And I Wrote This Book.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hershey's Bliss - Reason to Celebrate? And a Chocolate Review


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. Most of the data below is based on my on-line research in 2010. There's been little change AND one blissful victory.
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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 for over seven years, 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. In fact, it's likely that most every candy at your local 7-11 or convenience store is Hershey's owned. Also, Hershey's produces many non-chocolate products, such as Twizzlers. The company owns Mars and many others. Thus I've boycotted my once favorite cheap chocolate, the m&m, since I learned this unsettling information.

No worries, safe alternatives abound. 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). Trader Joe's provides exploitation free products, and independent stores often carry safe alternatives.

Seven years of hardcore advocacy on the part of individual and group activists resulted in Hershey's announcement last year that they'd go Fair Trade by 2020 (Why so far away? Do they think activists will drop the fight by then?). For now, they've introduced Bliss and Dagoba Rainforest Alliance Certified lines.

It's incredibly confusing, as there are numerous levels of "fairness" in trade practices. This article does very well to clarify Hershey's recent move. I don't quite get it, but I believe we've reason to celebrate - while continuing to fight.

For now, I highly encourage you to purchase Hershey's Bliss Rainforest Alliance Certified or any other candy designated on the "fair" spectrum instead of the usual Halloween candy suspects. Note that Brach's candy corns are NOT fair trade.

Also note that Bliss tastes blissful. I've sampled it for you. You're welcome. Wink.

It's dark chocolate, not too bitter or too sweet. It's just right and blissfully tasty. For their efforts, yet for their need to continue to move in the right direction, I give Hershey's Bliss dark chocolates a 9 on a 1-10 scale.

There are approximately 30-40 chocolates per bag,* and this candy is approximately $1 more than non-fair trade candy. Your conscience, and the world's children, are worth that. Right?

*Now, less than two hours after I made the purchase, there are only 22 or so. Hanging head low in shame, whilst beaming ecstatically. 
Thank you, Hershey's! Keep doing better, and we'll keep holding up the bar for you!

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.globalexchange.com/
http://www.change.org/
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

38 comments:

  1. Thank you for all your research...especially field trials of Bliss.

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  2. Had no idea. And the CEO or head of Nestle's is a mean old man who doesn't think that humans have a right to water. Nestle and Hershey's are the two powerhouse brands and like you said, they own so many subsidiaries now. Like Wonka is part of Nestle. Overall I just try to discourage kids coming to my door and I don't buy candy! I used to like to get Charms Blow Pops and Smarties but I think they are owned by one or the other.

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  3. They must think they can do anything they want, because they pretty much have a monopoly on the chocolate sold in stores.

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  4. Thank you for posting this, Robyn. I cannot believe this is going on and it's taking them so damn long to fix it. 2020? Really?

    Ugh. M&Ms are one of my favorites too. But, I've had Bliss and it rocks! So, that's what I'll purchase instead.

    (Now what to do with all the candy I bought for Halloween?)

    Elsie

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  5. Six years from now? That's a long time. We don't buy much chocolate anyway, but will be on the lookout for the ones marked for fair trade.

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  6. Thanks for bringing light to a dark subject!

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  7. I had no idea and amazing how greed takes hold. Why do they wait until 2020? I wonder what the reason is. I can't help but think it is still in their best interest. Why has this not made national headlines?Who in power snuffs out any media person who wishes to tell this story? So many questions but I will buy chocolate that is not hershey owned

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  8. $$$, is what it all comes back to with the big companies. I wouldn't be surprised if they say fair trade and really get it from the same slave place.

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  9. I cannot say that I have been a big boycott person, but it makes a good point. How is it in this day and age that any company can look at their suppliers and NOT exert a force on them to be fair and change to more humane practices? In the meantime, we fight over the fricking minimum wage for McDonalds. The very reason I believe Revelation 18 is a DIRECT prophecy on America.

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  10. I truly had no idea. Thanks for the info and I shall keep my eye on labeling. Can't forgo chocolate, but I can eat "safe" trade goodies. Have a great weekend

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  11. I'd say I'm boycotting Hershey's, but I don't eat chocolate anyway.

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  12. I had no idea until 2010 of any of this either. It's grotesquely shocking, and -yes- all about $$. BB you raise good points about the media. It's only through the internet - not TV or actual newspapers, billboard, or any other form - that I've learned about it. We've gotta keep pressure on Hershey's. More companies are doing what's right, in baby steps.

    Be well and be safe. Smiles.
    xoRobyn

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  13. I'll certainly look for this product, now that you've endorsed it.

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  14. That is awful, Robyn! And you know what? I had no idea. And I think that's worse...that I had no idea. Thank you for this very important issue.

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  15. hi robyn, thanks for posting this. i truly had no idea.

    big hugs!

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  16. Chocolate and cheap wine.
    Is there anything Trader Joes can't do?

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  17. I think the reason Hershey's say that they won't be fair trade until 2020 is that they want to be able to do it without affecting their profits. But that's most business, they'll only care if they stand to gain from it.

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  18. Thanks for this report on your research...interesting!

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  19. I've heard this elsewhere. Thank you for sharing this information and helping to get the word out.

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  20. Wow, Robyn, they must be good if you polished them off that quickly! Or maybe you're just a chocoholic. :)

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  21. I actually had no idea about this. Or what fair trade meant, even after seeing it so much. The funny thing is, I usually buy fair trade chocolate, not because I knew what it was, but because it's usually higher quality chocolate overall. Our local chocolate makers make stuff that would knock the socks off your typical bland Hershey's bar... Huh, for once my chocolate snobbery is actually a good thing.

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  22. I had no idea Hershey owned all those other companies too. I will be on the lookout for their new Bliss candies. I may just have to turn off my porch light, seeing how I'll probably eat them all before the kids show up lol. They do sound tasty!

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  23. A few years ago our church started passing out awareness for this at Halloween (trunk or treat) along with an alternate candy. So many kids were bummed not to get chocolate ;) but you know, it's not bad to get the word out on these things. It seems so surreal, that it doesn't seem real...until you know that it is.

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  24. Mail4Rosey, it's a reality none of us wants to face, but - of course - we have to for the children's sake.

    BnB, that's very true. Even Bliss doesn't taste like plastic-y cheap Hershey's chocolate. Fair trade is much better tasting.

    Cheers, love, and sweetness to you all.
    xoRobyn

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  25. I'll have to try Hershey's Bliss. Thanks for giving me hope that I can revisit Hershey, Pennsylvania again!

    Julie

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  26. Thanks for posting and sharing about your review! Awesome~

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  27. I will keep my eye on my kids to make sure they don't end up on a chocolate plantation. Thanks for your astute research!

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  28. Thank you for passing along this information. I'm all about positive reinforcement, so will look for the fair Bliss chocolates this week.

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  29. Thank you very very much for this Robyn. I had no idea. I am glad that I do now...

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  30. If you send me your address, I can send you my favorite Belgian chocolate. We are the chocolate specialists after all :-)
    eeriestories75 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  31. Wow, I had no idea if I get a craving I usually buy from a local chocolate maker.

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  32. hey it has to start somewhere eh? and hopefully there are plenty that will be better for the efforts of those willing to raise awareness and fight the fight for them....

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  33. Thank you, Robin, for giving me a GOOD (not just ravenous) reason to continue buying from Hershey-- my favorite candymaker from childhood,when my grandpa told me this story. He said that all the other famous companies were cold and mechanistic. But at Hershey's huge central plant, whenever they'd made a big new batch, a very ancient old man was brought out. He would dip his finger in the vat, smell it and slowly taste it. If he frowned and said, "That's not Hershey's," everybody sighed, and they knew they had to start over. But if he smiled, looked up and said, "THAT'S HERSHEY'S," there was jubilation in the plant. And here was the real Hershey's candy bar, blessed by the old man, right on my plate.

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  34. I think it's awesome that you keep making this known to everyone. I do love Bliss chocolate, so I'm glad it's safe. I'm glad they're finally moving toward fair trade, it's nice to know they're finally listening to their conscience.

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  35. god I did not know that - ironic as Ivory Coast was the center of the slave trade

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  36. Thanks so much for this info. I will look for the label and will buy nothing else.

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  37. This is an excellent and informative post. As far as combinations of adjectives go, that is a good one. I've tried to stick to Fair Trade products for the last while even though I'm not sure what exactly it means. Just feels right, yo.

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