Slavery and Chocolate: Some Not-So-Sweet Truths

Blogging buddy Brendan is a warrior for social justice, and this afternoon I came across this post that cries out to be shared. I must admit that I was clueless about all of this until I read this post. I only wish I had seen it before I bought candy yesterday for the girls’ Easter baskets. Well, live and learn, yes? Thank you, Brendan, for shining a light on these abuses, for I think it likely that many are unaware, as was I.

Blind Injustice

Every Valentine’s Day, Easter, birthday, and Christmas, many of us in the United States like to give chocolate to friends and/or family. Most of us look forward to getting that sweet goodness during those times of year.

For better or for worse, I’m about to sour that sweetness because of some ugly truths about slavery and chocolate.

Namely, there is a good chance that the chocolate you eat was made by slaves. But not just any slaves. Child labor.

A variety of sources have widely reported on how the three major American chocolate manufacturers—Hershey, Nestlé, and Mars (the makers of M&Ms)—all produce chocolate made with child labor. It has been a persistent problem, and a problem that isn’t getting resolved quickly.

Fortune Magazine best describes this problem in an article they wrote about the issue:
“The major chocolate companies—from Mars to Nestlé to Hershey—are heavily reliant on these countries…

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21 thoughts on “Slavery and Chocolate: Some Not-So-Sweet Truths

  1. This is a most distressing post in more ways than one. My complicity in this morally reprehensible practice is only somewhat mitigated by my ignorance of it. Now I can no longer hide behind that, knowledge can not be denied. I admit to purchasing much in the way of chocolate treats for the Easter Baskets again this year, as has been my habit for over 48 years. I can take some small measure of comfort in knowing that the much loved by all gummy candies are not chocolate containing. Among my greatest joys has been continuing the annual tradition of filling each of my children’s original baskets that have aged with love. This has continued with Benjamin…and hopefully beyond when I become a pile of dust. I can only also be slightly redeemed by adding that as the years have passed the contents of the baskets now includes other things than chocolate candy. From toys and stuffed animals to candles, bags of special coffee and tea bags, perfume, and gift cards (to name a few) that are geared to each individual’s basket of bounty. I will also say that this will impact the choices for Halloween trick or treat goodies, though in truth I have unwittingly moved away from many of the chocolate types already. I must also admit that although I will feel guilty, I will indulge in my favorite Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs…and given this information, hope that I do not choke! One last thought, even I am astounded by how I can leap from the point of the post to where I have landed! Thank-you!

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    • I did not know either, Ellen. I suspect that most people are not aware, which is why I shared Brendan’s post, to spread the word. That is not to say we will never eat another Hershey bar of Reese’s cup, but we will be more aware. The reality is that many other chocolates are cost-prohibitive, so it limits the choices. Being severely diabetic, I eat very little chocolate, and usually only dark chocolate, but I do buy quite a bit, and especially around the holidays when I’m baking a lot.

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  2. Thanks for the thumbs up Jill. I try to be careful what I buy but it’s not always easy to tell, Cadbury’s isn’t Cadbury’s as I knew it and the recipe has changed, so you just don’t know what a trusted brand is anymore.
    Cwtch.

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    • I was floored when I read Brendan’s piece … had no idea! This should be publicized far and wide. You’re right, though … whether it’s chocolate, clothing, cosmetics or furniture, you don’t know anymore. Sigh.
      Cwtch

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        • I’m thinking that eventually … long-term … good typically wins out over evil and hate. BUT … things are a bit different this time in that we may not have time to wait for ‘eventually’ to happen at the rate we are destroying our earth, not to mention that there are enough nukes to destroy every living thing on earth if that hate and ignorance bubble over into an all-out war.

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          • If it were just leaders vs leaders huffing and puffing that would be one thing.
            The problem lies with ‘people’, too many ‘people’ believing there are ‘simple’ solutions.
            Take Brexit (please do). The political class are taking a lot of bricks for this, and yet they are only reflceting the divided view of the public, who seems to have ignored the fact they are part of the problem.

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            • What you say is so true, and the divisions seem to be getting so wide that I wonder if there is any way to build a bridge between them. And no, Roger, you can keep Brexit … we’ve got enough troubles with Trump. Perhaps we can give Brexit AND Trump so some unsuspecting small country … or better yet, send them both to another planet! Happy Easter, by the way!

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              • Both Brexit and trump are symptoms of nations in conflict with themselves.
                Both have historical elements. The UK, within living perception was a world power. This has past and our influence is due to our heritage. A substantial part of the population still yearn for this, but think we can be independent and powerful when the resources are no longer there for this. It is symptomatic of a nation in a gradual change from one status to another. Sadly ‘gradual’ has gone. We will decline, maybe cease to be a United Kingdom. Our day is passed, but we will not recognise it.
                The USA is a different case. She shot to power in a short space of time. Her populations are myriad. Sadly a group who would appear to be Celtic/Anglo-Saxon in heritage seem to think they have literally a God-given right to rule. This is a dangerous mix in a multi-cultural society (which incidentally is gun owning-lots of them). I have written much before on this them, so let us look at it another way. True the USA does have a power centre based around Washington DC; however it also has culture of indepenance within the states and the big cities (the latter sometimes reaching the status of ‘state-within-a-state’). If the perception by one group is that another group has ‘seized’ power at the Washington base, then history suggests the rise of high profile political ‘lords’ whose followings look to them rather than a president. Should 2020 re-elect this controversial and minority president, then you will see a growth of that movement and a move away from Washington, and the attempt by the supporters of the Washington faction to impose themselves…Seattle being an example of the sort of thing which could become common.
                Civic rather than Civil War.
                And they don’t realise where they are taking the USA

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                • Astute observations, Roger. Question: You say, “We will decline, maybe cease to be a United Kingdom.” What happens then? Do you see the UK being ‘taken over’ by another nation, or by the EU as a whole, or …??? You cannot just cease to exist, for 66 million people call the UK ‘home’.

                  As for the states and even cities becoming more relevant than the centralized power in Washington, I think we are already starting to see some of that as regards climate change … states and even cities imposing and upholding standards that Washington is trying to lower. Trump is attempting, in a couple of cases, to override the states rights, but hopefully the courts will tell him to ‘sit down and shut up’.

                  The one thing I see in both Brexit and Trump is defined by a single word: chaos. If I read a novel that told the story of these two situations, I would swear the author was on psychedelic drugs!

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                  • A quote from H L Mencken which you may have read several times already:
                    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
                    I shall say no more on that part of the subject.
                    As for us in the UK. The islands will stay and no one will ‘take us over’ despite what some of the hyserics on both wings of the debate blather about. Although financial domination by vibrant overseas economies is another matter.
                    Some folk might leave, maybe at most 1% (600,000) because there are not many places whole hosts can go.
                    Brexit though has cleaved a great divide. Whichever you sclice counts as about 50% each way. More to the point it has shown the Ulster tail still wags the dog, that Scotland trusts London less than ever, and Wales (don’t get me started on a land which received generous EU funding over the years and voted for Brexit thinking Westminster will give a @%*%)….meanwhile England has pockets of this and pockets of that. And as we know ‘A House Divided…’
                    Thus this congolmerate without a powerful industrial and mercahnt marine base is hardly suited to flourish.
                    Folk will stay. Folk will work for overseas employers. Govt will come and go while the poliitcal landscape sorts itself offf, and we will at best be a tourist atraction. Fourtunately we have a lot of forward thinking invotive people in arts, crafts and small businesses who will keep us aloft and eventually the leaders and troopers of the Brexit movement will age and pass on leaving younger and angry generation to pick up the pieces. But we will not be who we were. Our time is over. It was going to happen at some stage, we had our chances to build a bright new nation back in the 1950s & 60s, but we blew it.
                    History says so.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I had, believe it or not, never heard that quote by Mencken, but … ain’t it the truth!!!

                      Your assessment of the future of the UK saddens me … truly so as it brought tears … because many of my closest friends, yourself included, reside in the UK. I had, rather like an ostrich with its head buried in the sand, hoped that Brexit would just magically ‘work out for the best’, sort of like some people here think that the Trump “presidency” will do. Britain … once one of the most respected empires on earth … 😥 I think I feel sadder about this than about our own situation, for you guys have so much history, have survived through so much. The U.S. reminds me of a young, foolish teenager, but the UK is … the respected, staid adult in the room.

                      Some days … most days … I am glad to be at the end, rather than the beginning, of my life.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The UK is more like the elderly cussed uncle folk hope never turns up at the family gathering.
                      Don’t weep for us though Jill, it’s History’s passage, these things happen and so far we have been a site better off than some countries in their declines.
                      We had our time. We had our chance to re-build and re-invent. We blew it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • “These are the times that try peoples’ souls” (Up date of Thomas Paine 23rd Dec 1776)…..
                      But later on in the same work…
                      “By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue”
                      Let us therefore to our various fields and causes go. Resolve not to give up our views. We are not for the taking by these small folk of limited vision.

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                    • Good of you to change “men’s” to “people’s” … women weren’t worth much in the minds of men back in those days, were they? Yes, these are the times that try our souls, and I always thought I was a tough ol’ bird, but I’m finding out that I’m not. Or maybe I was, but I’m tired. However, I will try to rally for a bit longer and “keep on keepin’ on” in hopes that somewhere, someone who needs to hear, is listening. 🥀

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