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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good Chocolate, Bad Chocolate, Evil Hershey's, Part I

I simply hate this! Two of my great loves – kids and chocolate – have been at a morbid impasse for years or, perhaps, centuries. While I previously enjoyed a blissful dose of cheap (i.e., Hershey’s) chocolate, I was ignorant of the true cost of this pleasantry. As one who lives and blogs a life by chocolate, and as a social worker addressing child abuse for over 15 years, I feel compelled to inform. Please be mindful of this information when purchasing your Halloween candy and/or when feeding a cocoa craving. Thank you!

Child enslavement plagues the chocolate industry. Every year, thousands of youngsters are kidnapped, trafficked, and sold to cocoa plantations. The average price per child: $1.20-1.90. The rate of pay: $.01 for chocolate that is sold for $1 in the United States. Sometimes, the children receive no remuneration. Often, they have no concept of a chocolate bar. Rather, these children are forced to endure 12-18 hour workdays, handle machetes without proper training, climb high trees – all the 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. Each year, 15,000 children between 9 and 12 years old are enslaved on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast. Recently, three reporters in this region were jailed for investigating the crisis. (They were subsequently freed on impossibly high bail terms.)

Hershey’s provides the dollars that fuel these brutalities. While Hershey’s claims moral outrage, it continues business with the Ivory Coast. In fact, Hershey’s refuses to disclose the specific suppliers of its cocoa. Meanwhile, other big chocolate companies, and many smaller ones, act to ensure exploitation-free products. Thus, Hershey’s singular priority remains clear: ever-improved wealth (at the expense of children’s lives).

Certainly, the world’s largest chocolate corporation can afford to take a stance. With 12,000 employees, Hershey’s continues to boast over $5 billion in revenue annually - despite harsh economic times. Americans pay $15 billion for chocolate each year, with nearly 43% of this for Hershey’s candies. This conglomerate acquired Sharffen-Berger in 2005 and Dagoba in 2006. It continues to produce a number of non-chocolate products, such as Twizzlers, along with countless non-food items.

I am further disheartened to learn that Mars/M&M and Dove (which now owns Mars/M&M) do not assure untainted chocolate. M&M’s are (were) my favorite, and I spotlighted them in several posts. I now enjoy other chocolate options, though.

It’s questionable whether Nestle is on the good or bad side, as information is mixed. Nestle appears to be making some socially conscious efforts, while Hershey’s does not. The bottom line is that any form of chocolate is preferable to Hershey’s. be continued with good, good chocolate alternatives.


  1. I've pretty much always hated Hershey's anyway....their chocolate is too waxy for me. Thanks for the heads up...this is sad. :(

  2. I've been looking for fair trade chocolate for a while now, and unfortunately its not as readily available as one would like. Thanks for bringing to our attention once again

  3. Where have I been? I had no idea...
    that really sucks!

  4. Thanks Robyn. It is more expensive to buy fair trade chocolate, just like it is coffee but it is worth it to me, even if I have to have less of each.

  5. Rats! I'm telling ya...nothing good is without taint anymore in the world!

    I guess I'll just have to learn how to grow my own. Hmmm...

    We do fair trade coffee but I've never even thought about chocolate.

    Thanks for the insightful and thought provoking post.

  6. Thanks Marlene. I fully agree. Besides these evils, Hershey's is too waxy! xo

    Baygirl, I know. I hope that my Part II post on this might help. You're better off finding the good stuff in Canada - even if it's not fair trade. Go for organic, which is safe too, or Cadbury's Canada is an awesome company! :-)

    Pat, exactly. I may suddenly disappear for having exposed this. Think of all the money invested in keeping these evils a secret. xo

    TAIC, thank you, my chocoholic friend. Exactly, the extra costs makes the chocolate taste sweeter. It's really a wash, in that sense. ;->

  7. Until I hear differently, I'll just avoid chocolate all together. It's Candy Corn season anyway. Unless Brach's is doing something I don't know about...

  8. Well that sucks. My day was already bad, now chocolate has been ruined. I need to go lay down and try and process this.

    Friggin' Hershey's. They were supposed to be the good guys.

  9. Huh. I had no idea. That makes me sad...especially the bit about M&M and Dove...I heart them so much... :(

  10. It's a good thing I don't buy Hershey's, and now never will. Please tell me Godiva is still OK.

  11. This is sickening. I won't be buying Hershey's chocolate. I don't really understand free Trade, but I make it a priority to buy mostly American made or American grown organic products. It keeps jobs in America. And it's not that easy to do. I won't buy food products from China (not even for my pets), or Mexico. And I am leary about Chile. These countries don't regulate food products like we do. Not saying that Organics is regulated all that much here but, China, Mexico and other countries selling foods to America use all kinds of chemicals that are unsafe for human consumption. Now I am finding out about child traficking. I'm sick over it! I understand cocoa isn't grown in America, so I guess I won't be handing out chocolate at all! Thank you for being an advocate! ~Ames

  12. Wow! I did not know that. Maybe that will deter me from the reaching for the blasted things next time I get a craving. That really is a much good information. Thank you!

  13. Its awful isn't it? Chocolate and cocoa aren't the only products that abuse children. I only buy fairtrade coffee nowadays. I do confess to buying non fairtrade chocolate, my excuse is that I buy it so rarely. But I should make an effort to look for fairtrade alternatives. Excellent post!

  14. Jesus...I feel like such an asshole now....

  15. this is so sad and a terrible situation that is occurring.there should be something that could prevent this. rose

  16. I had no idea either! That does suck.


    B xx

  17. Alex, good point. It's the season of the candy corn! Thanks. xo

    Oh TS, sorry for making your day even suckier. :-]

    BabySis, I know. It's so sad. I wish it weren't so, especially regarding m&m's! xo

    Sarah, sorry. Godiva's "iffy" too. (o;

    Ames, I really appreciate your sentiment. It's sickening. xo

    Sandra, thank you! I hope this info has the same effect on me. =-}

    Ca88, yes, the coffee industry is fraught with similar abuses. Yucky, yucky stuff. Sounds like you're already enlightened. Good for you. xo

    AlphaZa, LOL. You are not an asshole. Thanks for finding me. You're great, and my first Pakistani contact! <o:

    BB, most people didn't. It's been kept under wraps (no pun intended) for obvious reasons. That's scary, in and of itself. xo

    Rose, it is sad and terrible. More and more, companies are seeing the light - just not Hershey's (not yet). ;-}

    BettyM, thank you. Your chocolate is so much safer than American brands. It's so much better too! Enjoy some for us! xo

  18. Fantastic post, Robyn. I always think that the most effective way of losing weight is to adopt an ethical conscience. If people were aware of how a good percentage of their foods are being manufactured and produced they would certainly lose their appetites.

  19. This makes me absolutely sick.

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