The Week in Cocoa and Chocolate - Aug 17-23 2019

A roundup of stories about cocoa and chocolate that crossed my feeds in the past week.

Disclaimers: 1) The day represents when the story showed up in one of my feeds, not when the story was originally published. 2) I may or may not have done any fact-checking or additional research, so you are on notice. 3) All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday: The 10th Dallas Chocolate Festival Is Coming

In less than a month [just a couple of weeks, actually, Friday-Sunday, September 7-9], the Dallas Chocolate Festival will descend on downtown’s Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.) building in all its chocolate-fountain heady, bean-to-bar nerdy, Madagascar single-origin-loving glory.

Hot Take:

I was an invited speaker and guest at the first two Dallas Chocolate Festivals and, because of conflicts for the dates in intervening years, have not been back.

I am going to be there for the 10th incarnation and will be speaking/presenting three times. The festival has grown in scope and participation in the intervening years and I am really looking forward to returning.

On Saturday I will be doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) and on Sunday I will be doing an AMA session and make a presentation about the work I am doing down in Mexico along with a tasting of four chocolates made for the project.

Read all about this cocoa-loco bonanza, including how to buy tickets.

Sunday: It may be a Pure Lime, but it’s all about the CHOCOLATE

Sunday was a slow news day as it turned out and I have to admit that this headline was the most interesting of the day. What does Pure Lime have to do with being all about the Chocolate? The first paragraph of the article served only to intrigue me more: “Pure Lime has been around as long as people have been rubbing chocolate onto their bodies at Notting Hill Carnival. As the original chocolate band, they’ve been doing their thing for quite a while now ...”

Pure Lime, is, apparently, the 1st Chocolate Jouvert (Dutty) Mas Band on the streets of London, originally turning out for the Notting Hill Carnival back in 1996. Is this beginning to make any more sense, yet?

Hot Take:

Okay, so, Pure Lime is a Soca band in the UK channeling Carnival in Trinidad.

At some point along the way, Pure Lime decided to step it up a notch by adding a twist: CHOCOLATE - Sweet, Delicious & Plentiful. How plentiful? Buckets upon buckets are filled with liquid Chocolate (gluten, diary [sic], vegan & nut free). Hopefully made from Trinidadian cocoa beans.

Is a “Diary-free” chocolate a chocolate with no expressed hopes and dreams, no longings, no secret crushes? If so, it’s not a chocolate I would want to eat.

Read the full article at SocaNews. I wanted this entry to be about an article at The Telegraph, “A tour of Britain's finest chocolate makers uncovers beautiful bars from all corners of the country”, but it’s behind a paywall. The photo headlining the article is of colleague and friend Duffy Sheardown of Duffy’s Chocolate.

Monday: Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop selling chocolate-covered pickle stuffed Oreos

From the article, “Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop [which is headquartered in Chillicothe, OH because of course it would be] is getting mixed reactions over its newest dessert.” Bill Kelly [Grandpa Joe’s owner] announced on Facebook that they are now selling chocolate-covered pickle-stuffed Oreos.”

Hot Take:

Mixed reactions? WTF? I should say so.

I once ate a chocolate-covered dill pickle I bought with my very own money at a chocolate festival in New Jersey just so I can say I tried one. Once. There may be a way to do this ... tastefully? ... but I have not been able to figure it out. And I have given up trying. (TBH, I never even tried all that hard.)

Apparently there is a pickle festival in Cleveland on Saturday August 24th, so perhaps this is not a coincidence but a bald play on the part of Chillicothe to grab some publicity and business at Cleveland’s expense for those people who don’t want to make the roughly 400-mile round trip.

There are photos of the concoction. It looks to be a single-stuffed Oreo where the cookie gets twisted off one side, a dill pickle slice gets inserted, the cookie is put back in place, and the whole thing gets covered in milk chocolate. From the photo I would not call it stuffed. Yeah, there is a pickle at the center of this whatever it is, but I would not call it stuffed. Quite restrained, actually.

Quite frankly, I don’t care enough to order one online and have it shipped to find out. And it’s not because I am not intrigued, it’s because despite the fact there is a Grandpa Joe’s in Cuyahoga Falls (comfortably in the Cleveland metro area), they are apparently not a vendor at the festival. So I call party-pooper on Bill Kelly and Grandpa Joe’s for not supporting the festival and so I am not linking to Grandpa Joe’s directly.

A photo of Grandpa Joe’s chocolate-covered pickle-stuffed Oreo
Photo courtesy of Grandpa Joe’sCityBeat.com (Ohio)

Read about the Cleveland Pickle Festival’s beneficiaries, sponsors, and actual vendors. If you’re in the Cleveland area and love pickles then head on down and support the Greater Cleveland Volunteers who have organized the whole shebang.

Tuesday: Davao cacao industry exploring new non-chocolate products

“There is so much potential with cacao beyond chocolate … aside from snacks like cacao granola and tablea for making chocolate drink, some have been using cacao husks to make tea, and the leaves for notebooks, paper, and lamps. ... [And] while the industry works towards expanding the area planted to cacao, there should also be a parallel initiative to grow the value-adding side.

Hot Take:

I am in complete agreement with the statement that there is a great deal of potential in cacao beyond chocolate.

I have seen books made with paper incorporating leaves from cacao trees and also used to make packaging for chocolates. However, there is a failure of imagination on display here.

However, I am generallly not a fan of removing pods or leaves from farms without a plan to replace the nutrients they represent. In many parts of the world the only fertilizer used on cacao farms comes from decomposing leaves and pods left in place after being harvested and opened. If those are removed without replacement, the soil in the farms is depleted faster than it would be if the leaves, pods, and wood (from pruming) was left in the farm.

While I do like tea made from shells on occasion, it does need to be tested for contamination before being used as contaminants such as heavy metals are concentrated in the shell.

Read the full article on Business World.

Wednesday: Long Island mom gets patent for edible chocolate candles

After a decade-long effort, LI mom Tara Wright was recently awarded a patent for Yum-Wick chocolate candles – candles that are completely edible – including the wick. I have been working hard to restrain myself from making any John Wick references.

Hot Take:

The candles apparently can be made with Belgian chocolate (Yay?) – but I am confident the patent does not actually specify they be made with chocolate from Belgium. Or made by a Belgian company. Maybe using “Belgian” chocolate is the preferred embodiment? (I do love me some patent-speak, I do.)

The article also does not indicate if they are available in dark, milk, or white (or see Friday’s article, blended) chocolate varieties. But they are kosher.

Read the full article at CandyIndustry.

Thursday: How can eating chocolate protect birds?

From the article, “A driver of deforestation, chocolate may be even more of a guilty pleasure than you thought. But in Indonesia, one cocoa collective is protecting forests while lifting local people out of poverty. [...] Concerned by this encroachment, in 2015 Burung Indonesia (BirdLife Partner) started researching new ways for villagers to make a living without harming the forest. Cocoa wasn’t the only option on the table, but in the end, it turned out to be the best solution – as long as it was farmed in a different way from before. The following year Burung Indonesia, working hand in hand with BirdLife Asia and the Indonesian Government, invited six villages (including Makarti Jaya) to take part in a new agroforestry scheme.

Workers in Burung, Indonesia sorting dried cocoa
From the article.©Burung Indonesia

Hot Take:

To riff off the name of a Seth Myers’ segment, This is just the kind of story we need right now.

From the article, "This breakthrough has increased yields and greatly reduced the need for artificial pesticides. In return for these benefits, farmers must agree to forego hunting, logging and the excessive use of agricultural chemicals – and, above all, never expand their land. Thankfully, they no longer need to. Not only are they selling more cocoa, but they are also getting double the price for their beans. In Makarti Jaya, the quality is so high that it has attracted the attention of Fossa Chocolate – a boutique chocolatier that crafts single-source chocolate from scratch.”

Read the full article at BirdLife International.

Friday: Cadbury combines four types of chocolate to create 'Unity Bar' celebrating diversity in India

In honor of India’s Independence Day, the U.K.-based Cadbury chocolate (a Mondelez company) created a “Unity Bar” by combining four types of chocolate into a single bar meant to celebrate the country’s diversity.

One ad reads, “We are all different. You, me, we, us, humanity — a rainbow of brown, a giant bouquet of mother tongues, a churning confluence of cultures,

Hot Take:

There is just so much wrong with the notion of a brown rainbow. Not RoyGBiv but BbbBbBb (pronounce that; moving a finger up and down across your lips as you say it helps). If they’d used Ruby as the ‘fourth type’ of chocolate at least there would have been some diversity of color.

And WTF is a blended chocolate, anyway? My guess is that it is a dark-milk. Maybe that’s Cadbury’s point here? That the fourth type of chocolate is perhaps more legitimately a blend of dark and milk chocolate and not “pink” chocolate?

Read the full article at The Hill and another take at Delish.

More Stories to Ponder

A rule to separate blocks of text in an article

And that’s it for this week, folks – Chocolate News that’s fit to make you think. Maybe. Please comment below and let me know about any interesting news you think I may have missed.

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