution
     - Quiz #4: 5%

MODULE 5: Chocolate in the Industrial Age
     - Unit 9: Chocolate and the Industrial Revolution
     - Reading: Coe and Coe, Chapter 8
     - Topics:
          - Industrial revolution and chocolate production
          - Chocolate and social class
          - Chocolate and capitalism
          - Democratization of chocolate
     - Analysis #3: 10%
     - Unit 10: Mass Society and Chocolate Culture in the 20th
     - Readings: 'The Second Industrial Revolution and the Rise of
       Mass Society', excerpt from Findley, Carter, and John Rothney,
       Twentieth Century World (7th Edition) - provided on SLATE
     - Topics:
          - Growth of Mass Society
          - Chocolate advertising and consumer culture
          - Corporate chocolate and candy production
          - Chocolate and westernization
     - Quiz #5: 5%

MODULE 6: Modern Chocolate
     - Unit 11: The Ethics of Chocolate and Globalization
     - Readings: Coe and Coe, Chapter 9
     - Watch (all provided on SLATE):
          - The Dark Side of Chocolate Documentary
          - Can the Chocolate Industry Change Its Way? - CNN
          - Cocao-nomics - CNN
     - Topics:
          - Globalization and chocolate
          - Economics of cacao farming
          - Ethical chocolate
          - Global supply and demand
     - Research Project Report: 15%
     - Unit 12: The Future of Chocolate
     - Reading and Podcast: 'The Chocolate Curse' NPR's Planet Money
     - Topics:
          - CCN1 and future development in chocolate production
          - Global warming and cacao farming
          - Challenge of increasing demand
          - Course recap
     - Quiz #6: 5%
     - Final Draft of Research Paper: 15%

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All Sheridan policies can be viewed on the Sheridan policy website.

Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

Copyright: A majority of the course lectures and materials provided in class and posted in SLATE are protected by copyright. Use of these materials must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy, Use of Copyright Protected Work Policy and Student Code of Conduct. Students may use, copy and share these materials for learning and/or research purposes provided that the use complies with fair dealing or an exception in the Copyright Act. Permission from the rights holder would be necessary otherwise. Please note that it is prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote. It is also prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own or your own work with the intent to assist others in cheating on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote.

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Course Outline Changes: The information contained in this Course Outline including but not limited to faculty and program information and course description is subject to change without notice. Any changes to course curriculum and/or assessment shall adhere to approved Sheridan protocol. Nothing in this Course Outline should be viewed as a representation, offer and/or warranty. Students are responsible for reading the Important Notice and Disclaimer which applies to Programs and Courses.

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