Oh, sweet sexism! | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 31.01.2019
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Oh, sweet sexism!

Ever heard of a sweets machine with unconscious bias? Nor had we, until a box of chocolate nipples landed on our desks.

Who would dare complain when a colleague comes to work with a swag of sweets and chocolates from an international sweets and snacks fair?

Well, OK… I would.

Perhaps "complain" is the wrong word.

ISM 2019 - sexist sweets packaging (DW/Z. Abbany)

Ask a northerner in England to say the F-word and it'll sound like 'pook'

But when I saw a packet of Beyond Time Creme Brulee, among other hot snacks from Mexico in the office this morning, I felt a bout of "gut journalism" coming on — no facts, all feeling.

Was it possible, I wondered, that sweets, cakes and snacks could be sexist? Was it a coincidence that the chocolate whips atop of those bite-sized nibbles intentionally resembled… well, nipples? In a box of cream brulee, with a Sophia Loren-like lady on the front? And the harp? I may be a man (read: animal that thinks of sex seven times a minute), but as legendary comedian Larry David says in Curb Your Enthusiasm, "I know the source of these things!" and chocolate nipples are definitely a source!

ISM 2019 - Sexistische Süßigkeiten (DW/Z. Abbany)

Mouth-watering? Chocolate hearts and 'smooth' and 'thin' delights

Seriously, though, is this necessary?

A toasted coconut snack called Pook even sports an image that unmistakably looks like a padded bra.

And the crunchy Italian snack made of burnt wheat — "grano arso"?

ISM 2019 - sexist sweets packaging (DW/Z. Abbany)

Separating 'the wheat from the chaff' or the big bum from the chafe?

OK, so now I'm being pubescent.

But I reckon you get the message: There's something rotten with the state of the sweets industry, and it's not machines with an unconscious bias, like an artificial intelligence that's been programmed by a bunch of snotty frat boys.


The bias is totally conscious.

Screenshot of Cheatless protein bars (eatcheatless.com)

Men beware: This packaging is pastel, so this snack is for women only...

There's a protein bar called Cheatless that's cynically marketed at women, with pastel colors on the packaging, references like "even your grandma is snacking instead of doing meals," and PR mantras like, "women want snacks after working out."

Screenshot of Niederegger Lübeck's Männersache marzipan bars (niederegger.de)

Dumb-bars: 'Marzipan for men'

So do dogs. But do they care about the color of the packaging?

I can see how men might be inclined to buy marzipan in black wrappers, but men are notoriously stupid, right? ( — I've built a career on stupidity.)

As for the rest of humanity, there's no need for anyone to swallow such lazy fodder.

Now give me that box of chocs. I'm famished after my rant.

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