And I Wrote This Book.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hershey's: Known for Kisses, Has no Heart or Conscience

Sorry to be so late in the game. You've probably already bought your Halloween candy. If not, or if you don't know about Hershey's dark side, please read.

Warning: This information, while distressing, is too important to ignore. Please be mindful of these facts when purchasing Halloween candy and/or when feeding a cocoa craving. The data to follow is based on my research in the fall of 2010. Hershey’s hasn’t budged since then.
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Until a few years ago, I frequently bought a blissful dose of cheap (i.e., Hershey’s) chocolate, and M & Ms were my favorite. But I was ignorant of the true cost of this pleasantry.

The harsh facts: Thousands of children are kidnapped, trafficked, and sold to cocoa plantations every year. The average price per child: $1.20-1.90. Often, these child slaves have no concept of chocolate. Rather, they are forced to endure 12-18 hour workdays, handle machetes without proper training, climb high trees – while exposed to hazardous chemicals in a treacherous climate. Should they rebel or perform “poorly,” they are beaten. Should they try to escape, they are killed. A vast majority of these known abuses occur in West Africa’s Ivory Coast.

Despite high-powered opposition, Hershey's continues business with the Ivory Coast. Certainly the world’s largest chocolate corporation, boasting over $5 billion in revenue annually, can afford to take a stance.
This monstrous entity acquired Sharffen-Berger in 2005 and Dagoba in 2006. It continues to produce many non-chocolate products, such as Twizzlers, along with countless non-food items.

Fortunately, there are good alternatives. The most assuredly exploitation-free chocolate carries a Fair Trade Label. We pay more, but dollars go directly to the development of community resources, such as schools or hospitals. Fair trade cocoa originates in Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Peru. To find out a candy's source, look at the back label.

Organic chocolate is another good option (e.g., Newman’s Organics).  

There’s much guesstimating in this area. Here's my best effort to delineate some of the “good” vs the “bad.” On the good team, I included companies that have begun socially conscious efforts.
 
Good Chocolate: Cadbury Canada, Ben & Jerry's, Starbucks, Ah!laska, Endangered Species, Ithaca, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Newman's Organics, Clif Bar, Guittard, Green and Black's, Mayordomo/Mexican chocolate, European chocolate, Nirvana, Rapunzel, smaller mom & pop brands, and lots more.

Bad Chocolate: Hershey’s and any chocolate from West Africa's Ivory Coast, Mars/M&M's, Dove, Dagoba (taken over by Hershey's, though they do have one fair trade chocolate bar), Sharffen Berger (also taken over by Hershey's).


Gary, worldly, handsome servant of Penny, modest internet superstar, provided this link. It's a great site through which to order fair trade chocolate.

Regarding Candy Corn: Brach's isn't fair trade, but it's not Hershey's! So if you haven't yet bought Halloween candy and you can't afford fair-trade goodies, buy candy corns or candy pumpkins (Brach's mellowcreme). At least you won't be supporting the world's biggest and most evil chocolate corporation. Thank you.

When in doubt, avoid Hershey’s and Mars, Sharffen Berger, Dagoba (and any company acquired by Hershey's).

Here are some folks fighting the good fight, and my sources of this information:
http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
Fair Trade Labeling Organization
Fair Trade Candy Blog
http://www.visionursd.edu/
http://www.saveafricachildren.com/
http://www.globalexchange.com/
http://www.change.org/
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

36 comments:

  1. Thanks Robyn. This is really sad and interesting. Halloween isn't really done here, but I will keep this in mind all year when we shop. I had no idea.

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  2. Shame on Hrshey's. Lots of alternatives though.

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  3. I had no idea about this. That is awful. A big company like Hershey's should be setting a good example.

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  4. Aww seriously Robyn?!?!?! I've known about Hershey's for a long time actually because I've been a reader of this blog for a long time and you alerted me to their activities last Halloween but for some reason I paid no attention to the fact that Mars do the same things and Galaxy as well which is the UK name for Dove. Shame on them, thank goodness for Cadburys is all I can say!

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  5. What???? The sweetest place on earth????? I grew up 30 minutes from Hershey, PA and Milton Hershey is a GOD to me!!!!!!! I had no earthly idea.

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  6. I was not aware of any of this. Usually I buy 3 bags of miniature chocolate bars when I buy groceries. They are probably all made by Hershey's. I'll look for alternatives. Thank you!

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  7. I'm glad I don't eat chocolate anymore. I still want to visit Hersheypark and ride the roller coasters though.

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  8. I had no idea that was going on.

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  9. I had no idea. I guess I never really thought about the origins of the cocoa beans used in commercial candy. that said, we don't get any kids anyway so I rarely ever buy candy and with my chocolate allergies, I try to avoid it for the most part, although I do have a couple bags of milk chocolate chips in my cupboard. Nestle's I think.

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  10. Hershey's can go pound sand. What these greedy idiots do for money

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  11. I truly had no idea about this. Wow. Thanks for opening my eyes.

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  12. There is much of this happening in third world countries. Cheap labour by using those who have no choice. Contracting out on a global scale is cheaper for companies who do not care about HOW the rate is kept cheaper.

    Quality can suffer, but the price is lower. It seems even chocolate can have a nasty underlayer.

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  13. Thank you for the information on this subject. I had no idea...

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  14. Robyn, thanks for posting about this. I'm frustrated because I have several bags of Hershey's! I wish I had known....but now I do! No more Hershey's!

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  15. This is an important topic and not one that is readily discussed. Keep up the good work.

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  16. I really like those Endangered Species chocolate bars. So much of every sale goes to save animals. Definitely not cheap though. But the best stuff rarely is.

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  17. That's crazy! I had no idea! Thank you so much for sharing Robyn. It's good to draw attention to companies who couldn't care less about anything other than their bottom line. Disgusting!

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  18. Fabulous listing of cocoa companies under the fair trade link. Great work, Robyn!

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  19. Yowza. How awful. Thanks for opening our eyes.

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  20. What a sad tale. Shame on Hershey's. such a large company should be able to do better. It's a sickness what some will do for a dollar.

    So glad I decided to end my love affair with M & M's a few years ago.

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  21. Wow and I love M&M's.
    I knew nothing about this. Thanks for sharing&enlightening Robyn x

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  22. It is horrible that this has been going on for so long. Thanks for the reminder.

    Julie

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  23. I had no idea. That is a terribly sad situation. Shame on any company that puts profit before human rights.

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  24. Green & Black is my choice of chocolate and glad to know I'm not supporting this practice. Just too tragic. I recently read something about Chiquita too that's caused me to avoid their products. What corporations do to bow down to the almighty buck is sad and shameful.

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  25. That's just wrong. Thank you for providing this information.

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  26. Oh my! I had no idea! Thanks for sharing this information.

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  27. Serious question (I know): does this only apply to chocolate? Or does it also apply to non-chocolate candy made by Hershey (e.g., Twizzlers)?

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  28. Wow! I had no idea. Shame on Hersheys!

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  29. Thank you, all, for your supportive comments. Hershey's has done an amazing job keeping this information secretive. It's been known for years, and they've made empty promisez for years about changes. The only way they're going to change is if they stand to lose a ton of money.

    Al, that's a very good question. No Hershey's candies (except for one bar of Dagoba) is "fair trade," as far as I know. So labor conditions are likely horrifying across the board, though I don't know the specs (if kids are involved, work conditions, etc.) in the production of non-chocolate items.

    Sorry to be the messenger of this highly disturbing news.

    Keep faith and a bit of fair trade chocolate on hand.
    xoRobyn

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  30. Hi Robyn,

    My human and I were very aware of all the horrors you have alluded to.

    And yes, as you know, my human buys the alternatives. Thank you for including the link my human noted to you.

    Pawsitive, hopeful wishes,

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

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  31. You post this every year and I always seem to forget....so sad. :(

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  32. My preference is mostly European chocolate. It's richer and creamier.

    I agree with Alex, shame on them! Is it okay if I share this link on Facebook?

    Loving the Jolie look, by the way :)

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  33. What is the matter with those people! Don't they have enough money yet!

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