All posts by M.C. Brogan (Meagz)

I am an ardent seeker of adventure. I am a voracious reader. I've a deep-rooted love for all things travel. I am a nerd. I like to play at a little bit of everything, but mostly photography, writing, and learning. My favorite things are the ocean, libraries, underdogs, stories, animals, and experiences. Also ice cream. And Doctor Who. And Post-It notes. Dancing, herb gardening, the milky way and the rest of the night sky. I've been an innkeeper, a dolphin trainer, a barista, a pretend flight attendant, a property manager and a keynote speaker. It's fair to say I'm either a great juxtaposition or a hot mess. I really like pirates. Sometimes I imagine I am cool by association. I married my best friend in the ruins of a historic pirate fort. He is the cool one. I seek to explore the world and write with a true passion for adventure crafting, and often, adventure surviving.

A recent adventures update

The time has come to return to Honolulu on the final leg of our most recent epic travel adventure.

For the past three weeks, James and I have had the most incredible series of adventures with some of the best travel companions and friends we could wish for. Our trip kicked off with a one day adventure in NYC with one of my earliest and best childhood friends, Matthew. We explored the #highline and reveled in the gorgeous summer weather. Next stop was London, where we were welcomed to stay at the lovely flat of our favorite British blogger and proverbial “hostess with the mostest” Carla (check out her cool blog Zoubisou). After a truly amazing five day stay in the UK (which will be recapped in an upcoming post), we were off again to Bergen, Norway to rendezvous with our intrepid traveling companions Emily and Pat and received the warmest of welcomes by our favorite Norwegian, Mari. Not only did she open her home to the four of us, but she took on the roles of tour guide, translator, navigator and entertainer! (In traditional Norweigan national attire no less- but that’s a story for another day.) Bergen is a beautiful city and I look forward to sharing our adventures there after I have a chance to process some photos at home to illustrate the stories.

After Bergen, our party of four headed north, flying first to Bødo and then boarding the Hurtigruten MS Løfoten to the magical islands of Løfoten, north of the arctic circle. The awesomeness of our experiences here under the midnight sun are hard to put into words, so I will wait to share more details when the photos can lend some visual punch to my experiences of awe and joy.

After what seemed like the blink of an eye, we were all back in Oslo for our final night before parting ways. James, Pat, Emily and I stayed together sharing laughter, wine and the History Channel’s #vikings until the last possible minute (James and I grabbed the last train of the night from Oslo back to our airport hotel).

A flight from Oslo to Newark and a long overnight layover allowed for one more night with Matthew and his wonderful husband Bobby. We managed a nap and got to sit in on a Mathieu Blue rehearsal for an upcoming performance of his on Monday! It was surreal and wonderful to be a part of the behind-the-scenes with an awesome band and creative team as they launch my best friend’s lifelong dream of performing his original songs (and some rocking covers too) live in New York City. The night wasn’t complete until we grabbed our NYC slices to go and hopped in a cab back to Harlem.

Fast forward to the current moment, and James and I are side by side aboard our #united flight back to Honolulu. I reflect on the past few weeks with a heart full of friends and adventures and can’t wipe the grin off my face. What a trip it’s been. The sharing has just begun my friends, there are stories and memories galore to explore. But first, two more episodes of Vikings, a blanket and a nap are necessary to top it all off.

#summerinnorway was #epic

-Meagz

Atop Reinebringen
Atop Reinebringen Photo credit: James Brogan
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The Alchemist

We made the list! 17 Hawaiian Instagrammers Show Us Why Hawaii Is The Most Vibrant Place On Earth by Kate Siobhan Mulligan at the Matador Network.

17 Hawaiian Instagrammers Show Us Why Hawaii Is The Most Vibrant Place On Earth by Kate Siobhan Mulligan. Shutter Force Photography was selected as one of the 17 by the Matador Network! Check us out and be sure to follow our photos on Instagram @shutterforcephoto.

Hot springs, long drives and surreal places in wild, wild Wyoming

Thermopolis.

Sounds like a made up place, right? Some odd mishmash of science and Greek, with a dash of fantasy. Then you find out it exists (and it’s a tiny town in Wyoming) and it sounds even more strange and unbelievable.

My husband James was born and raised in Wyoming, but I met him in Hawai’i and most people would lose a bet to guess his origins. That’s likely because there are a lot of people (and places!) in Wyoming that regularly defy the stereotypical Wyomingite. Thermopolis is one of these places.

Everytime I visit I am surprised and delighted by the uniqueness of Wyoming; a place where the west is still pretty wild, just not always in the way you think it is.

James and his family have been telling me stories of their childhood trips to “Thermop” since I first met him/them nearly ten years ago. I didn’t realize at the time they were actually telling me about a town called Thermopolis (I thought for a long time it was a theme park, like Wyoming’s version of Six Flags). So on a recent visit to the Equality State, we take a short drive to make the introduction. Just a mere 2.5 hours from Casper (a “short” drive for Wyoming natives- the state is HUGE), the trip to Thermopolis is through a whole lot of… open space. There are small little townships scattered through the plains (some with populations of less than 50 people), and antelope. And cows. And fences. And tons and tons of sky. As a New Hampshire native, I think all of it’s brilliant. James yawns.

Then we drive into the Wind River Canyon (the yawning stops immediately) and we are surrounded by towering canyon walls, some as high as 2,500 feet high, containing rock formations dating all the way to the precambrian era. That’s almost 3 million years ago. Yeah, for real. The Burlington railway snakes along the river and we scan every ledge for a sighting of the many Bighorn sheep that make these ancient cliffs their home.

Wind River Canyon. Photo by M.C.Brogan, Shutter Force Photography
Wind River Canyon. Photo by M.C.Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015

After exiting the canyon we emerge shortly into the town of Thermopolis, the home of the world’s largest mineral hot springs and Wyoming’s first state park.

We were able to make a reservation at a renovated historical building (now operated by Best Western) located right within the park. Perfect. We check in and make our way over to the Star Plunge, one of three recreational establishments that utilize the hot spring mineral water to fill their pools, water slides and vapor room. I don’t know if a water slide will ever appeal to me more than one with 90-100 degree water flowing inside it. There’s a faint smell of sulfur in the air (mineral hot springs, remember?) but I was prepared for it, and to be honest, it smells a heck of a lot better than Yellowstone. I’ve got a sensitive nose and was pretty worried that I wouldn’t handle the smell well, but it never took away from my good time splashing around all the pools, hot tubs and steam room and before we leave I no longer even notice it.

Thermopolis Hot Springs. Photo by M.C.Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015
Thermopolis Hot Springs. Photo by M.C.Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015

The late afternoon is spent driving around the plains within the park, where herds of buffalo and deer roam about. We eat an early dinner at Las Fuentes Mexican Food and order the local favorite, a breaded chicken breast with aioli corn and raspberry chipotle sauce, topped off with a massive (real fruit) blackberry margarita. I was thrilled.. After dinner, the calories need some walking off, so we drive back to the park, bringing our cameras down past the Smoking Waters.

Smoking Waters, Thermopolis, WY. Photo by M.C.Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015
Smoking Waters, Thermopolis, WY. Photo by M.C.Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015

We wander across the “swinging bridge” for some awesome views of the mineral springs waterfall melting down into the Big Horn River as the sun sets. After the stars came out, we go night shooting and have fun (except for the little incident that involves me attempting to sneak up on a deer and instead stepping into a hole in the dark and tumbling awkwardly down a hill onto the pavement, the fall punctuated by curses. Oops.)

Frozen Hot Springs. Photo by M.C.Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015
Frozen Hot Springs. Photo by M.C.Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015

The morning of our departure we successfully find the bison in the park (check!) and then make for the rock shop as we headed out of town. Ava’s Silver and Rock Shop is not to be missed. Even if you are just driving through on your way to/from Yellowstone, make a pit stop here to view some amazing gems and learn more about geology in 40 minutes than you might in half a college semester. Discover petrified wood from the ashes of the last Yellowstone explosion, geodes that glow under blacklight and even find fossils of dinosaur bone marrow. Ava designs beautiful jewelry and Eddy has been a geologist for over 30 years. He was even part of the team in the early 90s that discovered over 35 dinosaur skeletons in the region, many of whom are found in the Wyoming Dinosaur Center right in Thermopolis. You won’t want to leave!

Thermopolis meets the Big Horn River. Photo by James Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015
Thermopolis meets the Big Horn River. Photo by James Brogan, Shutter Force Photography 2015

When I go back to “Thermop”, I will be sure to return to the mineral baths, sign up for a whitewater raft through the Wind River Canyon and maybe even do a day of digging for Dinosaurs. It’s a small, unusual and wonderful place that totally validates its strange name: Thermopolis, Wyoming. Go visit! -Meagz

Quote for Today

I’ve been homesick for countries I’ve never been, and longed to be where I couldn’t be.

-John Cheever

Happy 1st Birthday, Shutter Force Photography

This February marks an exciting month for Shutter Force Photography. It’s our birthday! James and I started dabbling with the idea of starting a travel and adventure photography company back in 2013, but officially launched our website in February 2014.

www.shutterforcephotography.com

We can hardly believe a year’s gone by already. This first year has been all about developing our skills and style (as well as the constant work on confidence). We changed our weekend priorities, setting our alarm clocks pre-dawn to go chase the light around our home island of O’ahu. We plan our activities around sunsets and we have been exploring our backyard like never before. There’s few things more exciting than discovering new locations to shoot that are only a few minutes from your bed! (Hawai’i never ceases to deliver great subject matter! We are incredibly lucky to call it home.)

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A Year to Learn & Grow

James traveled to the Big Island in October to learn and shoot with landscape photography magnates Colby Brown and Jay and Varina Patel. While his talent as a landscape artist truly emerged after this workshop, what excites me most is his passion for the craft. He has really taken to post-processing, and he produces work that is very distinctly “James Brogan.” He’s really coming into his own as a photographer and it’s evident in everything from how he sets up to shoot something at a location, to his composition, to his post-processing and then finally, in how he shares it. Speaking of sharing, James has really hit his stride with marketing on Google+. For the first year on G+, sharing rather intermittently, James managed to accumulate just about 1 million views on his profile, and averaged approx. 50-75 likes per post. Then, in January, something magical happened. With one photo, his cool shot of the beach dunes on the Oregon coastline (see below), he managed to pull in over 2,500 “likes” and –get this- saw his profile count jump to FOUR MILLION in THREE DAYS.

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Needless to say, we were both freaking out. Since then, he has been stream-rolling along and, as of my earlier check today, his Google+ page has been viewed 14,049,528 times.

Wowzers.

It’s been a real delight to grow into photographers together over this past year. We love shooting together, although by now we’ve figured out that we can’t shoot the same subjects anymore. This means we go get coffee together before the sun comes up, we drive to a location together, and then we don’t see much of one another until after the dawn light is zapped and then we come back together to share LCD screens. James is totally a “big picture man.” Landscape shots, often the wider the better. I’m finding my favorite things to shoot are detail, or people, and most definitely animals. However, we do both have a similar obsession with shooting the milky way. We like to watch photography tutorials together. We share inspirational photos with one another daily.

On To 2015

This next year will be a new adventure for us, as we seek to turn our goals toward production, publication and paying gigs. We’re going to be stepping out of our comfort zones and putting ourselves out there like never before. Oh, and we’ll be doing a LOT more shooting. And traveling. Our next location lined up in Colorado in a few weeks for a totally awesome wedding, and we have our sights set on shooting in Norway and London later this year. We’ve still never been to Molokai or Lanai and the Napali coastline hike is still on the bucket list. So here’s to our second year at Shutter Force, and thanks for all the support for our first!

Thank You

Thank you to JeIMG_0345.JPGssica Neubert for her creation of our epic new logo that we are so excited about. She is such a natural talent, and knew exactly what we were looking for!

Thanks to SmugMug for hosting our site for the first year (and kicking off our second), as well as helping us celebrate our first birthday! Thanks for making our photos look gorgeous!IMG_0339.JPG

We also want to thank Pat Corlin Photography, Colby Brown & Jay and Varina Patel for all their inspiration and guidance. Love also to the Corlins, the Brogans and the Haughs for their support and putting up with us and our insatiable shooting.

I’ll be posting a gallery shortly here on Meagzpeditions of our 20 favorite shots from the firstear of Shutter Force. We hope you enjoy. Aloha!

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The 6 Most Uniquely Annoying Airplane Passengers & How to Survive Them

On a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, one of Kimmel’s guests took on role-playing the results of an Expedia poll describing the most annoying airplane passengers you might encounter when traveling. The guest actor was none other than the incomparable Sir Patrick Stewart and the sketch was very entertaining. Kimmel and Stewart shared the caustic characters of Chatty Charlie, Stinky Snacker, Seat Climber, Seat Kicker and Landing Clapper as the most annoying. This sketch got me thinking. If I were to compose my own list of annoying personalities, who would make the cut? This post features my breakdown of several special characters unfortunately encountered during my many hours spent airborne. I encourage you to check out the video here to watch Sir Patrick expertly nail the five listed above, and do read on for my particular brand of annoying passenger behavior.

Meagz’ Six Most Maddening

1. The Window Shade Blinder

We’re up in the air and I’m settling in at last for a little light airplane nap when suddenly “THWACK!” Your brutal handling of the window shade makes me visibly jump from the sound and now the inside of my eyelids are on fire. I’m forced to make my Tom Hanks face, searching for a plane from my deserted beach. It would be great if you would consider whether there might be a blinding ball of gas reflecting off the wing into your neighbor’s eyes before opening, as she is rather fond of keeping her corneas. And go slow. It is not an elastic retractable window shade and therefore should not sound like one. Thanks.

2. The Bad Parent

I’ll be forthcoming and honest, I do not have children of my own. I respect that airplane travel with said offspring could be one of the most challenging experiences for any parent. But there are some parents that are doing it right. They manage to keep their kiddos from kicking the seats in front of them, or tearing up and down the aisles, squawking loudly for attention. Basically, they pay attention. My last flight to Honolulu from Las Vegas featured a lone mother with two children who sat in the middle seat between them. Sporting her massive Beats headphones, she pretty much zoned out while they slammed armrests, worked the window shade incessantly, threw food, bounced the seats all around. Her answer to calming them down? Giving them candy and hand held video games with the sound on. She didn’t care about the sounds driving everyone else mad; she was lost in her freedom bubble, courtesy of Dr. Dre. I don’t expect kids to be the picture of good behavior, but I do expect some serious effort on the part of the parent(s). If I see you trying, you’re off the hook. If you’re wearing Beats and you have hellions; prepared to be loathed by all passengers around you.

3. The Noisy Chewer

One of the categories in the Expedia report was what Kimmel called the Stinky Snacker. I agree that is totally annoying to have smelly food on board. Beef jerky and an onion sandwich, really? However, what’s worse is having to hear it. Channel your mother and close your damn mouth when you chew. Absolutely no talking. If God wanted us to talk and eat at the same time our vocal chords would be in our nasal passages. Clear your gob hole and then we can talk. Swish it down with a beverage and avoid any possible UFOs potentially headed in my general direction.

4. The Ice Chomper

Let’s be clear right now, if the beverage mentioned above is finished, if you start chewing on the remaining ice I will grab the cup from you and hold it menacingly. I don’t quite know what I would do next since I would prefer not to get tackled by an air marshal, but it will be taken, and I will find your dentist and totally tell on you. No one can sleep/read/exist calmly when the Titanic-meets-iceburg re-enactment is on repeat in the seat next to them. Do not ever chew your ice cubes next to me. Or anyone else for that matter. It will make a sane person crazy.

5. The Farter

No one likes to talk about it, but everyone has been the unfortunate recipient of a nasty gassy on a flight before. I believe it could even be a secret factor in contributing to airplane sickness. A fart cloud might happen to you every time you fly. It might even be you creating said cloud. All I ask of The Farter is this: if you know some foods makes you leak out your rear end, don’t eat them on this plane. Bring a little pepto or beano for the long flights. Or a plug. Whatever it takes to keep it to yourself. You might be immune to your own rank stench, but I’m going green back here.

6. The Back-of-the-Plane Line Jumper

We’ve landed. Hooray! The time has come to de-plane. There’s a natural order to this. You allow the rows in front of you to clear out and then it’s your turn. If you have a short layover and you’re desperately trying to make your flight, be a human and communicate with those around you. You’ll advance much faster if you have everyone around you on your team helping you move forward. Don’t be that groaning, toe-tapping, under-breath mumbler that no one likes. And if you announce that “some of us have a flight to catch” to no-one in particular, I will be tempted to pop you in the face with my neck pillow. Stop it. The majority of my flight experiences haven’t featured all these characters at once (praise be), but I have encountered each of them on more than one occasion. Thus, I’ve been driven to develop tactical defenses and management devices for each:

I combat both the chewers and children with earplugs of headphones of my own (not Beats though, sorry Dre), the shade blinder with an eye mask, and the farter with scented hand lotion applied just under the nostrils. The ice chomper gets straight-up-spoken-to. “Please sir/ma’am, I’m having trouble sleeping due to your ice chewing. Will you please refrain? Mahalo.” Lastly, to prevent the line jumper I simply stand up and block the aisle to allow those in my row and beyond their right to exit when their turn arrives.

Or, like one should in any social situation where other people behave less than admirably, I just try to get over them. They make great fodder for storytelling and casual, comfortable complaining, but in the end, that’s all they ever are. There’s no greater feeling when flying to actually sit back, relax and allow yourself to be amazed that a plane is whisking you off to your destination, at 30,000 feet in the air. Annoyances be damned. As comedian Louis C.K. likes to say about the miracle of human flight: “You’re in a chair… in the sky.” Sometimes a little perspective makes nearly every annoyance seem trivial. Except perhaps, chewing ice cubes.

Quote for Today

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.

— Audre Lorde, Unknown

It’s Time to Take Back Valentine’s Day – for all of us!

Valentine’s Day. It’s coming this Saturday whether you like it or not. Such a peculiar holiday, one that seems to draw lines in the sand between the supporters and haters. Each year I hear echoes of naysayers, “It’s a made up holiday by the greeting card companies…” Despite this, I still appreciate the holiday. The idea that, for one day a year, everyone thinks about love. Even when people condemn having a designated day about love as stupid, their thoughts are still focused on love. And what’s wrong with that? Here are some common arguments against V-tine Day and why they just don’t cut the mustard.

It’s commercial.
Yes, yes it is. But this point is but moot compared to every other holiday. Name one other holiday that isn’t tainted by the almighty hunt for the buck. In our capitalist society it only follows that if there’s a market with a demand, there will be a supply. If it bothers you, find a way around it. Make something, go rogue with no gift and create a memory instead. Hike, watch a sunset, play in the snow. But by George, for this girl, there will be chocolate on Valentine’s Day (except Hershey’s. The punks) and there will be a lot of it. I will regret nothing.

Forcing love to happen
I ask again, what’s wrong with carving out a day a year just to celebrate love? Remember that it is your choice how you commemorate it. If you treat the day as a commercial nightmare then that is exactly what it will be for you. Putting a price tag on a holiday does not invalidate it. If you’re with someone who demands a giant bear/flowers/gift/spendy dinner/etc. and wouldn’t appreciate a handmade card from the heart and a homecooked dinner, that’s your struggle. Don’t blame Valentine’s Day. And express those feelings to this person you are supposed to love. If they don’t see eye to eye, maybe you need a new partner. Love takes work, but it shouldn’t feel like work. If you’re trying too hard, you might be doing it wrong.

Reminding people of their loneliness
Lonely people do not feel more lonely on Valentine’s Day. This is some weird myth floating around that people persist on believing. Hollywood and television help to ram this idea down all our throats, typically because playing to stereotypes means the plot and writing can lapse. The truth is, lonely people are going to be lonely until they find someone, or at least start putting themselves out there. Doing a quick search online leads to singles events at restaurants, libraries, and Meetups. Follow the advice of Theresa Christine from Tremendous Times and choose from 5 Kickass Alternative Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day. Take this day and seize it. I can’t think of a better time for a lonely person to get out there and look for friendship than this day of the year. (Love doesn’t happen in a day. Make a friend and maybe you’ll fall in love someday). The couples out there celebrating their togetherness should be a confidence boost. “If they can find love so can I.” Let’s face it, there are some really strange people out there finding happiness with another. Embrace this day and find a way to meet someone new. When love is on the mind and in the air, the odds of finding someone special just might be better on this day than any other all year long.

Be Mine – Be Ours
My favorite part of any holiday are the traditions that come with it. The big ones like lighting the Menorah, hanging the stockings, dressing like ghouls and goblins, fireworks, etc. are all wonderful. But the traditions that mean the most to me are the little things, like getting to open one (and only one) gift under the tree with family on Christmas Eve. Like screaming the countdown of the last seconds of the year across our neighborhood from one house to another. Devouring my Mama Peg’s twice-baked po-date-ahs (potatoes, for the rest of you) at Thanksgiving. So, what about Valentine’s Day? The only two I can think of personally are my Dad always sending his girls a card, and my husband and I dining out to celebrate our engagement anniversary. What else do people do to celebrate this holiday and make it special? Maybe that’s why there’s resistance against it, there aren’t enough ways to make it ours. It’s time to put more traditions in place to effectively take back the holiday from the commercial death grip that leaves a storm cloud hanging over it every year. Let’s put an end to the feeling that this isn’t a “real holiday” and make it just that.

This Valentine’s Day, make a new tradition that’s special to you and share it with your friends and family. Do it every year. Oh, and tell me about it too, I can’t wait to make it one of mine. I’ll share one I come up too. In time, this holiday might finally feel like it’s worthy of all its potential. Here’s to our Valentine’s Day!

Dear Hershey Company: It’s over. And it’s not me, it’s you.

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.

Meagz