This essay examines how and why how the official Party attitude toward chocolate changed rather dramatically during the first two decades of Communist rule. In the immediate aftermath of the October 1917 Revolution, zealous and idealistic Bolsheviks, inspired in part by the ascetic model provided by Lenin himself, condemned chocolate throughout most of the 1920s as a decadent luxury food item that they associated closely with the self-indulgent consumerism and egoistic, philistine way of life enjoyed by their hated class enemy, the bourgeoisie. With the onset of Stalin’s cultural revolution in the late 1920s and early 1930s, however, chocolate suddenly became transformed into a positive symbol of the economic prosperity, material abundance, and cultural progress that the building of socialism, it was claimed, had finally achieved in Soviet Russia. My essay explores some of the reasons not just for the initial Bolshevik stigmatization of chocolate, but also for this dramatic turn around in the way chocolate was perceived subsequently by the Stalinist leadership. The focus is centered mainly on the way chocolate was represented in works of Soviet literature during both decades.


Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

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