Contrary to what you might think, chocolate in general contains very little caffeine; no matter how much you eat – whatever other consequences might be – no jitters will keep you from falling asleep. But eat just one piece (but not square; more about it later) of “Tony’s Chocolonely” and you will stay woke forever.
Welcome to the world’s most SJW chocolate – more woke than the annual non-competitive-no-score volleyball match between your local chapters of Black Lives Matter and Queers for Palestine. I got introduced to it by my Tinder date in Amsterdam (but of course!), and I knew the instant I tasted it (the chocolate, not the date, you filthy minded people) while listening to “Tony’s” story that I had to get it myself and write about it.
Let me preface the below by saying that while I may poke a bit of fun at Tony, his heart is in the right place. No one wants their food or their clothes produced in the developing world in Dickensian conditions. But as we decry the Third World sweatshops let us also be realistic enough to know that the alternative to (by our standards) harsh working conditions often is not the much better conditions but no work at all (a simple principle of economics akin to the minimum wage).
But back to Tony. Let Wikipedia set the scene:
In 2002, investigative reporter Teun van de Keuken of the Dutch television show Keuringsdienst van Waarde found that none of the chocolate manufacturers that had signed the Harkin–Engel Protocol was upholding the agreements made in 2001 (producing ‘slave-free’ chocolate from 2005 on), he decided to take matters into his own hand by recording himself eating 17 bars of chocolate and subsequently taking himself to court for “knowingly purchasing an illegally manufactured product”. To make a case against himself, he convinced four former cocoa plantation child slaves from Ivory Coast to testify against him. By 2007, the Dutch attorney general had the case dismissed for being outside their jurisdiction.
When none of the companies he contacted showed any interest in producing chocolate bars made differently, he started manufacturing his own chocolate, and in November introduced a milk chocolate bar made entirely from ‘slave-free’ cocoa.
Tony’s chocolate crusade is illustrated on the back of every chocolate wrapper:
For those of you who don’t speak Dutch (and above is all Dutch to me), here is a handy translation:
What, I ask, could be more delightful than a Dutch journalist who sues himself for being the consumer cog in the slavery-powered multinational chocolate machine, only to have the case dismissed because the government doesn’t feel like prosecuting millions of other chocolate fiends? A man who is so hardcore that he dismisses “fair trade” accreditations as insufficient. A man who named his own product “Chocolonely”, “because he felt like he was the only guy in the chocolate industry that cared about eradicating slavery from the industry.” A man who chose to ditch the usual square division of a chocolate bar because “it’s strange for a chocolate bar to have equal pieces while the industry is still so unfairly divided”. You don’t believe me?
“How many pieces did you have, you pig?” “Just one!” But there is more:
The die-hard Tony’s Chocolonely fans have already discovered that each chocolate bar is a mini-map of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. You’ve got a line representing the equator and we’ve managed to squeeze in (from left to right) Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin, Nigeria and a piece of Cameroon.
“Eating chocolate again?” “No, I’m just brushing up on my African geography.” “You just ate Togo, you neo-imperialist.” “Ooops.”
As Tony says, on top of the fair trade premium, he pays an extra 25 per cent more to farmers required to pull them out of poverty. And this is all fine, but every bar of Chocolonely costs 3 Euro, which is more than an average slave-made chocolate bar available in a shop. All the premiums are passed to the consumer, who is willing to spend more to make the world a better place and no doubt feel better about themselves. This is all basic economics and a useful reminder that you can be all the change you want to see in the world as long as you – and not somebody else – are willing to pay for it. Tony’s fans put their money where their chocolate is, which is why I have more respect for social entrepreneurs like van de Keuken than for the legions of SJWs who expect “the government to do something about it” (i.e. the taxpayers to pay for whatever cause they want).
And, of course, Chocolonely is also as environmentally-friendly as possible:
We didn’t just look at the energy bills of our chocolate factory but also at how much water which is necessary to grow cocoa and sugar. We calculated how much food the cows eat for our milk powder. And yes, even the greenhouse gas of a healthy cow patty is included. For each bar we don’t know exactly where the powdered milk and sugar comes from so we’ve used averages. For the CO2 footprint, we’ve used the foodprint of Dutch milk powder and German sugar. The bulk of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the production of milk powder, more than 70%! 8% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the production of the bar itself and the packaging. The latter is less than half of what we expected.
In 2012 we changed all our wrapping to uncoated FSC-recycled paper. Uncoated paper isn’t treated with unnecessary porcelain or chalk, and “FSC-recycled” means the paper is made out of recycled materials. Another positive of “FSC-approved” is that the non-recycled materials in the packaging come from responsibly managed forests. As for the aluminium foil hugging our chocolate, it’s mainly made of recycled materials as well—and it’s thin for a reason. Less is more in recycling.
But fear not, Tony has not yet quite reached the peak of wokeness; as he himself acknowledges, his chocolate is not organic (because he think prioritising the slavery issue is more important) and has yet not been certified as GMO-free (because it’s not common in Europe – even if his ingredients are all GMO-free, cross his heart). But one day, soon hopefully, we will all be able to enjoy the world’s first slavery-free, GMO-free, carbon neutral, fair trade, organic, gluten-free and vegan* chocolate. For the virtue gluttons this day can’t come soon enough.
(* but only the dark chocolate, which does not contain any dairy products)