Tag Archives | Chocolate

The Rise of Big Chocolate

“The Rise of Big Chocolate” certainly sounds like a lascivious porno movie, but if there is any movie that comes to mind in this article, it’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a wonderful and memorable family movie with catchy songs coating a rather bitter and dark enterprise involving vulture legal contracts, unsafe working conditions (why, oh why, is there never a barrier around the chocolate river?), worker exploitation, and even corporate espionage (remember Slugsworth), a movie that unfortunately mirrors the present due to monopolization of confectionery companies by Cargill and Barry Callebaut.

VIA Foreign Policy

Small and mid-size confectioners have traditionally been able to request specific blends and recipe mixtures from cocoa processors. But as the number of sellers has thinned, chocolatiers struggle to procure these specialties. “When it comes to Belgian chocolate, there is not that much variety anymore,” says Van Riet. He explains that his customers “are very nervous” as the consolidation in the industry continues.

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The Dark Future Of Chocolate

Fotg cocoa d055 cacao podsMaryam Henein, co-director of the colony collapse documentary The Vanishing of the Bees, now investigates some worrying developments that–gasp–threaten chocolate as we know and love it, at  Honey Colony:

Back in the Mayan age, around 1100 BCE, around the Upper Amazon River Basin, cacao was recognized as a “super” food, traded as a precious currency with a value on par with gold and jewels. By the 17th century, the Spanish added sugar (cane) to sweeten it, and the rest is history. As other European countries clamored to get in on the action and started exporting cacao trees to their colonies, Africa soon became the world’s most prominent grower of cacao, even though it’s not native to that continent.

The Cacao Genome
Today, cacao has devolved into a byproduct of itself. Instead of being viewed as the sacred fruit that it is, with all its nutritional benefits, cacao is largely seen as a candy bar, a mid-day fix, loaded with sugar, milk, and other substandard ingredients.

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New Oil Spill Dispersant Made from Ingredients in Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Ice Cream

Picture: Evan-Amos (PD)

Not to say they’re natural ingredients.  Via ScienceDaily:

With concerns about the possible health and environmental effects of oil dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon disaster still fresh in mind, scientists now described a new dispersant made from edible ingredients that both breaks up oil slicks and keeps oil from sticking to the feathers of birds.

“Each of the ingredients in our dispersant is used in common food products like peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream,” said Lisa K. Kemp, Ph.D. She reported on the dispersant at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, being held in Philadelphia the week of August 19.

“Other scientists are working on new oil dispersants and absorbents, but nothing that’s quite like ours. It not only breaks up oil but prevents the deposition of oil on birds and other objects, like the ingredients in laundry detergent keep grease from redepositing on clothing in the rinse cycle.

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Tricked Foreign Students Stage Walkout Of Hershey’s Chocolate Factory

hersheyRemember that Simpsons episode in which Bart is conned into becoming a slave on a French grape farm through an “exchange student” program? The New York Times reports:

Hundreds of foreign students, waving their fists and shouting defiantly in many languages, walked off their jobs on Wednesday at a plant here that packs Hershey’s chocolates, saying a summer program that was supposed to be a cultural exchange had instead turned them into underpaid labor.

The students, from countries including China, Nigeria, Romania and Ukraine, came to the United States through a long-established State Department summer visa program that allows them to work for two months and then travel. They said they were expecting to practice their English, make some money and learn what life is like in the United States.

In a way, they did. About 400 foreign students were put to work lifting heavy boxes and packing Reese’s candies, Kit-Kats and Almond Joys on a fast-moving production line, many of them on a night shift.

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Band Presses Vinyl Record On Chocolate

1The glitch-y electro tunes by Scotland’s Found seem perfectly fine, but the real treat is their groundbreaking edible, playable vinyl pressing. Ah, art meant to be consumed with all five senses — is this the future of physical product for the music industry? Via DesignTAXI:

This record can easily go from turntable to coffee table. Scottish band Found, looking for an inventive new way to release a new single, baked up a sugary idea: to press the 7” record on chocolate.

The band enlisted the help of a friend, baker Ben Milne who, after several failed attempts, managed to successfully created the Willy Wonka-like treat; the entire record, including the paper label, is edible. While not audiophile quality by any stretch, the chocolate disc plays a decent version of the band’s “Anti-Climb Paint” single.

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Adding Air to Chocolate Bars to Increase Profits

Willy WonkaWhat would Willy Wonka think? Tom Mulier reports in Bloomberg:

The recipe for chocolate bars is fairly standard: cocoa, cocoa butter or other oils, sweeteners, and perhaps some nuts or a fruity filling. Now, with prices for cocoa, sugar, and other commodities soaring, candy makers are finding a simple ingredient — air — can help pump up profits.

Nestlé is making a big push for its aerated chocolate brand, Aero, Barry Callebaut is adding more air to fillings, and Cadbury last year launched a new version of its aerated Wispa bars after reintroducing the brand in 2007.

In the past four years, cocoa prices have more than doubled amid poor harvests and growing demand. On Feb. 22, cocoa hit $3,608 a metric ton, a level it hadn’t reached in three decades. The price of sugar, the additive candy makers have often looked to when cocoa prices soar, is also on the rise as bad weather has damaged crops in Brazil.

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The Coming Chocolate Shortage

6c66ce92540fc24397b4a1d51cc0_grandeWould smiles still exist in a world without chocolate? We may find out. Global chocolate consumption is far outpacing cocoa production, portending an ominous future in which chocolate prices rise drastically, and cheap chocolate products as we know them become a relic of the past. The Independent brings the gloom-and-doom:

John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, has forecast that shortages in bulk production in Africa will have a devastating effect: “In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.”

The reason for this unimaginable shortage – which has been presaged by the doubling of cocoa prices in six years to an all-time high over the past three decades – is simple.

Farmers in the countries that produce the bulk of cocoa bought by the multinationals who control the market have found the crop a bitter harvest.

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Record Set For World’s Largest Chocolate Bar

The Grand Candy factory found a delicious way to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. The largest chocolate bar is to be chopped up and eaten in Armenia on October 16. From Huffington Post:

Anyone looking for huge amounts of free chocolate should book a flight to Armenia’s capital next month. That’s when the world’s largest chocolate bar will be up for grabs in Yerevan’s main square. The Guinness Book of World Records certified the 9,702-pound (4,410-kilogram) chocolate bar at a ceremony Saturday.

It was made by Grand Candy factory and contains all natural ingredients, including 70 percent cocoa mass. The chocolate bar is 224 inches (560 centimeters) long, 110 inches (275 centimeters) wide and 10 inches (25 centimeters) thick.

The factory owner, Karen Vardanyan, said that the chocolate bar was produced to mark the 10th anniversary of the company. He said it will be divided up and handed out Oct. 16.

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Eating Chocolate Leads To Depression

Photo: André Karwath (CC)

Photo: André Karwath (CC)

Call me strange, and many have, but I’ve never liked chocolate. I’ve never been seriously depressed, either. Now it appears there may be a link between the two, reported here by the BBC:

People who regularly eat chocolate are more depressive, experts have found. Research in Archives of Internal Medicine shows those who eat at least a bar every week are more glum than those who only eat chocolate now and again.

Many believe chocolate has the power to lift mood, and the US team say this may be true, although scientific proof for this is lacking. But they say they cannot rule out that chocolate may be a cause rather than the cure for being depressed.

In the study, which included nearly 1,000 adults, the more chocolate the men and women consumed the lower their mood. Those who ate the most – more than six regular 28g size bars a month – scored the highest on depression, using a recognised scale.

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How Sugar Made Tycoons Out Of A Religious Sect

Quaker StarMultinational junk-food company Kraft’s takeover of Britain’s mass-market chocolatier Cadbury has stimulated all sorts of criticism, especially from xenophobic newspapers like the Daily Mail, with its Keep Cadbury British campaign. Now the British media are looking at Cadbury’s religious roots, asking how sugar made tycoons out of a religious sect. Just one of several similar reports, from the BBC:

Cadbury, which has been sold to US firm Kraft, is one of several great British firms founded by Quakers. But how did they gain such a stranglehold on the chocolate industry and why were they so successful in business?

For a religious sect more interested in championing social reform than industry, the Quakers have established an impressive roll call of household business names.

Barclays and Lloyds banks, Clarks shoes, Bryant & May matches and the biscuit firms Huntley & Palmers and Carrs are just a few of the companies founded by members of the pacifist group.

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