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.
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.