Why A “Just For Women” Chocolate Bar Gives Me a Toothache

Sales of chocolate are reportedly down 6.6 percent at Cadbury because women are buying less: What’s a candy company to do?

Make a product just for that demographic (women) — with fewer calories (165) than ye typical candy bar’s 260  – because, as a company spokesman tells the Daily Mail,

The mix of wafer and chocolate is a lighter way to eat chocolate and we know from experience that women are attracted to this particular format.

It will also appeal to women because it is in three separate portions so they can consume a little at a time rather than in one go.

That’s right. Not only is Cadbury telling woman that its new Crispello bar is “a little treat for you,” it’s telling women how they can best go about eating this new “gynocentric” product. It’s even invested about $10 million in a marketing campaign to that end.

What makes Crispello “for women” is, says Cadbury, that it has “three curved crispy wafer shells, each one filled with a smooth creamy center, dipped in Cadbury milk chocolate” in a resealable package. The idea seems to be that women will want to eat only one piece at a time because of their dainty appetites or because they have to watch those calories?

What’s Wrong About Cadbury’s “For Women” Candy Bar

Business Week spells out why the Crispello is offensive. As marketing consultant Joan Steuer says, telling women how to eat their food is a “bit of a no-no” as “women have an emotional relationship with chocolate, it’s the most emotional food on the planet. We don’t need to be told what to do with our chocolate. We’ll do the opposite.” From the Cadbury spokesman’s comments to the Crispello’s packaging, this candy bar is simply condescending.

Cadbury has also made the fatal error of presuming that all women have similar eating habits. Emma Barnett of the Telegraph notes that people and women “fail to fit into little boxes quite so neatly as they once did”; both candy bar and the accompanying marketing campaign are reaching back a few decades and are “unbelievably retro.” The Crispello plays right into long-established, hopelessly outdated gender stereotypes, says Barnett, in contrast to the marketing campaign for another candy bar, Nestlé’s Yorkie which deliberately played with gender roles:

The Yorkie bar approach of yesteryear – which was marketed with the slogan ‘It’s not for girls’ featuring truckers chowing down – did seem rather tongue in cheek – and if anything made women enjoy eating the forbidden bar spurred on out of mock rebellion. And because of this funny approach, neither gender really felt excluded from buying it.

It might seem excessive to devote so much energy to criticizing a candy bar, whoever it is targeted for. But the case of the Crispello raises questions about anything denoted as “just for women.”

To take another example, do we still need “women’s pages” in media publications?

Are “Just For Women” Products Totally Passé?

Natalie Guest considers this question in the New Statesman, in asking whether the Telegraph‘s new “Wonder Women” section is warranted. Emma Barnett (whom I quoted above) is its editor; as she writes in a blog postWonder Women is meant (1) to be “playful” and not too serious about itself; (2) to take into account the fact that many women “feel as if they are wonder women, before even having children, as they continue to do the majority of the housework and ‘womanly chores’ gals always did – while keeping down a full-time job; and (3) to play into the idea of  ”wondering about things and wanting to learn about new people and stories.”

It all sounds very good but, as Guest points out, after two days of publication, Wonder Women fell right into “old bad habits” with its “Board Babe” series. The title of this series, written by “anonymous high-powered woman,” made me cringe immediately and no wonder. The first article, “Secret Diary: Our Board Babe on Naked Ambition,” offers “misogyny masquerading as empowerment,” says Guest:

Despite our writer having ascended to the top levels of the boardroom, she’s still referred as a “babe,” a term that both sexualises and infantilises at once. Her ambition is “naked”; as is she, underneath that trouser suit – because just in case you’d forgotten, women are there to be looked at.

Guest concludes that there is a place and a need for women’s pages. But they need to be “progressive, not regressive” and focus on “what we are, and what we want to be, instead of on what we used to be made to be.” They need to be about all the things that women can be and can do that have yet to be acknowledged, yet alone written about.

Women’s pages most certainly do not need to reinforce worn-out stereotypes about “what women want” or come with instructions about how they should be used. As social media consultant B.L. Ochman says in Business Week, “Products aimed at women always seem to treat women more like children than thinking adults.” Clearly Cadbury needs to realize this is the 21st century when women can buy whatever chocolate bar they want and eat it too — and that, should they want to, they can also just skip the candy aisle in search of something more fulfilling.


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Photo by Chocolate Review


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Jane Warren
Jane Warren4 years ago

thnx for this. I didn't know.

Emma S.
Emma S5 years ago

No one tells me what sweets to eat! Or how many...

Sheri P.
Sheri P5 years ago

those idiotic marketing folks!

Joanne M.
Joanne M5 years ago

Funny - I have not seen any advertizing on this. The type of chocolate I buy really depends on what I want at the time. My preferred chocolate but do not make them too often as they are too good.

Kate H.
Kate H5 years ago

Well I haven't tried this new thing, but I have seen the Yorkie candy bar and something about it being "not for women" -- I just laughed, said "Oh really?" and took a big chomp out of it. I've seen enough advertising in my life to feel that most of it is inane, over-generalized, and not a personal attack on myself.

Commercial advertising is usually so ridiculously ignorant of the realities of society that it's something I've just come to make fun of, rather than be offended by. I think if as a person you can get to that point, of being liberated from the psychological nonsense spewed forth by advertising, then you are effectively nullifying their power, and it's a great feeling. It works the same way for men, too--a lot of men's personal hygiene product ads (shaving stuff, deodorants etc.) seem to portray the "ideal man" as some clean-shaven guy with cut abs and a hairless body, but my husband doesn't look like that and he doesn't give a crap about trying to, and he is very stress-free because of that.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence5 years ago

How damn insulting!

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

I think it's a great idea! Many women (and men) want just a bite of something sweet and not a whole candy bar. To my knowledge this will be the first resealable wrapper on a candy bar. I love the idea! If you feel offended, don't buy it, it's that simple.

Past Member
Christine W5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.