My blogging assignment this week: write an open letter. This week I’ve been heated about The Hershey Company and their most recent bogus moves, so I chose to focus this assignment on them. Bear with me, this isn’t my usual area of expertise. Here goes nothin’.
Dear Hershey Company: It’s over. And it’s not me, it’s you.
The Hershey Company,
Today, we’re officially over. It’s true we’ve been on-again, off-again for years now, but I’m breaking up with you for real this time. I gave up Hershey Bars in my s’mores years ago, thanks to my introduction to Cadbury Dairy Milk on a visit to my sister in Vienna, Austria. However, after the recent announcement of your scandalous lawsuit, I’m upping the ante. I’ve purchased my last package of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. I will seek out an alternative candy to replace my Rolo pretzel bite recipe as my go-to Potluck dessert. There will be no more Reece’s Pieces purchased at the movie theater to add the sweet to my salty popcorn. We’re done.
You, the corporate king of candy, have decided it would be in your best interest to prevent your oversees competitors at British Cadbury from distributing their products here in the United States. You sued, and we all got the news that you won earlier this week. Your excuse was that the product packaging was too confusing to consumers. I can’t help but be offended. Rebecca Orchant in her post on the HuffPost Blog explains it perfectly: “That’s right, they are actually saying out loud to our faces that they are protecting us from being too stupid to know which chocolates we are buying.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, The Hershey Company. But wait, hold the phone. While making claims of consumer confusion, you are actually counting on us to not know where the candy is coming from, because now YOU are going to be the producers of Cadbury candies, with your own inferior formula taking the place of the British Cadbury product. But these products will be branded as Cadbury. I see what you went and did there. How disgustingly deceitful, and such a double standard!
This lawsuit is a prime example of your desire to create a monopolistic stranglehold on this country’s chocolate candy supply. It hurts specialized American candy store owners by limiting their product variety and reducing their ability to compete with giant retailers. “I don’t know how we’ll survive,” says Nicky Perry, a chocolatier interviewed in the NY Times article After a Deal, British Chocolates Won’t Cross the Pond. Don’t think this means these little stores are going to bow down and cave in to selling your products instead. Not when they taste like the crap they do.
And then there’s all the other dirt about you, The Hershey Company. One doesn’t have to dig very far before uncovering a whole lot of question marks involving your potential child labor violations. Well, those do remain to be proven, since you’d been so swell at suppressing any and all information about your history of child labor and fair trade practices. Until the 2014 lawsuit forced you to open your records to your shareholders. Not to us, the public, the consumers, but at least to the people most closely invested in your company can have a look and help you figure out what best to bury for the biggest buck. Well played, my chocolate adversary. You win again.
Personally, I have a particular bone to pick with you because of what you have done to my favorite candy. Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai candies entered into my life on a Costco run, and my return trips there regularly involve at least one bag of them. Well, until two weeks ago, when upon opening the bag of deliciousness (our housemates all lovingly refer to them as “crackberries”), we discovered that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The “crackberries” didn’t squish the way they used to. They didn’t stick in my teeth the way they used to. They are almost chalky to taste compared to the juiciness of the before. And lo, right on the package, a new word glares out at us: FLAVORS. This candy used to be made with real fruit pieces. That was the appeal. That’s why I would pay more than $10.00 a bag for them. That’s what I used to justify them to myself when I ate way more than I should. Now they do not only taste weird, they’re made with even more artificial ingredients than before. A Google search led me to the reason why the “crackberries” have turned into “crapberries.” The reason, Hershey’s, is YOU. You bought out Brookside and ruined a perfectly wonderful product. You took out the real fruit and put in artificial flavoring and continue to market it at the obscene price it was offered for when it was actually worth it.
By writing this letter to you I’m not only declaring my own personal distaste for your abhorrent business practices, but also for your far inferior products. The most recent fight banning imported competition is in the process of blowing up in your face, as hundreds of thousands of consumers out there are learning more about your products than you ever wanted them to know. I hope it leads to more discerning chocolate lovers finding domestic producers with integrity and quality. And more trips to Europe to get a chance at the real Cadbury. Because we real chocolate lovers, thanks to the combination of your expensive legal team and dubious practices, won’t be able to get them here at home anymore.
So goodbye, Hershey’s. Don’t call me. And don’t even think about sending chocolate to apologize.