My Story, Yours Too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Please Boycott Hershey's: The Post I Hate to Post

Warning: This annual Halloween-time (re)post is disturbing, but the information is too important to ignore. Please be mindful of these facts when purchasing your 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, despite routine empty promises.

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.

Every year thousands of children 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 they aren’t paid at all. Yet they are forced to endure 12-18 hour workdays, handle machetes, climb high trees – while exposed to hazardous chemicals in a treacherous climate. Those who rebel or perform “poorly” are beaten. Those attempting to escape are killed. A vast majority of these known abuses -over 15,000 annually- occur in West Africa’s Ivory Coast.

While Hershey’s claims moral outrage, it continues business with the Ivory Coast. Meanwhile other chocolate companies assure exploitation-free products. Certainly the world’s largest chocolate corporation, boasting over $5 billion in revenue annually, can afford to take a stance.

Americans pay $15 billion for chocolate each year, with nearly 43% of this for Hershey’s candies. 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 numerous non-food items.

Fortunately there are plenty of alternatives. The most safe option carries a Fair Trade Label. This guarantees a minimum price for farmers, prohibits abusive labor, and promotes environmental sustainability. We pay a bit more for fair trade chocolate, but dollars go directly to community resources such as schools and hospitals. Fair trade cocoa originates in Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Peru. To find out a chocolate bar’s source, simply look at the back label.

A second option is organic chocolate (e.g., Newman’s Organics). Organic farms have their own systems of independent monitoring that checks labor practices.

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.

There’s plenty of slavery-free chocolate, too, that is neither Fair Trade Certified nor organic. When in doubt, AVOID HERSHEY'S.
Good Chocolate: Cadbury Canada, Ben & Jerry's, Starbuck's, 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, 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 at least one fair trade chocolate bar), Scharffen Berger (also taken over by Hershey's).

Finally, many are fighting the good fight, including my sources of this information:
Fair Trade Labeling Organization
Fair Trade Candy Blog
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

Thank you, and enjoy fair-trade chocolate this Halloween and always!


  1. This post is a good reminder for me.

  2. Wow that I never knew, Hershey's are now about as appetizing as a drink from the loo.

  3. I remember your post from last year. I only eat Green & Blacks organic 80 or 90% cocoa bars. Love with some organic almond butter and heated briefly in the microwave...better than a Reeses cup!

  4. I remember this post from last year, but it serves as a good reminder.

  5. I'll try to remember that when I buy Halloween candy, too. In Canada, we have many other options, too. Thanks for the info.

  6. That's really horrible Robyn, actually I have never liked Hershey's chocolate much xo

  7. I've seen a bar with the words "Ingredients traded in compliance with fair trade standards: 74%" written on it. Is that just trickery?

  8. that's really, really many risks involved. thanks for the reminder.


  9. Thanks, Ruth. I think I posted a bit too late last year. Hopefully, it's now before everyone's bought their candy.

    Alex, yay, I've made a convert. Thanks.

    PatHatt, I didn't know until a few years ago.

    Chuck, that's a great recipe. I'll have to try it.

    Stephen, thanks.

    DG, yes, Canada is just a better country all around. You have much better options.

    David, it tastes bad in comparison to real chocolate. Doesn't it?

    GB, you never know. I'd guess it's safe and that the 74% is the cocoa proportion. Hershey's and all the companies they've acquired are the ones at fault for trickery.

    Betty, you're welcome. Yes, it's horrible. Hard to enjoy Hershey's when you know this.

    Thanks, all.

  10. Some things are worth repeating. This is one of them – especially since Hershey’s hasn’t followed through on their promises.
    ( I miss Twizzlers but I’ve been good.)

  11. Thanks for reminding us of this!

  12. I can't believe that Hersheys are so cruel, I mean for goodness sake, they're the biggest chocolate company in the world and yet they exploit people like that, it's sickening. It's a welcome relief to see Cadburys in the good list because we don't really have Hersheys here (thank goodness it seems), all we have is Cadburys.

  13. I hope it's okay I included you in my most recent Top Three Thursdays post by the way Robyn, if it isn't make sure to please only tell me! :)

  14. That is appalling though not surprising.. thankfully we don't get Hershey's in the UK

  15. Hi Robyn - I've found my way here through Matthew's Thursday Top Three.

    I couldn't agree more - I buy Purdy's Chocolates...made right here in Canada.

    Great post, very informative links too - thanks.


  16. Great repost, Robyn. Always a good idea to remind people (like me)!

  17. Terrific repost. I think you're wonderful for alerting us all to these practices.

  18. Great post Robyn! Yes its time for corporations to show responsiblity. The people can now talk and share information. We are no longer kept in the dark. There's a terrible price we pay for our cheap goods, look at iphones for example. They have nets at the factory in China so they dont kill themselves at work. We are rich, yes, but it doesnt have to be at the expense of the poor.

    Well done for posting this.
    It's part of the reason I dont eat Muckdonalds or KFC - the things they have done over the years is disgusting. If only more consumers had some backbone like you.


  19. good news, my fave is cadbury. PHEW. I can keep eating.

  20. Beth, yes. Now Hershey's says in 8 years they'll change their practices. 8 years?! How many more kids will die in 8 years? Thanks for boycotting. Red Vines are better than Twizzlers.

    Betty, you're welcome.

    YW, thanks. I'm not sure about all Cadbury's. Cadbury's Canada is safe. You/I might look into that.

    Kitty, yes, European chocolate is not only slavery free, it's yummy. Great to see you.

    Pearson, thanks so much for the comment and follow.

    Al, yes, stay away from Big Hunks. And tell your wife the same.

    Melissa, thanks much.

    Joanne, yay. Thank you.

    Anthony, it is horrendous how the dollar takes precedence over human lives. Lots of folks have been fighting this fight - because young, innocent children are involved. Still, no progress. I didn't know about iPhones. We are so ignorant of the evils behind our life's luxuries.

    Thanks, friends.
    Keep enjoying non-Hershey's chocolate.

  21. It's frightening how this is still going on. I do remember this from last year, and also appreciate the reminder. Julie

  22. Nooooooo! Ignorance was bliss. But now you have educated me. I had no idea this was going on.