So could there actually be something to Stutland's theory?
"I don't see that there would be any direct reason for that," said Jonathan Feeney, an analyst who covers Hershey for Janney Montgomery Scott. "It's hard to imagine that demand for chocolate has a broader correlation with things going on that will drive the marketplace."
Nonetheless, Feeney notes that a compelling case for Hershey leading the market could be made.
"Staples companies do engage in small-dollar-amount transactions that require no planning," Feeney told CNBC.com. "You would expect that if you look at top staples companies, they probably interface with a larger number of consumers than any other companies, with the possible exception of financials."
Because of this fact, looking at demand for staples to predict the market's next move has become a popular strategy.
"I've had people ask me before what's going on with the strategy and the underlying business fundamentals of food companies with respect to what's going on with the U.S. consumer," Feeney said. "And as a way of understanding consumer fundamentals, it is pretty valid. It's a lot more real-time than anything the government sends out, because they interact with a high volume of consumers on a daily basis."
Erin Lash, who covers Hershey for Morningstar, is a bit more skeptical.
"When Hershey put through a price increase of 11 percent in March of 2011, the volume didn't necessarily suffer. Why? Because the thought is that chocolate is an affordable luxury," Lash said. "Whether they're squeezing other areas of their pocketbook or not, consumers want to treat themselves in some manner."
For that reason, whether people buy more or less chocolate says nothing about whether they'll soon buy a new car or a new house, in Lash's opinion. "If you want to splurge on something, it's going to be a low-priced item, relatively speaking," Lash maintained.