Prostitution entered the chocolate shops

Chocolate jumped the ocean barrier and reached us at the beginning of the 17th century.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 04:51
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Prostitution entered the chocolate shops

Chocolate jumped the ocean barrier and reached us at the beginning of the 17th century. Despite its unattractive color, the benefits of that candy immediately became an unstoppable temptation.

It crept into all levels of society, and it was even necessary for the already addicted ecclesiastical palates to be forced to establish criteria to regulate consumption.

Having a chocolate-based breakfast at home became a classic. And going out for a snack in a chocolate shop became a very attractive and repeated custom among the bourgeoisie. They were establishments with a very different atmosphere from the one that prevailed in cafes and bars; hence a lady could go alone.

In the middle of the 19th century, however, a suspicious and disturbing change was detected: everything gave the impression that some chocolate shops had introduced prostitution. It was not a private initiative, but the consequence of some establishments having fallen under very worrying control. Here is the key to such a change.

The civil governor Ventura Díaz had created a secret police to monitor and neutralize the growing capacity for worker protest, which led to increasingly numerous and repeated strikes.

It was then that the so-called Ronda Tarrés, so well documented by Josep Benet and Casimir Martí, came into action. The boss of that gang was Jeroni Tarrés, a thief and also a dangerous murderer who began to enjoy carte blanche to act with all kinds of excesses and expected dizzying brutality.

He soon earned the director of the conservative Diario de Barcelona Josep Mañé to denounce his excesses and even the deputy Estanislau Figueras to vehemently attack him in the Cortes.

In such a context, it was not surprising that Commissioner Ramon Serra Monclús, who had inherited a series of businesses, including chocolate shops, allowed Tarrés to introduce the claim of prostitution there. He thus turned those establishments into a good private business, until his personal star fell from grace.

The criminal Tarrés ended up imprisoned, but escaped. Caught, they locked him up in Ceuta. He volunteered for the war in Africa and that heartless man died in the battle of Wad-Ras.