This morning I was listening to my favourite morning radio show called “The Morning Hot Tub” on Hot 89.9, a radio station based in Ottawa, Canada. I have been listening to The Morning Hot Tub every day for at least five years (if not longer), but the funny thing is that I moved away from Ottawa three years ago. Even though I now live eight hours north-west of Ottawa, on Manitoulin Island, I continue to listen to the show’s hosts (Mauler, Rush, Jenni and Josie) and their often funny, sometimes silly and always terrific antics daily via the Internet.
(If you are wondering what on earth The Morning Hot Tub has to do with this blog, just stay with me, I am getting to the part where it relates to chocolate...)
This morning, during the daily contest called “Crush Rush”, Mauler asked a listener a question that went something like: “which chocolate company uses the image of a lady on a horse in their advertisement?” The answer was, of course, Godiva. Then Mauler mentioned that the lady was naked on the horse. There was some disagreement about this among the other hosts. So I decided, for Mauler’s sake and for my own, to do a little research on Lady Godiva and Godiva chocolate.
As it turns out, there is a lot that I did not know about Godiva chocolates and why, or how, its name came to be. According to legend (and according to Wikipedia), Lady Godiva was the wife of the Earl of Mercia, a Kingdom next to southern Wales that existed way back in 1043 in the River Trent Valley region1. As the story goes: `Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering grievously under her husband's oppressive taxation. Lady Godiva appealed again and again to her husband, who obstinately refused to remit the tolls. At last, weary of her entreaties, he said he would grant her request if she would strip naked and ride through the streets of the town. Lady Godiva took him at his word and, after issuing a proclamation that all persons should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town, clothed only in her long hair. Just one person in the town, a tailor ever afterwards known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her proclamation...In the story, Tom bores a hole in his shutters so that he might see Godiva pass, and is struck blind. In the end, Godiva's husband keeps his word and abolishes the onerous taxes.`2
So there you go Mauler; you were not imagining things, Lady Godiva is depicted in photographs riding on a horse naked, and we now know why. As for Lady Godiva and how it came to be the symbol of Godiva, the chocolate company? Well, in 1926 Joseph Draps, a master chocolatier, named his company in honor of the legend of Lady Godiva3. And I can see why, since the name Godiva is Godgifu in old English, which means `god gift`. To me, that is also an appropriate name for chocolate. The company uses the image of Lady Godiva riding on a horse with her long hair flowing around her, but since it is just an imprint in chocolate or an outline on their website and packaging, there is just a hint of nudity, as seen in the Godiva images to the right4 and below5.
So I want to send a big thank you to The Morning Hot Tub, partially because they have been entertaining me every morning for more than five years, and partially because they helped me learn a lot today, including: who Lady Godiva is, why she is always depicted in photographs naked and riding on a horse, who the founder of Godiva the chocolate company was, and where the term “Peeping Tom” came from. What’s more, while I was trying to search for an image of Lady Godiva on the Godiva website, I also found a great cheesecake recipe using Godiva chocolate. Check it out: http://www.godiva.com/recipes/dreamcheesecake.aspx.
If you want to read more of my blog reviews of Godiva (the chocolates, not the lady), type Godiva into the `Search this Blog`box to the right of this article.
1. “Mercia”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercia
2. “Legend”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Godiva
3. “History of Godiva”, http://www.godiva.com/about/faq.aspx
4. Image taken from here.5. Image taken from here.