Having a quick glance across the MSN homepage this morning, en route to my email, I came across this:
“To promote the forthcoming re-launch of Wispa Gold, Cadbury’s has created a one-off version of the snack housed within a real-gold wrapper.”
A single chocolate bar, priced at £961.48p ($1,635). Sure, it is a publicity stunt, set to get people talking, as I myself am now doing, but it set me to thinking about the expense of chocolate.
There are delicacies such as ‘Chocopologie by Knipschildt’ , selling at around £1,528 ($2,600) per pound. If that is a little too much for you to spend indulging in this sensual experience, you could just purchase a single dark truffle for about £146 ($250).
If still above ones price range however, why not go for ‘Delafee’, who sprinkle their chocolates with flakes of edible 24-karat gold to add that extra sparkle, and a snip at around a quarter of the price of those above.
Or how about the very popular Godiva “G” Collection, at a very modest £70 ($120).
Regardless of our budget, most of us know that the difference in taste between one of these or similar against the mass-produced ‘synthochoc’ that we find in every supermarket and corner shop, just as a sommelier knows the difference between a single note bottle of plonk and a vintage Bordeaux. Should you be wanting a match to help wash down that truffle, you could purchase a tasty case of Haut Brion Blanc for around £2,800 ($1645 ).
But let’s bring this all back down to earth. What I’m really wishing to highlight here is the price of those more famous brands, the everyday ones we all know. Cadbury’s, Nestle, Hershey, Mars et al. Much cheaper they are indeed, but what really is the cost?
Let me take you to Cote d’Ivorie (Ivory Coast) of West Africa. This area is the leading exporter of cocoa beans to the world market. It is here that we find approximately 15,000 boys, aged from between 8 to 16 who are slaves, working in the most horrendous conditions imaginable. No, I’m not talking 1709, I’m talking 2009.
And just to keep you up on prices, one of those boys costs around £17 ($30), approximately 8 of those truffles I mentioned earlier: or instead of buying the special Wispa Gold, you could purchase 56 slave boys of your very own. Then have them beaten and broken as they beat and break the cocoa bean in preparation for a tasty treat – one they themselves will never know the taste of.
Kit-Kat, Mars Bar, M&M’s… Next time you tuck into that favoured sweet that so brings you happiness and pleasure, think for a moment of the innocent that toiled in painful hardship so you could indulge at decadent lesiure. I’m hitting you in the face with this because I need to. We have to make a change. The joy in one part of the world should not be the cause of misery in another, for different as we are nation to nation, we truly are connected, if you believe by nothing else then certainly by trade.
Who is to blame? Well, understandably there are several parties who are implicated in this problem. First there is the country’s own government and farmers. And there are us, the consumers who unknowingly buy the products (though you can no longer plead ignorance having just read this.) Then there are the American or European chocolate manufacturers, those behemoth multi-million organizations, who, unlike their customers, DO know where the cocoa they source is coming from. And who do nothing.
I find it a bizarre world we live in that is appalled by wearing fur and that asks for dolphin-free tuna, but not slave-free chocolate. Can you really ever eat these again? Of course, nothing is ever simple and so a boycott, as great as it would be in damaging the billions of profits made, and so would hurt them where most, would undoubtedly have darker negative effects. It is our voices that need to be heard. Tell them to stop.
Admittedly, Cadbury’s have been making steps in the right direction, and I commend them for this, although I still do not think it is enough.
Hershey Foods Corp., the largest chocolate-maker in the U.S.A. said it was “shocked” and “deeply concerned” that its products, such as Hershey’s Kisses, Nuggets, Hershey chocolate bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, were made with cocoa produced by child slaves. Clearly they were very shocked, and so very deeply concerned, because that was back in 2001. Eight years on and little change.
Along with others I’ve mentioned – like Mars and Nestle (and they are not alone) – they still blatantly, shamelessly give us their candy stained with the sweat and the tears and the blood of thousands of innocent children.
Think about that.
Really think about it. That is the price of chocolate.
Now, go and have a break, have a kit-kat; and as you snap that crisp chocolate biscuit in half – think of the nine year old boy slave who helped make it, having his feet chopped off for trying to run away.
Then bang the drum.
Break the silence instead.