Chocolate Expo

by D. Prinz on November 29, 2015

Mark and I had a great time at the recent Chocolate Expo in the Meadowlands and look forward to participating in several more. It was a pleasure to be able to speak three times: about Heritage Chocolate and early chocolate making; about Holiday Chocolate particularly around Chanukah and Christmas customs; and, about Chocolate Travel, mostly about how we learned so many chocolate stories on our travels due to “my choco-dar,” my radar for chocolate experiences. At our booth visitors touched a cocoa pod and smelled cocoa beans. They also bought signed copies of the book On the Chocolate Trail (Jewish Lights). Children could take home a sheet for coloring cocoa pods and beans. In addition we visited with other vendors and learned about their products, some familiar, some not. We will be at the Expo in Norwalk, Connecticut on Sunday, January 31, 2015. We hope to see you there.

It was great to chat with Sarah Gross, creator of Rescue Chocolate. Proceeds of her business go to support animal rescue.

We also met Lisa Leleu of Luv chocolate, a raw chocolate with healthful ingredients.
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Labor Day in our Chocolate

by D. Prinz on September 6, 2015

bunches of Equal Exchange  (3)

Every day is Jewish Labor Day. Jewish tradition expounds the importance of work and those who do it. Even God worked for six days and only then rested on Shabbat.

Chocolate is one medium for uncovering themes of worker equity, food justice and ethical kashrut. Many cocoa farmers, those who tend the cocoa trees and harvest the beans, never taste the final product of chocolate.

Worse, thousands of children, some of them slaves, work cocoa production in West Africa’s Ivory Coast or Ghana, the primary market for much of the world’s cocoa beans. This past July the US Department of Labor released a study that estimated that 2 million children work in hazardous conditions in West African cocoa. It has designated $12 million dollars for programs to reduce these numbers. This builds on the Declaration of Joint Action among the ministers of labor of Ivory Coast and Ghana and the United States from 2010. Unfortunately in this regard, chocolate does not always mix well with Judaism’s value of oshek, honest and fair labor practices.

The Harkin-Engel Protocol, known as the Cocoa Protocol, an international agreement, sought to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the chocolate industry. While at least eight multinational chocolate producers have signed onto the Protocol including Guittard, Nestle, Hershey, M&M/Mars, and Callebaut, it has not yet been fully implemented.

In an effort to provide fair compensation to cocoa farmers, several chocolate companies use fair trade certification systems to establish a minimum price above market value for cocoa. Other chocolate makers prefer to sidestep that certification, claiming that their farmers benefit more from their direct contact and superior financial arrangements. Fair Trade Judaica’s Ilana Schatz offers Fair Trade merchandise and chocolate options. She also promotes guilt free Chanukah gelt produced by Divine Chocolate and Kosher for Passover Fair Trade chocolate from Equal Exchange.

This Labor Day may we choose foods, including chocolate, that honor these everyday Jewish values, enhance our precious resources, sustain our work, and enhance our rest.

An earlier version of this post appeared at


Bringing Buckeye Candy to Experts

July 20, 2015

I only know about Buckeyes because I have family in Ohio. I love peanut butter and chocolate together so I decided to make them for the first time for a 4th of July party for local friends and family in Cincinnati, mixing in small amounts of presumption, appreciation and exploration. Some might say stupidity. After […]

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Fathering Chocolate

June 11, 2015

Fathers, Dominicans that is, helped bridge the New World’s chocolate to the Old World. In 1544 Padres tantalized the Spanish court with chocolate prepared and presented by a Kekchi Maya delegation of New World natives. Fatherly faith indeed aided in spreading chocolate to new regions of the world, to new religious contexts, and to new […]

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Minding Our Chocolate

May 29, 2015

How does chocolate help you? For me a piece of chocolate here and there smooths transitions from one project to another, one task to the next. At a congregational visit after the Senior Rabbi blessed the Associate on her last Shabbat, someone said, “we need chocolate for our stress at her departure.” At other stops […]

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Anschluss Launches Bartons Passover Favorites 77 Years Ago

March 11, 2015

Bartons Chocolate Pops. Bartons Almond Kisses. Do you long for these and other iconic Passover favorites made by Bartons Chocolate? They exist because of the March 12, 1938 Nazi accession of Austria (Anschluss) when Stephen Klein fled Vienna for his life. A Nazi competitor had seized Klein’s chocolate company. He hurriedly left his two children […]

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Ten Teaspoons of Sugar in My Chocolate?

February 26, 2015

The recently released revisions of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Health bring the conversation about sugar circling ‘round the measuring cup. These warnings against more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar a day boil up questions about nutrition. Surprisingly, just a century ago, nutritionists touted the […]

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Adventures On the Chocolate Trail: Atlanta, Portland, Seattle

January 31, 2015

In my recent travels speaking about On the Chocolate Trail, I have been able to sample some unusual chocolates and related products. Consider these: Atlanta:     From Chef Brulee amazing colors make the bon bons and the matzah very appealing.   *Chocoley  A source for making chocolate creations, including molds, compound chocolate , kits, utensils […]

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It’s Chocolate Season

November 30, 2014

Chocolate season started on November 1 for Joanne and Jerry Kryszek’s company, Chocosphere. This is the busiest time in their on-line chocolate wholesale and retail company which operates from a warehouse in a Portland suburb. I have known about the company for years and finally had the opportunity to meet the Kryszek’s and see their […]

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Chocolate Signals

September 12, 2014

The Trappistine nun appeared to levitate as she welcomed us at the factory door with urgent questions about how to market chocolate for Father’s Day, about aspects of kosher certification and about increasing their Chanukah sales. Sister Christa-Maria, in her Bavarian tinged English, broke the Benedictine prohibition against speaking to give us a tour of […]

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