Over the summer, I was able to live out my childhood fantasy of working in a chocolate shop. This wasn’t just any chocolate shop; it was Godiva. The sweet-shop is known for its delicious chocolate covered strawberries, creative truffles, and low calorie soft serves.
A Typical Day
A typical day at the shop started with dipping the strawberries that we all know and love. During my tenure, I learned that there is an art to dipping these strawberries. Many employees described it as the hardest part of the job and claimed it took them over a month to perfect. We would require the chocolate to be at an exact temperature, which differed depending on the type of chocolate. If it was too hot, the chocolate layer would be extremely thin and would not dry in time. If it was too cold, the chocolate layer would be too thick, drying up mid-dip.
The actual technique of dipping the strawberries was its own skill, ensuring that the quality of the strawberries is that which we have come to expect from Godiva. Along with dipping strawberries, we would also complete other tasks such as sampling to draw in customers, making the drinks and ice creams, keeping the store in order, and helping customers with their purchases.
There was always something to do to maintain the allure of the high-end chocolate shop. However, working at Godiva highlighted the paradox of its appearance of a high-end boutique and the reality of Godiva as a fast-food dessert shop.
With many of its stores located in shopping malls and high-density foot traffic areas, it's feasible why the corporation prioritizes speedy service. But the questions always arose for me: at what point does quickness trump quality and how should we truly characterize the chocolate shop? Everything we needed to make, aside from the strawberries, was made from a written out recipe with exact measurements. The finishing touches on menu items also carried a limited value.
When training employees, it was emphasized that a dessert should look a particular way; however, it was not like this in practice. Management would season employees to complete the task rather than worry about appearances. At an eatery like Godiva that markets itself as elite, one would expect a much higher value on appearances, as the look of a food affects a customer's perception of it and his or her likelihood to purchase it. Also, with the emergence of food Instagramming, increasingly presentable foods tend to receive greater amounts of publicity through what's known as “micro-marketing.”
This ultimately brings me back to my first question: at what point does speed out factor quality in a place of Godiva’s caliber? This fundamentally comes down to economics. Ultimately, Godiva is a corporation looking to maximize their profits rather than committing to the art of chocolate making. With the increase of speed, employees can service more customers, generating a greater revenue. The Godiva name also carries enough value in the food industry that additional marketing is not a major priority. The Godiva stores ultimately boil down to a boutique designed to increase revenue for the company rather than further a love for the art of chocolate.
What Does It All Mean?
Godiva is a great place to work at if you love all things chocolate. The structure of its stores highlights the paradoxical claims from a revenue boosting shop disguised as a high-end chocolate boutique, ultimately demonstrating the capitalistic corruption in the food industry.