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 11:14
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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 goodness of that sweet immediately became an irresistible temptation.

It penetrated all levels of society, and it was even necessary that the already addicted ecclesiastical palates were forced to establish a criterion to regulate its consumption.

Breakfast at home based on chocolate became a classic. And going out for a snack in a chocolate bar became a very attractive and repeated custom for the bourgeoisie. They were establishments with a very different atmosphere to that of cafes and bars; for this reason a lady could go there alone.

In the middle of the 19th century, however, a suspicious and disturbing change was detected: it seemed that some chocolate shops had introduced prostitution into the business. It was not a particular initiative, but the consequence of some establishments falling under a very worrying control. Here is the key to such a change.

The civilian 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 leader of that gang was Jeroni Tarrés, a thief and also a dangerous murderer who went on to enjoy carte blanche to act with all kinds of excesses and expected dizzying brutality.

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

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

The criminal Tarrés ended up imprisoned, but escaped. Caught, they locked him up in Ceuta. He was a volunteer in the war in Africa and that poor soul died in the battle of Wad-Ras.