Sex and Chocolate: Complements or Substitutes?

The attached picture is a display at the local CVS in Ann Arbor, Mich. My thought was that this shelf display is a great example of complements: Enjoy a chocolate bar together, and who knows what nice things might follow?  My son thought that it depicted  substitutes — no luck in love, so drown your sorrows by eating chocolate.  I don’t know who is correct, but the example illustrates well the fact the complementarity/substitutability can depend on the specific situation being examined.


...or is it just coincidence? What was on the other side to the right?

Andreas Moser

For me, the chocolate is just a substitute, unfortunately.
And I am getting fatter and fatter.

Dana G

There is something also really complimentary about the packaging and color scheme of the displays. Oranges, reds, and browns look good together. Also, the shape of the boxes make sense when next to each other as well. Perhaps that is the reason they were shelved as compliments?

Despite my waxing, let's face it...someone who was shelving the boxes has a little bit of a sense of humor.


"Despite my waxing..."


Roger Dooley

Good thing there's a little space between the displays. It's been documented that products that touch in a retail environment can transfer disgust and other feelings to adjacent food products. I captured a great example of that in a hotel's convenience store:


Perhaps it is wishful thinking, how far away are the roses? College kid has a date and is hoping to put some condoms to use...


Depends on if the chocolate is in liquid or bar form, doesn't it?!


" luck in love, so drown your sorrows by eating chocolate."

Love? What's love got to do with it?

Eric M. Jones

It's just alphabetical order.

Mark Bowron

In general sex and chocolate are both sweet vices with documented health benefits. "Complements or substitutes" is a false dichotomy, but if I had to pick, I'd say they're complements.


It could also have to do with the perceived "embarisment" some experience in purchasing condoms. The typical out come is the shopper buys more than 1 item. These choc's look good, are inexpensive and will not go to waste while helping to pad the basket. Also a good margin product for the store.


I dunno....I suppose it's a possibility someone buying chocolates could make a mistake and grab some condoms instead, ha-ha! I saw foil wrapped condoms mistaken for candy handed out on Halloween, on a sitcom.


If I were a marketeer I'd see a direct oppertunity: Chocolate flavoured condoms!

You'd could make various correlations between sex and chocolates, various cases exist:

- In a recent study it showed that self esteem of men rise after their first time, yet for quite a large group of women it goes down. Chocolate being comfort food no1, it's a good oppertunity to cross sell condoms and chocolate.

- Chocolate has always been associated with erotic content: Magnum ice cream being a recent example. Or chocolate dipped strawberries. Or chocolate body paint.

- Valentines day: A box of chocolates offered as an offering, with the final intent being some boom chica wowwa.

- Lynx/Axe/Tag has also combined chocolate and sex


Apparently they feel they compliment each other, and so do I.

Dr. Constantinos Charalambous

Here is my own answer to this. I wrote this today especially for this article.


What if they're both just in the "hedonistic delights" aisle? You know...much like pet products or makeup are all in the same aisle as each other. You don't necessarily need dog treats AND cat litter at the same time, but they're often next to each other. Nor would you replace one for the other. Sex brings does chocolate. Hence, why not have them next to each other?


Oh, that's brilliant. All the 'hedonistic delights' in one aisle? How about cigarettes? Air conditioners? Lingerie? Pistachios? Cashmere sweaters? Down comforters? Padded toilet seats? Grand Marnier, Amaretto, Tanqueray gin? What a mish-mash! But thanks for the laugh!

Mark Bowron

Air conditioners? I think you forgot to mention kitchen sinks.

Stephanie Gong

I think they are substitutes!!! Cause many people that dont have sex rely on happy feelings from something else in life. And chocolate, like sex, has a quick effect on a person to make them happy. If you have sex, why need chocolate, I mean you're already happy in another aspect of life. Everyone wants to feel happy, and these two things both make people happy.